Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Deneen Defends Vonnegut Against the Nihilism Rap

According to Vonnegut, we’re hardwired to live in "folk societies," but because of our big brains and opposable thumbs we’re also hardwired to figure out how to escape from those places. Patrick says that Kurt’s teaching is close to Aristotle. But where’s the politics--a civilized alternative to primitive community and techno-loneliness? Or another possibility--the religion of the personal God? Or (as Ben Franklin might say) philosophy? Just asking... Patrick may have explained why Kurt’s oversimplified but still instructive description of a tragic tension in human nature may have made him both a good cultural critic (in identifying the depersonalization of our time) and a political fool. And Kurt certainly knew more than Freud, as Patrick explains, about what women really want.

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He spoke here at OSU last year, and despite his age (or to spite it) he showed plenty of good and bitter humor and nice talking points in regards to writing.


If you could get around his politics of anger, he was very enjoyable, and I always thought he was underrated as a writer (though Slaughterhouse Five, perhaps his most famous work, was overrated). Interestingly (surprisingly?), he studied chemistry in college before the war. Thanks for the stories Mr. Vonnegut. RIP.

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