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Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Kurt Vonnegut article)

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Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules — and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress.
I sometimes wondered what the use of any of the arts was. The best thing I could come up with was what I call the canary in the coal mine theory of the arts...
I simply never unlearned junior civics. I still believe in it.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922-11-112007-04-11) was an American novelist known for works blending satire, black comedy, and science fiction.

Contents

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I was taught that the human brain was the crowning glory of evolution so far, but I think it’s a very poor scheme for survival.
  • I sometimes wondered what the use of any of the arts was. The best thing I could come up with was what I call the canary in the coal mine theory of the arts. This theory says that artists are useful to society because they are so sensitive. They are super-sensitive. They keel over like canaries in poison coal mines long before more robust types realize that there is any danger whatsoever.
    • "Physicist, Purge Thyself" in the Chicago Tribune Magazine (22 June 1969)
  • High school is closer to the core of the American experience than anything else I can think of.
    • Introduction to Our Time Is Now: Notes From the High School Underground, John Birmingham, ed. (1970)
  • I was taught in the sixth grade that we had a standing army of just over a hundred thousand men and that the generals had nothing to say about what was done in Washington. I was taught to be proud of that and to pity Europe for having more than a million men under arms and spending all their money on airplanes and tanks. I simply never unlearned junior civics. I still believe in it. I got a very good grade.
    • As quoted by James Lundquist in Kurt Vonnegut (1971)
  • Well, I've worried some about, you know, why write books ... why are we teaching people to write books when presidents and senators do not read them, and generals do not read them. And it's been the university experience that taught me that there is a very good reason, that you catch people before they become generals and presidents and so forth and you poison their minds with ... humanity, and however you want to poison their minds, it's presumably to encourage them to make a better world.
    • "A Talk with Kurt Vonnegut. Jr." by Robert Scholes in The Vonnegut Statement (1973) edited by Jerome Klinkowitz and John Somer October 1966), later published in Conversations With Kurt Vonnegut (1988), p. 123
Find a subject you care about.
  • I was taught that the human brain was the crowning glory of evolution so far, but I think it’s a very poor scheme for survival.
    • As quoted in The Observer [London] (27 December 1987)
  • 1. Find a subject you care about.
    2. Do not ramble, though.
    3. Keep it simple.
    4. Have the guts to cut.
    5. Sound like yourself.
    6. Say what you mean to say.
    7. Pity the readers.
    • As quoted in Science Fictionisms (1995), compiled by William Rotsler
The telling of jokes is an art of its own, and it always rises from some emotional threat. The best jokes are dangerous, and dangerous because they are in some way truthful.
  • You learn about life by the accidents you have, over and over again, and your father is always in your head when that stuff happens. Writing, most of the time, for most people, is an accident and your father is there for that, too. You know, I taught writing for a while and whenever somebody would tell me they were going to write about their dad, I would tell them they might as well go write about killing puppies because neither story was going to work. It just doesn't work. Your father won't let it happen.
  • The telling of jokes is an art of its own, and it always rises from some emotional threat. The best jokes are dangerous, and dangerous because they are in some way truthful.
  • One of the great American tragedies is to have participated in a just war. It's been possible for politicians and movie-makers to encourage us we're always good guys. The Second World War absolutely had to be fought. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. But we never talk about the people we kill. This is never spoken of.
  • I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is."
    • "Knowing What's Nice", an essay from In These Times (2003)
  • We're terrible animals. I think that the Earth's immune system is trying to get rid of us, as well it should.
    • On humans, interviewed by Jon Stewart, The Daily Show (13 September 2005)
I do feel that evolution is being controlled by some sort of divine engineer. ... That’s why we’ve got giraffes and hippopotami and the clap.
  • I have wanted to give Iraq a lesson in democracy — because we’re experienced with it, you know. And, in democracy, after a hundred years, you have to let your slaves go. And, after a hundred and fifty years, you have to let your women vote. And, at the beginning of democracy, is that quite a bit of genocide and ethnic cleansing is quite okay. And that’s what’s going on now.
  • I do feel that evolution is being controlled by some sort of divine engineer. I can't help thinking that. And this engineer knows exactly what he or she is doing and why, and where evolution is headed. That’s why we’ve got giraffes and hippopotami and the clap.
    • On evolution vs. "intelligent design", interviewed by Jon Stewart, The Daily Show (13 September 2005)
  • [When Vonnegut tells his wife he's going out to buy an envelope] Oh, she says, well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore.
THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD WAS MUSIC
  • Where is home? I've wondered where home is, and I realized, it's not Mars or someplace like that, it's Indianapolis when I was nine years old. I had a brother and a sister, a cat and a dog, and a mother and a father and uncles and aunts. And there's no way I can get there again.
  • If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:
    THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
    FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
    WAS MUSIC
    • As quoted in "Vonnegut's Blues For America" Sunday Herald (7 January 2006)
I don't think there would be many jokes, if there weren't constant frustration and fear...
  • The only difference between Bush and Hitler is that Hitler was elected.
    • As quoted in "Kurt Vonnegut's 'Stardust Memory'" by Harvey Wasserman in The Free Press (4 March 2006); In actuality, Hitler also wasn't elected by a clear majority vote. Although the Nazi Party was elected to the largest number of seats in the Reichstag, it did not have a majority, and could only form a government through a coalition. Eventually, Hitler was appointed as Chancellor by President Paul von Hindenburg, and used that position as leverage to gain dictatorial powers.
  • I don't think there would be many jokes, if there weren't constant frustration and fear and so forth. It's a response to bad troubles like crime.
  • People hate it when they're tickled because laughter is not pleasant, if it goes on too long. I think it's a desperate sort of convulsion in desperate circumstances, which helps a little.
  • “My theory is that all women have hydrofluoric acid bottled up inside,” he wrote.
    • Kurt Vonnegut, Writer of Classics of the American Counterculture, Dies at 84 by Dinitia Smith in the NYTimes on April 11, 2007[1]
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Player Piano (1952)

I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.
  • During the war, in hundreds of Iliums over America, managers and engineers learned to get along without their men and women, who went to fight. It was the miracle that won the war — production with almost no manpower. In the patois of the north side of the river, it was the know-how that won the war. Democracy owed its life to know-how.
    • Ch. 1
  • "You think I'm insane?" said Finnerty. Apparently he wanted more of a reaction than Paul had given him.
    "You're still in touch. I guess that's the test."
    "Barely — barely."
    "A psychiatrist could help. There's a good man in Albany."
    Finnerty shook his head. "He'd pull me back into the center, and I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center." He nodded, "Big, undreamed-of things — the people on the edge see them first."
    • Ch. 9
If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you're a one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind.
  • "Strange business," said Lasher. "This crusading spirit of the managers and engineers, the idea of designing and manufacturing and distributing being sort of a holy war: all that folklore was cooked up by public relations and advertising men hired by managers and engineers to make big business popular in the old days, which it certainly wasn't in the beginning. Now, the engineers and managers believe with all their hearts the glorious things their forebears hired people to say about them. Yesterday's snow job becomes today's sermon."
    • Ch. 9
  • In order to get what we've got, Anita, we have, in effect, traded these people out of what was the most important thing on earth to them — the feeling of being needed and useful, the foundation of self-respect.
    • Ch. 18
  • Here it was again, the most ancient of roadforks, one that Paul had glimpsed before, in Kroner's study, months ago. The choice of one course or the other had nothing to do with machines, hierarchies, economics, love, age. It was a purely internal matter. Every child older than six knew the fork, and knew what the good guys did here, and what the bad guys did here. The fork was a familiar one in folk tales the world over, and the good guys and the bad guys, whether in chaps, breechclouts, serapes, leopardskins, or banker's gray pinstripes, all separated here.
    Bad guys turned informer. Good guys didn't — no matter when, no matter what.
    • Ch. 31
  • "Things don't stay the way they are," said Finnerty. "It's too entertaining to try to change them."
    • Ch. 34
  • Everybody's shaking in his boots, so don't be bluffed.
  • Almost nobody's competent, Paul. It's enough to make you cry to see how bad most people are at their jobs. If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you're a one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind.

The Sirens of Titan (1959)

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.
  • Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules — and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress.
    • Dedication page
  • He ransacked his memory like a thief going through another man's billfold.
    • Chapter 1
The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia.
  • A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.
  • It is always pitiful when any human being falls into a condition hardly more respectable than that of an animal. How much more pitiful it is when the person who falls has had all the advantages!
  • There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia.
  • Sometimes I think it is a great mistake to have matter that can think and feel. It complains so. By the same token, though, I suppose that boulders and mountains and moons could be accused of being a little too phlegmatic.
  • Son — they say there isn't any royalty in this country, but do you want me to tell you how to be king of the United States of America? Just fall through the hole in a privy and come out smelling like a rose.
  • Take Care of the People, and God Almighty Will Take Care of Himself.
  • The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart.
  • I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all.
  • The worst thing that could possibly happen to anybody would be to not be used for anything by anybody. Thank you for using me, even though I didn't want to be used by anybody.
  • Puny man can do nothing at all to help or please God Almighty, and Luck is not the hand of God.
  • You go up to a man, and you say, "How are things going, Joe?" and he says, "Oh fine, fine — couldn't be better." And you look into his eyes, and you see things really couldn't be much worse. When you get right down to it, everybody's having a perfectly lousy time of it, and I mean everybody. And the hell of it is, nothing seems to help much.
  • Life for a punctual person is like a roller coaster. All kinds of things are going to happen to you! Sure, I can see the whole roller coaster you're on. And sure — I could give you a piece of paper that would tell you about every dip and turn, warn you about every bogeyman that was going to pop out at you in the tunnels. But that wouldn't help you any. Because you'd still have to take the roller-coaster ride, I didn't design the roller coaster, I don't own it, and I don't say who rides and who doesn't. I just know what it's shaped like.

