“Everything is nothing, with a twist” — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Acrylic and ink on canvas. 12"x 9"

Acrylic and ink on canvas. 12″x 9″

Paper, acrylic wash, and ink on canvas. 12" x 9"

Paper, acrylic wash, and ink on canvas. 12″ x 9″

When I was in my last year of high school I mostly kept to myself. I found myself in the library a lot of the time.

When I was working at Indigo, someone recommended Look at the Birdie. From there I moved on to Cat’s Cradle, and Slaughterhouse-five. They were quick reads and sometimes, even now, I forget about Vonnegut, but something of his writing stuck with me. He really does get his message across with humour.

I recently read Mother Night. I had heard it was the funniest book on the Holocaust (that’s not why I wanted to read it. I seem to be drawn to the overall topic of the Holocaust). It was strange and very much a “Vonnegut novel.” What I liked most about it was the extra insight given to the reader. In the novel’s introduction, Vonnegut tells us that, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be” (v).

Instantly, it is easy to be suspicious of Howard W. Campbell, Jr., because he pretends to be a Nazi propagandist. Yet, I often found that I understood Campbell. After all, isn’t he just trying to survive?

At the same time, I find him irksome because he spurred others into hating. And he was very good at inspiring hate. Kind of suspicious? Indeed.

Back to the paintings. In the background of both paintings are parts of Slaughterhouse-five. The portrait is pretty classic of Vonnegut.

In the second piece I have used a Vonnegut quoteThe circle represents nothing, and everything represents infinity. I have fallen in love with the quote. It makes me want to read more of Vonnegut. Reading his novels now as an adult, my perspective might change. That’s usually not a bad thing.

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This entry was published on Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 10:42 pm. It’s filed under Artwork and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on ““Everything is nothing, with a twist” — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

  1. The whole reflection of us being “What we pretend to be” is fascinating. I used to be fascinated by the holocaust as well, and the way certain political situations allow aspects of humanity to surface, for good or bad, which otherwise might remain dormant.

  2. Hi Emily,

    Would it be possible to receive your permission to include your “everything is nothing” image in the (serious) humor section in a future issue of the TAT Forum (link below) with an appropriate attribution and link to your site?

    The TAT Foundation is a not-for-profit educational foundation operating since the 1970s to encourage people seeking answers to the deep questions of life to work together.

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