Kurt Vonnegut: Where Do I Get My Ideas From? My Disgust with Civilization

vonngeut ideas
This past week, we referred you back to Neil Gaiman’s essay where he tried to explain the almost unex­plain­able: the source(s) of his great ideas. The sci-fi/­fan­ta­sy writer had always strug­gled to put his fin­ger on those sources, and he could nev­er real­ly find an ori­gin in one par­tic­u­lar spring. But, it turns out that Kurt Von­negut nev­er had that prob­lem. On Twit­ter, one of our fol­low­ers (@Iygia_Maria) flagged for us an illus­trat­ed quote by Von­negut. He writes:

Where do I get my ideas from? You might as well have asked that of Beethoven. He was goof­ing around in Ger­many like every­body else, and all of a sud­den this stuff came gush­ing out of him. It was music. I was goof­ing around like every­body else in Indi­ana, and all of a sud­den stuff came gush­ing out. It was dis­gust with civ­i­liza­tion. (Back­wards City Review, 2004.)

If you’re won­der­ing where that dis­gust was com­ing from, I prob­a­bly only need to a high­light a pre­vi­ous post of ours: 22-Year-Old P.O.W. Kurt Von­negut Writes Home from World War II: “I’ll Be Damned If It Was Worth It”. There you can read all about how he was tak­en pris­on­er dur­ing the Bat­tle of the Bulge; spent time in a Dres­den work camp known yes, as “Slaugh­ter­house Five;” sur­vived the Dres­den bomb­ing; saw many oth­er atroc­i­ties along the way, reveal­ing civ­i­liza­tion at its worst. You can hear Von­negut read from Slaugh­ter­house-Five here.

H/T @Iygia_Maria)

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Kurt Vonnegut’s Eight Tips on How to Write a Good Short Sto­ry

“Wear Sun­screen”: The Sto­ry Behind the Com­mence­ment Speech That Kurt Von­negut Nev­er Gave

Kurt Von­negut Writes an Off­beat Con­tract Out­lin­ing His Chores Around the House, 1947

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Comments (6)
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    • An0n says:

      Or rather a civ­i­liza­tion with great poten­tial, but which is still rot­ten to its core.

    • girdyerloins says:

      You sound like you have led a priv­i­leged life. One in which you’ve nev­er so much as scraped an elbow or had your face rubbed in dirt by the school bul­ly. nTry read­ing a lit­tle more about Von­negut before you reveal to oth­ers the vast extent of your abil­i­ties to incor­rect­ly and with insuf­fi­cient evi­dence sur­mise the total­i­ty of a per­son­’s psy­cho­log­i­cal make­up, summed up in three, woe­ful­ly super­fi­cial words.

  • mike says:

    Von­negut dares us to con­front issues and inspire change. Sour lit­tle men often do. Von­negut cares.

  • Noah says:

    Does any­one know where I can get this quote pic­ture made into a can­vas poster?

  • Noel says:

    No, you’re mixed up, you shal­low lit­tle philis­tine

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