Like most things in life that I truly enjoy, Cat’s Cradle challenges, genres, stereotypes, and personal beliefs. It’s no wonder that with Vonnegut’s complex past, that he seemed to easily pen works that uproot deeper emotions through protagonists that are often met by extreme circumstance and reason with the world around them in a way that simultaneously expresses curiosity and moral trial. Primarily categorized as science fiction and dystopian satire, we as readers will also find ourselves drawn by our connections, shared experiences, and even disagreement followed by a desire for answers to some of life and faith’s bigger questions.
Week 1 (1.7.2020) pages 1-101
1. On pg 49, Dr. Breed declares, “Pure research men work on what fascinates them, not on what fascinates other people.” This statement is reflected in the opinions of many others interviewed about Dr. Felix Hoenikker (a mad scientist of sorts) throughout the beginning of the book.
When considering the role of modern-day scientists and governments, what do you feel the benefits and risks are in connection to more extreme levels of tunnel vision. How has this affected us as a society?
2. Jonah goes through great lengths to uncover what he can about Dr. Hoenikker; on pg 50, in a moment of what seems like misplaced frustration, Dr. Breed accuses Jonah of being a member of the “yellow press”. Yellow journalism is a term used to describe articles or publications known to overindulge in catchy headlines in lieu of thoroughly researched articles simply for the benefit of increased sales. In today’s world of endless information, thanks to the internet and saturated markets, we often now refer to this as click-bait or my less favorite connotation, fake news.
How has this constant stream of news and information jeopardized the integrity of journalism and what impact do you feel this has had on how we receive said news? For instance, I’ve noticed in many, an increase of anxiety over health concerns, government affairs, and the mistreatment of marginalized groups in an era where the truth and facts, despite also being vastly available, often come second in public consumption to 'reel-them-in with nonsense' articles.
3. In these first 100 or so pages we are introduced to several concepts, beliefs, and ‘harmless untruths’ that construct the fictional religion/belief system that is Bokononism. Consider your own religious, spiritual, universal, or science centered beliefs:
Do the defined concepts and views of Bokononism raise questions that you have struggled with or worked through regarding your own beliefs? Do you think there can be a universal understanding that faith and fact intersect or coexist regardless of what we believe? How would that impact your current beliefs? What benefits do you think that would have on communities?
4. Chapters 41-46 depict Jonah’s interactions with several new characters he encounters on the plane. With each new introduction comes identifying behaviors and traits from which we can surmise their views on topics including business and social ethics, relationship dynamics, nationalism, and capital punishment.
Choosing one of these interactions, analyze the beliefs of a new character (or pair of characters) and draw some comparisons and contrasts to your own views. What concerns arise? Do you find yourself favoring their opinion? What experiences have led you to think and feel this way?
Any open dialog and opinion on the reading is always welcome. Was there anything you would like to discuss that was not mentioned in previous questions? Let’s hear what you have to say! Drop your thoughts in the comments!
Week 2 (1.14.2020) pages 101-201
Week 3 (1.21.2020) pages 201-287
Week 4 (1.28.2020)
*Summary & an in-depth review of my take on Cat’s Cradle.*
Book club notes & disclaimer:
Unfeathered Ink’s book club is designed to challenge what we think we know, about our selves, society, and the world around us. We aim to expand views and encourage cohesion. At some point, various participants may find certain reading selections, questions, or topics more personal than others. That said, this is a space where we respect not only shared views but those which may greatly differ from our own. Take care to be a good human above all else.