Wednesday, April 11, 2012

“[B]eautiful and surprising and deep”

Billy couldn't read Tralfamadorian, of course, but he could at least see how the books were laid out — in brief clumps of symbols separated by stars. Billy commented that the clumps might be telegrams.

“Exactly,” said the voice.

“They are telegrams?”

“There are no telegrams on Tralfamadore. But you’re right: each clump of symbols is a brief, urgent message — describing a situation, a scene. We Tralfamadorians read them all at once, not one after the other. There isn’t any particular relationship between all the messages, except that the author has chosen them carefully, so that, when seen all at once, they produce an image of life that is beautiful and surprising and deep. There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

comments: 2

The Arthurian said...


In the movie Pollock, the artist points out that his paintings are not supposed to be landscapes or portraits or anything. They are just supposed to be beautiful.

normann said...

My Danish translation of Slaughterhouse Five (Slagtehal fem) is a prized possession.