I just finished reading Kurt Vonnegut's fantastic book Breakfast of Champions. What I love about Vonnegut is how he uses humor to talk about very serious issues, mostly dealing with American culture and society. When I read a book as good as that one, I like to underline passages that really speak to me. Here are some quotes from the book that I really love:
"We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane."
"I'm going out there to show them what nobody has ever seen at an arts festival before: a representative of all the thousands of artists who devoted their entire lives to a search for beauty and truth--and didn't find doodley-squat!"
"Almost all the messages which were sent and received in his country, even the telepathic ones, had to do with buying or selling some damn thing."
"What is the purpose of life?...To be the eyes and ears and conscience of the Creator of the Universe, you fool."
"The whole city was dangerous--because of chemicals and the uneven distribution of wealth and so on."
"Trout asked him what it had felt like to work for an industry whose business was to destroy the countryside, and the old man said he was usually too tired to care."
"It didn't matter much what most people in Midland City said out loud, except when they were talking about money or structures or travel or machinery--or other measurable things...Their imaginations were flywheels on the ramshackle machinery of the awful truth."
"He was a graduate of West Point, a military academy which turned young men into homicidal maniacs for use in war."
"His military training was useless, despite all the medals he won. The armed forces knew he was a homosexual, that he was certain to fall in love with other fighting men, and the armed forces didn't want to put up with such love affairs."
"This much I knew and know: I was making myself hideously uncomfortable by not narrowing my attention to details of life which were immediately important, and by refusing to believe what my neighbors believed."
"Here is what he hoped new truths might do for him: enable him to laugh at his troubles, to go on living, and to keep out of the North Wing of the Midland County General Hospital, which was for lunatics."
"Teach us to sing and dance and laugh and cry. We've tried to survive too long on money and sex and envy and real estate and football and basketball and automobiles and television and alcohol--on sawdust and broken glass!"
"Maple sugar was a kind of candy made from the blood of trees."
"We Americans require symbols which are richly colored and three-dimensional and juicy. Most of all, we hunger for symbols which have not been poisoned by great sins our nation has committed, such as slavery and genocide and criminal neglect, or by tinhorn commercial greed and cunning."
"Here was what Kilgore Trout cried out to me in my father's voice, 'Make me young, make me young, make me young!'"