Fern read two books a day. It has been said that Aristotle was the last man to be familiar with the whole of his own culture. Ransom K. Fern had made an impressive attempt to equal Aristotle’s achievement. He had been somewhat less successful than Aristotle in perceiving patterns in what he knew.
The intellectual mountain had labored to produce a philosophical mouse - and Fern was the first to admit that it was a mouse, and a mangy mouse at that. As Fern expressed the philosophy conversationally, in its simplest terms:
“You go up to a man, and you say, ‘How are things going, Joe?’ And he says, ‘Oh, fine, fine - couldn’t be better.’ And you look into his eyes, and you see things really couldn’t be much worse. When you get right down to it, everybody’s having a perfectly lousy time of it, and I mean everybody. And the hell of it is, nothing seems to help much.”
- Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan