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Kurt Vonnegut (Bloom's Modern Critical Views)
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Rating Average: 3. