RIP: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

“So it goes.”

I’m a big fan of his work and have read many of his books. Cats Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, Player Piano, Breakfast of Champions. Every book of his I could find, I would pick up, read the first paragraph and be immediately sucked in. He had this way of grabbing my attention, and keeping me turning pages in quick succession and making it difficult to set back down until it was done.

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 bad condition in the 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.”

Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

Video Interview with Kurt Vonnegut on PBS’s NOW

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  1. I’m sure you were the one that introduced me to reading a Kurt Vonnegut book. For that, I can only say thank you. I was pretty sad the day I heard about him dying.

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