Tag Archives: 1997

This piece was presented as Kurt Vonnegut’s commencement address at MIT in 1997. It’s great stuff, but apparently it wasn’t written or delivered by Vonnegut. It’s still a beautiful piece…

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This piece was presented as Kurt Vonnegut’s commencement address at MIT in 1997. It’s great stuff, but apparently it wasn’t written or delivered by Vonnegut. It’s still a beautiful piece…

I came across this and find it completely confusing- if Vonnegut didn’t write it or deliver it why present it!

This piece was presented as Kurt Vonnegut’s commencement address at MIT in 1997. It’s great stuff, but apparently it wasn’t written or delivered by Vonnegut. It’s still a beautiful piece…

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Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

ABOUT JACK KEROUAC THE BEAT GENERATION BY BRIAN BERGER

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03.12.2011
JACK KEROUAC
By: Brian Berger | Categories: HiLo Heroes

“He was a genius at the register of the speaking voice, a human voice talking,” wrote Robert Creeley of JACK KEROUAC (1922-69). “That he could do it in both poetry and prose interested me.” While this should be testimony enough to the true, towering stature of Keroauc’s achievement, more than half a century after On The Road (1957), his work remains divisive and misunderstood. Indeed, even fans dispute On The Road itself and though the infamous “scroll” version (actually teletype paper) published in 2007 astonishes, the original can still wallop, as the revelatory Matt Dillon-narrated audiobook proves. Of course, Kerouac’s influences (Melville, Joyce) and his publishing history are complicated. In brief, every book issued in his lifetime has merit and, of the posthumous works, Some of the Dharma (1997) and Book of Dreams (2001) are essential. If the heartbreaking Big Sur (1962) is Kerouac’s post-fame masterpiece — “one of the great great works of the English language” said Richard Meltzer — there were triumphs remaining. Towards the end of Satori In Paris (1966), a bittersweet search for his French-Canadian roots, Kerouac has a gleam: “It’s Saturday morning, I can be in Florida in time for the funnies at dawn when the guy placks em on my driveway!” And so, American again, he goes home to St. Petersburg to write Vanity of Duluoz (1968), a triumph of persistence recalling Ezra Pound: “A blown husk that is finished/but the light sings eternal.”

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On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Steve Harris.

READ MORE about members of the New Gods generation (1914-23).