Vonnegut on Fiction vs. Journalism - Noise and Melody

I am reminded now, as I think about news and fiction, of a demonstration of the difference between noise and melody which I saw and heard in a freshman physics lecture at Cornell University so long ago. (Freshman physics is invariably the most satisfying course offered by any American university.) The professor threw a narrow board, which was about the length of a bayonet, at the wall of the room, which was cinder block. "That's noise," he said.

Then he picked up seven more boards, and he threw them against the wall in rapid succesion, as though he were a knife-thrower. The boards in sequence sang the opening notes of "Mary Had a Little Lamb." I was enchanted.

"That's melody," he said.

And fiction is melody, and journalism, new or old, is noise.


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 Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons: (Opinions)
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Vonnegut , Kurt (1999-01-12), Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons: (Opinions), Dial Press Trade Paperback, Retrieved on 2011-09-18