Mother Night (1961)

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.
  • We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.
    • Introduction
    • Sometimes misquoted as: Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.
  • When you're dead you're dead.
    • Introduction
  • Make love when you can. It's good for you.
    • Introduction
  • Here lies Howard Campbell’s essence,
    Freed from his body’s noisome nuisance.
    His body, empty, prowls the earth,
    Earning what a body’s worth.
    If his body and his essence remain apart,
    Burn his body, but spare this, his heart.
I can't think in terms of boundaries. Those imaginary lines are as unreal to me as elves and pixies. I can't believe that they mark the end or the beginning of anything of real concern to the human soul. Virtues and vices, pleasures and pains cross boundaries at will.
  • There are plenty of good reasons for fighting," I said, "but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too. Where's evil? It's that large part of every man that wants to hate without limit, that wants to hate with God on its side.
  • Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile.
  • "You hate America, don't you?" she said.
    "That would be as silly as loving it," I said. "It's impossible for me to get emotional about it, because real estate doesn't interest me. It's no doubt a great flaw in my personality, but I can't think in terms of boundaries. Those imaginary lines are as unreal to me as elves and pixies. I can't believe that they mark the end or the beginning of anything of real concern to the human soul. Virtues and vices, pleasures and pains cross boundaries at will."
  • Drawn crudely in the dust of three window-panes were a swastika, a hammer and sickle, and the Stars and Stripes. I had drawn the three symbols weeks before, at the conclusion of an argument about patriotism with Kraft. I had given a hearty cheer for each symbol, demonstrating to Kraft the meaning of patriotism to, respectively, a Nazi, a Communist, and an American. "Hooray, hooray, hooray," I'd said.
  • What froze me was the fact that I had absolutely no reason to move in any direction. What had made me move through so many dead and pointless years was curiosity. Now even that flickered out.
  • Generally speaking, espionage offers each spy an opportunity to go crazy in a way he finds irresistible.

Cat's Cradle (1963)

Full title: Cat's Cradle These are just a sample for more from this work see: Cat's Cradle
A karass ignores national, institutional, occupational, familial, and class boundaries. It is as free form as an amoeba.
  • Nothing in this book is true.
  • We Bokonists believe that humanity is organized into teams, teams that do God's Will without ever discovering what they are doing. Such a team is called a karass by Bokonon "If you find your life tangled up with somebody else's life for no very logical reasons," writes Bokonon, "that person may be a member of your karass." At another point in The Books of Bokonon he tells us, "Man created the checkerboard; God created the karass." By that he means that a karass ignores national, institutional, occupational, familial, and class boundaries. It is as free form as an amoeba.
  • Busy, busy, busy.

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965)

Full title: God Bless You, Mr Rosewater, or Pearls Before Swine
You're the only ones zany enough to agonize over time and distance without limit, over mysteries that will never die, over the fact that we are right now determining whether the space voyage for the next billion years or so is going to be Heaven or Hell.
  • I love you sons of bitches. You’re all I read any more. You're the only ones who’ll talk all about the really terrific changes going on, the only ones crazy enough to know that life is a space voyage, and not a short one, either, but one that’ll last for billions of years. You’re the only ones with guts enough to really care about the future, who really notice what machines do to us, what wars do to us, what cities do to us, what big, simple ideas do to us, what tremendous misunderstanding, mistakes, accidents, catastrophes do to us. You're the only ones zany enough to agonize over time and distance without limit, over mysteries that will never die, over the fact that we are right now determining whether the space voyage for the next billion years or so is going to be Heaven or Hell.
    • "Eliot Rosewater" to a group of science fiction writers
  • We few, we happy few, we band of brothers — joined in the serious business of keeping our food, shelter, clothing and loved ones from combining with oxygen.
    • "Eliot Rosewater" to a group of volunteer firemen.
  • Like all real heroes, Charley had a fatal flaw. He refused to believe that he had gonorrhea, whereas the truth was that he did.
    • On Charley Warmergran, the Fire Chief of Rosewater.
  • He alienated his friends in the sciences by thanking them extravagantly for scientific advances he had read about in the recent newspapers and magazines, by assuring them, with a perfectly straight face, that life was getting better and better, thanks to scientific thinking.
    • Concerning Eliot Rosewater.
  • A sum of money is a leading character in this tale about people, just as a sum of honey might properly be a leading character in a tale about bees.
    • Opening line of novel.
  • Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies — "God damn it, you've got to be kind."
  • Pretend to be good always, and even God will be fooled.

Welcome to the Monkey House (1968)

a collection of previously published short stories
  • The public health authorities never mention the main reason many Americans have for smoking heavily, which is that smoking is a fairly sure, fairly honorable form of suicide.
    • Preface
  • I never knew a writer's wife who wasn't beautiful.
    • Preface

Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

Full title: Slaughterhouse-Five, Or The Children's Crusade : A Duty-dance with Death These are just a few samples, for more from this work see Slaughterhouse-Five
So it goes.
  • So it goes.
    • Recurring statement throughout the novel
  • The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.
    When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in the particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is "So it goes."
    • Billy writing a letter to a newspaper describing the Tralfamadorians
  • Billy coughed when the door was opened, and when he coughed he shit thin gruel. This was in accordance with the Third Law of Motion according to Sir Isaac Newton. This law tells us that for each reaction there is a reaction which is equal and opposite in direction. This can be useful in rocketry.
  • Derby described the incredible artificial weather that Earthlings sometimes create for other Earthlings when they don't want those other Earthlings to inhabit Earth any more.

Happy Birthday, Wanda June (1970)

A play, performed in New York City from October 7, 1970 - March 14, 1971
  • Things die. All things die.
    • Introduction, "About This Play"
  • All through the day I'm so confident. That's why I'm such a good salesman, you know? I have confidence, and I look like I have confidence, and that gives other people confidence.
    • "Herb Shuttle"
  • Maybe God has let everybody who ever lived be reborn — so he or she can see how it ends. Even Pitecanthropus erectus and Australopithecus and Sinanthropus pekensis and the Neanderthalers are back on Earth — to see how it ends. They're all on Times Square — making change for peepshows. Or recruiting Marines.
    • "Dr. Norbert Woodley"
  • You know what gets me? ... How everybody says "fuck" and "shit" all the time. I used to be scared shitless I'd say "fuck" or "shit" in public, by accident. Now everybody says "fuck" and "shit", "fuck" and "shit" all the time. Something very big must have happened while we were out of the country.
    • "Col. Looseleaf Harper"
  • The new heroism — put a village idiot into a pressure cooker, seal it up tight, and shoot him at the moon.
    • "Harold Ryan"
  • Hello, I am Wanda June. Today was going to be my birthday, but I was hit by an ice-cream truck before I could have my party. I am dead now. I am in Heaven. That is why my parents did not pick up my cake at the bakery. I am not mad at the ice-cream truck driver, even though he was drunk when he hit me. It didn't hurt much. It wasn't even as bad as the sting of a bumblebee. I am really happy here! It's so much fun. I'm glad the driver was drunk. If he hadn't been, I might not have gone to Heaven for years and years and years. I would have had to go to high school first, and then beauty college. I would have had to get married and have babies and everything. Now I can just play and play and play. Any time I want any pink cotton candy I can have some. Everybody up here is happy — the animals and the dead soldiers and people who went to the electric chair and everything. They're all glad for whatever sent them here. Nobody is mad. We're all too busy playing shuffleboard. So if you think of killing somebody, don't worry about it. Just go ahead and do it. Whoever you do it to should kiss you for doing it. The soldiers up here just love the shrapnel and the tanks and the bayonets and the dum dums that let them play shuffleboard all the time — and drink beer.
    • "Wanda June"
  • Don't lecture me on race relations. I don't have a molecule of prejudice. I've been in battle with every kind of man there is. I've been in bed with every kind of woman there is — from a Laplander to a Tierra del Fuegian. If I'd ever been to the South Pole, there'd be a hell of a lot of penguins who looked like me.
    • "Harold Ryan"
  • No grown woman is a fan of premature ejaculation.
    • "Mildred"
  • I have this theory about why men kill each other and break things. ... Never mind. It's a dumb theory. I was going to say it was all sexual ... but everything is sexual ... but alcohol.
    • "Mildred"
  • When I was a naive young recruit in Spain, I used to wonder why soldiers bayoneted oil paintings, shot the noses off statues and defecated into grand pianos. I now understand: it was to teach civilians the deepest sort of respect for men in uniform — uncontrollable fear.
    • "Harold Ryan"
  • Wars would be a lot better, I think, if guys would say to themselves sometimes "Jesus — I'm not going to do that to the enemy. That's too much."
    • "Col. Looseleaf Harper"

Between Time and Timbuktu (1972)

Full title: Between Time and Timbuktu, or Prometheus-5 (the script for a public-television NET Playhouse special based on previously published material)
  • This script, it seems to me, is the work of professionals who yearned to be as charming as inspired amateurs can sometimes be.
    • "Preface"
  • I don't like film. Film is too clankingly real, too permanent, too industrial for me. ... The worst thing about film, from my point of view, is that it cripples illusions which I have encouraged people to create in their heads. Film doesn't create illusions. It makes them impossible. It's a bullying form of reality, like the model rooms in the furniture department of Bloomingdale's.
    • "Preface"
  • I have become an enthusiast for the printed word again. I have to be that, I now understand, because I want to be a character in all of my works. I can do that in print. In a movie, somehow, the author always vanishes. Everything of mine which has been filmed so far has been one character short, and that character is me.
    • "Preface"

