Unstuck in Time

So Darling Ones,

Last night I watched “Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time.” As I’m sure you’ve surmised it’s a documentary about Vonnegut. You can watch it on Hulu.

At one point in the movie they show a clip of a speech where he utters this famous line from Man Without a Country:

“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”

I murmured, exclaimed, and thought that very thing many times last night throughout the movie, especially the parts of the movie that were accompanied by a bowl of kettle corn smothered in everything but the elote seasoning.

There were times I wasn’t sure my heart was going to be able to handle the movie. Like when Vonnegut talked about how much he loved his sister and when I learned she grew to be six-foot tall and had bad posture because she hated it. Or when his daughters talked about the weird way he sat when he wrote. Or when he cackled about the odd/funny deaths of so many men he knew in WWII.

Since I’ve read a ton of his books, I knew Vonnegut had a deep vein of sadness that ran through him, and that sadness lived comfortably next to his humor and his optimism. Seeing all that in his eyes as he spoke, as he walked around, and he lived his life was difficult sometimes. Even though he was a much beloved author his loneliness was palpable. I’m convinced some people are just born that way.

When John Irving, pictured above, came on the screen I unexpectedly burst into tears. I had come unstuck in time.

All I could think about was how much it would have meant to 1992 me to see this movie. To see Irving talk about how fascinating Vonnegut was would have made that lonely, twenty-year-old nerd feel so good. I don’t know why twenty-something me was forefront in my mind because I had ample evidence dripping down my cheeks that this meant quite a bit to 2022 me. However, now that I think about it a bit buried deep in 2022 me is still 1992 me who was so lonely and afraid. That version of me did not have much besides the joy discovered in John Irving’s book and shortly thereafter Vonnegut’s.

I’m not entirely sure why I find this kind of thing makes me so happy and validated, but I do. Remember when Elizabeth McCracken talked about Geek Love?

Maybe when someone I idolize loves and appreciates the same things I do it makes me feel like I’m part of their magical karass. It’s not even like these literary loves of mine are obscure. It is not shocking that great writers admire other great writers, and yet. . . it still turns me into a giant goober.

It doesn’t even have to be writers. Wolfdogg told me recently the first line of Phoebe Bridgers’ “The End is Near” is a riff on a Bill Sullivan, tour manager for The Replacements, bit he’d do when he’s on tour.

Anyway, the movie is most excellent. It portrays Vonnegut as a flawed man, which I liked because it makes him more real. You should watch it when you have a chance.

Gooberly yours,
Jodi

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