Vonnegut Cat's Cradle Quotes

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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.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Science is magic that works.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Live by the harmless untruths that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
There is love enough in this world for everybody, if people will just look.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
I'm not a drug salesman. I'm a writer." "What makes you think a writer isn't a drug salesman?
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order so they'll have good voice boxes in case there's ever anything really meaningful to say.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in His cosmic loneliness. And God said, "Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done." And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close to mud as man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. "What is the purpose of all this?" he asked politely. "Everything must have a purpose?" asked God. "Certainly," said man. "Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this," said God. And He went away.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat's cradle is nothing but a bunch of X's between somebody's hands, and little kids look and look and look at all those X's . . ." "And?" "No damn cat, and no damn cradle.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Americans... are forever searching for love in forms it never takes, in places it can never be. It must have something to do with the vanished frontier.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
She hated people who thought too much. At that moment, she struck me as an appropriate representative for almost all mankind.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Maturity...is knowing what your limitations are...Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours all day long and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before. He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
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: "Nothing.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Round and round we spin, with feet of lead and wings of tin.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
You'll forget it when you're dead, and so will I. When I'm dead, I'm going to forget everything–and I advise you to do the same.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
As Bokonon says: 'peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from god.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Self-taught, are you?" Julian Castle asked Newt. "Isn't everybody?" Newt inquired. "Very good answer.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Busy, busy, busy, is what we Bokononists whisper whenever we think of how complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
As stupid and vicious as men are, this is a lovely day.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
How complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Anyone unable to understand how useful religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
I said I wasn't interested, and she was bright enough to say that she wasn't really interested either. As things turned out, we both overestimated our apathies, but not that much.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
The heartbreaking necessity of lying about reality and the heartbreaking impossibilty of lying about it
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Sometimes I wonder if he wasn't born dead. I never met a man who was less interested in the living. Sometimes I think that's the trouble with the world: too many people in high places who are stone-cold dead.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
She was a fool, and so am I, and so is anyone who thinks he sees what God is Doing, [writes Bokonon].
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat's Cradle)
Live by the foma* that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy. *Harmless untruths
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
I do not say that children at war do not die like men, if they have to die. To their everlasting honor and our everlasting shame, they do die like men, thus making possible the manly jubilation of patriotic holidays. But they are murdered children all the same.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Americans . . . are forever searching for love in forms it never takes, in places it can never be.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
The most heartbreakingly beautiful girl I ever hope to see
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
If I were a younger man, I would write a history of human stupidity; and I would climb to the top of Mount McCabe and lie down on my back with my history for a pillow; and I would take from the ground some of the blue-white poison that makes statues of men; and I would make a statue of myself, lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
See the cat? See the cradle?
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
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. Amen.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Life is a garden, not a road. We enter and exit through the same gate. Wandering, where we go matters less than what we notice.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
I could carve a better man out of a banana.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
No damn cat, and no damn cradle.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
The words were a paraphrase of the suggestion of 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.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
She broke my heart. I didn't like that much. But that was the price. In this world, you get what you pay for.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Maturity, the way I understand it, is knowing what your limitations are.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
We'd all do well to start over again, preferably with kindergarten.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
It is never a mistake to say good-bye.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Think of what a paradise this world would be if men were kind and wise.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
A lover's a liar, To himself he lies, The truthful are loveless, Like oysters their eyes!
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Sometimes I think that's the trouble with the world: too many people in high places who are stone-cold dead.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
History! Read it and weep!
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
I am a very bad scientist. I will do anything to make a human being feel better, even if it's unscientific. No scientist worthy of the name could say such a thing.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
I think, therefore I am, therefore I am photographable.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
After the thing went off, after it was a sure thing that America could wipe out a city with just one bomb, a scientist turned to Father and said, 'Science has now known sin.' And do you know what Father said? He said, 'What is sin?
