Kurt Vonnegut – Unstuck in Time

A number of years ago I listened to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five as an audiobook. This was an additional track that followed at the end. It takes a small part of the book where Billy Pilgrim is experiencing time backwards, and reads it into a background of music. Some may find it moving. I did.

“Tock Tick” – Kurt Vonnegut, Simon Heselev

7:02 – YouTube – 21 Jun 2009

Description: A dreamy, rhythmic track created by Simon Heselev, with excerpts of a reading by Kurt Vonnegut from his novel Slaughterhouse Five woven into the composition.

Transcript:

Billy Pilgrim could not sleep on his daughter’s wedding night. He was forty-four. The wedding had taken place that afternoon in a gaily striped tent in Billy’s backyard. The stripes were orange and black.

Billy Pilgrim 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. It didn’t make a pop. The champagne was dead. So it goes.

He went into the living room, swinging the bottle like a dinner bell, turned on the television. He came 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 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, 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. So it goes.

0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *