For those of you who are not familiar with the work of Kurt Vonnegut, he is one of the most prolific and hilarious novelists of our time.
For those of you who are, you know what I mean. He is a satirist who basically points out the ridiculous behaviors of individual humans and of society as a whole, in a way that makes his readers realize how preposterous life really is.
One Vonnegut book has particularly affected my daily life, and I feel that I should share some of the basic terminology with you; it is my goal for everyone to be able to use the terms that Vonnegut uses in his work "Cat's Cradle," as they are so widely applicable to the lives of UT students.
In "Cat's Cradle" Vonnegut invents an entire religion that his narrator follows and that helps him to explain the events of his life. This religion was founded by a man named Bokonon, whose texts have something to say about everything.
The following is a list of terms included in the Bokonon religion that may be very helpful to explain mysterious events and situations in your lives.
Karass: a team that is organized by God to carry out God's Will, without ever discovering what it is doing.
"If you find your life tangled up with somebody else's life for no very logical reasons, that person may be a member of your karass," says Bokonon.
You may, at this point in your college career, find yourself surrounded by several people who like to enjoy an ice cold beer or 14 now and then or every day. This until-now-unexplainable phenomenon may mean that these people who have come to surround you are indeed members of your karass. You have not yet come to discover that the reason your karass was organized is perhaps to keep the brewing companies in business.
(Keep in mind that karasses are difficult to define, and that some may intersect. So your karass may consist of other kayakers, musicians or even other groups with no determinable common denominator.)
Wampeter: the pivot of a karass. "No karass is without a wampeter," says Bokonon. In the above example, the wampeter is that case of beer in the fridge, or that keg on the front porch.
Whatever the wampeter is, "the members of its karass revolve about it in the majestic chaos of a spiral nebula," says Bokonon.
"Majestic chaos" is a beautiful way to describe the scene of a drunken college party or a bar at the time of last call. It is all revolving around the wampeter - the beer or what have you.
Granfalloon: a false karass, a seeming team that is meaningless in terms of the ways God gets things done.
SGA, for example, would be a prime example of a granfalloon. The Bush administration would be another.
Bokonon also extends this definition to almost all clubs - like fraternities and sororities. People that are in granfalloons always say things like, "Oh! You're a Phi Mu!" and like to believe that this gives them a very special common bond.
Foma: lies. This is extremely applicable if an SGA candidate tells you what they would like to do for UT. All you have to say is "foma!"
To end, I will leave you with a wonderful quote from Bokonon: "Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God."
This is perhaps one of the most important of Bokonon's teachings for UT college students.
So when a member of your karass asks you the peculiar question, "Do you wanna head down to the bar?" don't ask questions. Just dance away, like I am doing now.
- Holly Haworth is the entertainment editor of The Daily Beacon, avid Vonnegut lover and junior in rhetoric and writing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Book inspires columnist
Published: Fri Mar 26, 2004 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 05:59 p.m.