Breakfast of Champions (1973)

Full title: Breakfast of Champions, Or Goodbye Blue Monday!
I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.
  • And so on.
    • recurring phrase
  • Charm was a scheme for making strangers like and trust a person immediately, no matter what the charmer had in mind.
    • page 19
  • I can have oodles of charm when I want to.
    • page 20
  • I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
    It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.
    Armistice Day has become Veterans' Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans' Day is not.
    So I will throw Veterans' Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don't want to throw away any sacred things.
    What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.
    And all music is.
  • Ideas or the lack of them can cause disease.
  • Let us devote to unselfishness the frenzy we once gave gold and underpants.
Roses are red
And ready for plucking
You're sixteen
And ready for high school.
  • Teachers of children in the United States of America wrote this date on blackboards again and again, and asked the children to memorize it with pride and joy: 1492. The teachers told the children that this was when their continent was discovered by human beings. Actually, millions of human beings were already living full and imaginative lives on the continent in 1492. That was simply the year in which sea pirates began to cheat and rob and kill them.
  • Like most science-fiction writers, Trout knew almost nothing about science.
What is the purpose of life?
  • Roses are red
    And ready for plucking
    You're sixteen
    And ready for high school.
  • To be
    the eyes
    and ears
    and conscience
    of the Creator of the Universe,
    you fool.
    • Kilgore Trout's unwritten reply to the question "What is the purpose of life?"
  • Trout trudged onward, a stranger in a strange land. His pilgrimage was rewarded with new wisdom, which would never have been his had he remained in his basement in Cohoes. He learned the answer to a question many human beings were asking themselves so frantically: "What's blocking the traffic on the westbound barrel of the Midland City stretch of the Interstate?"
Symbols can be so beautiful, sometimes.
  • I was on par with the Creator of the Universe there in the dark in the cocktail lounge. I shrunk the Universe to a ball exactly one light-year in diameter. I had it explode. I had it disperse itself again.
    Ask me a question, any question. How old is the Universe? It is one half-second old, but the half-second has lasted one quintillion years so far. Who created it? Nobody created it. It has always been here.
    What is time? It is a serpent which eats its tail, like this:
    This is the snake which uncoiled itself long enough to offer Eve the apple, which looked like this:
    What was the apple which Eve and Adam ate? It was the Creator of the Universe.
    And so on.
    Symbols can be so beautiful, sometimes.
  • He was a graduate of West Point, a military academy which turned young men into homicidal maniacs for use in war.
Our awareness is all that is alive and maybe sacred in any of us. Everything else about us is dead machinery.
  • Why are so many Americans treated by their government as though their lives were as disposable as paper facial tissue? Because that was the way authors customarily treated bit-part players in their made-up tales.
  • It was Trout’s fantasy that somebody would be outraged by the footprints. This would give him the opportunity to reply grandly, “What is it that offends you so? I am simply using man’s first printing press. You are reading a bold and universal headline which says ,’I am here, I am here, I am here.’
  • Listen:
    The waitress brought me another drink. She wanted to light my hurricane lamp again. I wouldn't let her. "Can you see anything in the dark, with your sunglasses on?" she asked me.
    "The big show is inside my head," I said
  • We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane.
    • Kilgore Trout's epitaph
    • Unsourced paraphrase or variant: We are human only to the extent that our ideas remain humane.
  • Hey — guess what: You're the only creature with free will. How does that make you feel?
  • Our awareness is all that is alive and maybe sacred in any of us. Everything else about us is dead machinery.
  • There is no order in the world around us, we must adapt ourselves to the requirements of chaos instead. It is hard to adapt to chaos, but it can be done. I am living proof of that: It can be done.
  • Here was what Kilgore Trout cried out to me in my father's voice: "Make me young, make me young, make me young!"
    • Last line

Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons (1974)

A wampeter is an object around which the lives of many otherwise unrelated people may revolve...
  • Dear Reader: The title of this book is composed of three words from my novel Cat's Cradle. A wampeter is an object around which the lives of many otherwise unrelated people may revolve. The Holy Grail would be a case in point. Foma are harmless untruths, intended to comfort simple souls. An example: "Prosperity is just around the corner." A granfalloon is a proud and meaningless association of human beings. Taken together, the words form as good an umbrella as any for this collection of some of the reviews and essays I've written, a few of the speeches I made.
    • "Preface"
  • I have been a soreheaded occupant of a file drawer labeled “Science Fiction” ... and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a urinal.
    • "Science Fiction", originally published in The New York Times Book Review (ndg)
  • The two real political parties in America are the Winners and the Losers. The people don’t acknowledge this. They claim membership in two imaginary parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, instead.
    • "In a Manner that Must Shame God Himself"
  • This theory argues that artists are useful to society because they are so sensitive. They are supersensitive. They keel over like canaries in coal mines filled with poison gas, long before more robust types realize that any danger is there.
  • The most useful thing I could do before this meeting is to keel over. On the other hand, artists are keeling over by the thousands every day and nobody seems to pay the least attention.

Playboy interview (1973)

Playboy (July 1973)
Human beings will be happier — not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie — but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That’s my utopia.
  • I couldn't survive my own pessimism if I didn't have some kind of sunny little dream. ... Human beings will be happier — not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie — but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That’s my utopia. That's what I want for me.
  • It goes against the American storytelling grain to have someone in a situation he can't get out of, but I think this is very usual in life. There are people, particularly dumb people, who are in terrible trouble and never get out of it, because they're not intelligent enough. It strikes me as gruesome and comical that in our culture we have an expectation that man can always solve his problems. This is so untrue that it makes me want to cry — or laugh.
  • I've often thought there ought to be a manual to hand to little kids, telling them what kind of planet they're on, why they don't fall off it, how much time they've probably got here, how to avoid poison ivy, and so on. I tried to write one once. It was called Welcome to Earth. But I got stuck on explaining why we don't fall off the planet. Gravity is just a word. It doesn't explain anything. If I could get past gravity, I'd tell them how we reproduce, how long we've been here, apparently, and a little bit about evolution. I didn't learn until I was in college about all the other cultures, and I should have learned that in the first grade. A first grader should understand that his or her culture isn't a rational invention; that there are thousands of other cultures and they all work pretty well; that all cultures function on faith rather than truth; that there are lots of alternatives to our own society. Cultural relativity is defensible and attractive. It's also a source of hope. It means we don't have to continue this way if we don't like it.

Bennington College address (1970)

Address to the graduating class at Bennington College; several of these quotes are cited in the Columbia Dictionary of Quotations as coming from an essay titled "When I Was Twenty-One", but, in fact, there is no essay of that title in Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons.
I used to think that science would save us, and science certainly tried. But we can't stand any more tremendous explosions, either for or against democracy.
  • I thought scientists were going to find out exactly how everything worked, and then make it work better. I fully expected that by the time I was twenty-one, some scientist, maybe my brother, would have taken a color photograph of God Almighty — and sold it to Popular Mechanics magazine.
    Scientific truth was going to make us so happy and comfortable. What actually happened when I was twenty-one was that we dropped scientific truth on Hiroshima.
  • We would be a lot safer if the Government would take its money out of science and put it into astrology and the reading of palms. I used to think that science would save us, and science certainly tried. But we can't stand any more tremendous explosions, either for or against democracy.
  • I know that millions of dollars have been spent to produce this splendid graduating class, and that the main hope of your teachers was, once they got through with you, that you would no longer be superstitious. I'm sorry — I have to undo that now. I beg you to believe in the most ridiculous superstition of all: that humanity is at the center of the universe, the fulfiller or the frustrator of the grandest dreams of God Almighty.
    If you can believe that, and make others believe it, then there might be hope for us. Human beings might stop treating each other like garbage, might begin to treasure and protect each other instead. Then it might be all right to have babies again.
  • About astrology and palmistry: They are good because they make people feel vivid and full of possibilities. They are communism at its best. Everybody has a birthday and almost everybody has a palm.
  • Which brings us to the arts, whose purpose, in common with astrology, is to use frauds in order to make human beings seem more wonderful than they really are. Dancers show us human beings who move much more gracefully than human beings really move. Films and books and plays show us people talking much more entertainingly than people really talk, make paltry human enterprises seem important. Singers and musicians show us human beings making sounds far more lovely than human beings really make. Architects give us temples in which something marvelous is obviously going on. Actually, practically nothing is going on inside. And on and on.
  • The arts put man at the center of the universe, whether he belongs there or not. Military science, on the other hand, treats man as garbage — and his children, and his cities, too. Military science is probably right about the contemptibility of man in the vastness of the universe. Still — I deny that contemptibility, and I beg you to deny it, through the creation of appreciation of art.
  • A great swindle of our time is the assumption that science has made religion obsolete. All science has damaged is the story of Adam and Eve and the story of Jonah and the Whale. Everything else holds up pretty well, particularly lessons about fairness and gentleness. People who find those lessons irrelevant in the twentieth century are simply using science as an excuse for greed and harshness. Science has nothing to do with it, friends.

