Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

RIP Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut, long-time smoker author of “Slaughterhouse Five” and “Cats Cradle,” died last night of brain injuries he suffered weeks ago during a fall. He was 84.

“I will say anything to be funny, often in the most horrible situations,” Vonnegut, whose watery, heavy-lidded eyes and unruly hair made him seem to be in existential pain, once told a gathering of psychiatrists.

A self-described religious skeptic and freethinking humanist, Vonnegut used protagonists such as Billy Pilgrim and Eliot Rosewater as transparent vehicles for his points of view. He also filled his novels with satirical commentary and even drawings that were only loosely connected to the plot. In “Slaughterhouse-Five,” he drew a headstone with the epitaph: “Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.

“We probably could have saved ourselves, but we were too damned lazy to try very hard … and too damn cheap,” he once suggested carving into a wall on the Grand Canyon, as a message for flying-saucer creatures.

Interesting trivia: Kurt Vonnegut was the younger brother of a climatologist/environmental scientist and IgNoble Prize winner Bernard Vonnegut.

UPDATE: From darkman:



  1. #1 darkman
    April 12, 2007

    i buried my copy of ‘breakfast of champions’ this morning. sigh.

  2. #2 darkman
    April 12, 2007

    thanks shel. i can’t believe how bothered i am by this:

    “I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” — Kurt Vonnegut

    “A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” from Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

  3. #3 Storey
    April 12, 2007

    I think you’ll also enjoy this stirring video tribute to Mr. Vonnegut:

  4. #4 Cameron
    April 12, 2007

    Sad sad day. I didn’t love everything he did but I had the utmost respect for him.

    Rest In Peace

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