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#711310 - 08/12/02 06:35 PM Kurt Vonnegut's commencement address at MIT
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.

I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4:00 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you. Sing.

Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself. Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters.

Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good..

Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future. Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.

Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen....
_________________________
"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

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#711311 - 08/12/02 07:03 PM Re: Kurt Vonnegut's commencement address at MIT
Joy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 550
Loc: Encinitas, CA
Thanks for sharing Vonnegut's address, Bernard.

I've been a long-time fan of his writing. For me, this is a reminder of why.

Joy

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#711312 - 08/12/02 07:07 PM Re: Kurt Vonnegut's commencement address at MIT
Brendan Online   content


Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5228
Loc: McAllen, TX
Did you ever read "Welcome to the Monkey House," Joy?
_________________________
http://www.BrendanKinsella.com

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#711313 - 08/12/02 07:12 PM Re: Kurt Vonnegut's commencement address at MIT
Penny Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2943
Loc: San Juan Capistrano, CA
Sorry to burst all your bubbles, but KV didn't write this. According to www.snopes2.com (an internet myth/urban legend web site):

Kurt Vonnegut was not the 1997 commencement speaker at MIT. That honor went to Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations. The speech attributed to Vonnegut was actually a 1 June 1997 column by Chicago Tribune writer Mary Schmich. As with many other good bits of writing and speech, the attachment of a famous name to the works brings them to the public's attention in a way they could otherwise not have achieved.

(Echoes within echoes: Georgia State University graduates may remember Ted Turner's speech at their graduation in 1994. Turner, facing a skin cancer operation, told them: "The one piece of advice I can give you is put on sunscreen and wear a hat.")

In 1998, the text of the Mary Schmich piece was turned into a "spoken voice" recording featuring the voice of Australian actor Lee Perry. Titled "Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen," the piece immediately became a cult hit in Australia, and by early 1999 the "song" was taking America by storm.

2002 saw the "Vonnegut/MIT commencement speech" tale circulated anew, that time identified as the speech given to the graduating class of 2002.

penny

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#711314 - 08/12/02 07:38 PM Re: Kurt Vonnegut's commencement address at MIT
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
It's a bit of a relief to find out, really. I've been grappling with the New York question lately and was afraid that he might be adding considerable weight to the "leave" column.

But I like the piece very much anyway.
_________________________
"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

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#711315 - 08/12/02 08:07 PM Re: Kurt Vonnegut's commencement address at MIT
nancyww Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/02
Posts: 585
Loc: central oregon
Bernard, YOU'RE BACK!!! How was piano camp? I haven't been over to the pianists corner yet, so please excuse me if you posted over there.

Not being as well read as many here, the "KV commencement address" was new to me. No matter who wrote it, lots of good advice and entertaining to boot.

Thanks. \:\)

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#711316 - 08/12/02 08:15 PM Re: Kurt Vonnegut's commencement address at MIT
jodi Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 6959
Loc: The Evergreen State (WA)
Whoever (whomever?) wrote it, it's marvelous, and oh so TRUE! Thanks for the big laugh! \:D Jodi

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#711317 - 08/12/02 08:58 PM Re: Kurt Vonnegut's commencement address at MIT
DT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 1478
Loc: Illinois
whoever
_________________________
Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell...

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#711318 - 08/12/02 09:08 PM Re: Kurt Vonnegut's commencement address at MIT
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
Hi nancywww. Yes, actually I've been back for over a week but took a small break from PWF. I'll report on Summer Keys in the pianists corner -- probably not til tommorrow, lot's to do tonight.
_________________________
"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

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#711319 - 08/12/02 10:01 PM Re: Kurt Vonnegut's commencement address at MIT
RKVS1 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/01
Posts: 3192
Loc: Topeka, Kansas
And that was one of my most FAVORITE bubbles, Penny. Oh well. Thanks for the skinny, though, its nice to know.
Welcome back Bernard, I'll be reading your report when you post it.
Bob

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#711320 - 08/12/02 11:55 PM Re: Kurt Vonnegut's commencement address at MIT
Joy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 550
Loc: Encinitas, CA
Brendan said:

______________________________________________

Did you ever read "Welcome to the Monkey House," Joy?

______________________________________________

Yes, but way too long ago to remember any of it. Wasn't that his short story collection?

The Vonnegut work that remains in my memory is "Cat's Cradle, " one of his earliest. I thought that book was brilliant. It's a difficult book to find in San Diego. I don't know why. "Slaughterhouse Five" is quite good too.

Joy

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#711321 - 08/13/02 12:11 AM Re: Kurt Vonnegut's commencement address at MIT
JBryan Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/02
Posts: 9798
Loc: Oklahoma City
Breakfast of Champions. Unique way of describing characters notwithstanding. \:D
_________________________
Better to light one small candle than to curse the %&#$@#! darkness.

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#711322 - 08/13/02 12:12 AM Re: Kurt Vonnegut's commencement address at MIT
Joy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 550
Loc: Encinitas, CA
I must confess I was baffled by this one:

"Keep your old love letters."

It's just not the sort of item you'd expect an older street-smart worldly guy like Vonnegut to write.

Now it makes sense.

It's still a well-written piece.

Joy

\:\)

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#711323 - 08/13/02 12:49 AM Re: Kurt Vonnegut's commencement address at MIT
Brendan Online   content


Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5228
Loc: McAllen, TX
My favorite is a recent one - Hocus Pocus. Monkey House had some really great stories - "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow," "Welcome to the Monkey House," "EPICAC" - most of which were absolutely hilarious in a tragic sort of way.
_________________________
http://www.BrendanKinsella.com

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#711324 - 08/13/02 11:02 AM Re: Kurt Vonnegut's commencement address at MIT
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
I'm a "Cat's Cradle" fan as well. Anyone like John Barth? I started reading his books at about the same time as Vonnegut's.

Nina

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