Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Why I will not write on the death of Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut is dead. I was wondering when it was going to happen, given that he proclaimed he was retired from writing (although he seems to have still kept putting some smaller pieces out.) He stuck around a good long while (although of course not long enough, but such is the nature of our frail lives.)

Slaughterhouse Five comes to mind immediately when thinking about his death, given that Billy Pilgrim lived in and out of time, and perhaps Vonnegut did himself. Time slips back and forth so seamlessly when you are exposed to death and destruction like Vonnegut was (like Pilgrim was). Time, in fact, ceases to make much sense at all; it is no longer linear. As a depressed, bereft college freshman I knew this because not long before my father had been ripped out of the time line. Vonnegut knew about time and death. Time becomes compressed for those whose lives are shaped by death: one minute your an 18-year-old and the next minute your 80.

I too had become unstuck in time.

I remember being asked once (and I had been reading a lot of Vonnegut) "What are you going to be doing when you are 80?"

"I don't know what I'm going to be doing next week, let alone in 60 years," was my smart-ass reply. Of course I sort of knew what I would be doing when I was 80--if I ever reached it. We who are unstuck in time, however can't tell, as Billy Pilgrim can't tell anyone, up there with the aliens (who are trying to figure we strange creatures out.)

Somehow I like to think of Vonnegut himself up there with the Tralfamadorians in a luxuriously appointed glass geodesic dome.

1 comment:

  1. You may have already heard this, but there was a cool rebroadcasting of an interview with Vonnegut on NPR.