Slapstick (1976)

Full title: Slapstick, or Lonesome No More
I wish that people who are conventionally supposed to love each other would say to each other, when they fight, "Please — a little less love, and a little more common decency."
  • Hi Ho
    • Prologue, and a recurring phrase throughout the book.
  • Love is where you find it. I think it is foolish to go looking for it, and I think it can often be poisonous.
    • Prologue
  • I wish that people who are conventionally supposed to love each other would say to each other, when they fight, "Please — a little less love, and a little more common decency."
    • Prologue
History is merely a list of surprises. ... It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again. Please write that down.
  • Eliza and I composed a precocious critique of the Constitution of the United States of America ... We argued that is was as good a scheme for misery as any, since its success in keeping the common people reasonably happy and proud depended on the strength of the people themselves — and yet it prescribed no practical machinery which would tend to make the people, as opposed to their elected representatives, strong.
    We said it was possible that the framers of the Constitution were blind to the beauty of persons who were without great wealth or powerful friends or public office, but who were nonetheless genuinely strong.
    We thought it was more likely, though, that their framers had not noticed that it was natural, and therefore almost inevitable, that human beings in extraordinary and enduring situations should think of themselves of composing new families. Eliza and I pointed out that this happened no less in democracies than in tyrannies, since human beings were the same the wide world over, and civilized only yesterday.
    Elected representatives, hence, could be expected to become members of the famous and powerful family of elected representatives — which would, perfectly naturally, make them wary and squeamish and stingy with respect to all the other sorts of families which, again, perfectly naturally, subdivided mankind.
    Elize and I ... proposed that the Constitution be amended so as to guarantee that every citizen, no matter how humble, or crazy or incompetent or deformed, somehow be given membership in some family as covertly xenophobic and crafty as the one their public servants formed.
    • Ch. 6
  • Why don't you take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut. Why don't you take a flying fuck at the moooooooooon!
    • Ch. 33, and passim
  • History is merely a list of surprises. ... It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again. Please write that down.
    • Ch. 48
  • If you can do no good, at least do no harm.

Jailbird (1979)

I still believe that peace and plenty and happiness can be worked out some way. I am a fool.
  • Sally In The Garden:

    Sally in the garden,
    Siftin' cinders,
    Lifted up her leg,
    And farted like a man,
    The bursting of her bloomers broke all the winders,
    The cheeks of her ass went (blam, blam, blam)
  • I still believe that peace and plenty and happiness can be worked out some way. I am a fool.
    • p. 14
  • What is flirtatiousness but an argument that life must go on and on and on?
    • p. 24
  • Congressman Nixon had asked me why, as the son of immigrants who had been treated so well by Americans, as a man who had been treated like a son and been sent to Harvard by an American capitalist, I had been so ungrateful to the American economic system.
    The answer I gave him was not original. Nothing about me has ever been original. I repeated what my one-time hero, Kenneth Whistler, had said in reply to the same general sort of question long, long ago. Whistler had been a witness at a trial of strikers accused of violence. The judge had become curious about him, had asked him why such a well-educated man from such a good family would so immerse himself in the working class.
    My stolen answer to Nixon was this: "Why? The Sermon on the Mount, sir."
  • You can't help it but you were born without a heart. At least you tried to believe what the people with hearts believed — so you were a good man just the same.
  • "That was the strength of the Nazis," she said. "They understood God better than anyone. They knew how to make him stay away."

Palm Sunday (1981)

An Autobiographical Collage
The most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.
  • What we will be seeking ... for the rest of our lives will be large, stable communities of like-minded people, which is to say relatives. They no longer exist. The lack of them is not only the main cause, but probably the only cause of our shapeless discontent in the midst of such prosperity.
    • "Thoughts of a Free Thinker", commencement address, Hobart and William Smith Colleges (26 May 1974)
  • What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.
    • "Thoughts of a Free Thinker", commencement address, Hobart and William Smith Colleges (26 May 1974)
  • I think it can be tremendously refreshing if a creator of literature has something on his mind other than the history of literature so far. Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak.
    • "Self-Interview", originally appeared in The Paris Review no. 69 (1977)
  • [Gay Talese's Thy Neighbor's Wife] is for me a secretly deep history of a generation of middle-class American males, my own, which was taught by parents and athletic coaches and scoutmasters and military chaplains and quack doctors and so on to be deeply ashamed of masturbation and wet dreams.
    And the hidden plea in the book is one which first appeared in my eyes when I was fourteen, say, and which has not vanished entirely to this day. It is part of the mystery of me. The plea is addressed by old-fashioned males forever full of jism to any pretty human female, on the street, in a magazine, in a movie — anywhere. The plea is this: "Please, pretty lady, don't make me play with my private parts again."
    • "The Sexual Revolution" (ndg)
  • Jokes can be noble. Laughs are exactly as honorable as tears. Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion, to the futility of thinking and striving anymore. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward — and since I can start thinking and striving again that much sooner.
    • "Palm Sunday", a sermon delivered at St. Clement's Church, New York City (ndg), originally published in The Nation as "Hypocrites You Always Have With You" (ndg)
  • As for literary criticism in general: I have long felt that any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel or a play or a poem is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae or a banana split.
    • The People One Knows
  • And I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This to me is a miracle.
    • "The Noodle Factory", speech given at the dedication of the new library at the University of Connecticut, New London

Deadeye Dick (1982)

We cannot get rid of mankind's fleetingly evil wishes. We can get rid of the machines that make them come true.
  • This is my principal objection to life, I think: It is too easy, when alive, to make perfectly horrible mistakes.
    • p.6
  • Many people found our house spooky, and the attic in fact as full of evil when I was born. It housed a collection of more than three hundred antique and modern firearms. Father had bought them during his and Mother's six-month honeymoon in Europe in 1922. Father thought them beautiful, but they might as well have been copperheads and rattlesnakes. They were murder.
  • I hadn't aimed at anything. If I had thought of the bullet's hitting anything, I don't remember now. I was the great marksman, anyway. If I aimed at nothing, then nothing is what I would hit. The bullet was a symbol, and nobody was ever hurt by a symbol. It was a farewell to my childhood and a confirmation of my manhood. Why didn't I use a blank cartridge? What kind of a symbol would that have been?
    • Describing an accident in which the narrator, as a child, accidentally shot a woman
  • My wife has been killed by a machine which should never have come into the hands of any human being. It is called a firearm. It makes the blackest of all human wishes come true at once, at a distance: that something die. There is evil for you. We cannot get rid of mankind's fleetingly evil wishes. We can get rid of the machines that make them come true. I give you a holy word: DISARM.
    • Statement of the husband of the woman killed in the accident
  • You want to know something? We are still in the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages — they haven't ended yet.
    • Closing lines

Galápagos (1985)

  • Mere opinions, in fact, were as likely to govern people's actions as hard evidence, and were subject to sudden reversals as hard evidence could never be. So the Galapagos Islands could be hell in one moment and heaven in the next, and Julius Caesar could be a statesman in one moment and a butcher in the next, and Ecuadorian paper money could be traded for food, shelter, and clothing in one moment and line the bottom of a birdcage in the next, and the universe could be created by God Almighty in one moment and by a big explosion in the next — and on and on.
  • That, in my opinion, was the most diabolical aspect of those old-time brains: They would tell their owners, in effect, "Here's a crazy thing we could actually do, probably, but would never do it, of course. It's just fun to think about."
    And then, as though in trances, the people would really do it — have slaves fight each other to death in the Colosseum, or burn people alive in the public square for holding opinions which were locally unpopular, or build factories whose only purpose was to kill people in industrial quantities, or to blow up whole cities, and on and on.
  • Why so many of us a million years ago purposely knocked out major chunks of our brains with alcohol from time to time remains an interesting mystery. It may be we were trying to to give evolution a shove in the right direction -- in the direction of smaller brains.

Bluebeard (1987)

Time is liquid.
  • Time is liquid. One moment is no more important than any other and all moments quickly run away.
    • p.82
  • I've got news for Mr. Santayana: we're doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That's what it is to be alive.
    • p. 91, referring to George Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"
Belief is nearly the whole of the Universe, whether based on truth or not.
  • Belief is nearly the whole of the Universe, whether based on truth or not.
    • p. 144
  • Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?
    • p. 168
  • What is literature but an insider's newsletter about affairs relating to molecules, of no importance to anything in the Universe but a few molecules who have the disease called 'thought'.
    • p. 188
  • My soul knows my meat is doing bad things, and is embarrassed. But my meat just keeps right on doing bad, dumb things."
    • p. 246
  • "We're having a celebration, so all sorts of things have been said which are not true," I said. "That's how to act at a party."
  • "I can't help it," I said. "My soul knows my meat is doing bad things, and is embarrassed. But my meat just keeps right on doing bad, dumb things."
    "You and your what?" he said.
    "My soul and my meat," I said.
    "They're separate?" he said.
    "I sure hope they are," I said. I laughed. "I would hate to be responsible for what my meat does."
  • It is a gruesome Disneyland. Nobody is cute there.

