[R-G] Vonnegut: State of the Asylum
info at cinox.demon.co.uk
Thu Feb 5 14:38:44 MST 2004
IN THESE TIMES
State of the Asylum
Editors note On the afternoon of Tuesday, January 20, In These Times
received a fax:
ON ORANGE ALERT HERE. ECONIMIC TERRORIST ATTACK EXPECTED AT 8 PM EST. KV
Worried, we called Kurt Vonnegut. What did he know?! He said he would tell
us when he had more complete information. The next morning we received
another fax, a transcript of a conversation he had, he said, with the
out-of-print science fiction writer Kilgore Trout.
TROUT Did you watch the State of the Union address?
KV Yes, and it certainly helped to remember what the late British
philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell called this planet.
TROUT Which was?
KV The lunatic asylum of the Universe. He said the inmates had taken over
and were trashing the joint. And he wasnt talking about the germs or the
elephants. He meant we the people.
TROUT There was certainly nothing in our presidents behavior to match
Howard Deans tarantella after he placed third in Iowa.
KV That was straitjacket and padded cell stuff. Im glad he put on such a
show, since it dramatized a fatal flaw in our Constitution.
TROUT Which is?
KV Only a nut would run for president. As far as that goes, only disturbed
people ran for president of my class in high school. My point is that doing
a Dean isnt the only way to show how disconnected you are from what is
really going on.
TROUT For example?
KV Im in New York City, where they mainstream the clinically insane, turn
em loose on the streets. There could be a little old lady on Times Square,
crooning in subzero weather, crooning to nobody in particular about all she
has done to make this a better country, safer, better educated, more
prosperous and so on. She believes it with all her heart, but it isnt true.
KV I only want to say about our president, our armed forces
Commander-in-Chief: He believes whatever he says. He might be the sincerest
person in the whole wide world. He should be in a movie. Correction: He is
in a movie, a made-for-TV movie, which is now our form of government.
TROUT You dont feel that his tax cuts have staved off a depression?
KV Staved it off? Arnold Schwarzeneggers California is ganz gebusted.
TROUT Ganz gebusted?
KV German for broke, unable to pay for even the most basic public
services. Governor Schwarzenegger, whom I met when he was nothing but Mr.
Universe, now thinks he can sell bonds for the next generation to pay off.
Hasta la vista, Baby. And every state and municipality in America is ganz
gebusted. You think Baghdad is a mess? Wait till you see Kokomo, Indiana,
two years from now.
TROUT What about President Bushs statement that he gave a tax cut to the
rich because they could make wiser use of it than the government ever could?
TROUT Thats all?
KV He told the truth! Even a stopped clock tells the truth once every 12
hours. Who couldnt make better use of money? Would you just look what the
federal government has done with the billions and billions of public money
we used to have in our treasury? This administration has squandered it all,
and then some, on Rube Goldberg devices for protecting us fromor blowing
the crap out ofArabs, most of whom could never attack us even if they
wanted to. It was Saudis who knocked down the Twin Towers. Anybody notice
that? And we act as though the Saudis are as pure as the Virgin Mary.
TROUT Thank you. I think thats enough for now. You look as though youre
about to do a Dean.
KV This war is making billionaires out of millionaires, and trillionaires
out of billionaires, and they own television, and they bankroll George Bush,
and not because hes against gay marriage.
TROUT Yes, well, do get some rest, or maybe take a swim, a total change of
KV You want to hear about a really crazy guy?
KV Napoleon! He was so crazy he thought he was Napoleon! But what made his
case so unfunny, in fact catastrophic, was that he, unlike the little old
lady on Times Square, held real power! He was already, and no kidding,
Emperor! So, as a consequence of his delusion, there would be absolutely
genuine screams of agony and blood and guts all over the placefor years to
KV You dont think this is the Lunatic Asylum of the Universe?
TROUT I dont think I expressed an opinion one way or the other.
KV We are killing this planet as a life-support system with the poisons from
all the thermodynamic whoopee were making with atomic energy and fossil
fuels, and everybody knows it, and practically nobody cares. This is how
crazy we are. I think the planets immune system is trying to get rid of us
with AIDS and new strains of flu and tuberculosis, and so on, but I think it
s too late. I dont think even it can keep George W. Bush from getting
elected to a second term.
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