Friday, April 11, 2014

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Kurt Vonnegut died seven years ago today (probably a few days ago as you read this).  The world lost a twisted and brilliant man.  I have told you before my favorite Kurt Vonnegut tidbit.  But I happened upon this pearl of wisdom on a web site dedicated to Mr. Vonnegut tonight.
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A character in Happy Birthday, Wanda June, named Looseleaf Harper wonders what happened while he was lost in the jungle in the 1960s for a few years:  "You know what gets me? How everybody says 'fuck' and 'shit' all the time. I used to be scared shitless if I'd say 'fuck' or 'shit' in public, by accident. Now everybody says 'fuck' and 'shit', 'fuck' and 'shit' all the time. Something very big must have happened while we were out of the country." 
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I share it because we have lost the ability to argue or disagree intelligently without resorting to calling each other curse words.  And curse words are so limited now - the corse and vulgar has overtaken the pithy, much to society's detriment.  Apparently it is too much to be witty, when screaming out a car window at the driver in front of you.  But the obnoxious and ubiquitous use of "fuck" and "asshole" reduces us as a society.
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Epithets today, at least in New York, are neither witty nor surprising.  The same 3 or 4 words roll off the tongue and ultimate function more as a comment on the sad state of life here that everything else.  New Yorkers are so always on the edge of anger that the least thing causes them to scream "fuck you" at the top of their lungs.  A raindrop, a dropped news paper, someone stepping in front of you in the doorway.  I have been here so long I am no longer surprised to hear 75+ year old women scream "fuck you" in the grocery store anymore.
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It is exhaustingly banal.
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