Cat’s Cradle
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

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Cat’s Cradle


science fiction

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Cat’s Cradle

Copyright © 1963 by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Another Breed
As Bokonon says: “Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.”



Bicycles for Afghanistan

“They don’t have the government encouraging everybody to be some kind of original pissant nobody ever heard of before.”


“Christ, back in Chicago, we don’t make bicycles any more. It’s all human relations now. The eggheads sit around trying to figure out new ways for everybody to be happy. Nobody can get fired, no matter what; and if somebody does accidentally make a bicycle, the union accuses us of cruel and inhuman practices and the government confiscates the bicycle for back taxes and gives it to a blind man in Afghanistan.”

“And you think things will be better in San Lorenzo?”

“I know damn well they will be. The people down there are poor enough and scared enough and ignorant enough to have some common sense!”

Why Americans Are Hated

“The highest possible form of treason,” said Minton, “is to say that Americans aren’t loved wherever they go, whatever they do. Claire tried to make the point that American foreign policy should recognize hate rather than imagine love.”

“I guess Americans are hated a lot of places.”

People are hated a lot of places. Claire pointed out in her letter that Americans, in being hated, were simply paying the normal penalty for being people, and that they were foolish to think they should somehow be exempted from that penalty.”



The Bokononist Method for Handling Caesar

The words were a paraphrase of the suggestion by Jesus: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s.”

Bokonon’s paraphrase was this:

“Pay no attention to Caesar. Caesar doesn’t have the slightest idea what’s really going on.”



What a Corporal Was Worth

Wherever possible, he had taken the cosmic view, had taken into consideration, for instance, such things as the shortness of life and the longness of eternity.

He reported his avocation as: “Being alive.”

He reported his principal occupation as: “Being dead.”

Tutored by Bokonon

“I’m not a drug salesman. I’m a writer.”

“What makes you think a writer isn’t a drug salesman?”

“I’ll accept that. Guilty as charged.”

“Father needs some kind of book to read to people who are dying or in terrible pain. I don’t suppose you’ve written anything like that.”

“Not yet.”

“I think there’d be money in it. There’s another valuable tip for you.”

“I suppose I could overhaul the ‘Twenty-third Psalm,’ switch it around a little so nobody would realize it wasn’t original with me.”

“Bokonon tried to overhaul it,” he told me. “Bokonon found out he couldn’t change a word.”



Ring of Steel

So I said good-bye to government,

And I gave my reason:

That a really good religion

Is a form of treason.



A White Bride for the Son of a Pullman Porter

Tiger got to hunt,

Bird got to fly;

Man got to sit and wonder, “Why, why, why?”

Tiger got to sleep,

Bird got to land;

Man got to tell himself he understand.



Why Frank Couldn’t Be President

“Maturity, the way I understand it,” he told me, “is knowing what your limitations are.”

He wasn’t far from Bokonon in defining maturity. “Maturity,” Bokonon tells us, “is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything.”



Dyot meet mat

Note (Hal’s):
The last rites of the Bokononist faith are not presented in this form in the book. One character repeats the words after another. (Both have difficult accents, but Vonnegut translates.) This is the translated text, omitting the repetitions.

— end note

God made mud.

God got lonesome.

So God said to some of the mud, ‘Sit up!’

‘See all I’ve made,’ said God, ‘the hills, the sea, the sky, the stars.’

And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.

Lucky me, lucky mud.

I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God had done.

Nice going, God!

Nobody but You could have done it, God! I certainly couldn’t have.

I feel very unimportant compared to You.

The only way I can feel the least bit important is to think of all the mud that didn’t even get to sit up and look around.

I got so much, and most mud got so little.

Thank you for the honor!

Now mud lies down again and goes to sleep.

What memories for mud to have!

What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud I met!

I loved everything I saw!

Good night.

I will go to heaven now.

I can hardly wait . . .

To find out for certain what my wampeter was . . .

And who was in my karass . . .

And all the good things our karass did for you.




A Medical Opinion on the Effects of a Writers’ Strike

“Sir, how does a man die when he’s deprived of the consolations of literature?”

“In one of two ways,” he said, “petrescence of the heart or atrophy of the nervous system.”

“Neither one very pleasant, I expect,” I suggested.

“No,” said Castle the elder. “For the love of God, both of you, please keep writing!”

The Fourteenth Book

And I remembered The Fourteenth Book of Bokonon, which I had read in its entirety the night before. The Fourteenth Book is entitled, “What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years?”

It doesn’t take long to read The Fourteenth Book. It consists of one word and a period.

This is it:



Books (particular)

Mona Thanks Me

We do, doodley do, doodley do, doodley do,

What we must, muddily must, muddily must, muddily must;

Muddily do, muddily do, muddily do, muddily do,

Until we bust, bodily bust, bodily bust, bodily bust.


Wampeters Foma & Granfalloons

text checked (see note) Feb 2005

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