Some things cannot be undone, but it is feels good to imagine that they could. I was listening to Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. It had been so...moreSome things cannot be undone, but it is feels good to imagine that they could. I was listening to Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. It had been some time since I read the book. I downloaded the book from Overdrive.
While I was listening to the book, I hadn't realized that the sequence of the book had been altered. The book is divided into six one-hour parts. As I listened, I actually heard part six instead of part three. It is a coincidence that this happened since the book itself are snippets of the main character, Billy Pilgrim, slipping back and forth through different times of his life. He becomes "unstuck in time". Time interpreted in the book is one in which we are all stuck, like flies in amber. So by listening to the book out of order, it was like becoming unstuck.
It becomes important because in the "middle" of the book there is commentary by the author with a war buddy much in the same light as the author in the book discussing Billy Pilgrim. More importantly, there was a song on the audiobook. I could not find this song anywhere, but it seemed to enchant me. It seems to speak to me at a time I need to hear the idea of undoing something. The reference specifically is one of war, but the general theme is that instead of destroying something, or having something destroyed, something becomes restored. I am posting the song with this famous quote from Slaughterhouse Five.
The text his here: Billy Pilgrim could not sleep on his daughter's wedding night. He was 44. The wedding had taken place that afternoon in a gaily striped tent in Billy's backyard. The stripes were orange and black. Billy padded downstairs on his blue and ivory feet. He went into the kitchen where the moonlight called his attention to a half-bottle of champagne on the kitchen table all that was left from the reception in the tent. Somebody had stoppered it again. "Drink me" it seemed to say. So billy uncorked it with his thumbs. Didn't make a pop, the champagne was dead. So it goes.
He went into the living swinging the bottle like a dinner bell.
He became slightly unstuck in time, saw the late movie backwards, then forwards again. It was a movie about American bombers in the Second World War and the gallant men who flew them. Seen backwards by Billy, the story went like this :
American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England. Over France, a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen. They did the same for wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwards to join the formation. The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in flames. The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes. The containers were stored neatly in racks. The Germans below had miraculous devices of their own, which were long steel tubes. They used them to suck more fragments from the crewmen and planes. But there were still a few wounded Americans, though, and some of the bombers were in bad repair. Over France, though, German fighters came up again, made everything and everybody as good as new.
When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work. The minerals were then shipped to specialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.
The American fliers turned in their uniforms, became high school kids. And Hitler turned into a baby, Billy Pilgrim supposed. That wasn't in the movie. Billy was extrapolating. Everybody turned into a baby, and all humanity, without exception, conspired biologically to produce two perfect people named Adam and Eve, he supposed." END
Most people refer to this passage as one of Vonnegut's best. It conveys an apt anti-war message and is one of the best examples of Vonnegut's style and humor to convey a very important message.
It affected me differently. It wasn't anti-war, but the undoing of things. Better, a restoration of things that have happened. In war, you cannot take back bullets or restore lives. In life, you cannot change what has happened. Sometimes things don't work out the way it should. Sometimes things go off track and you wonder how that happened and wish it could be undone. It cannot be. However, to read this passage it is a reminder of what can and cannot be restored. (less)
What do we leave behind? How will others know us after we are gone? Atwood's The Blind Assassin peruses these concepts. The story is a life examined v...moreWhat do we leave behind? How will others know us after we are gone? Atwood's The Blind Assassin peruses these concepts. The story is a life examined very similar to books I have recently read like The Almost Moon and Out Stealing Horses.
Iris Chase Winifred is approaching the end of her life. She ponders the changes around, how the youth don't appreciate what they have, and the desire to be remembered after they are gone. How will she be remembered?
When you're young, you think everything you do is disposable. You move from now to now, crumpling time up in your hands, tossing it away. You're tour own speeding car. You think you can get rid of things, and people too--leave them behind. You don't yet know about the habit they have of coming back. P 721
But nevertheless they're irritating, the young. Their posture is appalling as a rule, and judging from their songs they snivel and wallow, grin and bear it having gone the foxtrot. They don't understand their own luck.
