Tag Archives: beat generation

Vonnegut on “the best minds of our generation”

Kurt Vonnegut expressing a rather unpopular viewpoint in 1973-even more so now:

“I like ‘Howl’ a lot. Who wouldn’t? It just doesn’t have much to do with me or what happened to my friends. For one thing, I believe that the best minds of my generation were probably musicians and physicists and mathematicians and biologists and archaeologists and chess masters and so on, and Ginsberg’s closest friends, if I’m not mistaken, were undergraduates in the English department of Columbia University. No offense intended, but it would never occur to me to look for the best minds in any generation in an undergraduate English department anywhere. I would certainly try the physics department or the music department first — and after that biochemistry. Everybody knows that the dumbest people in any American university are in the education department, and English after that.”

Unfortunately, what he doesn’t mention is that if you wanted to find the most genocidal minds of his-and our-generation (e.g. Paul Wolfowitz, Edward Teller, Herman Kahn, Harold Brown, Robert Birgeneau, Ash Carter etc.) you’d do well going to exactly the same place where you’ll find “the best minds”, according to him.

A problem, I would say.