Cat's Cradle

Cat's Cradle Glossary

anteroom

an outer room that leads to another room and that is often used as a waiting room

boko-maru

a Bokononist ritual in which individuals press the soles of their feet together to "mingle their awarenesses"; Bokononists believe that it is impossible to be sole to sole with an individual without loving that person

Bokononism

religion created by Bokonon, outlined in the Books of Bokonon, and practiced in the Republic of San Lorenzo

Bokononist

follower of the religion of Bokononism

Borasisi

the sun

busy, busy, busy

Bokononist phrase uttered in response to how unpredictable and complicated life is

calypso

a Bokononist poem

cosmogony

a theory or myth concerning the coming into existence, creation or origination of the universe

duffle

the destiny of thousands of people when placed in the hands of a stuppa

duprass

a karass made up of only two people

Dynamic Tension

Bokononist theory that good societies could be built only by pitting good against evil and keeping the tension between the two high at all times

Fata Morgana

a mirage named after Morgan le Fay, a fairy who lived at the bottom of a lake

foma

harmless untruths, intended to comfort simple souls

funeral pyre

a combustible heap for burning a dead body as a funeral rite

granfalloon

a proud and meaningless association of human beings; a false karass or a team that is meaningless in terms of the ways God gets things done (e.g., the Communist party, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the General Electric Company)

hook

the primary method of punishment in San Lorenzo; criminals were hung from the hook after being impaled through the stomach

Hoosier

a person from Indiana

ice-nine

Felix Hoenikker's creation, it can turn any liquid into a solid through a unique process of crystallization

kan-kan

the instrument that brings individuals into their karass

karass

team of individuals who do God's will without ever discovering what they are doing; every person belongs to one

McCarthyism

a period of intense suspicion by the American government of American Communists and Communist sympathizers in the early 1950s

nihilism

philosophy of nothingness; nothing is or could be important

oubliette

a dungeon

pissant

a person who is disagreeable simply for the sake of disagreeing; a person who thinks he knows everything and tries to make others feel stupid

pool-pah

"shit storm"; the wrath of God

Puba

the moon

reticule

a woman's bag

saroon

to submit to the demands of one's vin-dit

schnauzer

breed of dog

sin-wat

a man who wants all of somebody's love

sinookas

components of an individual's life that can become entangled with those of other members of his karass

stuppa

a fogbound child

vin-dit

a sudden, very personal shove in the direction of Bokononism

wampeter

an object around which the lives of many otherwise unrelated people may revolve; at any time, each karass has two wampeters, one that is becoming more important and one that is becoming less important; the wampeter of Jonah's karass is ice-nine

wrang-wrang

a person who steers people away from a line of thinking by reducing that line, with the example of the wrang-wrang's own life, to an absurdity

zah-mah-ki-bo

fate; inevitable destiny