“Lonesome No More!” was a slogan Kurt Vonnegut used in his book Slapstick.
We understand that you can’t get rid of loneliness just by getting rid of ‘aloneness.’ Kurt Vonnegut knew this; as a World War II veteran who was captured by the Nazis and survived the Allied firebombing of Dresden, Germany, he suffered from PTSD and depression. He carried more than his share of loneliness throughout his lifetime, but that intense loneliness isn’t unique to people with PTSD or depression. It also affects people with other mental health concerns: anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or even just sadness when being bullied or feeling like people just don’t understand.
All humans suffer from loneliness at one time or another. Vonnegut’s mother-in-law fought her own battles with mental health, twice being institutionalized. And his mother committed suicide on Mother’s Day weekend right before Kurt was shipped off to the Battle of the Bulge in WWII.
Like Kurt, we all feel alone and we all are fighting it. However, knowing there is a community out there to help you, to make you feel wanted and alive, to ease your pain is something the Hoosier author believed in and wrote about throughout his life.
Kurt and Family (photo courtesy Vonnegut Family Archives)
The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library plans to focus on mental health for all of its 2018 events and programming. We can’t stop mental suffering, but the people who suffer don’t have to fight it by themselves.
On average, KVML hosts more than 70 arts and humanities events each year – bringing writers, artists, musicians, and scholars to Indianapolis for public events. We will be presenting upwards of eight major programs for the 2018 calendar year. Many of these programs will be made available around the world via podcasts and/or videos on the Vonnegut Library website.
As we’ve done in the past, we will continue bringing programming to schools, libraries, universities, senior centers, and other venues speaking on Kurt Vonnegut’s life, work, and thoughts on how we all can be lonesome no more!
Planned 2018 Lonesome No More Programming
- We host a Lonesome No More Kick Off Event at KVML January 26. Reception and art exhibition by muralist Pamela Bliss and other artists begin at 6 p.m., followed by the film, Loving Vincent, which features artwork by Bliss and tells the story of Vincent Van Gogh’s struggle with loneliness.
- We celebrate our annual Night of Vonnegut Gala April 12 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom from 6 to 9 pm. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil author John Berendt to give keynote address. Musician Kate Lamont of Mab Lab performs, as well. Join us for this once-a-year-celebration and fundraiser.
- May 16 from 6 to 7:30 pm, we partner with the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) to present a 90-minute In Our Own Voice program that focuses on personal narrative stories related to mental health during National Mental Health Month.
- Join us June 25 for a Global Beatles Day Facebook Live with curator Chris Lafave discusses how the Beatles tackled difficult mental health topics through their music. Then join us at KVML for free Beatles trivia with unique prizes. Exclusive Beatles art will be for sale in our online store.
- We take our annual Teaching Vonnegut workshop to Chicago July 18 to 20 at the University of Chicago, the American Writers Museum, and the National Veterans Art Museum. Teachers will focus on incorporating personal narrative or other arts and humanities practices to cope with life’s difficulties. On July 21, teachers head to Indianapolis for a bus tour of Vonnegut’s hometown, made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
- We commemorate Banned Books Week, September 24 to 29, where Ball State University Professor, Rai Peterson, spends a week in the museum imprisoned behind a wall of banned books. Nanette Vonnegut talks about her maternal grandmother’s mental health and that of the Vonnegut family. We host William S. Burroughs Day with Constance Macy reading from Naked Lunch at noon and show the film in the evening. We present a Too Much of a Good Thing panel about sex addiction and mental health challenges within the sex industry. The Prindle Institute’s Examining Ethics team shares their banned books podcast. Also, Ed Dowling with Operatio Ingsoc discusses Fighting Censorship. We present a talk about gambling addiction through the lens of Hunter S. Thompson’s The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved. The week ends with a half-day mental wellness workshop for high school and college students. Later that day, speakers discuss Literary Madness featuring the lives of Sylvia Plath, Zelda Fitzgerald and Assia Weviel.
- The 2018 Monumental Marathon races are November 3rd. Join Kurt’s Karass to race and raise $5000 for KVML.
- This year’s VonnegutFest, November 7 to 10, begins with Reclaiming Armistice Day featuring Benjamin Patton and local veterans as well as a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the end of World War and a veteran resource fair. Thursday’s panel is Lonesome No More through Faith Communities with Rabbi Dennis Sasso, Reverend John Denson and author Sarah Lund. Friday has a presentation about Vonnegut and mental health with author John Green. Saturday kicks off with an anti-bullying skit at our Breakfast of Champions event, followed by the launch of our 2018 So It Goes Literary Journal, always given complimentary to veterans that day. The four-day fest concludes with our annual Kurt Vonnegut Humor Award presentation followed by a night of stand-up comedy.
- We wrap up its Lonesome No More programming with an important and potentially life-saving LivingWorks safeTALK training for adults and teens 15 and older on December 8.
Planning subject to change