Thursday, November 5, 2009

Vonnegut family values

Noticed an Indiana license plate the other day, inscribed "In God We Trust," and was reminded of the deep conservative strain in many of the Hoosiers I have known. Most of them are stand-up human beings who'd give you the shirts off their backs, etc., but there does seem to be something very traditional about that neck of the heartland that imprints itself ineradicably on its natives. The land of Quayle's coded "family values" seems no seed-ground for free thinkers. (It did spawn some public-spirited libertarians dedicated to spending, lavishly and liberally, the interest of Pierre Goodrich's fortune... I enjoyed my Stoic weekend in Indy two years ago. That's another story.)

But then I recall that Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was from Indianapolis. Hi-ho!

So it's not quite as big a surprise, on further reflection, to discover a "magnificent victory monument for a rational outlook on life." The man who said "love may fail, but politeness will prevail" did not spring up from a vacuum.

His great-grandpa was Clemens Vonnegut.*

Perfect! Love may fail, but irony will also prevail.
*"We believe all that science teaches until it is superseded by new discoveries and knowledge...Our belief is built on reason, observation of nature, history and experience. We believe in the brotherhood of man...We believe in virtue, in perfectibility, in progress, in stability of laws of nature, in the necessity of improving the social condition and relations." Clemens Vonnegut (1890)

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