Thursday, March 8, 2012
the last book I ever read (God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, excerpt five)
from Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater:
"A personal fortune as great as yours, Mr. Buntline," old McAllister went on, those many fateful years ago, "is a miracle, thrilling and rare. You have come by it effortlessly, and so have little opportunity to learn what it is. In order to help you learn something about its miraculousness, I have to offer what is perhaps an insult. Here it is, like it or not: Your fortune is the most important single determinant of what you think of yourself and of what others think of you. Because of the money, you are extraordinary. Without it, for example, you would not now be taking the priceless time of a senior partner in McAllister, Robjent, Reed and McGee.
"If you give away your money, you will become utterly ordinary, unless you happen to be a genius. You aren't a genius, are you, Mr. Buntline?"
"Um. And, genius or not, without money you'll surely be less comfortable and free. Not only that, but you will be volunteering your descendents for the muggy, sorehead way of life peculiar to persons who might have been rich and free, had not a soft-headed ancestor piddled a fortune away.
"Cling to your miracle, Mr. Buntline. Money is dehydrated Utopia. This is a dog's life for almost everybody, as your professors have taken such pains to point out. But, because of your miracle, life for you and yours can be a paradise! Let me see you smile! Let me see that you already understand what they do not teach at Harvard until the junior year: That to be born rich and to stay rich is something less than a felony."