As a member of a zippier generation, with sparkle in its eyes and a snap in its stride, let me tell you what kept us as high as kites a lot of the time: hatred. All my life I’ve had people to hate — from Hitler to Nixon, not that those two are at all comparable in their villainy. It is a tragedy, perhaps, that human beings can get so much energy and enthusiasm from hate. If you want to feel ten feet tall and as though you could run a hundred miles without stopping, hate beats pure cocaine any day. Hitler resurrected a beaten, bankrupt, half-starved nation with hatred and nothing more. Imagine that.
The members of your graduating class are not sleepy, are not listless, are not apathetic. They are simply performing the experiment of doing without hate. Hate is the missing vitamin or mineral or whatever in their diet, they have sensed correctly that hate, in the long run, is about as nourishing as cyanide.
Kurt Vonnegut, god damn, wow, damn. In the past I’ve wondered if I should be angrier in my comedy, if it’s a more honest representation of me, because I do feel passionate about certain topics and I get upset at how obvious the “solutions” are even though nobody sees them but me. Each time I cut myself short because it actually doesn’t feel real— it’s too much effort to stay angry for long, and the more I think about a problem, the closer my thoughts circle around the typical conclusion of “nothing matters, just do you.”
I’m not saying I’m good or bad for it; just that Vonnegut acknowledging the invigorating power of hatred is remarkable and counter-intuitive.