Hocus Pocus (1990)

The most important message of a crucifix, to me anyway, was how unspeakably cruel supposedly sane human beings can be when under orders from a superior authority.
  • I think William Shakespeare was the wisest human being I ever heard of. To be perfectly frank, though, that's not saying much. We are impossibly conceited animals, and actually dumb as heck. Ask any teacher. You don't even have to ask a teacher. Ask anybody. Dogs and cats are smarter than we are.
  • The sermon was based on what he claimed was a well-known fact, that there were no Atheists in foxholes. I asked Jack what he thought of the sermon afterwards, and he said, "There's a Chaplain who never visited the front."
  • If facts weren't funny, or scary, or couldn't make you rich, the heck with them.
  • The most important message of a crucifix, to me anyway, was how unspeakably cruel supposedly sane human beings can be when under orders from a superior authority.
  • See the nigger fly the airplane!
  • They're playin our song Gene!
Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn't mean we deserve to conquer the Universe.
  • Beer, of course, is actually a depressant. But poor people will never stop hoping otherwise.
  • She was an alcoholic. I didn't blame myself for that. The worst problem in the life of any alcoholic is alcohol.
  • "I wish I had been born a bird instead," he said.
    "I wish we had all been born birds instead."
  • Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn't mean we deserve to conquer the Universe.
  • How embarrassing to be human.
  • I asked Rob Roy where he had gone to college.
    "Yale," he said.
    I told him what Helen Dole said about Yale, that it ought to be called "Plantation Owners' Tech."
    "I don't get it," he said.
    "I had to ask her to explain it myself," I said. "She said Yale was where plantation owners learned how to get the natives to kill each other instead of them."
  • [Freedom of speech] isn't something somebody else gives you. That's something you give to yourself.
  • Bergeron's epitaph for the planet, I remember, which he said should be carved in big letters in a wall of the Grand Canyon for the flying-saucer people to find, was this:

    WE COULD HAVE SAVED IT
    BUT WE WERE TOO DOGGONE CHEAP

    Only he didn't say 'doggone.'"

  • Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.
  • During my three years in Vietnam, I certainly heard plenty of last words by dying American footsoldiers. Not one of them, however, had illusions that he had somehow accomplished something worthwhile in the process of making the Supreme Sacrifice.

Fates Worse Than Death (1991)

  • I think yet again of my father, who struggled to become a painter after he was forced into early and unwelcome retirement by the Great Depression. He has reason to be optimistic about his new career, since the early stages of his pictures, whether still or portraits or landscapes, were full of pow. Mother, meaning to be helpful, would say of each one: "That's really wonderful, Kurt. Now all you have to do is finish it." He would then ruin it. I remember a portrait he did of his only brother, Alex, who was an insurance salesman, which he called "Special Agent". When he roughed it in, his hand and eye conspired with a few bold strokes to capture several important truths about Alex, including a hint of disappointment. Uncle Alex was a proud graduate of Harvard, who would rather have been a scholar of literature than an insurance man.
    When Father finished the portrait, made sure every square inch of masonite had its share of paint, Uncle Alex had disappeared entirely. We had a drunk and lustful Queen Victoria instead. This was terrible.
  • I don't care if I'm remembered or not when I'm dead. (A scientist I knew at General Electric, who was married to a woman named Josephine, said to me, "Why should I buy life insurance? If I die, I won't care what's happening to Jo. I won't care about anything. I'll be dead.")

Timequake (1996)

These are just a few samples, for more from this work see: Timequake
  • All persons, living and dead, are purely coincidental.
  • Many people need desperately to receive this message: "I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people don't care about them. You are not alone."
  • You were sick, but now you're well, and there's work to do.
    • Kilgore's Creed

Bagombo Snuff Box (1999)

  • As in my other works of fiction: All persons living and dead are purely coincidental, and should not be construed. No names have been changed in order to protect the innocent. Angels protect the innocent as a matter of Heavenly routine.

God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian (1999)

A collection of short pieces first broadcast on NPR in which Vonnegut imagines himself dispatched temporarily by Dr. Jack Kevorkian, allowing him to interview famous dead people.
If it weren't for the message of mercy and pity in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, I wouldn't want to be a human being. I would just as soon be a rattlesnake.
  • My first near-death experience was an accident, a botched anesthesia during a triple bypass. I had listened to several people on TV talk shows who had gone down the blue tunnel to the Pearly Gates, and even beyond the Pearly Gates, or so they said, and then come back to life again. But I certainly wouldn't have set out on such a risky expedition on purpose, without first having survived one ...
    To go through the Pearly Gates, no matter how tempting the interviewee on the other side, as I myself discovered the hard way, is to run the risk that crotchety Saint Peter, depending on his mood, may never let you out again. Think of how heartbroken your friends and relatives would be if, by going through the Pearly Gates to talk to Napoleon, say, you in effect committed suicide.
  • About belief or lack of belief in an afterlife: Some of you may know that I am neither Christian nor Jewish nor Buddist, nor a conventionally religious person of any sort.
    I am a humanist, which mean, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without any expectation of rewards or punishments after I'm dead.
    My German-American ancestors, the earliest of whom settled in our Middle West about the time of our Civil War, called themselves "Freethinkers," which is the same sort of thing. My great grandfather Clemens Vonnegut wrote, for example, "If what Jesus said was good, what can it matter whether he was God or not?"
    I myself have written, "If it weren't for the message of mercy and pity in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, I wouldn't want to be a human being. I would just as soon be a rattlesnake."
    • In A Man Without a Country (2005) p. 80 -81 Vonnegut makes a very similar statement:
How do humanists feel about Jesus? I say of Jesus, as all humanists do. "If what he said is good, and so much of it is absolutely beautiful, what does it matter if he was God or not?"
But if Christ hadn't delivered the Sermon on the Mount, with its message of mercy and pity, I wouldn't want to be a human being.
I'd just as soon be a rattlesnake.
When my own time comes to join the choir invisible or whatever, God forbid, I hope someone will say, "He's up in Heaven now." Who really knows? I could have dreamed all this.
  • I am honorary president of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great, spectacularly prolific writer and scientist, Dr. Isaac Asimov in that essentially functionless capacity. At an A.H.A. memorial service for my predecessor I said, "Isaac is up in Heaven now." That was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. It rolled them in the aisles. Mirth! Several minutes had to pass before something resembling solemnity could be restored.
    I made that joke, of course, before my first near-death experience — the accidental one.
    So when my own time comes to join the choir invisible or whatever, God forbid, I hope someone will say, "He's up in Heaven now." Who really knows? I could have dreamed all this.
    My epitaph in any case? "Everything was beautiful. Nothing hurt." I will have gotten off so light, whatever the heck it is that was going on.
  • I wish one and all long and happy lives, no matter what may become of them afterwards. Use sunscreen! Don’t smoke cigarettes. Cigars, however, are good for you … Firearms are also good for you … Gunpowder has zero fat and zero cholesterol. That goes for dumdums, too.
  • Freud said he didn’t know what women wanted. I know what women want. They want a whole lot of people to talk to.
  • What do men want? They want a lot of pals, and they wish that people wouldn’t get so mad at them.
  • Ta ta and adios. Or, as Saint Peter said to me with a sly wink, when I told him I was on my last-round trip to Paradise: “See you later, Alligator.”
  • I asked this heroic pet lover how it felt to have died for a schnauzer named Teddy. Salvador Biagiani was philosophical. He said it sure beat dying for absolutely nothing in the Viet Nam War.
  • His plan? To pass out weapons to slaves, so they could overthrow their masters. Suicide.
Sir Isaac is there because of his insatiable curiosity about what the blue tunnel is, how the blue tunnel works.
  • I was lucky enough on this trip to interview none other than the late Adolf Hitler. I was gratified to learn that he now feels remorse for any actions of his, however indirectly, which might have had anything to do with the violent deaths suffered by thirty-five million people during World War II. He and his mistress Eva Braun, of course were among those casualties, along with four million other Germans, six million Jews, eighteen million citizens of the Soviet Union and so on.
    “I paid my dues with everyone else,” he said.
    It is his hope that a modest monument, possibly a stone cross, since he was a Christian, will be erected somewhere in his memory, possibly on the grounds of the United Nations Headquarters in New York. It should be incised, he said, with his name and dates 1889-1945. Underneath should be a two-word sentence in German: “Entschuldigen Sie.”
    Roughly translated into English, this comes out, “I beg your pardon,” or “Excuse Me.”
  • During my controlled near-death experiences, I’ve met Sir Isaac Newton, who died back in 1727 as often as I’ve met Saint Peter. They both hang out at the Heaven end of the blue tunnel of the Afterlife. Saint Peter is there because it’s his job. Sir Isaac is there because of his insatiable curiosity about what the blue tunnel is, how the blue tunnel works.
    It isn’t enough for Newton that during his eighty-five years on Earth he invented calculus, codified and quantified the laws of gravity, motion and optics, and designed the first reflecting telescope. He can’t forgive himself for having left it to Darwin to come up with the theory of evolution, to Pasteur to come up with the germ theory, and to Albert Einstein to come up with relativity. “I must have been deaf, dumb, and blind not to have come up with those myself,” he said to me. “What could have been more obvious?”
  • During my most recently controlled near-death experience, I got to interview William Shakespeare. We did not hit it off. He said the dialect I spoke was the ugliest English he had ever heard, “fit to split the ears of groundlings.” He asked if it had a name, and I said “Indianapolis.”

