Kurt Vonnegut lecture “Nothing means anything”
(A snippet from the Kurt Vonnegut lecture “Nothing means anything” – November 8, 1970. Kurt walked into a class room at NYU. He was a guest speaker that day. He’d prepared some handwritten notes on what he wanted to say: there were his thoughts on the art of writing, his childhood, the death of his parents. He jumped from topic to topic as he shuffled through his papers. Sometimes his voice trailed off. He delivered punchlines with perfect timing. The class roared. Listen to this recording of it, be a fly on the wall that day.)
I’ve heard that a writer is lucky because he cures himself every day with his work. What everybody is well advised to do is to not write about your own life — this is, if you want to write fast. You will be writing about your own life anyway — but you won’t know it.
And, the thing is, in order to sit alone and work alone all day long, you must be a terrible overreactor. You’re sitting there doing what paranoids do — putting together clues, making them add up… Putting the fact that they put me in room 471… What does that mean and everything?
Well, nothing means anything — except the artist makes his living by pretending, by putting it in a meaningful hole, though no such holes exist… and you need paranoia for energy too.
You must be terribly worried and secretly full of hate.