Monday, March 22, 2010

Welcome to the Monkey House

I first stumbled across Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. in Miss Deubler's
8th grade American History class. His short story Report on
the Barnhouse Effect was reprinted in the Weekly Reader,
and she had us read it in class. Vonnegut was heady stuff for
an 8th grader.

Later, I loved Cat's Cradle, liked Slaughterhouse-Five, and
struggled with Breakfast of Champions. Maybe, due to Miss
Deubler, my favorite Vonnegut is Welcome to the Monkey
House, a collection of his short stories written in the 1950's,
which includes Report on the Barnhouse Effect.

Drifting around the Internet last weekend, I came upon an
essay offering what I thought was a very unique interpretation
of the short story Harrison Bergeron. Puzzled, I went to the
book shelves to find Monkey House and re-read the story.
Great opening (might be a candidate for the top 25):

"THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal.
They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were
equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody
else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody
was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality
was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the
Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of the agents of
the United States Handicapper General."

Re-reading the short story and thinking about the unique
interpretation, just reinforced the notions that we all see the
world through our own particular set of filters and that you
can find just about anything on the Internet.

Read the whole short story here. It is worth the time.

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