Slaughterhouse-Five – Vonnegut

Oh Vonnegut, how did I not discover you earlier 😍

Slaughterhouse-five is an astounding book about finding meaning in life.

 “Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.”

Or maybe it’s meaninglessness…

Quotes

  • “The gun made a ripping sound like the opening of the zipper on the fly of God Almighty.”
    – “Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.”
  • “Tastee-Freeze was a sort of frozen custard. It gave all the pleasure that ice cream could give, without the stiffness and bitter coldness of ice cream.”
  • ““Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.””
  • ““How nice—to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive.””
  • “The flaw in the Christ stories, said the visitor from outer space, was that Christ, who didn’t look like much, was actually the Son of the Most Powerful Being in the Universe. Readers understood that, so, when they came to the crucifixion, they naturally thought, and Rosewater read out loud again: Oh, boy—they sure picked the wrong guy to lynch that time! And that thought had a brother: “There are right people to lynch.” Who? People not well connected. So”
  • “His prose was frightful. Only his ideas were good.”
  • “The guide invited the crowd to imagine that they were looking across a desert at a mountain range on a day that was twinkling bright and clear. They could look at a peak or a bird or a cloud, at a stone right in front of them, or even down into a canyon behind them. But among them was this poor Earthling, and his head was encased in a steel sphere which he could never take off. There was only one eyehole through which he could look, and welded to that eyehole were six feet of pipe. This was only the beginning of Billy’s miseries in the metaphor. He was also strapped to a steel lattice which was bolted to a flatcar on rails, and there was no way he could turn his head or touch the pipe. The far end of the pipe rested on a bi-pod which was also bolted to the flatcar. All Billy could see was the little dot at the end of the pipe. He didn’t know he was on a flatcar, didn’t even know there was anything peculiar about his situation. The flatcar sometimes crept, sometimes went extremely fast, often stopped—went uphill, downhill, around curves, along straightaways. Whatever poor Billy saw through the pipe, he had no choice but to say to himself, “That’s life.””
  • “It was very exciting for her, taking his dignity away in the name of love.”
  • “Now he closes his speech as he closes every speech—with these words: “Farewell, hello, farewell, hello.””
  • “Their terror evaporated. There was nothing to be afraid of. Here were more crippled human beings, more fools like themselves. Here was light opera.”
  • “It was dropped on them from airplanes. Robots did the dropping. They had no conscience, and no circuits which would allow them to imagine what was happening to the people on the ground.”
  • “The news of the day, meanwhile, was being written in a ribbon of lights on a building to Billy’s back. The window reflected the news. It was about power and sports and anger and death. So it goes.”
  • “These fictitious people in the zoo had a big board supposedly showing stock market quotations and commodity prices along one wall of their habitat, and a news ticker, and a telephone that was supposedly connected to a brokerage on Earth. The creatures on Zircon-212 told their captives that they had invested a million dollars for them back on Earth, and that it was up to the captives to manage it so that they would be fabulously wealthy when they were returned to Earth. The telephone and the big board and the ticker were all fakes, of course. They were simply stimulants to make the Earthlings perform vividly for the crowds at the zoo—to make them jump up and down and cheer, or gloat, or sulk, or tear their hair, to be scared shitless or to feel as contented as babies in their mothers’ arms. The Earthlings did very well on paper. That was part of the rigging, of course. And religion got mixed up in it, too. The news ticker reminded them that the President of the United States had declared National Prayer Week, and that everybody should pray. The Earthlings had had a bad week on the market before that. They had lost a small fortune in olive oil futures. So they gave praying a whirl. It worked. Olive oil went up.””

sebastiankade

Sebastian Kade, Founder of Sumry and Author of Living Happiness, is a software designer and full-stack engineer. He writes thought-provoking articles every now and then on sebastiankade.com

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