Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kurt Vonnegut, I love you!

Kurt gave me this advice just a few days ago. I have to quote it in its entirety. Here goes:

"If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."

Thank you so much for visiting my blog and giving this advice. You made my eyes water, a lot. (That's how Andrew expresses it. Typical 13-year-old boy.) And by the way, Austin may take your advice. He has returned to his fascination with his electric guitar and is making the 3-hour weekend time commitment to go practice and play with the praise band at church. This will become increasingly difficult as marching season really gets fired up, and the band requires about 20 or more hours of his time weekly. And let's not even mention tennis and his heavy academic load.

We watched in amazement as Austin organized a music binder today, complete with color-coded stickies. It was an ah-hah! moment. So he is capable of being organized, when it's important to him. You wouldn't have a clue looking in his room. I always fussed at him for getting a grade of 75 on his math binder check, which the teacher no doubt offered for the chance at an easy A. He did better on his assignments and tests than on keeping them all organized in a binder.

Kurt's advice, by the way, is available to others in his final (?) book, "A Man Without a Country." It's OK for you to read it, even though that section above was meant for me. There may be another section for you in there. But you will be offended if you are a die-hard conservative, because he's just a wild and crazy liberal. He's not optimistic, either. I like to think he's wrong about our self-destruction by environmental or nuclear means.

(He didn't even get to talk about the multi-trillion $ national debt that may well cause a fiscal implosion of the US -- sold to China, without a shot fired. I think this is not a liberal or conservative problem so much as a Congressional one, since Clinton balanced the budget and Bush nearly doubled the size of the national debt during his eight years in office with his lovely wars and the recession.)

Kurt is the absolute expert on the WWII firebombing of Dresden, Germany, by the British. The reason is that he and a few other American POWs were some of the very, very few people to survive it, miraculously, in their bunker. The other 135,000 or so other residents didn't. That made him a great champion for pacifism. Oops! I had to correct an error here. He never served in Vietnam, but the groundswell of protests against that war occurred while he was writing and publishing "Slaughterhouse Five" about his experiences in Dresden.

Hawks are fond of throwing Hitler in your face to try to explain why we need a strong military. We may never be able to do without a national defense (note the important word "defense" vs. "offense"), but let's talk about how wars start for a minute. Most are caused by such base motives as imperialism or money or revenge, or a crazy dictator supported by a nationalist fervor. The Civil War and Revolutionary War were rare exceptions.

Note the USA's burning need to declare war against SOMEBODY after 9/11, and picking Iraq and Afghanistan. Those wars have made us few friends, and many enemies, and did not bring increased security to our country.

I find politics, the usual topic of the editorials I used to write, rearing its head in these entries. The topic is so impure that I am tempted to leave it to another blog, if I must mention political stuff at all, rather than polluting this one. Maybe I have the wrong attitude about this because everyone in the USA seems to have lost the ability to speak with any civility about politics. Or maybe it's always been one of those unmentionables ... sex, politics, and religion, right? ... that cannot allow for polite discourse.

Back to my hero, Kurt, for a moment. I realized that I would love to write a book the way he does, with that thrown-together quality, especially this book which is a collection of essays. Publishing a book like that is so much easier to do when you've established yourself as one of the great American writers of the 20th century.

I could certainly be just as rambling. Yes!! Then I had to laugh, thinking about it. (LOL, in text lingo.) All the rambling ... none of the brilliance, what a book that'd be!

I could keep rambling on, and on, but I guess I should wrap it up here. I need to talk about meditation again soon. (I did it!! About 3 times, 15 mins each, and it was a real life-saver. I have a whole story to tell about it.)

Since I brought up politics, here's the historic Wilson County Democratic Convention where Hillary Clinton supporters went head-to-head with Barack Obama supporters. Hillary eked out a victory here, as I recall.

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