‘Slaughterhouse-Five, or Children’s Crusade’ by Kurt Vonnegut

The letter said that they were two feet high, and green, and shaped like plumber’s friends. Their suction cups were on the ground, and their shafts, which were extremely flexible, usually pointed to the sky. At the top of each shaft was a little hand with a green eye in its palm. The creatures were friendly, and they could see in four dimensions. They pitied Earthlings for being able to see only three. They had many wonderful things to teach Earthlings, especially about time. Billy promised to tell what some of those wonderful things were in his next letter.

Billy was working on his second letter when the first letter was published. The second letter started out like this:
“The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.

When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in a bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is ‘so it goes’.”

***

– Why me?
– That is a very Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?
– Yes.
– Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.

7 thoughts on “‘Slaughterhouse-Five, or Children’s Crusade’ by Kurt Vonnegut

  1. It seems we humans are beginning to understand the 4th dimension, perhaps – like an infant begins to comprehend language. We can look at the past through our subjective memories. But those memories are crude, often inaccurate, and decay rather quickly.

    Our tools allow us to view the past also. For example, writing, pictures, and FILM. Strange, however, these artistic mediums all sacrifice or lose at least one of the 3 original dimensions we had to begin with! And are therefore limited in their own way.

    Liked by 1 person

      • It has been about that long for me too. I read it in high school, l in a special “banned books” class. I chose the book from among 4 other options, and I had no idea who Kurt Vonnegut was at the time.

        Reading it, I learned that the Americans and Brits fire-bombed the German city of Dresden (among numerous other cities). I was horrified. I had been so naive. I believe this was the first time I realized that my country was not exactly “The good guys” like my history books had lead me to believe up that point; The allies hat committed atrocities in the war too. Later I would learn it was not just WW2…

        Shortly after, I hung the Serenity prayer on my bedroom wall, where it remained for several years until my parents moved to a new house. It’s the only quote I have ever hung on my wall, and I found it in this book.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I believe every country has committed atrocities, it seems that in this particular moment of our history it is an inevitable step of the geopolitical evolution. But the history is written by the winners, so sometimes we need time to learn about many things.

        I am happy you have the Serenity prayer.

        Liked by 1 person

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