Bad Chemicals & Bad Ideas

A reading from Kurt Vonnegut Jr:

"As has already been said: Dwayne was a Pontiac dealer who was going insane.

"Dwayne's incipient insanity was mainly a matter of bad chemicals, of course. Dwayne Hoover's body was manufacturing certain chemicals which unbalanced his mind. But Dwayne, like all novice lunatics, needed some bad ideas, too, so that his craziness could have shape and direction.

"Bad chemicals and bad ideas were the Yin and Yang of madness.

"The bad ideas were delivered to Dwayne by Kilgore Trout. Trout considered himself not only harmless but invisible. The world had paid so little attention to him that he supposed he was dead.

"But he learned from his enocunter with Dwayne that he was alive enough to give a fellow human being ideas which would turn him into a monster.

"Here was the core of the bad ideas which Trout gave to Dwayne: Everybody on earth was a robot, with one exception - Dwayne Hoover.

"Of all the creatures in the Universe, only Dwayne was thinking and feeling and worrying and planning and so on. Nobody else knew what pain was. Nobody else had any choices to make. Everybody else was a fully automatic machine, whose purpose was to stimulate Dwayne. Dwayne was a new type of creature being tested by the Creator of the Universe.

"Only Dwayne had free will.

"Trout did not expect to be believed. He put the bad ideas in a science-fiction novel, and that was where Dwayne found them....

"It shook up Trout to realize that even he could bring evil into the world - in the form of bad ideas. And, after Dwayne was carted off to a lunatic asylum in a canvas camisole, Trout became a fanatic on the importance of ideas as causes and cures for diseases.

"But nobody would listen to him. He was a dirty old man in the wilderness, crying out among the trees and underbrush, "Ideas or the lack of them can cause disease."

["Breakfast of Champions" by Kurt Vonnegut,Jr., Delta/Dell Publishing, 1973]