Unlike many of these quotes, the repeated refrain from Vonnegut’s classic Slaughterhouse-Fiveisn’t notable for its unique wording so much as for how much emotion—and dismissal of emotion—it packs into three simple, world-weary words that simultaneously accept and dismiss everything. There’s a reason this quote graced practically every elegy written for Vonnegut over the past two weeks (yes, including ours): It neatly encompasses a whole way of life. More crudely put: “Shit happens, and it’s awful, but it’s also okay. We deal with it because we have to.”
It is based on the concept of foma, which are defined as harmless untruths. The primary tenet of Bokononism is to “Live by the foma that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.” Many of the sacred texts of Bokononism were written in the form of calypsos. The foundation of Bokononism is that all religion, including Bokononism and all its texts, is formed entirely of lies; however, if you believe and adhere to these lies, you will at least have peace of mind, and perhaps live a good life.