Monday, April 04, 2005

What are Foma?

This post was last updated February 9, 2006.

Kurt Vonnegut wrote Cat's Cradle which described the fictional religion of Bokononism. To find out more about Bokononism, you can either read Cat's Cradle or visit this site, which has all of the canonical quotes from the Book of Bokonon. While the full precepts and principles of Bokononism are fairly technical, yet satiric of all organized religions, there is truth in the lies of Bokononism.

Foma are the harmless untruths that get us through our life. The only canonical foma in Vonnegut's writing is from his essay collection Wampeters, Foma, and Granfalloons where he uses as an example, "Prosperity is just around the corner."

Other statements that might qualify as foma include:

Hard work gets rewarded.
Anybody can grow up and become President.
Your mother really likes the art you bring home from summer camp.

These lies are different from the three biggest lies (check's in the mail, etc.) because we need these lies. In a world of six billion people, who thinks their job, family role, social position, is unique and necessary? No one is irreplaceable, yet we all deserve some dignity and mutual respect. Even if that is just a foma as well.

1 comment:

sufis said...

Dear “yellojkt”
I found your blog Live by the Foma while I was doing research for a documentary about Brandy Britton. While I am very familiar with how the story was covered in the mainstream media, I am especially interested in how it was discussed in blogs such as yours. I was fascinated by the viewpoints expressed, the focused nature of comments and the bearing the conversation took. Sometimes it was motivated by moral and ethical principles while sometimes it took a totally emotional path.
While I know you have resisted continuing to comment on Britton in the context of the allegations that she was part of the DC Madam’s ring, I am wondering whether you would be able to talk to me more about the blog itself. I feel it is such an important part of the story and goes well beyond the sensational aspects of the story. I would love to discuss this request with you by phone and/or in person.
please email me at and I will send you more info about myself.