A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

R.I.P. Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. died yesterday, and I feel a little as though I've lost a family member. I liked him very much as an author. And for most of my academic career, I've been in his very long shadow.

Vonnegut was from Indiana, but eventually moved to Massachusetts. I did it the other way round. He lived in Northampton with his daughter for a while, recuperating from an accident, and taught at Smith--my alma mater--during that time. He also taught at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, where I studied. To my knowledge he never taught at Purdue, but he was close to some of the English Department there, among them my brilliant dissertation advisor, Virgil Lokke.

Vonnegut's official website, www.vonnegut.com, replaced all content with this graphic after his death. Vonnegut was an artist in addition to a novelist. The birdcage was a familiar element in his work.

Vonnegut wrote satire, to my mind the noblest genre. I always tell people I only like funny books and movies, but when I say "funny," it's satirical I mean. Funny, but moral. Moral, but never explicitly so. I could do a lot worse than emulate Kurt Vonnegut.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Miss King, English teacher to 8th graders at Forest Park Jr High, Spfld MA, also relished satire and gave production lessons. She had a brittle pedagogical flare that pandered to our lower sarcastic instincts, don't you think?


10:31 PM  

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