Cold Turkey (2004)

Essay Cold Turkey at In These Times (10 May 2004)
  • Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.
  • For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.
    "Blessed are the merciful" in a courtroom? "Blessed are the peacemakers" in the Pentagon? Give me a break!
  • There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don’t know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president.
  • What does “A.D.” signify? That commemorates an inmate of this lunatic asylum we call Earth who was nailed to a wooden cross by a bunch of other inmates. With him still conscious, they hammered spikes through his wrists and insteps, and into the wood. Then they set the cross upright, so he dangled up there where even the shortest person in the crowd could see him writhing this way and that. Can you imagine people doing such a thing to a person?
  • Listen. All great literature is about what a bummer it is to be a human being: Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, The Red Badge of Courage, the Iliad and the Odyssey, Crime and Punishment, the Bible and The Charge of the Light Brigade.
  • I have to say this in defense of humankind: No matter in what era in history, including the Garden of Eden, everybody just got there. And, except for the Garden of Eden, there were already all these crazy games going on, which could make you act crazy, even if you weren’t crazy to begin with. Some of the games that were already going on when you got here were love and hate, liberalism and conservatism, automobiles and credit cards, golf and girls’ basketball.
    Even crazier than golf, though, is modern American politics, where, thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.
  • If you want to take my guns away from me, and you’re all for murdering fetuses, and love it when homosexuals marry each other, and want to give them kitchen appliances at their showers, and you’re for the poor, you’re a liberal. If you are against those perversions and for the rich, you’re a conservative. What could be simpler?
  • So let’s give another big tax cut to the super-rich. That’ll teach bin Laden a lesson he won’t soon forget.
  • I am of course notoriously hooked on cigarettes. I keep hoping the things will kill me. A fire at one end and a fool at the other.
  • Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we’re hooked on.
  • One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.

I Love You, Madame Librarian (2004)

Original article from In These Times (6 August 2004)
  • In case you haven’t noticed, we are now almost as feared and hated all over the world as the Nazis were.
  • In case you haven’t noticed, we…dehumanize our own soldiers, not because of their religion or race, but because of their low social class. Send ’em anywhere. Make ’em do anything. Piece of cake.
  • War is now a form of TV entertainment, and what made the First World War so particularly entertaining were two American inventions, barbed wire and the machine gun.
  • Shrapnel was invented by an Englishman of the same name. Don't you wish you could have something named after you?
  • My last words? "Life is no way to treat an animal, not even a mouse."
  • Napalm came from Harvard. Veritas!

A Man Without a Country (2005)

  • And now I want to tell you about my late Uncle Alex. He was my father’s kid brother, a childless graduate of Harvard who was an honest life insurance salesman in Indianapolis. He was well-read and wise. And his principal complaint about other human beings was that they so seldom noticed it when they were happy. So when we were drinking lemonade under an apple tree in the summer, say, and talking lazily about this and that, almost buzzing like honeybees, Uncle Alex would suddenly interrupt the agreeable blather to exclaim, If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is. So I do the same now, and so do my kids and grandkids. And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.
  • Requiem:

    The crucified planet Earth,
    should it find a voice
    and a sense of irony,
    might now well say
    of our abuse of it,
    "Forgive them, Father,
    They know not what they do."

    The irony would be
    that we know what
    we are doing.

    When the last living thing
    has died on account of us,
    how poetical it would be
    if Earth could say,
    in a voice floating up
    perhaps
    from the floor
    of the Grand Canyon,
    "It is done."
    People did not like it here.

  • George W. Bush has gathered around him upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography.
  • Doesn't anything socialistic make you want to throw up? Like great public schools, or health insurance for all?
  • During the Vietnam War, Abbie Hoffman announced that the new high was banana peels taken rectally. So then FBI scientists stuffed banana peels up their asses to find out if this was true or not.
  • What is it, what can it possibly be about blowjobs and golf?
    • Martian Visitor
  • If God were alive today, he would have to be an atheist, because the excrement has hit the air-conditioning big time, big time.
  • Is it possible that seemingly incredible geniuses like Bach and Shakespeare and Einstein were not in fact superhuman, but simply plagiarists, copying great stuff from the future?
  • Old Norwegian Proverb: Swedes have short dicks but long memories.
  • My father said "When in doubt, castle."
  • [Vietnam] only made billionaires out of millionaires. [Iraq] is making trillionaires out of billionaires. Now I call that progress.
  • Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.
  • Humor is an almost physiological response to fear.
  • I think that novels that leave out technology misrepresent life as badly as Victorians misrepresented life by leaving out sex.
  • There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don't' know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president.
  • Socialism is no more an evil word than Christianity. Socialism no more prescribed Joseph Stalin and his secret police and shuttered churches than Christianity prescribed the Spanish Inquisition. Christianity and socialism alike, in fact, prescribe a society dedicated to the proposition that all men, women, and children are created equal and shall not starve.
  • Some of the loudest, most proudly ignorant guessing in the world is going on in Washington today. Our leaders are sick of all the solid information that has been dumped on humanity by research and scholarship and investigative reporting. They think that the whole country is sick of it, and they could be right. It isn't the gold standard that they want to put us back on. They want something even more basic. They want to put us back on the snake-oil standard.
  • The highest treason in the USA is to say Americans are not loved, no matter where they are, no matter what they are doing there.
  • If you actually are an educated, thinking person, you will not be welcome in Washington DC.
  • We are about to be attacked by Al Qaeda. Wave flags if you have them. That always seems to scare them away. I'm kidding.
  • [America's soldiers] are being treated ... like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.
  • While we were being bombed in Dresden, sitting in a cellar with our arms over our heads in case the ceiling fell, one slider said as though he were a duchess in a mansion on a cold and rainy night, “I wonder what the poor people are doing tonight.” Nobody laughed, but we were still all glad he said it.
  • Shrapnel was invented by an Englishman of the same name. Don't you wish you could have something named after you?
  • We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different.
  • Life is no way to treat an animal.
  • If I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, “Kurt is up in heaven now.” That's my favorite joke.
  • A joke is like building a mousetrap from scratch. You have to work pretty hard to make the thing snap when it is supposed to snap.
  • Humor is a way of holding off how awful life can be.
  • I don't know about you, but I practice a disorganized religion. I belong to an unholy disorder. We call ourselves “Our Lady of Perpetual Astonishment.”
  • There is no good reason good can't triumph over evil, if only angels will get organized along the lines of the mafia.
  • You know, the truth can be really powerful stuff. You're not expecting it.
  • Evolution is so creative. That's how we got giraffes.
  • Do you think Arabs are dumb? They gave us our numbers. Try doing long division with Roman numerals.
  • It is almost always a mistake to mention Abraham Lincoln. He always steals the show.
  • We've sure come a long way since then. Sometimes I wish we hadn't. I hate H-bombs and the Jerry Springer show.
  • If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

Unsourced

Vonnegut is one of those major iconic figures to whom, over time, many statements become attributed; unsourced attributions to him should usually be treated with some skepticism, and often a great deal of it.
  • I have long felt that any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae or a banana split.
    • quoted in “The War Between Writers and Reviewers,” New York Times Book Review (6 January 1985).
  • When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.
  • It is a very mixed blessing to be brought back from the dead.
  • If people think nature is their friend, then they sure don't need an enemy.
  • The two prime movers in the Universe are Time and Luck. [2]
  • True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.
  • We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.
  • We're not too young for love, just too young for about everything there is that goes with love.
  • Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.
  • The practice of art isn't to make a living. It's to make your soul grow.
    • A Man Without a County
  • You realize, of course, that everything I say is horseshit.
  • Future generations will look back on TV as the lead in the water pipes that slowly drove the Romans mad.

Misattributed

  • Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich's June 1, 1997 column, commonly referred to as "Wear sunscreen", was widely attributed to a commencement address made by Kurt Vonnegut at M.I.T.

See also

External links

Wikipedia
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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Galapagos Islands article)

From Wikitravel

South America : Ecuador : Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are a small archipelago of islands belonging to Ecuador in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The islands are quite remote and isolated, lying some 1000 km (620 miles) west of the South American continent. The Galapagos archipelago consists of 13 main islands and 6 smaller isles, which together embrace some 50,000 sq km (19,500 sq miles) of ocean.

Galapagos Islands satellite photograph, NASA
Galapagos Islands satellite photograph, NASA
Frigate bird
Frigate bird

The Galápagos archipelago is world-renowned for its unique and fearless wildlife- much of which was inspiration for Charles Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection. The islands are therefore very popular amongst natural historians, both professional and amateur. Giant tortoises, sea lions, penguins, marine iguanas and different bird species can all be seen and approached. The landscape of the islands is relatively barren and volcanic, but beautiful nonetheless. The highest mountain amongst the islands is Volcán Wolf on Isla Isabela, 1707 m (5600ft) high.

The Galápagos were claimed by newly-independent Ecuador in 1832, a mere three years before Darwin's visit on the Beagle. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the islands were inhabited by very few settlers and were used as a penal colony, the last closing in 1959 when the islands were declared a national park. The Galapagos were subsequently listed as a World Heritage Site in 1978.

Strict controls on tourist access are maintained in an effort to protect the natural habitats and all visitors must be accompanied by a national park-certified naturalist tour guide. The islands currently receive an average of 60,000 visitors per year. Sadly most visitors simply take a boat tour and then depart, allowing very little money to flow to local inhabitants. By extending a stay in Puerto Ayora or elsewhere, it helps add money to the local economy and demonstrates to locals the value of the park and the need to end illegal fishing and polluting. There are a few travel options however that support "Fair Trade" and give back to the local economy.

Climate

The Galapagos Islands have a highly variable climate, as does Ecuador's mainland. There are two seasons in the islands: the hot/rainy season, from December to June, when humidity is high and average temperatures are in the 80s F (26°-30° C). There may be occasional showers, but the days are generally warm and sunny.

From June to November, you can expect cool winds, occasionally bringing with them a light misty-type drizzle called "garúa." Temperatures average in the 70s F (20°-24° C) during the day and lower at night.

Each month brings unique climate variations and wildlife viewing opportunities. The peak visiting months are April, May and November.

Galapagos tortoise on San Cristobal Island
Galapagos tortoise on San Cristobal Island

Get in

Visiting the Galapagos is not cheap, owing to travel restrictions and the remote nature of the archipelago. The only way to get in the islands from the main land is by plane from Guayaquil or Quito airports.

