motto lotto

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Kilgore Trout on ideas, earthlings

And here, according to Trout, was the reason human beings could not reject ideas because they were bad: "Ideas on Earth were badges of friendship or enmity. Their content didn't matter. Friends agreed with friends, in order to express friendliness. Enemies disagreed with enemies, in order to express enmity.

"The ideas Earthlings held didn't matter for hundreds of thousands of years, since they couldn't do much about them anyway. Ideas might as well be badges as anything.

"They even had a saying about the futility of ideas: 'If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.'

"And then Earthlings discovered tools. Suddenly agreeing with friends could be a form of suicide or worse. But agreements went on, not for the sake of common sense or decency or self-preservation, but for friendliness.

"Earthlings went on being friendly, when they should have been thinking instead. And when they built computers to do some thinking for them, they designed them not so much for wisdom as for friendliness. So they were doomed. Homicidal beggars could ride."

Kurt Vonnegut (Breakfast of Champions p. 28)

1 comment:

Mike said...

So I had Beatrice Keedsler say to Rabo Karabekian there at the pianobar, “This is a dreadful confession, but I don’t even know who Saint Anthony was. Who was he, and why should anybody have wanted totempt him?”

“I don’t know, and I would hate to find out,” said Karabekian.

“You have no use for truth?” said Beatrice.

“You know what truth is?” said Karabekian. “It’s some crazy thing my neighbor believes. If I want to make friends with him, I ask him what he believes. He tells me, and I say, ‘Yeah, yeah—ain’t it the truth?’ (p. 209)