They barely glanced at me. To them I must haveseemed quaint, but I suppose it's everyone's fate to be reduced to quaintness by those younger than themselves. Unless there's blood on the floor, of course. War, pestilence, murder, any kind of ordeal or violence, that's what they respect. Blood means we were serious. P 61
The picture is of happiness, the story not. Happiness is a garden walled with glass: there's no way in or out. In Paradise there are no stories, because there are no journeys. It's loss and regret and misery and yearning that drive the story forward, along its twisted road. P 922
The Moving Finger writes, and, having writ, Moves on; nor all your piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all your Tears blot Out a Word of it.
Ha, I think that would make them sit up and bark.
Some day when I am feeling better, I'll go back there and write the thing down. They should all be cheered by it, for isn't that what they want? What we all want to leave a message behind us that has an effect, if only a dire one, a message that cannot be cancelled out. P 750
There's nothing like a shovel full of dirt to encourage literacy. P 63
Children believe that everything bad that happens is somehow their fault, and in this I was no exception; but they also believe in happy endings, despite all evidence to the contrary, and I was no exception to that either. I only wished the happy ending would hurry up, because-especially at night, when Laura was asleep and I did not have to cheer her up--I felt so desolate. P 237
I'd wanted to leave home, but have it stay in place, waiting for me, unchanged, so I could step back into it at will. P391
The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it. P 508
She does proceed to remark that although god lord, he doesn't cheat--he always sends a true prophet, but people don't listen. In her opinion God is like a radio broadcaster and we are faulty radios...p679
Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement. P 749
Her body as usual would get in the way of free speech p 830
We'll choose knowledge no matter what, we'll maim ourselves in the process, we'll stick our hands in the flames for it if necessary. Curiosity is not our only motive: love or grief or despair or hatred is what drives us on. We'll spy relentlessly on the dead: we'll open their letters, we'll read their journals, we'll go through their trash, hoping for a hint, a final word, an explanation, from those who have deserted us--who've left us holding the bag, which is often a good deal emptier than we'd supposed. 885
Lest we forget. Remember me. To you from failing hands we throw. Cries of the thirsty ghosts. Nothing is more difficult ryan to understand the dead, I've found; but nothing is more dangerous than to ignore them p 910
How could I have been so ignorant? She thinks. So stupid, so unseeing, so given over to carelessness. But without such ignorance, such carelessness, how could we live? If you knew what was going to happen next--if you knew in advance the consequences of your own actions--you'd be doomed. You'd be ruined a God. You'd be a stone. You'd never eat or drink or laugh or get out of bed in the morning. You'd never love anyone, ever again. You'd never dare to. P 921
What is it I want from you? Not love: that would be too much to ask. Not forgiveness, which isn't yours to bestow. Only a listener, perhaps; only someone who will see me. Don't pretify me though, whatever else you do: I have no wish to be a decorated scull.
But I leave myself in your hands. What choice do I have? By the time you read this last page, that--if anywhere--is the only place I will be. End (less)
I loved this book. If you enjoy reading books about Aghanistan, Muslim culture, and the struggle of women you will love this book. Author Khaled Hosse...moreI loved this book. If you enjoy reading books about Aghanistan, Muslim culture, and the struggle of women you will love this book. Author Khaled Hosseini work goes beyond the situation of Afghanistan and talks about people and characters. He is indeed a master storyteller. I will share my favorite lines from his book. Don't worry, these lines will not spoil any of the story. When I read this lines I could transport myself into times in my own life where I could relate to the characters. Even though the experience is in a place faraway from mine, it brought it very close to home.
and one day it will hit him...that his father's disappearance is no longer an open raw wound. That it has become something else altogether...like a lore..1000337
The past only held this wisdom: that love was a damaging mistake, and its accomplice, hope, a treacherous illusion. 1000suns 229
Time is the most unforgiving of fires and she couldn't, in the end, save it all 1000suns164
Mammy's heart was like a pallid beach where Laila's footprints would forever wash away beneath the waves that swelled and crashed1000suns130
She always ended up in Laila's room, as though she would run into the boys sooner or later if she just kept walking into the room 1000sun127
boys laila came to see treated friendship the way they treated the sun; its existence undisputed; its radiance best enjoyed, not beheld secretly. 1001 Sp sun119
This is a very strange surreal book where Salman Rushdie exorcises his Muslim roots.
A terrorist bomb has exploded on a plane sending our two main cha...moreThis is a very strange surreal book where Salman Rushdie exorcises his Muslim roots.
