“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
- The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library hosts 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 pm, followed by the film, Loving Vincent, which features artwork by Bliss and tells the story of Vincent Van Gogh’s struggle with loneliness. $20
- KVML celebrates its Night of Vonnegut Gala April 13 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom from 6 to 9 pm. Douglas Brinkley, CNN historian, Rice University professor of history, and contributor to Vanity Fair, presents the keynote. Musician Kate Lamont of Mab Lab performs, as well. Join us for this once-a-year-celebration and fundraiser. $125 (Early Bird Special $100 through 12/31/17).
- May 16 from 6 to 7:30 pm, KVML partners 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 KVML June 25 for a Global Beatles Day discussion about using music to cope with depression. Panelists include Faith Cohen, Chris Lafave, and other Beatles experts who will discuss how the Beatles tackled difficult mental health topics through their music, including Eleanor Rigby, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, When I’m 64, A Little Help from My Friends, Yesterday, and more.
- KVML takes 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.
- The Vonnegut Library commemorates Banned Books Week, September 24 to 29. Nanette Vonnegut talks about her maternal grandmother’s treatment of mental illness at Central State Hospital. We host William S. Burroughs Day with a reading from Naked Lunch at noon and the film in the evening. We present a Too Much of a Good Thing talk about sex addiction. Rai Peterson of Ball State University spends a week in the library imprisoned behind a wall of banned books, and the Prindle Institute’s Examining Ethics team shares their banned books podcast. The week ends with a half-day mental wellness workshop for teens. NAMI, Youth MOVE Indiana, Rai Peterson, and others discuss issues that impact Indiana youth.
- This year’s VonnegutFest, November 7 to 10, begins with a panel discussion focused on the mental health crisis within the legal community on Wednesday night. Thursday, we feature “Lonesome No More through Faith Communities,” and Friday we’ll celebrate with a Vonnegut-themed get together. Saturday, Young Actors Theatre presents an anti-bullying skit at our Breakfast of Champions event, followed by the launch of our 2018 So It Goes Literary Journal. Later, we pay tribute to the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and then conclude the four-day fest with our annual humor award presentation.
- KVML wraps up its Lonesome No More programming with an important and potentially life-saving LivingWorks safeTALK training for adults and teens 15 and older. December 8, time to be determined.
Planning subject to change