See The Cat? See The Cradle?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"History," writes Bokonon. "Read it and weep!" -Cat's Cradle

Cat's Cradle is the fourth novel written by Kurt Vonnegut which was first published in 1963. I got a hold of the book while I was browsing through yellowed second-hand books in a deserted and mildly dusty lobby of a book store, in the quiet corner of the small town that I reside. And the year presently is 2011.

The precious gem of a book took nearly 5 decades to reach into my possesion at a humble cost of 3 Malaysian Ringgit.

The book is addictive but the protagonist Jonah warns earlier in the fourth chapter that "anyone who cannot understand how useful a religion based on lies can be will not understand this book either" and much earlier he quoted the first sentence from The Books of Bokonon (a fictional religion created by Vonnegut) that:

"All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies."

And then I fell in love with this literary dime!

Well, not really.. In actual fact it was the first line of the first chapter called The Day The World Ended that got me attracted to the dusty old book, and it went very simply like this:

"Call me Jonah. My parents did, or nearly did. They called me John."

I grabbed the book from the open-counter after reading that line as if there were invisible ghosts that might be up for play-and-hide game with books. Craziness aside, I gotta pat myself in the back for owning such an impressive radar for detecting delicious books.

I must also glibly add that I had to make sure that the book store lady owner and her assistants didn't see how badly I must have wanted that book. A friend used to say that when I'm hooked on a book, she could see it from a distance away based on the far-away look that is plastered upon my face.

Book-junkie syndrome aside, I wanted to share with you some of the marvelous lines found in Cat's Cradle.

So here are a couple of thought-spinning quotes I have taken from the little book (it's only 179 pages), just to give you a tease of how amazing it is.

"I am a very bad scientist. I will do anything to make a human being feel better, even if it's unscientific."

"Sometimes I wonder if he wasn't born dead. I never met a man who was less interested in the living. Sometimes I think that's the trouble with the world: too many people in high places who are stone-cold dead."

"A pissant is somebody who thinks he's so damn smart, he never can keep his mouth shut. No matter what anybody says, he's got to argue with it. You say you like something, and, by god, he'll tell you why you're wrong to like it. A pissant does his best to make you feel like a boob all the time. No matter what you say, he knows better."

"Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours all day long and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns."

"People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order, so they'll have good voice boxes in case there's ever anything really meaningful to say."

"Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before," Bokonon tells us. "He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way."

Are you salivating yet? I hope you are. *Evil Laughter*

And here's what Mark A. Rayner's had said about the wonderful book:

"Kurt Vonnegut's short history of human stupidity is as relevant in today's world of climate change and genetic engineering as it was in 1963."

Image Credit:
Girl Reading by Oliver Ray
Cat's Cradle at

shanaz@RS | 1:16 AM | Labels:

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