A terrorist bomb has exploded on a plane sending our two main characters Gabireel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha to their certain deaths. However, on the way down, Gabireel sings a song and flaps his arms and the slow down and survive their fall. They will never be the same.
The story seems to move around a lot of back and forth in time, coupled with Gibreel's dreams. I found it hard to follow at times. The side stories are filled with Scheherazade-type stories that place the Middle East and the Muslim world in very poor light. Some of the imagery is horrific and it might have been emphasized because of Rushdie background, or to send the message for Americans to no get into bed with Islamic Fundamentalists.
It seems like Gabireel and Saladin's struggle is more of a personal one for Rushdie. They are struggling over his soul. He casts one part of his life out, while chasing the ideal. Finding and accepting one’s true self is always the correct path. In the meantime there are insightful observations on the human condition. It's quite poetic dealing specifically with issues of faith, but ultimately, very dark.
Who is he? An exile. Which must not be confused with, allowed to run into, all the other words that people throw around: Emigre, expatriate, refugee, immigrant, silence, cunning. Exile is a dream of glorious return. Exile is a vision of revolution: Elba, not St Helena. It is an endless paradox: looking forward by always looking back. The exile is a ball hurled high into the air. He hangs there, frozen in time, translated into a photograph; denied motion, suspended impossibly above his native earth, he awaits the inevitable moment at which the photograph must begin to move, and the earth reclaim its own. These are the things the Imam thinks. His home is a rented flat. It is a waiting-room, a photograph, air. P. 232
Exile is a soulless country. In exile, the furniture is ugly, expensive, all bought at the same time in the same store and in too much of a hurry: shiny silver sofas with fins like old Buicks DeSotos Oldsmobiles, glass-fronted bookcases containing not books but clippings files. In exile the shower goes scalding hot whenever anybody turns on a kitchen tap, so that when the Imam goes to bathe his entire retinue must remember not to fill a kettle or rinse a dirty plate, and when the Imam goes to the toilet his disciples leap scalded from the shower. In exile no food is ever cooked; the dark-spectacled bodyguards go out for takeaway. In exile all attempts to put down roots look like treason: they are admissions of defeat. P.236
The people are walking up the slope towards the guns; seventy at a time, they come into range; the guns babble, and they die, and then the next seventy climb over the bodies of the dead, the guns giggle once again, and the hill of the dead grows higher. Those behind it commence, in their turn, to climb. In the dark doorways of the city there are mothers with covered heads, pushing their beloved sons into the parade,_go, be a martyr, do the needful, die_. "You see how they love me," says the disembodied voice. "No tyranny on earth can withstand the power of this slow, walking love." p. 240
Gibreel the autodidact made it sound like an injection. To a girl from a house that revered books her father had made them all kiss any volume that fell by chance to the floor and who had reacted by treating them badly, ripping out pages she wanted or didn't like, scribbling and scratching at them to show them who was boss, Gibreel's form of irreverence, non-abusive, taking books for what they offered without feeling the need to genuflect or destroy, was something new; and, she accepted, pleasing. P 353
WHAT KIND OF AN IDEA ARE YOU? Are you the kind that compromises, does deals, accommodates itself to society, aims to find a niche, to survive; or are you the cussed, bloody-minded, ramrod-backed type of damnfool notion that would rather break than sway with the breeze?ÑThe kind that will almost certainly, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, be smashed to bits; but, the hundredth time, will change the world_. P.380
To meet a writer is, usually, to be disappointed. P. 411
"...a ten-volume set of the Richard Burton translation of the Arabian Nights, which was being slowly devoured by mildew and bookworm owing to the deep-seated prejudice against books which led Changez to own thousands of the pernicious things in order to humiliate them by leaving them to rot unread..." p. 31
"When you have stepped through the looking-glass you step back at your peril. The mirror may cut you to shreds." p. 51
"Maybe, after all, love was more durable than hate; even if love changed, some shadow of it, some lasting shape, persisted. Towards Pamela, for example, he was now sure he felt nothing but the most altruistic affections. Hatred was perhaps like a finger-print upon the smooth glass of the sensitive soul; a mere grease-mark, which disappeared if left alone. Gibreel? Pooh! He was forgotten; he no longer existed. There; to surrender animosity was to become free." p. 348