Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Kurt Vonnegut's Tralfamadorians,in Slaughterhouse Five, seeing into the fourth dimension, perceive the universe in a radically different way:

"All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just the 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, like beads on a string, and 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 at that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is, "So it goes!"

I like to think of people as the Tralfamadorians saw them--as continuous beings, not unlike long caterpillars, with fat baby's legs at one end and long, ancient legs at the other--beings all-one-piece, integrated and entire.

I'd like that.

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