“Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt”
Earlier this afternoon, in true CSTF fashion, I quite literally StumbledUpon the now-old news that my very favorite writer in all the world, one Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., passed away last Wednesday night, April 11. He was eighty-four and one-half years old. He had fallen a few weeks before in his Manhattan home. The injuries to his brain were not reversible.
I StumbledUpon the garage. I cranked my ostensibly healthy, tremendously wasteful Jeep. With moisture filling my eyes and bluegrass tickling my ears, I solemnly gripped the wheel and backed into the street. As the result of absolutely no planning and in the company of even less understanding, I was on my way to buy something I hadn’t suffered in some years . . .a pack of Pall Mall cigarettes.
It’s where particular people congregate, you know.
Less than two hundred yards down the road, the Jeep died. There was no fanfare. The engine just stopped running. Something electrical, for sure. Something expensive. It was a pull-over-or-get-your-ass-flattened kind of moment, and without the amenity of power steering, to boot.
Into a vacant driveway I swerved. There she sits even now, awaiting the shiny red wrecker that will take her to the Jeep hospital she knows and loathes so well. She’s an old girl. We’ve been through this before, and we’ll have bad days again.
I walked the rest of the way to the store and then back home. The return journey was punctuated by Pall Malls and silent internal reiterations of these three words: So it goes.
Symbols can be so beautiful, sometimes.
–Breakfast of Champions (1973)
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.