Wednesday, April 9, 2008

To the Stars

Enough people suggested I rename and update the design of  my blog, that I finally just did it!
by Charlie Leck

"What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?"
Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

I have been blogging here, at this site, for exactly one year now. In that time I've faithfully pounded out a lot of well-meant and sincere words and thoughts. There are well over 150 blogs archived here and several dozen more were written on a former site and were not transfered to this spot.

So many of my readers – mostly neighbors, family and friends from around the country – suggested I give my blog a more distinguished name and a more contemporary look, that I just went ahead and did it. This current look is the result of extensive market tests by a distinguished New York consultant and is the work of a Chicago design firm – JUST KIDDING!

The idea is all mine. Ad Astra is Latin for “to the stars!” It is my ultimate destination and it seems the ship of life, piloted by Kilgore Trout, is right now moving at extraordinary speed toward the outer edges of the universe and then we’ll be released to go beyond. These blogs are my musings – my reminiscences, rants and raves – as this journey proceeds toward its ultimate destination.

I’ve explained here previously, these are for the record – a record by which my grandchildren and their grandchildren may know their old and odd grandpa. If others get some enjoyment from these along the way, or find them informative and interesting, so much the better.

I want to make sure I leave a rather crucial message for my grandchildren. It came first from the mouth of Elliot Rosewater and the pen of
Kurt Vonnegut. Rosewater, one of Vonnegut’s glorious fictional characters, and certainly not a cleric, was asked to baptize two babies. He objected, saying that he couldn’t, wouldn’t, and didn’t have the right. The mother pleaded with him and he relented. Rosewater’s wife was aghast when he told her; and she asked him what he said. His reply is my message for my grandchildren:

'Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies – God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”
[Vonnegut, Kurt: God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater]

I’m pleased that several hundred people come here from time to time to read these ramblings. I’m even more pleased that I’ve made so many good friends among the blogging community. There are so many good amateur bloggers out there that it astounds me. When I read some of their excellent writing, it gives me hope that we might indeed be moving toward a more decent and rational world where kindness, justice and peace will rule the day. It will not happen in my lifetime; however, from out among the stars I will be paying attention and will rejoice when the world decides to turn away from madness and toward hope. My constant prayer is that my grandchildren will know a world devoted to kindness.


About Kurt Vonnegut
One of my daughters teaches English at the college level. She is quite astounded, I think, when I list Vonnegut as one of my favorite writers. As Vonnegut, himself, might have said: “So be it!” Of course, I read Slaughterhouse Five first and that hooked me. I simply waited for everything else to come out after that and grabbed hold. I’ve read all his published work since then, except for a work that was recently posthumously published. I’ll pick that up one of these days, too. Vonnegut got very experimental with some of his later works and the quality of his writing (or story-telling) fell off. Nevertheless, I just kept right on reading.

I have a first edition copy of each of Vonnegut’s books and that is a very important corner of my library.

Another of my daughters is teaching English at the junior high school level. I have a feeling that she’s never read Vonnegut. Too bad! I think any high school kid would love to meet Elliot Rosewater and Kilgore Trout. My goodness, they are two of the great characters of fiction. I actually get the shivers whenever I think about those two guys.

I think I would assign my junior high schoolers the pleasurable assignment of reading Breakfast of Champions and God Bless You Mr. Rosewater. My they were fun stories.

I remember how Gilgore Trout, an outstanding science fiction writer, thought mirrors allowed us to look into another universe that was an exact duplicate of our own. He thought mirrors leaked out information about that simultaneous universe and so he called mirrors that – “leaks.” If he was having a beer with some guy and that fellow said he was going to take a leak, Trout thought he was going to steal a mirror.

Oh well, you had to be there!


1 comment:

  1. Yes! Vonnegut was a blessing to this world, a live current that buzzed whirred and shocked for 84 years. His definition of a "karass" is something that's stimulated and inspired me since I picked up Cat's Cradle. There's a genius and kindness in his work that contrasts powerfully with the likes of Burroughs; he was happy to be a holy fool for our times.