Kurt Vonnegut and His World Views
Kurt Vonnegut’s interview on NPR’s The Infinite Mind provided a sweeping insight into the life and world-view of the author. This interview was completed towards the end of Vonnegut’s life and followed the publication of his latest book, A Man Without a Country. His world view, although a bit jaded, still offers a glimmer of optimism. Vonnegut argues that the only way humanity will be able to survive is through the teams created across nations and social groups. In the West, we must move beyond traditional family units, which serve to isolate and create friction between groups, and open up our lives to more people. It is through creating with people from different groups that humanity can find fulfillment.
As the title of Vonnegut’s book A Man Without a Country suggests, Vonnegut is not enamored with life in the United States in 2006. He argues that his generation was filled with dreamers and those who sought to build the country up. Now, he argues that Americans have become too placated with their lives to change anything or fight against the injustices that exist within the borders. Instead, America prefers to call out other countries for their social injustices.
Vonnegut’s views on America relate closely to his views on war. Vonnegut served in World War II where he believed that he was fighting for freedom and justice. It was not until after he returned from the war that he started questioning the motives of war. As the Vietnam and later, Middle Eastern wars took place, Vonnegut was quick to point out that the basis of these wars was to spread justice and freedom to those without. In the Middle Eastern wars, American troops sought to bring freedom and equality to the people of Iraq, however, in America equality between men and women and persons of different races was still a relatively new practice. Vonnegut argued that this lack of consistency between American practices and what America sought to bring to other nations made the practice of war hypocritical and absurd.
Vonnegut projected a bleak future for where the world is headed. Increased use of technology, as well as the constant state of denial that the majority of Americans live in has lead to the creation of what Vonnegut referred to as the 51st state, or the state of denial. Instead of seeking to better the country and planet, most people live under the creed of not spoiling the party and simply trying to have a good time with what little time is left.
Kurt Vonnegut’s interview was interesting in that it provided an insight into the author’s views on a variety of topics, including technology and politics. Although most of his predictions for the country were bleak, Vonnegut mixed in humor in his typical style to make the interview engaging to listen to.