Public GalÃ¡pagos tortoises of Austin. The GalÃ¡pagos tortoise lives twice as long as Kurt Vonnegut, Jr, who, by the way, wrote a novel called Galapagos in which H. sapiens evolves into a species of tiny-brained cetaceanesques. Tortoises photographed at the sad, so-called Austin Zoo, a sort of repository for unwanted, damaged-looking exotic animals, March 2007.
If I were a “Breaking News and the Fascinating Morsels I Wrapped in Today’s Newspaper Before Throwing It Out” blogger, it might — what with the not posting for days and days — be said of me that I sort of suck . Fortunately, I am not a news blogger. I am a lazy bum. Nobody who is not insane can say that I suck at that.
Thus am I just sufficiently acquainted with today’s most popular blaming issues — the Don Imus Thing, and the Duke Lacrosse Players Development — to be disgusted.
But I am not so out of touch that I didn’t hear about the extinction of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. The news gave me quite a start. The start was followed by a sentimental pang. Some of the pang was for Kurt Vonnegut, Jr, but most of it was for my own lost youth.
I’ll explain about the lost youth pang in a minute.
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr is the American author venerated as a visionary for having invented the idea that certain patriarchal customs, particularly war, are absurd.
Of course Vonnegut didn’t really invent the idea; that was Aristophanes, or possibly Hawkeye Pierce. Vonnegut certainly popularized it among prep school proto-intellectuals, though, this spinster aunt included. If you’ll permit me a brief autobiographical interlude, I’ll admit to having been, at a tender young age, uncommonly well-moulded, social-consciousness-wise, by Slaughterhouse-Five et al. Vonnegut was to me, and to all his other fanboys, the voice of counter-culture, the mascot of the Fuck the Establishment religion, the anti-authoritarian authority, a hip, prescient, avuncular, humanitarian figure who, unlike all other adults, got it.
Here is Vonnegut describing Eliot Rosewater describing a Kilgore Trout novel, The Gospel from Outer Space:
It was about a visitor from outer space, shaped very much like a Tralfamadorian, by the way. The visitor from outer space made a serious study of Christianity, to learn, if he could, why Christians found it so easy to be cruel. He concluded that at least part of the trouble was slipshod storytelling in the New Testament. He supposed that the intent of the Gospels was to teach people, among other things, to be merciful, even to the lowest of the low.
But the Gospels actually taught this:
Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn’t well-connected. So it goes.
The flaw in the Christ stories, said the visitor from outer space, was that Christ, who didn’t look like much, was a actually the Son of the Most Powerful Being in the Universe. Readers understood that, so, when they came to the crucifixion, they naturally thought, and Rosewater read out loud again:
Oh, boy — they sure picked the wrong guy to lynch that time!
And that thought had a brother: “There are right people to lynch.” Who? People not well connected. So it goes. 
In retrospect, it seems that although Vonnegut got quite a bit of it, he didn’t get all of it. After having gone more or less Vonnegutless for a quarter of a century or so, I recently re-read The Sirens of Titan. I was disillusioned, but not altogether surprised, to perceive a tiresome love-rape at the hub of the melodrama. Then I tapped my chin with a puzzled finger. I found I could not recall a single female Vonnegut character that is not defined by her reproductive relationship to the (male) protagonist. Whereupon I was forced to admit that, like most progressive beneficiaries of male privilege, Vonnegut has a pretty disappointing feminist score.
So it goes.
“So it goes” is the title of this post because whenever the phrase appears in Slaughterhouse-Five, which is often, it harbinges death. In the preceding paragraph I appropriate “so it goes” to mark the demise of a youthful fantasy. You’d think that by the age of 48 all my youthful fantasies would long since have been crushed by the crippling weight of cosmic indifference, but you’d be wrong. The now-dead fantasy to which I allude is this: that, if so examined, surely my childhood hero Kurt Vonnegut would withstand radical feminist critique.
I predict that anyone and their dog who is today acknowledging the death of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr will find irresistible the compulsion to work in a “so it goes” or two.
I blame Kurt Vonnegut, Jr, by the way, for my persistent compulsion to break into Kilgore Troutiness at the drop of a hat.
1. Vonnegut, Jr, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five. From pretty close to the middle of a 30-year-old Dell paperback edition.