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August 9, 2010 8:53 AM   Subscribe

Kurt Vonnegut - How To Get A Job Like Mine A lecture at Albion College in 2002.

Part 2, 3, 4 and 5/5
posted by xod (12 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Per Kottke, Vonnegut gave many lectures over the years and many of them had the same title but different content. I know that many of them referenced his Uncle Alex. :)

Here's an audio lecture from 1992. It's in RealAudio format.

Also: Kurt Vonnegut: At the blackboard (no video or audio)
posted by zarq at 9:05 AM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I loves me some Vonnegut but man, it got convoluted the more I listened. Towards the end of the second part, listening to him talk about the sexiness of licking mucilage, all I could think was 'he sounds like a more worldly Grandpa Simpson.' There must be something about collecting a lifetime of fascinating experiences that makes the retelling get more and more disjoint. Or maybe it's just that he likes to lecture the way he sometimes writes. So it goes.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 9:45 AM on August 9, 2010


That was wonderful! Thanks, xod.

When Vonnegut passed away the reaction in the US cultural media was roughly: "Funnyman, beloved by children, dies." In Europe the reactions was: "America's greatest living author passes."

I'm European and in this I side with my continent.
posted by Kattullus at 10:01 AM on August 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


That's silly; I love semicolons.
posted by resiny at 10:12 AM on August 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


There must be something about collecting a lifetime of fascinating experiences that makes the retelling get more and more disjoint.

Well, as i understood it, after the fire in 2000, there was suggestion the prolongued smoke inhalation and lack of oxygen had an effect on mental faculties. Plus, let's keep in mind how old the guy was, his legendary propensity for alcohol and heavy, unfiltered smoking. That's gotta have some sort of effect.

You can start to see this in Timequake and Hocus Pocus. He digresses and, unlike other novels, sometimes never comes back. His narrative had historically been all over the place, but later it was obvious his outlines were not as thorough, if they existed at all. This is first noticeable, in my opinion, in Mother Night, but the argument can be made that it was in Deadeye Dick his freewheeling was starting to turn for the self-indulgent rather than artistically intentional (depending on when the two were actually written and on whether the narrative with the ancestor in Austria was intentional foreshadowing or tied together by retrospective analysis).

I dunno. I'm only in my late twenties, and my recollection of life events is becoming increasingly disjoint and non-linear, so if I ever reach that age, I'll be happy if I appear half as lucid as he did.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:13 AM on August 9, 2010


a billion thanks for this.

In my senior year of high school, I filed an application for the College of Wooster, a school I had no intention of attending, for the sole purpose of claiming a "college visit" day off school, just so I could go attend this same lecture (during the winter of 1986-87, IIRC).

Somewhere, in all my left over high school junk, is a stack of plain white tapes from my french class, repurposed to record Vonnegut's lecture. One of the best days of my life.
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:32 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I saw Vonnegut do the blackboard lecture years ago at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, PA. He'd been my favorite author for years, and my wife got the tickets as a surprise. For years, I'd wanted to see a video of him giving that same presentation, and was delighted to find the essay published in, "Fates Worse than Death."

Both of my sons, 21 & 15, are now ardent fans of Vonnegut. I consider myself very fortunate to have seen him present this live.
posted by VicNebulous at 10:49 AM on August 9, 2010


You can start to see this in Timequake and Hocus Pocus.

A lot of this speech can be found in Timequake.

KV was still one of the greats; aside from his hatred of semicolons, he was one of those perfect mixes of funny, serious, and crazy/grumpy.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:58 AM on August 9, 2010


Good stuff - guy takes a mean inventory
posted by electricsandwich138 at 11:11 AM on August 9, 2010


Agh. I love Kurt Vonnegut.

I am reading Breakfast of Champions as we speak. I cannot believe I am reading this so long into my Vonnegut fandom.

I wish Vonnegut were a professor of science. "Alcohol, it's what happens when little creatures called yeast binge on sugar until they suffocate in their own shit. And so it goes."
posted by tybeet at 11:13 AM on August 9, 2010


I always thought he would be awkward IRL. Also, wow, I never imagined he would be such a great public speaker, and it's encouraging that he talks much the same way he writes.
posted by tybeet at 11:18 AM on August 9, 2010


I always thought he would be awkward IRL. Also, wow, I never imagined he would be such a great public speaker, and it's encouraging that he talks much the same way he writes.

I know two people IRL that have met him. One was a retired teacher I had in high school (when my teacher left as a result of an hysterical pregnancy; not joking) who was in the meat locker with Mr. Vonnegut. He didn't really have much to say about the book or the author (he was kind of a grumpy guy anyway), but he did say that the other guys didn't like Vonnegut much. I don't know if this jives with what I've seen on the internet. No mention of the beating in other accounts, but he did say some guys were suspicious of the fact he would converse with the enemy soldiers in German, as it was an unspoken policy you always tried to hide your ability to comprehend the tongue as long as you can in hopes of catching them disclosing something important if they were to be careless.

The other was a friend of my grandfather who worked with him and Generous Electric (as they called it). He didn't remember much about him, aside from the fact he ate the same thing every day (canned meat and olives), he swore a bit more than others, and that he had the worst breath of anyone he could remember. Between the smoking and the lunch, I don't think that would be considered uncommon insight.

What has struck me was that in both accounts, they both had this demeanor like "why the hell are you asking about that guy?" It's so odd, to me, that an uncommon talent seemed such a common individual to those who knew him before he was a literary figure. Makes me look around the office a bit differently.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 3:50 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


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