From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Jump to: navigation, search

Bokononism is a religion invented by Kurt Vonnegut and practiced by many of the characters in his novel Cat's Cradle. Many of the sacred texts of Bokononism were written in the form of calypsos.

Bokononism is based on the concept of foma, which are defined as harmless untruths. A foundation of Bokononism is that the religion, including its texts, is formed entirely of lies; however, one who believes and adheres to these lies will have peace of mind, and perhaps live a good life. The primary tenet of Bokononism is to "Live by the foma that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy."


Bokonon, a character in the novel, is the founder of the religion. He was born Lionel Boyd Johnson in 1891 and attended the London School of Economics to study Political Science, only to have his education cut short by World War I. "Bokonon" was the way the natives of San Lorenzo, the fictional Caribbean island-nation where the ship-wrecked Johnson started his religion, pronounced his family name in their unique dialect of English.

Bokonon established Bokononism with Earl McCabe, his partner in ruling the island, when all the duo's efforts to raise the standard of living on the island failed, as a means to help the poor islanders escape their miserable reality by practicing a simple, useful religion. Arranging with McCabe that Bokononism be outlawed and eternally persecuted by the government, he went to live in the jungle, supposedly hiding, thus trying to lure the population into Bokononism as a kind of forbidden fruit.


Bokononism encompasses a number of unique concepts expressed in the San Lorenzan dialect:[1]

Popular culture[edit]





  1. ^ Wallingford, Eugene, ed. (2011). "The Books of Bokonon". University of Northern Iowa. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  2. ^ p.238
  3. ^ p.236
  4. ^ Tweet from the band, October 2013, to the Vonnegut Library
  5. ^ "Interview with Jack Lancaster". November 2009. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Kurt Vonnegut and Dave Soldier: "Ice-9 Ballads"". Mulatta Records. July 2009. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 

External links[edit]