Take this sentence: this statement is false.
(I’ll let your mind run a couple of laps around it; more after the break.)
Now take that statement, and instead of resolving it (somehow), wrap it in another self-contradictory layer. And then take that and wrap it in yet another layer of self-contradiction, and so on for some three hundred pages, you will begin to approach the mind fuck that is Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle.
Just when you think you’ve attained some truth, it slips into its opposite: when science fails you, find religion; when religion fails you, find freedom; when freedom fails you, find love; when love fails you, find peace, when peace fails you…You will not nail down a single truth in this book that will not fly out from under you on the very next page. Yet something escapes. Somehow the more Vonnegut knocks out the belief in ideals, the more he solidifies the belief in the human. So when the following line is uttered by someone, it almost sounds like a secular version of Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam: “When a man becomes a writer, I think he takes on a sacred obligation to produce beauty and enlightenment and comfort at top speed.”
See the cat? See the cradle?