Vonnegut's A Man Without A Country

I just finished reading Vonnegut's A Man Without a Country. It's full of powerful opinions from the Left, wise and well-earned outrage. In fact, I don't think I disagreed with anything he said, though I have my own pessimistically idealistic feeling the species won't die out in the next 100 years, even if we are speeding towards doom at a rate unprecedented or unimagined by previous generations. Each generation has doom-predictors: we're just moving faster because our technology moves faster. And, in this country, because we let the dumbest and greediest lead in every facet of life. The book reads quickly and smoothly and delightfully in a pithy, witty, and often powerful way. From religion and politics to death and the arts, I share his perspectives.

Vonnegut does disappoint me, however. Or no. I could tell where he'd go in ways that I've grown accustomed to yet regret. Old-school white male focus is my frustration. He makes reference to men and women (with only one chapter doing a bit of Venus and Mars, and then only superficially), but all the wisdom he finds -- in literature, politics, arts, sciences, and his personal experiences -- come from the minds, mouths, and pens of white men. Lincoln, Hemingway, Twain -- I could catalog it but I won't. But references to famous wise women are absent, with the single exception of one reference to a few word's from Emma Lazarus. And people of color are praised for maintaining extended families (Navaho, the Ibo) and the Blues (African Americans), but only Martin Luther King is named (in passing).

We are products of our times and places and Vonnegut's more wise here than foolish...though it would have been so nice to write this post without a caveat. Hence, I'll end it elsewise.

Kurt is up in heaven now; and if this isn't nice, I don't know what is.

No comments: