Friday, January 4, 2013

nothing like a good breakfast


Here we are not far into another year that looks, for all intents and purposes, much like the one just gone. If there was an Apocalypse these past few weeks I must have missed it - either that or they did a nice job tidying up while I was sleeping. Except for more snow the place looks pretty much as it did in November.

Earlier today I found myself looking at the list of posts I did last year. Out of 66 in total I drew or painted pictures for 40 of them. I wasn't that impressed with most of the results so I've resolved not to do that again this year. There are enough strange (and free) images on the internets and even more strange things to write about if one doesn't feel obliged to sit down and draw a picture first.

While I've been actively ignoring my drawing table for the past two days I have been re-reading a couple of novels written by Kurt Vonnegut. By the time he wrote 'Breakfast of Champions' he was inspired to draw his own illustrations for the book with a felt-tipped pen. I'm going to assume everyone has read 'Slaughterhouse 5' (just in case you haven't and don't have the time the movie is pretty good) but not everyone has read 'Breakfast'. This page I scanned is one from near the beginning and just so you don't have to squint at what's written here's the gist:

1492 - "The teachers told the children that this was when their continent was discovered by human beings. Actually, millions of human beings were already living full and imaginative lives on the continent in 1492. That was simply the year in which sea pirates began to cheat and rob and kill them."

"The chief weapon of the sea pirates, however, was their capacity to astonish. Nobody else could believe, until it was much too late, how heartless and greedy they were.”

"Here was another piece of nonsense which children were taught: that the sea pirates eventually created a government which became a beacon of freedom of human beings everywhere else. There were pictures and statues of this supposed imaginary beacon for children to see. It was sort of ice-cream cone on fire. It looked like this:"


and another, somewhat less cynical, quote that epitomizes his message to us:
“What is the purpose of life?...To be the eyes and ears and conscience of the Creator of the Universe, you fool!”

Kurt Vonnegut on the shapes of stories from Maria Popova on Vimeo.


I'll be back soon. Maybe I'll tell you the story about how the biggest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai, was constructed without being hooked up to a sewer system. That's because there wasn't one. Another thing Kurt Vonnegut got right was:

"Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance."


19 comments:

jams o donnell said...

AH Kurt was one of the greats. I like that there is a direct link between three of my favourite American novelists.

Kurt taught John Irving creative writing and Irving taught T C Boyle

susan said...

I didn't know that. How cool.

linda said...

can't wait to hear the story of the tower and i am not one bit surprised either. we are a strange breed, us human beans, no? only we would decide to build a 20 mile sky scraper and skip the important parts like a septic system. wonder what they did while they built it. the mind begins to reel actually so am going to not ponder that... ugh....

thank you for story time, dear one... i needed to be reminded we have always had pirates trying to take us over. one way or the other... sigh. xoxox

linda said...

do you have an email sign up somewhere i can't find? i want to have it come to me that way so i know it without having to sign in/fight with G. just to see... if not, i will sign in since your worth it but thought i must be just not recognizing it or something... ah well.... if i am a few weeks late, don't worry ... i'll clue in and come over just to make sure your still here. :)

Randal Graves said...

Two funny things: how the creator (not the Creator, that's a philosophy beyond my pay grade) often disparages his/her work when us unwashed masses dig it. And second, how there's an inverse relationship between the vitality of work done and salary (money, again). Provosts and pretzeldents don't show up, the university will still run. The cleaning and maintenance crews don't, well there you go.

susan said...

The tower story really is pretty weird and it's not just that one either. Considering the fact they pretty much have slave labor doing much of the construction you can imagine how all that is handled.

Vonnegut got a lot of stuff right and he's hilarious too.

susan said...

I fixed my settings to send you an email when there's a new post. For all I know it might just send you the whole thing so let me know if it's too much (not that I post very often). You know I always love your visits.
xoxoxo

susan said...

It's good to know you enjoy them. I'm just saying I'm not going to force it anymore or talk about pictures when there's other interesting material.

A mighty city can be brought to its knees summer or winter when the garbage collectors or snowplough drivers go on strike.

marja-leena said...

Oh no, no, please don't stop showing us your lovely watercolours and drawings - they are my very favourite here! I do love your dry wit and humour and astute critical views and many links but for me nothing compares to your work.

susan said...

Oh, Marja-Leena, please don't worry that I'll be posting no more of my own pictures but simply that I won't attempt to illustrate so many of them. Hopefully there'll be more posts this year than last as there were in earlier days. There may even be a few more Adventures as well as some memos from Crow. However, if enjoyable things become a duty then the fun goes out the window. I've often found myself with a post in mind but can't get beyond an obligation to draw first.

It delights me to know how much you enjoy what I do here.

Sean Jeating said...

Vonnegut was a good one.
What he wrote re 1492 and its consequences reminds me of a Lichtenberg aphorism:
– "The first American who discovered Columbus, made a terrible discovery."

susan said...

Good one. It's always amazed me the Danes were here long before but nobody remembers because they just got along.

Rob-bear said...

I survived the weird world of Slaughterhouse 5. Bearly. Except for the Tralfamadorians, who I could never really understand. They bothered me.

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year's.

Me? Felt like it was getting warmer outside. Stuck out my snout to check things; still winter. I'm going back to hibernating. Blessings and Bear hugs.

Life As I Know It Now said...

Another great quote by Kurt: "We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap." And that is unfortunately so true.

susan said...

Shaped like plumber's helpers with a hand at the top with an eye in it really is a bit strange - even for an alien.

Yes, we're not even especially close to Ground Hog Day yet so I hope you're comfortable in your cave.

Best wishes to you too, Bear.

susan said...

Up to now he's proven right about that. It's a very sad business.

linda said...

oh thankyouthankyou, i don't like missing WHEN you Do post, dear one... no, it's not often enough but then again, it's enough if it's enough for you. i am posting a bit more right now because i am doing little else but ONE thing...i have started painting again but in my bedroom ... i can't be up there[studio] right now, chemicals, stairs, breathing needs... sigh. such a pain.

anyway i am painting a stand of very tall trees i am standing and looking up into and guess what, i don't know how to quite get it right... but i'm having fun. :) xoxoxox and i'll post it in a day or two.

susan said...

I've just put up another post so now we'll find out if my adjustment actually worked or not. I'd like to do so more often but I'm working on another picture story - a long one - and I'm not always good at balancing my time use.

I'm sorry you can't make it as far as your studio but I'm very glad the essentials have moved in with you. I'll be by to see what lovely pictures you've been working on with the certainty your tree impressions will be wonderful.
xoxo

linda said...

ah, thank you dear one... yes, i got it today!! just before the doctor appt.

yes i am in very poor shape just now. it's been a few months now w/ shortness of breath and it starts to do weird things after awhile. like racing heartbeat and dizzy. just a big drag. i cannot take a walk because i react to the air. it makes no difference what kind of weather it is either. it's crazy. doc's got some ideas but mainly it's the autoimmune disorder that is so out of whack, it's reacting as if it's under attack. to everything...

i am painting and making a mess in the bedroom. missing my space but it's so full of stuff, it's causing reactions too, of course. i am just kind of stuck now and not sure how to get out of it. having MCS has never been so limiting before and it's just plain weird. maybe it's actually called environmental illness now?

i'll post my trees this weekend, at least the first part. i am taking pics over a few times..... i like it but nobody here sees what i do, no big surprise there! ;)