I have so much information floating around in my head, much of it of dubious value. This assemblage has been collected, coalesced and distorted by fading memory, so that even the formidable powers of Google fail me when I try to reconnect the original source. Such was nearly the case for a quote I would likely have attributed to one of many famous existential authors. Instead, said quote helped me rediscover other long-forgotten gems from the brilliantly twisted mind of Kurt Vonnegut, and this particular search will serve as the motivation to revisit his work.
I had a professor who knew Vonnegut personally, and used his teaching platform to spread the author’s insights into the values of big business and society. Vonnegut’s view of existence and Man’s place in the world, like many of his generation, was colored by the transformation from his personal exposure to World War II. Ironically, this quote was the runner-up to the original quote I was seeking, which was from a relatively obscure book of poetry from 1970 entitled Black Out Loud. At the risk of misquoting the original poem and taking liberty with language that some may feel I have no right to use in any context, I have supplanted it with the following:
“Trout was petrified there on Forty-second Street. It had given him a
life not worth living, but I had also given him an iron will to live. This
was a common combination on the planet Earth.”
― Breakfast of Champions
My intent was to channel the energy, imagery and frustration of the speaker in the original poem to springboard into my own work.
Must I die upon the cross
To grant salvation for a life that’s lost?
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