from Kurt Vonnegut's "Jailbird"

March 17, 2023
Here's to God Almighty, the laziest man in town.
Holocaust Survivor Ruth Starbuck in Kurt Vonnegut's "Jailbird"

I am now moved to suppose, with my primitive understanding of economics, that every successful government is of necessity a Ponzi scheme.
Kurt Vonnegut in "Jailbird"

"Money is so strange," she said.

"Does it make any sense to you?"

"No," I said. "The people who've got it, and the people who don't--" she mused. "I don't think anybody understands what's really going on."

"Some people must," I said.

I no longer believe that. I will say further, as an officer of an enormous international conglomerate, that nobody who is doing well in this economy ever even wonders what is really going on.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Jailbird"

"You inconceivable twerp," she said. Most of the speeches in this book are necessarily fuzzy reconstructions--but when I assert that Sarah Wyatt called me an "inconceivable twerp," that is exactly what she said.

To give an extra dimension to the scolding she gave me: The word "twerp" was freshly coined in those days, and had a specific definition--it was a person, if I may be forgiven, who bit the bubbles of his own farts in a bathtub.

"You unbelievable jerk," she said. A "jerk" was a person who masturbated too much. She knew that. She knew all those things.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Jailbird"

Two top drawers in the dresser easily accepted all I owned, but I looked into all the other drawers anyway. Thus I discovered that the bottom drawer contained seven incomplete clarinets--without cases, mouthpieces, or bells.

Life is like that sometimes.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Jailbird"

"What is the difference between an enzyme and a hormone? [...] You can't hear an enzyme"
Kurt Vonnegut, "Jailbird". That is such a better version than the two versions I know, which always start "how do you make a hormone"? which is a blatantly artifical setup.
Jokes play an important role in the main character's relationship with Sarah, a tall college girlfriend. One minor theme is how their relationships was based on jokes and it replaced regular intimacy, maybe because physical intimacy seemed so ridiculous. Somehow that struck home for me.
SHE: How dare you kiss me like that?
HE: I was just trying to find out who ate all the macaroons.
Kurt Vonnegut in "Jailbird" citing it as a joke oft-reprinted by The Harvard Lampoon.

He actually said one time, "Working for Mrs. Graham has been a religious experience for me. I was adrift, no matter how much money I was making. My life had no purpose until I became president of RAMJAC and placed myself at her beck and call."

All happiness is religious, I have to think sometimes.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Jailbird"

We are here for no purpose, unless we can invent one. Of that I am sure.
Kurt Vonnegut, "Jailbird"

"I want to thank you for hugging me," she said.

"Any time," I said.

"Once a day is enough," she said. "I've had my hug today."

"You were the first woman I ever really made love to," I said. "Do you remember that?"

"I remember the hugs," she said. "I remember you said you loved me. No man had ever said that to me before. My mother used to say it to me a lot--before she died."

I was starting to cry again.

"I know you never meant it," she said.

"I did, I did," I protested. "Oh, my God--I did."

"It's all right," she said. "You couldn't help it that you were born without a heart. At least you tried to believe what the people with hearts believed--so you were a good man just the same."
Oof. With that last one... Hume wrote "Reason Is and Ought Only to Be the Slave of the Passions" and for a lot of people that's more or less how it works; the subjective emotional experience leads, and reason comes up with ideas to help those desires and justifies our impulsive actions after the fact. But for people like me... like, our feelings are grown in a controlled greenhouse, not a natural garden, and we are gardeners compelled to nurture some feelings and leave others to wither on the vine, all based on what seems to be the greater good, rather than springing from the mysterious soil of personal preference.