Sunday, February 23, 2014

Discussion Leader: Chapters 15-21

1) Why do you think Vonnegut includes the information that Selena MacIntosh's blindness gave her
the trivial advantage of enjoying the feeling of fur more than anyone else? Does this information add any value or importance to the character and plot?

2) Before Jesus Ortiz rips apart the telephone cable box, his big brain reassures him that, "...of course we would never do such a thing," because Ortiz knows it would be an act of poor citizenship. Do you believe evolution and biology are responsible for prompting negative actions, or are they a result of societal boundaries and man-made stresses?

3) For Bobby King, one of the most important aspects of the "Nature Cruise of the Century" was to have celebrities on the list of passengers to make it more appealing to "average" people. What is it about celebrities and wealthy individuals that makes people want to be or act like them? Is it a matter of popular opinion that alters our personal opinions, or do celebrities posses qualities that all humans desire?



  1. 1. While from an evolutionary perspective Selena is useless, the narrator points out that positives can still arise out of mutations. While these advantages may be pointless in the long run, they matter immensely to the individual.
    2. I think there is a mix of both societal and instinctual elements coming into play with this issue. Going back to our roots, when our food supply or shelter or anything necessary for survival was challenged, we defended it in ways that could be today classified under "negative actions". There is an instinctual part of us that will fight for the basic necessities of life. On the other hand, societies (governments, cultures, religions, etc.) put immense pressure on individuals to behave in certain ways, which can often contradict what is biologically programmed within us.
    3. It's astounding what people will do to be noticed, and everyone has a desire to be special in some way. Celebrities don't necessarily possess uniform traits that make them stand out, but have found ways to get into the public's line of vision. Humans get wrapped up in insignificance: there's no question why many desire recognition and qualification for their existence.

  2. You summarized the desire for fame very well. I think that all humans do crave recognition of some sort-whether it's from tabloids or just being told they are appreciated.

  3. 1. I do feel that Selena being blind does in fact give her a special appreciation for any nice thing that can be touched. Of course any feeling she will have an advantage of appreciating it more, because she is the one who cant see regular things we can. This value does add to both the character and the plot.

    2. No evolution and biology is not a reasonable excuse for negative actions, these negative actions need to be learned to be controlled weather it has to do with biology or not. Negativity is never excusable. I believe most of man-made stress is due to negativity, if we were all more positive there would be much less stress.

    3. People always want to be like celebrities because their jealous of who they are and they want to be like them. So they try to imitate and copy their every move in hopes of coming out with the same success. But what most don't realize is no person can ever be famous twice, meaning their is only 1 of someone famous (for instance their is only one band Beatles, anyone who try to copy is NEVER as good as the original)

  4. 1) The blind thing, I feel, does and doesn't add to the story. It does because of course it makes this specific character and her part of the story more interesting because she has needs other characters do not. However, though these details about her are interesting, she's not the first character in this book so far to be useless to the evolutionary system: Seigfried von Kleist is also useless because of lack of procreation.
    2) I believe that negative actions are definitely man-made. Evolution has nothing to do with it- perhaps as we evolve we come across more issues and stresses, however how we interpret them and handle them is purely mental. So in fact, actually, going off of the "human brains dissipate throughout evolution", yes, actually, evolution could be a cause of negative actions associated with negative feelings, because I imagine a smaller brain means being less capable of thinking clearly and completely understanding morals/ right from wrongs.
    3) It's a matter of popular opinion, no doubt. If a famous person does something, it's very likely that a lot of people will follow that celebrity because if they're cool, it's cool.

  5. 1. I felt that this short sentiment about Selena boded well for her relationship with Akiko, the fur covered child for whom I believe Selena will hold a great affinity. It is within these minute details that Vonnegut establishes his characters as multi-faceted ones.
    2. I don't necessarily feel that negative impulses are an inevitable accompaniment of evolution, though I recognize that our advancements have come to impart us with a handful of new challenges. The weight of these afflictions can certainly be said to drive a person to vehement behavior.
    3. Celebrities possess approval of the masses, which is seldom excluded from our subjective assessment of these persons. Recognition is unquestionably sought after, though I am not certain that this sort of broad appeal is as fulfilling as the recognition that one might receive among a circle of close peers.