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Nothing in this book is true.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Oh, a sleeping drunkard Up in Central Park, And a lion-hunter In the jungle dark, And a Chinese dentist, And a British queen-- All fit together In the same machine. Nice, nice, very nice; Nice, nice, very nice; Nice, nice, very nice-- So many different people In the same device.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
My god-life! who can understand eve one little minute of it? 'don't try' he said 'just pretend you understand.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Nothing is generous. New knowledge is a valuable commodity. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we are.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
It's a small world." . . . "When you put it in a cemetery it is.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
When a man becomes a writer, I think he takes on a sacred obligation to produce beauty and enlighenment and comfort at top speed
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before," Bokonon tells us. "He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Having a yacht is a reason for being more cheerful than most.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
In this world, you get what you pay for.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
What makes you think a writer isn't a drug salesman?
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
My soul seemed as foul as smoke from burning cat fur.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Pay no attention to Caesar. Caesar doesn't have the slightest idea what's really going on.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
A pissant is somebody who thinks he’s so damn smart, he can never keep his mouth shut. No matter what anybody says, he’s got to argue with it. You say you like something, and, by God, he’ll tell you why you’re wrong to like it. A pissant does his best to make you feel like a boob all the time. No matter what you say, he knows better.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
On the day they dropped the bomb Frank had a tablespoon and a Mason jar. What he was doing was spooning different kinds of bugs into the jar and making them fight....I can remember other bug fights we staged later on...They won't fight unless you keep shaking the jar.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
man is vile, and man makes nothing worth making, knows nothing worth knowing.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
My God-- life! Who can understand even one little minute of it?' 'Don't try,' he said. 'Just pretend you understand.' 'That's-- that's very good advice.' I went limp.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
What is the secret of life?’ I asked. ‘I forget,’ said Sandra. ‘Protein,’ the bartender declared. ‘They found something out about protein.‘ ‘Yeah,’ said Sandra, ‘that’s it.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Oh," said Castle. "Him." He shrugged. "People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order, so they'll have good voice boxes in case there's ever anything really meaningful to say.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat's Cradle)
It's nice to be nice.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
The highest possible form of treason is to say that Americans aren’t loved wherever they go, whatever they do.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
They were lovebirds. They entertained each other endlessly with little gifts: sights worth seeing out the plane window, amusing or instructive bits from things they read, random recollections of times gone by. They were, I think, a flawless example of what Bokonon calls a duprass, which is a karass composed of only two persons.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around. Lucky me, lucky mud.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
A pissant does his best to make you feel like a boob all the time.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
God never wrote a good play in his life.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Man blinked. “What is the purpose of all this?” he asked politely. “Everything must have a purpose?” asked God. “Certainly,” said man. “Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this,” said God. And He went away. I
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat's Cradle)
No damn cat, no damn Cradle.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Mister, when I see my first lady angel, if God ever sees fit to show me one, it’ll be her wings not her face that’ll make my mouth fall open. I’ve already seen the prettiest face that ever could be.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Why should I bother with made-up games when there are so many real ones going on?
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
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.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat's Cradle)
She turned to examine Dr. Breed, looking at him with helpless reproach. She hated people who thought too much. At that moment, she struck me as an appropriate representative for almost all mankind.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
I don't think he was knowable. I mean, when most people talk about knowing somebody a lot or a little, they're talking about the secrets they've been told or haven't been told. They're talking about intimate things, family things, love things," that nice old lady said to me. "Mr. Hoenikker had all those things in his life, the way every living person has to, but they weren't the main things with him.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
It posed the question posed by all such stone piles.: how had puny men moved stones so big? And, like all such stone piles, it answered the question itself. Dumb terror had moved those stones so big
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
And we all vied, in saving face, to be the greatest student of human nature, the person with the quickest sense of humor.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
So I said good-bye to government, And I gave my reason: That a really good religion Is a form a treason
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
God made mud. God got lonesome. So God said to some of that 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.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
We don't make bicycles anymore. It's all human relations now. The eggheads sit around trying to figure out new ways for everyone 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.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close as mud as man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. “What is the purpose of all this?” he asked politely. “Everything must have a purpose?” asked God. “Certainly,” said man. “Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this,” said God. And He went away.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
The mountebank told them that God was surely trying to kill them, possibly because He was through with them, and that they should have the good manners to die. This, as you can see, they did.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Ladies and Gentlemen, I stand before you now because I never stopped dawdling like an eight-year-old on a spring morning on his way to school. Anything can make me stop and look and wonder, and sometimes learn. I am a very happy man. Thank you. - Dr. Hoenikker's Nobel Prize acceptance speech (in its entirety); chapter 5
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
Young Castle called me "Scoop." "Good Morning, Scoop. What's new in the word game?" "I might ask the same of you," I replied. "I'm thinking of calling a general strike of all writers until mankind finally comes to its senses. Would you support it?" "Do writers have a right to strike? That would be like the police or the firemen walking out." "Or the college professors." "Or the college professors," I agreed. I shook my head. "No, I don't think my conscience would let me support a strike like that. When a man becomes a writer, I think he takes a sacred obligation to produce beauty and enlightenment and comfort at top speed." "I just can't help thinking what a real shake up it would give people if, all of a sudden, there were no new books, new plays, new histories, new poems..." "And how proud would you be when people started dying like flies?" I demanded. "They'd die more like mad dogs, I think--snarling & snapping at each other & biting their own tails." I turned to Castle the elder. "Sir, how does a man die when he's deprived of the consolation 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!
