at least it’s olives

I’m reading Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions right now and this reminded me a little of our conversation. If you haven’t already read it, Kilgore Trout is a science fiction writer riding with a trucker in this part.

The driver said he used to be a hunter and a fisherman, long ago. It broke his heart when he imagined what the marshes and meadows had been like one a hundred years before. “And when you think of the shit that most of these factories make- wash day products, catfood, pop-“


He had a point. The planet was being destroyed by manufacturing processes, and what was being manufactured was lousy, by and large.

[Kilgore talks about not being much of a conservationist for a while, citing that the Creator of the Universe regularly destroys things with natural disasters.]

They rode in silence for a while, and then the driver made another good point. He said he knew that his truck was turning the atmosphere into poison gas, and that the planet was being turned into pavement so his truck could go anywhere. “So I’m committing suicide,” he said.
“Don’t worry about it,” said Trout.
“My brother is even worse,” the driver went on. “He works in a factory that makes chemicals for killing plants and trees in Vietnam. Vietnam was a country where America was trying to make people stop being communists by dropping things on them from airplanes. The chemicals he mentioned were intended to kill all the foliage, so it would be harder for communists to hide from airplanes.
“Don’t worry about it,” said Trout.
“In the long run, he’s committing suicide,” said the driver. “Seems like the only kind of job an American can get these days is committing suicide in some way.”


“Good point,” said Trout.
“I can’t tell if you’re serious or not,” said the driver.
“I won’t know myself until I found out whether life is serious or not,” said Trout. “It’s dangerous, I know, and it can hurt a lot. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s serious, too.”


“At least it’s olives,” said the driver.
“What?” said Trout.
“Lots worse things we could be hauling than olives.”
“Right,” said Trout. He had forgotten that the main thing they were doing was moving seventy-eight thousand pounds of olives to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I am also not sure that there is a reason to take life seriously, but that is at odds with how frustrated I am about our consumer based economy. I recently had this conversation with a guy in the MN airport and we both didn’t know how to respond to: what can we do now, where can we go from here?

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