Cats Cradles, Communities, Hungers and Bokononism

Good morning readers.  Thanks for the visit.

Cats Cradle

I’m rapidly developing an overweening pride in this.  15-18 pounds of cat slept on it last night, and it’s no worse for the wear.

But, I’ve digressed.

Maybe it was inevitable.  While I was doing other things over the past weeks my mind began toying around with abstractions involving communities and the attraction human beings have for them.  I’d been reading some Jack London and found myself sticking pieces of his thinkings off in the side of my mind, observations about the packages of community he experienced and wrote about.

But on the side Slab City sneaked into my mind occasionally, and the attraction I’ve no intention to indulge, that remains despite my intentions. 

Or the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous RV and van dwellers are going to stage in Quartzite, Arizona in January. 

Evidently thousands of RVs and van dwellers converge on the spot every January for a big RV show, and the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous takes place concurrently.    50-100 people who live in RVs or vans or wish to live in them, and feel the need to be part of a community of a sort they didn’t find surrounded by RVs, campers and vans in RV parks, State Parks, or in National Forests.

Are the people occupying those dots down there different than the ones you’d meet if you went knocking on doors at the Take It Easy Trailer Court in Kerrville, Texas?  I dunno.

But something in my mind connected the concept of community and the human need for it with Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle and Bokononism:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bokononism is a fictional religion invented by Kurt Vonnegut and practiced by many of the characters in his novel Cat’s Cradle. Many of the sacred texts of Bokononism were written in the form of calypsos.

Bokononism is based on the concept of foma, which are defined as harmless untruths. A foundation of Bokononism is that the religion, including its texts, is formed entirely of lies; however, one who believes and adheres to these lies will have peace of mind, and perhaps live a good life. The primary tenet of Bokononism is to “Live by the foma that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.”

Bokononism encompasses a number of unique concepts expressed in the San Lorenzan dialect:[1]

  • boko-maru – the supreme act of worship of the Bokononists, which is an intimate act consisting of prolonged physical contact between the naked soles of the feet of two persons.
  • “Busy, busy, busy” – what a Bokononist whispers whenever he thinks about how complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is.
  • “Calypso” – song from The Books of Bokonon. Eight such songs are cited in Cat’s Cradle, some of them are presented with a title (i.e. On Dynamic Tension or The Boko-maru Calypso) and others are presented with a number (i.e. The Hundred-and-nineteenth Calypso). The Calypsos illustrate various aspects of the teachings of Bokonon.
  • duffle – the destiny of thousands of people placed on one stuppa
  • duprass – a karass that consists of only two people. This is one of the few kinds of karass about which one can have any reliable knowledge. The two members of a duprass live lives that revolve around each other, and are therefore often married. “A true duprass can’t be invaded, not even by children born of such a union.” The novel cites the example of “Horlick Minton, the New American Ambassador to the Republic of San Lorenzo, and his wife, Claire.” The two members of a duprass always die within a week of each other.
  • foma – harmless untruths; lies that, if used correctly, can be useful.
  • granfalloon – a false karass; i.e., a group of people who imagine they have a connection that does not really exist. An example is “Hoosiers“; Hoosiers are people from Indiana, and Hoosiers have no true spiritual destiny in common, so they really share little more than a name. Another example is a Cornellian, a student or graduate of Cornell University.
  • kan-kan – the instrument which brings a person into his or her karass
  • karass – group of people who, often unknowingly, are working together to do God’s will. The group can be thought of as the fingers that support a cat’s cradle.
  • “Now I will destroy the whole world” – What a Bokononist says before committing suicide.
  • pool-pah – wrath of God or “shit storm”
  • saroon – to acquiesce to a vin-dit
  • sin-wat – a person who wants all of somebody’s love for him/herself
  • sinookas – the tendrils of one’s life
  • stuppa – a fogbound child (i.e. an idiot)
  • vin-dit – a sudden shove in the direction of Bokononism
  • wampeter – the central theme or purpose of a karass. Each karass has two wampeters, one waxing and one waning.
  • wrang-wrang – someone who steers a Bokononist away from a line of speculation by reducing that line, with the example of the wrang-wrang’s own life, to an absurdity.
  • Zah-mah-ki-bo – fate, inevitable destiny

Brought me to realize these cats around here are all Bokononists.  They’ve been sneaking around here converting me to their religion all these years without me knowing it, superimposing their viewpoints over my natural ones.

Forcing me to have a community with them.

But at least I don’t have to go to Quartzite, Arizona to have a community.  Bokononism is a big step up in life if I can look around inside the RV and find a community without having to go all the way to Quartzite, or Slab City, AZ.

Old Jules

9 responses to “Cats Cradles, Communities, Hungers and Bokononism

  1. And may the force be with you.

  2. I visited an old school chum at Slab City a few years ago. I met the Jesus guy, too. I smile, just thinking of the place.

  3. Very pleased you’re posting so I can have some morning amusement.

  4. Hope your community suffices if it doesn’t work to get to Quartzite or Slab city. Was by Quartzite a couple of weeks ago. It sure looked empty. It could only be the search for community that draws them there. At least that is my opinion. Good to read your writings again. Blessings.

    • Hi Mary: Now the cats have come clean about all the stuff they’d been holding back I’m hoping the community will suffice. Unless they’ve got other stuff they think they can’t tell me until I’m 71. But meanwhile, there’s a lot of geography between here and that Arizona wasteland, more yet between here and slab city. All manner of granfaloons I can stir around in if I need a community besides the felines.

      I’m thinking I might join a community of people who liked to hear Al Jolson sing, When the Red Red Robin Comes Bop Bop Bopping Along, if I can find one. Gracias, J

  5. You cats are stable.

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