Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut died Wednesday. His deep skepticism and moral realism — his perception of the backwards world that treats the trivial as serious and vice versa — made him a hero of mine. I think that for both of us, nothing rings truer than a bad joke.

I’m reminded of another great writer, Douglas Hofstadter. His new book I am a Strange Loop claims that souls are self-perceiving (or self-hallucinating) symbolic patterns — no extra essence required. When you know someone deeply, you can use your mental model of them to see what they would think of your situation. If souls are just patterns, then these “virtual” patterns are no less real — though less fully developed — than the original pattern in the brain of the person you know.

Coming back to Vonnegut, his perspective was so distinctive, lovable, and well transmitted that I know there are active Vonneguts in a lot of brains out there, including mine. Ho-ho.

BoingBoing links Vonnegut’s earliest reading from Breakfast of Champions. See also the NY Times obit and his Wikipedia entry.

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