Good morning, scholars! How’re you feeling? Has the second round of midterms got you down? Finals seeming close? Excited to go home for Thanksgiving? We are. You’re doing well? Haven’t given up yet we see. Good. Let’s talk about war.
To be more specific, Kurt Vonnegut’s short yet humorous, in the sick way only Vonnegut can be, essay on War-Preparation Addicts. In his own words: I now wish to call attention to another form of addiction, which has not been previously identified. It is more like gambling than drinking, since the people afflicted are ravenous for situations that will cause their bodies to release exciting chemicals into their bloodstreams. I am persuaded that there are among us people who are tragically hooked on preparations for war.
It has been an incredibly bloody century. Well, over a century now. Two world wars, a cold war, Vietnam, Korea, Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan. And those are just the ones that affect the US. Ask a Rwandan how their 1900s went and you’ll get a whole different list. The whole world seems to be fighting, blowing each other up.
Which of course has very little to do with Vonnegut’s essay. It’s just necessary to get you in the mood for this:
And please understand that the addiction I have identified is to preparations for war. I repeat: to preparations for war, addiction to the thrills of de-mothballing battleships and inventing weapons systems against which there cannot possibly be a defense, supposedly, and urging the citizenry to hate this part of humanity or that one, and knocking over little governments that might aid and abet an enemy someday, and so on. I am not talking about an addiction to war itself, which is a very different matter. A compulsive preparer for war wants to go to big-time war no more than an alcoholic stockbroker wants to pass out with his head in a toilet In the Port Authority bus terminal.
Yeah, obviously this essay was written during the Cold War, a time when the arms race, the space race, the race to be the country with the biggest, the most, the baddest bombs was the number one focus of governments the world over, but we at Core think that it’s always bad to forget the warnings and grievances of the past. It seems apt to recall the frustrations of some of the brightest American minds when it comes to governments that didn’t seem much interested with the needs of their people. Governments with their own, unfathomable agenda. Perhaps we still can relate to that.
But whether this makes you chuckle or frown, cry or laugh, you have to admit, Vonnegut is a great writer; it’s about time someone published his newspaper work. So which ever way you’re leaning, you’ll still enjoy the read. Let us know your thoughts below and have a great day!
Welcome!The Core Blog is a hub for information and media related to the CAS Core Curriculum at Boston University. It will be updated regularly, with photo galleries, interviews, links to related reading online, news of events or activities, and other kinds of content that help connect our Core people—prospective, current, and former students—with each other. You can stop by here once a week to scroll through the posts, or make this your homepage in order to keep your finger on the pulse of the Core. Either way, we hope you find this to be a pleasant way to strengthen your connection with the great people, the great books, and the great questions we encounter in the Core.
Tagsalumni analect Analects Art book club books CC101 CC102 CC105 CC106 CC201 CC202 CC203 CC204 Community dante e-bulletin EnCore event Events evolution faculty fun Gilgamesh Greece history Humanities humor Inequality lecture music odyssey painting philosophy Plato poem poetry postcard reading Ricks Science shakespeare theater video writing