Hocus Pocus Part Two

Posted in Book Reports, Commodity Wisdom, History, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on October 13, 2015









A few minutes ago, this second, and final, section of the book report on Hocus Pocus, by Kurt Vonnegut, was moving along. The formula for the magic number was being calculated. Then a power surge hit, and the unsaved product went to the digital graveyard, never to be seen again. If this had been Slaughterhouse Five, someone would say “so it goes.” However, this is Hocus Pocus, and SIG had been worn out by then.

The number in question relates to the protagonist, Eugene Debs Hartke. The number represents the number of women Mr. Hartke fucked, and the number of Asians killed by Mr. Hartke. A philosophical connection between the two acts is implied. One gets the impression that Mr. Hartke is a fantasy character for KV, whose life and death stats are not as impressive. The number is 82.

HP is, sad to say, not very good. It has the feel of contractual obligation. The satire is forced, and in some cases badly dated. When HP was written, smart people said a new ice age was coming. Today, the smart people are saying the opposite, except for the really smart people, who are on the oil industry payroll and poo poo global warming.

KV is one of those writers who like to throw “facts” in the fiction. The inside front cover of HP has a list of pages, where PG will stick his curmudgeonly nose. The first one is on page 92. (Page numbers in the section are from the peedeeff.) “Do I resent rich people? No. The best or worst I can do is notice them. I agree with the great Socialist writer George Orwell, who felt that rich people were poor people with money.” When a google search shows HP, and a meme, as the source of a quote, then you suspect hogwash. Does hogwash produce clean bacon?

Wikiquotes does not have this quote. The search words used were money, poor, and rich. FWIW, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act” is “disputed.”

There is a lovely quote about Mr. Orwell. “He could not blow his nose without moralising on conditions in the handkerchief industry.” Cyril Connolly, The Evening Colonnade (1973), in John Rodden, Every Intellectual’s Big Brother: George Orwell’s Literary Siblings (2006)

This quote is not in HP, but it is a fun story. @SlavojTweezek “”Communism doesn’t work,” Frank Zappa said, “because people like to own stuff.” Idiot. What do people’s likes have to do with communism?” This quote is plausible. Frank Zappa was a capitalist. He liked owning stuff, especially his own music. It should be easy to find a source. However, the best google can come up with is a compilation, “Quotes of Zappa,” in W. C. Privy’s Original Bathroom Companion.

KV has become somewhat of a liberal icon, a Pall Mall smoking gargoyle of grooviness. Sometimes things that are written in 1989 are not as appealing in 2015. One example is using “oriental” to describe people of Asian origin. Another is this tidbit(p. 95): “She discovered in midlife that she was a lesbian, and ran off with the high school’s girls’ gym teacher to Bermuda, where they gave and probably still give sailing lessons. I made a pass at her one time at an Annual Townand-Gown Mixer up on the hill. I knew she was a lesbian before she did.”

Central to the action in HP is a prison outbreak. In the aftermath of this, the liberated prisoners crucified people they found in town. KV describes nails being driven into hands, which is not how the Romans did it. (p. 83) In Roman/Jewish crucifixions, the nail… really more like a spike, pulled out and used over and over … was driven into the wrist, into a space between two bones. These bones keep the arm securely attached to the cross. KV says (p. 103) “Crucifixion as a mode of execution for the very worst criminals was outlawed by the first Christian Roman Emperor, who was Constantine the Great.” Mr. Google seems to confirm this.

The rest of the cover notes are not as interesting now. It is ironic that a book, published in 1990, would have the main drag, in a key location, called Clinton Street. The only other thing to mention is the book mark that PG used on this book. It is from DeKalb county, and is designed to promote efficient water use. When you look at the corrugated plastic from one angle, the blue hippo says “you will save tens of gallons of water.” When viewed from another angle, the plastic says “take short showers, or half full baths,” while the blue hippo works out with a shower brush.

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.









3 Responses

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  1. Frank Zappa Says | Chamblee54 said, on October 29, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    […] quotes have hit the ether. Some people need to get out more. This item was recently featured in chamblee54. @SlavojTweezek “”Communism doesn’t work,” Frank Zappa said, “because […]

  2. Frank Zappa Says | Chamblee54 said, on October 20, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    […] the ether. Some people need to get out more. This is a repost. This item was recently featured in chamblee54. @SlavojTweezek “”Communism doesn’t work,” Frank Zappa said, “because […]

  3. Frank Zappa | Chamblee54 said, on February 10, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    […] the ether. Some people need to get out more. This is a repost. This item was recently featured in chamblee54. @SlavojTweezek “”Communism doesn’t work,” Frank Zappa said, “because […]

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