Tralfamadorians, Dogs & Vonnegut

21 Sep

“Billy Pilgrim says that the Universe does not look like a lot of bright little dots to the creatures from Tralfamadore. The creatures can see where each star has been and where it is going, so that the heavens are filled with rarefied, luminous spaghetti. And Tralfamadorians don’t see human beings as two-legged creatures, either. They see them as great milliepedes—“with babies’ legs at one end and old people’s legs at the other,” says Billy Pilgrim.”

Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 5


“You ever put a full-length mirror on the floor, and then have a dog stand on it? Trout asked Billy.


The dog will look down, and all of a sudden he’ll realize there’s nothing under him. The dog thinks he’s standing on thin air. He’ll jump a mile.”

Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 8


“How—how did I get here?

It would take another Earthling to explain it to you. Earthlings are the great explainers, explaining why this event is structured as it is, telling how other events may be achieved or avoided, I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of the Rocky Mountains. All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.”

“You sound to me as though you don’t believe in free will,” said Billy Pilgrim.

*     *   *

“If I hadn’t spent so much time studying Earthlings,” said the Tralfamadorian, “I wouldn’t have any idea what was meant by ‘free will.’ I’ve visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe, and I have studied reports on one hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will.”

Slaughterhouse-Five, End of chapter 4


“I don’t think any artist knows why he does anything. It’s not that rational. This stuff comes pouring out of us.”

“I sit there, this person named me, and this stuffs starts coming out. And I write it down. But my wastebasket is full.”

Vonnegut,  2005 interview


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