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
The driver asked me if I would mind another brief detour, this time to a tombstone salesroom across the street from the cemetery. I wasn't a Bokononist then, so I agreed with some peevishness. As a Bokononist, of course, I would have agreed gaily to go anywhere anyone suggested. As Bokonon says: 'Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
But people didn't have to pay as much attention to the awful truth. As the living legend of the cruel tyrant in the city and the gentle holy man in the jungle grew, so, too, did the happiness of the people grow. They were all employed full time as actors in a play they understood, that any human being anywhere could understand and applaud.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
I once knew an Episcopalian lady in Newport, Rhode Island who asked me to design and build a doghouse for her Great Dane. The lady claimed to understand God and His Ways of Working perfectly. She could not understand why anyone should be puzzled about what had been or about what was going to be. And yet, when I showed her a blueprint of the doghouse I proposed to build, she said to me, "I'm sorry, but I never could read one of those things." Give it to your husband or your minister to pass on to God," I said, "and, when God finds a minute, I'm sure he'll explain this doghouse of mine in a way that even YOU can understand.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
The whore, who said her name was Sandra, offered me delights unobtainable outside of Place Pigalle and Port Said. I said I wasn't interested, and she was bright enough to say that she wasn't really interested either. As things turned out, we had both overestimated our apathies, but not by much.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
We talked about phonies. We talked about truth. We talked about gangsters; we talked about business. We talked about the nice poor people who went to the electric chair; and we talked about the rich bastards who didn't. We talked about religious people who had perversions. We talked about a lot of things. We got drunk.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
He said he hoped a lot of us would have careers in science,' she said. She didn't see anything funny in that. She was remembering a lesson that had impressed her. She was repeating it, gropingly, dutifully. 'He said, the trouble with the world was...' 'The trouble with the world was,' she continued hesitatingly, 'that people were still superstitious instead of scientific. He said if everybody would study science more, there wouldn't be all the trouble there was.' 'He said science was going to discover the basic secret of life some day,' the bartender put in. He scratched his head and frowned. 'Didn't I read in the paper the other day where they'd finally found out what it was?' 'I missed that,' I murmured. ' I saw that, said Sandra. "About two days ago.' 'That's right,' said the bartender. 'What is the secret of life?' I asked. 'I forget,' said Sandra. 'Protein,' the bartender declared. 'They found out something about protein.' 'Yeah,' said Sandra, 'that's it.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Cat’s Cradle)
I have graded my separate works from A to D. The grades I hand out to myself do not place me in literary history. I am comparing myself with myself. Thus can I give myself an A-plus for Cat’s Cradle, while knowing that there was a writer named William Shakespeare. The report card is chronological, so you can plot my rise and fall on graph paper, if you like: Player Piano B The Sirens of Titan A Mother Night A Cat’s Cradle A-plus God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater A Slaughterhouse-Five A-plus Welcome to the Monkey House B-minus Happy Birthday, Wanda June D Breakfast of Champions C Wampeters, Foma & Grandfalloons C Slapstick D Jailbird A Palm Sunday C
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.