By plane

Flights to the Galapagos are relatively easy to arrange and depart from Quito and Guayaquil on a daily basis for the Isla Baltra airport, about two hours by public transport from Puerto Ayora, the main settlement of the Galapagos, on the central island of Santa Cruz. There are also daily flights to San Cristóbal. The airport is a 20 minute walk from the center of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

Best is to depart from Guayaquil City due to the fact that each flight is making a stop of about 1 hour where you have to remain on the plane. Also prices are cheaper.

Both Aerogal and Tame have flights to the Galapagos. The price is the same for both companies, for foreigners around $405 from Quito and much cheaper (around 360$) from Guayaquil. Eucadorians pay half the price and there is a 15% discount on TAME flights and a 20% discount on Aerogal flights if you have an ISIC studentcard. The price is usually ~$50 cheaper during the low season (May and September).

It's not possible to buy a one way ticket without proof of transportation from the islands. It's easy however to change the date of your return ticket or to switch your departure to another island.

By boat

It is possible to travel to the islands by boat from Guayaquil, but in general this option is a major hassle that won't save money.

Get around

Independent

A lot of people don't know it, but the Galapagos can be done independently. There are small boats every day between the 3 bigger islands of San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz and Isla Isabela. They cost $30 one-way, but some people have got them for $25 when they ordered a return-ticket with an open return date. From these island you can do organized daytrips, but there are also a lot of things you can do on your own.

There are hotels and hostels on most of the islands ranging from $25-$500+ which often do not need to be booked in advance. Many hotels and hostels arrange day tours. However, most tour agencies operate on Santa Cruz Island around the waterfront where day trips of all kind are offered.

By cruise

Seeing the sites and wildlife of the Galapagos is best done by boat. Most people book their place well in advance (as the boats are usually full during the high season). Booking a boat tour with a company in your home country is usually the most convenient, but is often considerably more expensive.

Boat tours can also be arranged from Guayaquil, Quito, and even from Puerto Ayora. While it is possible to get a last-minute deal, be aware that many budget tours may spend extra time in Puerto Ayora, might not have the best boats, and may only visit the inner islands.

In either case, when looking for a tour consider the following:

  • Number of passengers. Many of the sites in the islands are limited in how many people may visit at any given time, so it is generally best to travel on a boat with fewer passengers (between ten and twenty passengers is ideal).
  • Itinerary. Fernandina, Isabela, and Genovesa islands are three of the most interesting islands in the archipelago, but many tours skip these islands and visit only the inner islands.
  • Availability. Most of the best cruises are booked up months in advance, so best to book early.
  • Level of Activity. Landings are only permitted during the twelve hours of daylight, so try to find a trip that takes advantage of daylight hours. In addition, the aquatic life is the highlight of the trip for many visitors, so be sure to find a tour that includes at least one daily snorkel.
  • Additional costs. Many tours do not include the $100 park entry fee or the cost of a flight from the mainland to the islands (apx. $400 from Quito).

Island Hopping

There are a few companies that offer island hopping inclusive packages to the Galapagos. This has been described as a more sustainable economic and ecological model for tourism in the islands.

  • Adventure Life [1] Recognized by National Geographic Adventure as one of the "Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth" Adventure Life provides land-based hiking trips, eco-hotels and multisport tours that include sea-kayaking, biking, horseback-riding, hiking volcanoes and snorkeling. This company also offers traditional Galapagos 7 and 10-day cruises.
  • Galapagos Online Tours [2] offering a week long Multisport adventure in the Galapagos Islands visiting Santa Cruz, Floreana and Isabela. Snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking and more.
  • ROW Adventures [3] Awarded "Tours of a Lifetime" by National Geographic, this company offers the only vacation of it's kind to the Galapagos Islands and allows two nights camping on the islands as part of the journey. Snorkeling, hiking, kayaking and swimming are all part of the trip.
  • SharkSky Ecoadventures Galapagos [4] offers regular Island Hopping, but also Multisport, Adventure, Camping tailor made tours. Flexibility and assistance. They also offer dive tours.
  • Trusted Adventures [5] An alliance of adventure travel companies who offer many tours to the Galapagos Islands. Multi-sport tours, cruise ship tours, cultural and historical tours to the Galapagos Islands.
  • Nature Galapagos & Ecuador [6].Offers 4,5,8 days Galapagos cruises.Also we have island Hopping programs including San Cristobal Island, Santa Cruz Island, Floreana and Isabela.
  • Galapagos Cruises [7] Awarded a "World's Best Tour Operators & Safari Outfitters" by Travel+Leisure since 1999, Galapagos.com offers luxury cruises and adventures to the Galapagos Islands.
  • Dreamkapture Travel [8]. Offers 4 and 5 day island hopping tours. Book a tour with them and get a free night in Guayaquil.
  • Volcanika Adventures [9]. Offers luxury and standard island hopping tours in the archipelago. They are a bilingual, locally owned family business and they strive to promote sustainable eco-tourism and conservation in the islands. Custom or 4,5 and 8 day trips are available.
  • Reserva Ecologica Pachijal [10]. Local tour operator offers various Island Hopping programs with the aim to promote a real advantage from tourism for residents.
  • Red Mangrove Galapagos Lodges [11]. "Darwin's Triangle" Adventure Programs through their own Lodges on Santa Cruz, Floreana and Isabela. Camping options on Santa Cruz and Isabela. Also offer an island-hopping scuba diving program, the Dive Triangle. 3 Lodges, 3 Islands... 1 Red Mangrove standard of quality.
  • Dive The Galapagos [12]. Galapagos Island Hopping Dive Trips with large selection of hotels to choose from based on traveler preference.
Budget
  • Latin Trails[13]. Latin Trails offers 4, 5, and 8 day cruises in the islands with prices starting at $130 per day.
  • Galasam Cruises[14]. Galasam owns 3 Galapagos cruises, Millennium, Estrella de Mar I and II, with 4 to 8 days itinerary in Galapagos islands with prices starting at $150 per day.
Moderate
  • Adventure Associates - Galapagos Islands Tours [15]. A US company with an operation office in Ecuador, Adventure Associates plans custom tours and cruises in the Galapagos Islands. The company offers environmentally friendly scuba diving tours, luxury yacht cruising, hiking tours, snorkeling, and hotel packages.
  • Carpedm Adventures & Ecuador[16] www.carpedm.travel A Canadian Ecuadorian company who's personalized service stands out from the rest of the pack. Based in the heart of Colonial Quito, Carpedm Adventures provides 8/5 and 4 day cruises to the Galapagos Islands. Each Galapagos tour comes with a free complimentary carbon-offset, which shows their committement to doing their part for the environment. For more information visit: http://www.carpedm.travel -Phone 00 593 22 954 713.
  • Galanet[17]. A tour operator handling a lot of tours for correct prices. They own a hotel on Puerto Ayora. Phone 00 593 42 340 315.
  • Galapagos Cruise Tours[18]. A company offering standard yacht tours as well as trips aboard the 110 passenger Galapagos Legend.
  • Cultural & Natural Heritage Tours[19]. A company whose specialty is a 13 day active trip that includes 8 days cruising the islands, a full day on land in Puerto Ayora, and two days in Quito. This trip offers much more activity than the standard Galapagos trip. Costs begin at $ 3, 250 (2010) and will increase slightly for 2011. CNH Tours uses the M/Y Samba as it's ship of choice and their guide is Juan Manuel Salcedo, the ship's owner, a resident of Galapagos, and one of the best guides that company operator, Heather Blenkiron, knows. Tour price includes airfare to/from the islands and 5 nights hotel in Quito and Galapagos.
  • General Tours/Canodros[20]. General Tours with Canodros offers 3, 4, and 7 night Galapagos cruises with optional additonal tours to the Amazon, Machu Pichhu, and others. The cruise ship is an all-suite ship and features 55 crew and 6 naturalists on board for small group outings (the ship holds approx. 100 pax, ground expeditions are approx. 20 pax or less). Costs begin at $2679 and includes park fee and air from Guayaquil.
Moderate/Expensive
  • Galapagos Online Tours [21] Offering a variety of cruises, tours and diving packages to the Galapagos Islands including custom trips.
  • Enchanted Expeditions[22]. Enchanted Expeditions (formerly Angermeyer’s Enchanted Expeditions) is in its fourth decade of operating tours in Galapagos and mainland Ecuador. Enchanted Expeditions is the exclusive representative of their own yachts Beluga (Superior First Class) and Cachalote I (First Class).
  • Ecuador Galapagos Travels[23]. Ecuador Galapagos Travels, the travel agency for your Ecuador travel and Galapagos cruises, tours into the Amazon jungle and to the beaches of Ecuador, adventure tours in the Andes, Hotels in Ecuador and Galapagos, Spanish classes in Quito
  • Totally Peru[24]. Totally Peru is a British and Peruvian owned company, offering custom and set tours throughout Peru and The Galapagos Islands.
Expensive
  • INCA - International Nature & Cultural Adventures[25]. INCA is an American company with unique itineraries on the luxury, 16-passenger small yachts M/V Integrity and M/V Reina Silvia. All INCA Galapagos adventures feature 7-night cruises including outlying islands, and most include stays at the Royal Palm Resort on Santa Cruz. Private trips available on either yacht. Options for Amazon, Otavalo and Machu Picchu. Costs begin at $3995, not including park fee and airfare.
  • Audley Travel [26]. Audley Travel are a tailor made travel specialist, offering itineraries and cruises in the Galapagos Islands. All tours are thoroughly planned by an expert with in-depth knowledge of the region.
  • Klein Tours[27]. Kleintours is one of the largest tour operators in Ecuador and a deluxe cruise line in the Galapagos islands, owner of M/V Galapagos Legend, M/Y Coral I and II (for 100, 36 and 20 passengers).
  • Metropolitan Touring[28]. Metropolitan Touring was one of first companies to start Galapagos Islands Cruises. They have some of the finest Galapagos Cruises, with itineraries of 4, 5 and 8 days, check direct availabilities and prices with cruise owner.
  • Galapagos Travel[29]. An American company that specializes in 11 and 14 day trips around the islands. This company caters to photographers and provides service in luxury-class yachts with extensive itineraries. Costs begin at $3850 (does not include park entry fee or airfare to Baltra).
  • Cheeseman's Ecology Safaris[30]. Another American company that specializes in high-quality trips. Cheeseman trips will always include at least one naturalist in addition the to park guide, and are geared towards photographers and nature lovers. All Cheeseman trips are non-smoking, and most Galapagos trips are 15 days. Costs begin at $5900 and do not include park entry fee or airfare to Baltra.
  • AdventureSmith Explorations[31]. Conde Nast Traveler Magazine “World Savers” award winner in conservation AdventureSmith Explorations are Galapagos cruise specialists with a focus on guided small group nature tours and custom travel for individuals, couples, families, small groups and charters. 6-17 day cruise packages aboard a selection of over twenty five yachts and small ships feature a Carbon Free Cruising program that offsets carbon emissions at no additional cost to travelers.
  • SunWind Travel[32]. An Ecuadorian company with offices in Galapagos, Quito and Florida. SWT charter the finest yachts and arrange high quality cruises. Owners are +20 year-experienced level III naturalist guides. Costs begin at $3165 and include 7-night cruising, 3-night accommodation in Quito, a la carte welcome and farewell dinner, all-day tour of Quito, private transfers. Not included park entry fee and flight to/from Galapagos.
  • Galapagos Travel[33]. Ecuador based tour operator offering 3, 4 and 7 night cruises on board the luxurious catamaran M/C Anahi, cruises feature a Galapagos Park guide, cruise director and 11 crew members to pamper 16 guests throughout a natural history tour visiting the less visited excursion sites in the archipelago.

