Bluebeard is my favorite Vonnegut novel. I’ve only referenced it on this Tumblr once before, but now Matt Jones posted a quote from it today, one that I’ve kept tucked away in a bookmark, and one that speaks to how change happens.
Paul Slazinger has had all his clothes and writing materials brought here. He is working on his first volume of non-fiction, to which he has given this title: _The Only Way to Have a Successful Revolution in Any Field of Human Activity_.
For what it’s worth: Slazinger claims to have learned from history that most people cannot open their minds to new ideas unless a mind-opening team with a peculiar membership goes to work on them. Otherwise, life will go on exactly as before, no matter how painful, unrealistic, unjust, ludicrous, or downright dumb that life may be.
The team must consist of three sorts of specialists, he says. Otherwise, the revolution, whether in politics or the arts of the sciences or whatever, is sure to fail.
The rarest of these specialists, he says, is an authentic genius — a person capable of having seeminly good ideas not in general circulation. ‘A genius working alone,’ he says, ‘is invariably ignored as a lunatic.’
The second sort of specialist is a lot easier to find: a highly intelligent citizen in good standing in his or her community, who understands and admires the fresh ideas of the genius, and who testifies that the genius is far from mad. ‘A person working like that alone,’ says Slazinger, ‘can only yearn out loud for changes, but fail to say what their shapes should be.’
The third sort of specialist is a person who can explain anything, no matter how complicated, to the satisfaction of most people, no matter how stupid or pigheaded they may be. ‘He will say almost anything in order to be interesting or exciting,’ says Slazinger. ‘Working alone, depending solely on his own shallow ideas, he would be regarded as being as full of shit as a Christmas turkey.’