October 5, 1983
On this day, famous Indianapolis novelist Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., spoke to students, staff, and faculty in the IUPUI Lecture Hall at the invitation of the IUPUI Distinguished Lecture Series Committee. A reception followed.
Vonnegut (1922-2007), then popular for his best-selling novels including Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions, entertained his audience for ninety minutes with a talk titled, "How to Get a Job like Mine." He noted that his generation of novelists was lucky to come of age in an era when American magazines published their works. But now, he said, magazines were dead, killed off by television.
The talk was covered by reporters from The Sagamore, the IUPUI student newspaper, who noted that Vonnegut should have called his address, "Good Luck Getting a Job like Mine." He opined that television had created a bi-coastal culture focused on New York and Los Angeles, and that regional cultures between them had been weakened as a result. "Now, Vonnegut added, regions had no literature or art of their own; writers and artists do not reflect upon the particular ways of life in their regions."
Vonnegut kept his auditors entertained with quips at the expense of book censors and reflections on growing up in Indianapolis. He concluded with observations on the need for nuclear disarmament. The Sagamore noted that "He denied the common notion that nuclear arms are necessary to defend society from a variety of 'fates worse than death,' citing historical precedents to argue that the human race has survived and can survive such fates as enslavement, displacement and religious persecution. The only thing we cannot survive, he argued, is a nuclear holocaust."
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