Cat's Cradle

Terms introduced in the novel

The religion of the people of San Lorenzo, called Bokononism, encompasses concepts unique to the novel, with San Lorenzan names such as:

  • karass - A group of people linked in a cosmically significant manner, even when superficial linkages are not evident.
  • duprass - a karass of only two people, who almost always die within a week of each other. The typical example is a loving couple who work together for a great purpose.
  • granfalloon - a false karass; i.e., a group of people who imagine they have a connection that does not really exist. An example is "Hoosiers"; Hoosiers are people from Indiana, and Hoosiers have no true spiritual destiny in common, so really share little more than a name.
  • wampeter - the central theme or purpose of a karass. Each karass has two wampeters, one waxing and one waning.
  • foma - harmless untruths
  • wrang-wrang - Someone who steers a Bokononist away from their line of perception. For example the narrator of the book is steered away from Nihilism when his Nihilist house sitter kills his cat and leaves his apartment in disrepair.
  • kan-kan - An object or item that brings a person into their karass. The narrator states in the book that his kan-kan was the book he wrote about the Hiroshima bombing.
  • sinookas - The intertwining "tendrils" of peoples' lives.
  • vin-dit - a sudden shove in the direction of Bokononism
  • saroon - to acquiesce to a vin-dit
  • stuppa - a fogbound child (i.e. an idiot)
  • duffle - the destiny of thousands of people placed on one "stuppa"
  • sin-wat - a person who wants all of somebody's love for themself
  • pool-pah - shit storm, but in some contexts: wrath of God
  • Busy, busy, busy - words Bokononists whisper when they think about how complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is
  • Now I will destroy the whole world - last words of a Bokononist before committing suicide
  • boko-maru - the supreme act of worship of the Bokononists, which is an intimate act consisting of prolonged physical contact between the naked soles of the feet of two persons
  • zah-mah-ki-bo - Inevitable destiny
  • Borasisi and Pabu, the Sun and Moon; the binary trans-Neptunian object 66652 Borasisi and its moon, 66652 Borasisi I Pabu, now bear their names.†
    • Borasisi, the Sun, held Pabu, the Moon, in his arms and hoped that Pabu would bear him a fiery child. But poor Pabu gave birth to children that were cold, that did not burn...Then poor Pabu herself was cast away, and she went to live with her favorite child, which was Earth.

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