A DEATH IN THE KARASS
A little late I am, to add my voice to the mourners, but I was saddened by the recent death of Kurt Vonnegut. Like John Sladek and Stanislaw Lem (amongst others) before him, he represents the passing of a group of authors who went a long way towards freeing me from the constraints of my school years, and showed me ways of thinking, and just as importantly, ways of expression, that had been hidden from me. Cat’s Cradle in particular, spun me a long way from the course upon which my teenage mind was set. And since I first read of it, I have been an adherent of the notion of karass: that group of otherwise unlinked personages who, for good or bad, impact upon your life and influence your path. It has remained central to many of my views of family, community, and friendship.
As such, Vonnegut sits central to my own karass, though of course we never met, and I knew no more about him than I read in his books.
And, you know, go take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut remains just about my favourite statement of dismissal ever 🙂
When it came time to read a work in memoriam, as I did with Lem and Sladek and all the others, I found myself reaching for Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons, his book of essays from way back when. From that book:
I have been a soreheaded occupant of a file drawer labelled ‘science fiction’ ever since (the publication of Player Piano) and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a urinal.