Vonnegut and Sagan’s Extended Family
A topic Kurt Vonnegut hit upon often in his novels and lectures was extended families. He explained in Timequake “it is so obvious that we, because we are human, need [extended family] as much as we need proteins and carbohydrates and fats and vitamins and essential minerals.”
In both Timequake and A Man Without A Country, Vonnegut talked about an Ibo family he met in Nigeria in 1970. Despite an ongoing war in their country, two new parents were about to embark on a lengthy journey to introduce the baby to all its relatives— hundreds of them!
I met a man in Nigeria one time, an Ibo who had six hundred relatives he knew quite well. His wife had just had a baby, the best possible news in any extended family.
They were going to take it to meet all its relatives, Ibos of all ages and sizes and shapes. It would meet other babies, cousins not much older than it was. Everybody who was big enough and steady enough was going to hold it, cuddle it, gurgle to it, and say how pretty or how handsome it was.
Wouldn’t you have loved to be that baby?
–A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut
Ryan and I didn’t have to travel far for Sagan to meet the rest of his Aunts and Uncles. They came to us last weekend! We also didn’t have to navigate across a war-torn country… though we did have to brave the DC metro.
Aunts, Uncles and a Grandma!
Everyone who was big enough and steady enough held him, cuddled him, gurgled to him and told him how cute he was.
And this is just the beginning! Sagan still has a Great Grandmother to meet and a whole slew of Great Aunts, Great Uncles, First Cousins (Once Removed) and Second Cousins.
If Vonnegut’s words are accurate, and I suspect that they are, Sagan will be one well nourished boy in the extended family department.