This blog post has no mention of a certain length of time since a certain kind of writing was….. er…. blogged.

One can always try to blog like NOBODY. But that’s not the point either.

On my travels, I’ve been reading bits of Armageddon in Retrospect, the collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s post—, um….. stuff written after he died.

It was not Kurt’s words that lept from the page, but those in the intro written by his son Mark (trying to imagine growing up with Kurt Vonnegut as a father).

Reading and writing are themselves subversive acts. What they subvert is the notion that things have to be the way they are, that you are alone, that no one has ever felt the way you have. What occurs to people when they read Kurt is that things are much up for grabs than they thought they were. The world is a slightly different place just because they read a damn book. Imagine that.

Substitute for “book” blog, video, story, etc, anything we create– and share, then it strikes at the heart of things that we find others feel the way we do, and things turn out to be much more up for grabs than we even suspect.

Take this as a subtle foreshadowing of some things I am scheming down the line.

After a copy of a letter he wrote to his parents after his WWII experience, the book jumps to Kurt Vonnegut’s speech at Clowes Hall in his home town of Indianapolis, April 27, 2007 (hey that’s my birthday) in Indianapolis– his last speech, and woven together a thread of those thoughts that his son describes above.

His parting words, looking at what feels like dark times:

And how should we behave during this Apocalypse? We should be unusually kind to one another, certainly. But we should also stop being so serious. Jokes help a lot. And get a dog, if you don’t have one already.

See why he speaks to me? “Don’t be serious, get a dog!” He then moves on to a silly joke:

I myself just got a dog, and it’s a new crossbreed. It’s half French poodle and half Chinese shih tzu.

It’s a shit-poo.

And I thank you for your attention, and I’m out of here.

Those were Vonnegut’s last public words. A beautiful exit. “I’m out of here.”

So let me re-iterate– our words, all of us, ours ways of expression, not just books and written form, can be positively subversive.

More to come….

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Got hooked on Vonnegut when I read his books so subversively and saw the asshole -in 6th grade, I think! Knew I had to keep reading -no matter what! -and always wondered when I could slip in my own suspect drawings!

  2. Thanks for sharing the Vonnegut. I intensely admire some of his works, but have not yet read this book.

    A snippet of a piece by William Gass I posted on Cosmopoetica seems apropos:

    ‘And there are an unorganized few (the unhappy few whom I should like to represent, “the immense minority,” as Juan Ramón Jiménez so significantly puts it) who sincerely love the arts. There are those for whom reading, for example, can be an act of love, and lead to a revelation, not of truth, moral or otherwise, but of lucidity, order, rightness of relation, the experience of a world fully felt and furnished and worked out in the head, the head where the heart is also to be found, and all the other vital organs.’

  3. I love the first Vonnegut quote (though I wonder if there is a missing “are” in the first sentence).

    I also like your broadening of the context to different media channels, and your reference to the practice of blogging reminds me of some other inspiring things I’ve read – and written – about, drawing on the wisdom of Oriah Mountain Dreamer, David Whyte and Martin Buber: Oriah and Buber, I and Thou: Bringing All Of Who I Am to Blogging.

    Two other quotes I’ve recently encountered, regarding the power of expression and positive subversiveness:

    I recently heard David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, describe his philosophy, in which he noted “”A lot of people want to have it right before they express it, but you won’t know if it’s right until you start to express it”.

    And, I was perusing MLK quotes on MLK Day last week, and found the following particularly poignant: “Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”

  4. That would be his WWII experience.

    But yeah – Vonnegut. I’ve read pretty much everything I could find of his, which was a lot. Player Piano probably remains my favourite.

    Mark Vonnegut wrote a worthwhile book himself, Eden Express. I recommend it.

    Not quite his father, but then, who is?

  5. FWIW, Seth Godin just posted an interesting blog entry asking (and answering) the question, Why Write a Book? (instead of, or in addition to, blogging, tweeting, etc.):

    The reason I wrote Linchpin: If you want to change people, you must create enough leverage to encourage the change to happen.

    Books change lives every day. A book takes more than a few minutes to read. A book envelopes us, it is relentless in its voice and in its linearity. You start at the beginning and you either ride with the author to the end or you bail. And unlike just about any form of electronic media, you get to read the book at your own pace, absorbing it as you go.

    I published a book today. My biggest and most important and most personal and most challenging book. A book that scared me.

    It took me ten years to write this book. I’m hoping it changes a few people.

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