See

On each island, the number of visitors are limited and there are only a small number of official landing and visitor sites. You must follow the instructions of your guide to protect the wildlife and you are not allowed off the marked paths. This is not a problem as the animals are so tame they will sit right on the path or cross it without caring about mere tourists.

The Charles Darwin foundation Charles Darwin Foundation administers several research stations throughout the islands, including a large station in Puerto Ayora that is worth visiting for its animal and natural history exhibits.

  • Climb the hill on Bartolome for the classic Galapagos view
  • Visit the Giant Tortoise breeding centre at the Charles Darwin Research Centre[34] on Santa Cruz.
  • See the red neck sacks of the Magnificent Frigatebird on Seymour.
  • Visit unique species like the Galapagos penguin and Galapagos flamingo on Isabela or Floreana.
  • Go snorkeling as often as possible.

Snorkeling & Scuba Diving

Snorkeling and diving are very popular activities as the sea life is so rich and colourful.

Snorkeling equipment should be available from your tour operator (but check first) if you don't have your own. You may also want to bring a waterproof camera. Remember to wear at least a T-shirt and suntan lotion if you are snorkeling, as it's all too easy to get sunburnt in the strong sun.

Diving in the Galapagos is incredible as noted by Rodale's Scuba Diving Magazine. Ranked as the best dive destination in the world for several years in the categories of Healthiest Marine Environment, Best Big Animal Dive and Best Advanced Diving.

Diving in the Galapagos is not necessarily the right place for beginners or novices though you can take certification course on both Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. Currents, surge, sometimes poor visibility and depths make this a challenge for novices. There are 3 ways to dive in the Galapagos Islands: 1) Daily dives with a local tour operator, primarily from Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. 2) Galapagos Island Hopping Dive Trips. 3) Galapagos Live-Aboards.

In 2007, many divers were caught unaware as the National Park withdrew diving permits from quite a few cruise ships without notice. Many divers were left without dive cruises they had booked far in advance. For this reason, travelers are advised to get the most up-to-date information possible when planning a dive trip to the Galapagos Islands. In 2009, the National Park is now regulating land-based diving for the first time and few of the many shops operating have the new permits necessary.

Scuba Diving Cruises/ Liveaboards

Due to current park regulations there are only four boats authorized to provide Diving Cruises/Liveabords in the Galapagos Islands. All of these cruises are for advanced divers only. Their itineraries are specifically for divers and feature locations where it is not possible to go ashore. Live aboard cruises are the only way to dive at Wolf and Darwin.

  • Deep Blue [35]
  • Sky Dancer [36] marketed directly by Peter Hughes Diving.
  • Galapagos Aggressor I and II. [37]

The other option for people interested in diving is a land based daily dive program where you sleep on one of the islands and go on dive excursions during the day.

  • Galapagos Dive [38] offers both liveabord and island based daily dive programs based from Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela
  • Dive The Galapagos [39] Tour Operator for Galapagos Island Hopping Dive Trips and live-aboards.

Sleep

There are hotels and other accommodation in the towns of Puerto Ayora, Puerto Villamil and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, however if you really want to see lots of good wildlife, you will need to combine your stay on these islands with daily boat tours to other islands.

  • HostelTrail Ecuador [40] A free website which offers advice on budget accommodation and backpacking tours on the Galapagos Islands.

Stay safe

In general, crime is not a problem in the Galapagos. Petty crime may occur in the towns, and occasionally fisherman will stage strikes or demonstrations that affect tourists, but for the most part there is little to be concerned about. It should be noted, however, that some items that have been reported missing have been found in the crews` quarters! As most boats do not have lockable cabins, it might be advisable to keep your items locked away in bags in your cabins.

The animal life in the islands is mostly docile with the exception of the large bull sea lions. These animals will vigorously protect their harems, and can inflict dangerous and potentially deadly bites. Do not snorkel close to sea lion colonies. If a bull sea lion approaches you, swim away from the nearest colony. Note that it is only the bulls that are dangerous; swimming with juvenile sea lions can be one of the most exciting parts of a trip.

In addition to sea lions, there is a minimal danger from sharks. In general sharks will not attack unless provoked, although attacks can sometimes occur in murky water when sharks mistake humans for other animals. However, by exercising simple common sense experiences will be almost always be positive.

Do not disturb the wildlife
Do not disturb the wildlife

The park is strictly regulated. Outside of the towns visitors must be accompanied by guides, and visitors are only allowed on land from sunrise until sunset. Itineraries must be registered with the park prior to embarking on a trip, and animals should never be disturbed; while the wildlife in the Galapagos will usually ignore your presence, a general rule of thumb is that if an animal notices your presence then you are too close. Two meters is generally given as a minimum distance to keep away from animals; you will find that if you are calm and respectful that many animals will walk right up to investigate you.

One of the greatest dangers to the islands is introduced species. The park service is trying to eliminate goats, rats, cats, dogs, and introduced plant species on many of the islands, but it is a difficult battle; after evolving for thousands of years without predators, the Galapagos wildlife is not adapted to handle these new species. When traveling to the islands, do not bring any plant or animal life with you, and be sure to always clean your footwear when traveling between islands to avoid accidentally transferring seeds.

Illegal fishing is another threat to the park. Although park officials will deny it, illegal fishing for sharks and sea cucumbers occurs on a massive scale. The number of fishermen has increased rapidly over the last few years, while the number of fish have plunged. Unfortunately the National Parks hardly take any action against it.

Another big threat to the park is the growing population. Although new rules make it impossible for people arriving of the mainland to live and work on the islands, the rules are hardly enforced. Still lots of people come from the mainland to make quick money on the island.

According to local fishermen, corruption at the national park service is the main reason why nothing is undertaking to the treaths. Salaries of park guards are huge even for Galápagos standards. For visitors, park rules are enforced to make a well-organized impression. Shiny buildings and visitors centers and guards in uniforms helps to keep up this impression. Meanwhile almost nothing is undertaken against illegal immigration, illegal fishing and the heaps of garbage on the beaches outside the visitor areas. The occasional news report about a fishing boat filled with shark fins and photos of heavy polluted beaches is better for the National Park bank account than really solving these problems.

Rules

The codified park rules are:

  1. No plant, animal, or remains of such (including shells, bones, and pieces of wood), or other natural objects should be removed or disturbed.
  2. Be careful not to transport any live material to the islands, or from one island to another.
  3. Do not take any food to the uninhabited islands, for the same reason.
  4. Do not touch or handle the animals.
  5. Do not feed the animals. It can be dangerous to you, and in the long run would destroy the animals' social structure and breeding habits.
  6. Do not startle or chase any animal from its resting or nesting spot.
  7. Stay within the areas designated as visitor sites.
  8. Do not leave any litter on the islands, or throw any off your boat.
  9. Do not deface the rocks.
  10. Do not buy souvenirs or objects made of plants or animals from the islands.
  11. Do not visit the islands unless accompanied by a licensed National Park Guide.
  12. Restrict your visits to officially approved areas.
  13. Show your conservationist attitude.
  14. Fishing on board tourist ships is not permitted.
  15. Fire or smoking is not permitted.
  16. Camping at authorized sites requires a permit.
  17. Professional filming requires special authorization from the Park Director.
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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Proper noun

Singular
Galapagos

Plural
-

Galapagos

  1. Alternative spelling of Galápagos.

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