Thursday, 2 December 2010

Kurt Vonnegut: "Man Without a Country" and Sarah Palin

Vonnegut confetti
More "Vonnegut Confetti" - click here

By Kathleen

One either likes Kurt Vonnegut’s untied form of expression or one doesn’t. Personally I have been a huge fan of Vonnegut ever since a professor lent me a copy of his precious First Edition "Mother Night" back in the mid eighties. At the time I was engaged in struggle with the symbolic, constantly shifting labyrinth that is James Joyce’s "Finnegans Wake." I still struggle as Joyce’s “work in progress” has become for me a lifelong read in progress which I wonder if I will ever finish but which I nonetheless enjoy, regardless of Joyce’s mischievous intent to torture the reader. "Mother Night" and its grey on grey message, however, I swallowed whole in one sitting. For me that was the magic of Vonnegut – he opened an 18 year old girls eyes to the fact that my concerns are both timeless and universal but that I could distract myself if I chose to do so. I could pick one side or another or neither. Vonnegut freed me from my anxiety and my Joyce paper received an A+ grading. I got the joke!

So why am I writing about Vonnegut here on Palingates? Well, yesterday I stumbled upon the following article at Huffington Post. Only one comment…….which seems to suggest that Vonnegut really was a "Man Without a Country", the title of a book that he wrote circa 2005.

Vonnegut wrote a "Man Without a Country" in part because he was concerned about the “personable people or psychopathic personalities who have no consciences” who he believed were taking charge of everything with little or no concern for the outcome of their actions. He identified these people as "PPs" and in the book urges his readers to read "The Mask of Sanity" by Dr Hervey Cleckley who outlined the case that PPs are like humans in most aspects apart from the fact that they have no soul and that they lack humanity. He posits the view that on the surface PPs seem like us but over time their actions reveal that they have no empathy for their fellow human beings. I haven’t read "The Mask of Sanity" myself and even though it is somewhat dated the fact that Vonnegut recommended it means that I will certainly try to get hold of a copy very soon. Since writing this post I have discovered that the book is no longer in print but it has been preserved as a pdf file.

Vonnegut goes on to explain that that the personality of the PP means that they are “so decisive” and that that is the reason why they have taken over positions of importance in corporations and more recently in Government. He writes in "Man Without a Country":

“They are going to do something every fuckin’ day and they are not afraid. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they don’t give a fuck what happens next. Simply can’t. Do this! Do That! Mobilise the reserves! Privatise the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care!”

If the above description fits in with a portrayal of a certain Sarah Palin then Vonnegut’s next observation will certainly hammer the point home: “There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don’t know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases WANT to be President" (emphasis is mine). Regardless of whether or not the country or a “fix” will deliver the Presidency to Palin one thing is an absolute – she WANTS it. And that screw that is loose in her brain tells her that she can have it. That is why she will run.

Furthermore, Kurt Vonnegut frequently professed in interviews and through his writings that he was horrified by the flagrant hypocrisy that he observed in US politics. It’s my belief that he would have had a field day challenging the confetti type utterings that emanate from Sarah Palin and her supporters on a daily basis. Imagine Vonnegut answering Palin on twitter. Would she have blocked him? Could he have poisoned her hypocrisy with his humanity? I’d like to think so and in honour of Vonnegut and that A+ I’d like to at least try to continue to do so.

Vonnegut confetti02
More "Vonnegut Confetti" - click here


As promised here is today’s sum of donations for our week long money blast appeal which began yesterday. This includes a very generous donation of $365 from our reader "Dr Patois" who pledged to match donations up to that amount. $1 for every day of the year.

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Thank you everyone – every donation is appreciated by Palingates whether it is $1 or any amount surpassing that.

Palingates December Moneyblast - current sum: $2023

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