Perhaps most of his readers don't think of him that way, but Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., happens to be, among other things, one of the great commentators on atrocity of our age. These two brief excerpts. from his novel Cat's Cradle give us two Vonnegutian views of twentieth-century death, absurd and (in a surprisingly serious tone) more absurd.
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
So I was privileged to see the last rites of the Bokononist faith.
We made an effort to find someone among the soldiers and the household staff who would admit that he knew the rites and would give them to "Papa." We got no volunteers. That was hardly surprising, with a hook and an oubliette so near.
So. Dr. von Koenigswald said that he would have a go at the job. He had never administered the rites before, but he had seen Julian Castle do it hundreds of times.
"Are you a Bokononist?" I asked him.
"I agree with one Bokononist idea. I agree that all religions, including Bokononism, are nothing but lies."
"Will this bother you as a scientist," I inquired, "to go through a ritual like this?"
"I am a very bad scientist. I will do anything to make a human being feel better, even if it's unscientific. No scientist worthy of the name could say such a thing."
And he climbed into the golden boat with "Papa." He sat in the stern. Cramped quarters obliged him to have the golden tiller under one arm.
He wore sandals without socks, and he took these off. And then he rolled back the covers at the foot of the bed, exposing "Papa's" bare feet. He put the soles of his feet against "Papa's" feet, assuming the classical position for boko-maru.
"Gott mate mutt.," crooned Dr. von Koenigswald.