Kurt Vonnegut's Shapes of Stories in infographic form


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To picture.

Vonnegut put his analysis of “Hamlet” at the end, where it belongs. It’s the exception that proves the rule.

Here’s a deeper article on this infographic, featuring this vid and a link to a condensed version of his thesis, amongst other linkage.

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After browsing YT a bit, I found this, which should be enough of a Vonnegut fix for most…

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Gravity’s Rainbow needs to be on the chart.

I love this, but I can’t help but feel that the artist has badly misread “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. It’s a “bad to worse” death spiral of never-ending mutually inflicted emotional damage, thinly concealed as a “boy meets girl” type happy ending.

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  1. Kurt Vonnegut’s original idea was in infographic form. This is just an infographic with more crap crammed into it.

  2. Cramming more crap into it does nothing to improve it. Vonnegut’s originals derive much of their value from the stark simplicity of the graphs, which can be grasped very quickly. Vonnegut’s humor comes through brilliantly in the Metamorphosis shape, which starts at nearly the bottom of the graph and drops off immediately to an infinity sign. After digesting the first few traditional shapes, this one is jarring and funny in its severity. The poster, in which all the shapes have roughly the same heft, completely lacks that effect.

I don’t love being critical here — the designer is clearly trying. But it feels like Vonnegut with all the flavor drained out.

And of course there are those ever-popular story tropes
“Someone Comes to Town” and “Someone Leaves Town”

When Mr V gave his talk at the Tyneside Cinema in our fair city last century, all he had to work with was a medium sized whiteboard on an easel, and a marker pen. Upon drawing the rapid descent from near board-bottom to minus infinity, the board attempted to leap off the easel. Cantor would’ve appreciated it.

When was Vonnegut at the Tyneside, like?

Crumbs. I can’t remember the year. I seem to recall his doing a world tour on the occasion of his 50th birthday, but that would put it at 1972 which seems a tad early. I can’t find anything in wikipedia about lecture tours. Maybe they have ‘archives’ at the TC. It would’ve been during the Late Sheila Whittaker’s reign I should think.

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