Vonnegut wisdom?
November 20, 2014 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Help me to find more ideas in the vein of this quote by Kurt Vonnegut: “But I have to say this in defense of humankind: In no matter what era in history, including the Garden of Eden, everybody just got here. And, except for the Garden of Eden, there were already all these games going on that could make you act crazy, even if you weren't crazy to begin with. Some of the crazymaking games going on today are love and hate, liberalism and conservatism, automobiles and credit cards, golf, and girls' basketball.”

What other quotes, essays, works of literature/art address these themes- that we are all just humans trying to "get by" with the overly-complicated, seemingly senseless constructs that were in place before any of us got here?

I swear I've read a more extended essay on this subject--maybe even in the same source as above quote. The example specifically referenced was credit card companies. But any other thoughts or creative works on this theme would be much appreciated.
posted by ista to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I kind of feel like Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations" cover this area. Or at least one of the stoics, I bet. I'm also reminded of the quote: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle," which I believe was attributed to Plato, but which probably isn't.
posted by Gilbert at 8:09 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Some more sort of what you mean, I think maybe?

There's the line popularized by JFK "Oh God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small."

From Pratchett/Gaiman collaboration Good Omens
"It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people."
posted by Wretch729 at 8:16 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: David Foster Wallace's "This is Water" speech contains a section on how everyone (including strangers at a supermarket) can be going through trials in life and how that could very well not be in plain sight. Don't know if this helps.
posted by skippingcharades at 8:18 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Listen: We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different!"
Ch. 57, p. 219

Vonnegut was full of those things. I think, really, most of his work really just boils down to that same message.
posted by jillithd at 8:31 AM on November 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Read Breakfast of Champions. And any of Vonnegut's short story collections.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:48 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Kurt Vonnegut wrote, “And I say to you that we are full of chemicals which require us to belong to folk societies, or failing that, to feel lousy all the time. We are chemically engineered to live in folk societies, just as fish are chemically engineered to live in clean water—and there aren’t any folk societies for us anymore.”—Wampeters, Foma, And Granfalloons
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:56 AM on November 20, 2014

"If you're going through hell, keep going."
-Winston Churchill
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 12:49 PM on November 20, 2014

From philosophy there's the image of Neurath's boat: ‘we are like sailors who on the open sea must reconstruct their ship but are never able to start afresh from the bottom…’
He's primarily referring to knowledge and "foundations" but it clearly could be applied much more widely.
posted by crocomancer at 2:29 AM on November 21, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks all, I think more of same I had in mind must have come from Vonnegut as well. In mean time the DFW speech has changed my life. Love it- thank you.
posted by ista at 9:22 PM on November 24, 2014

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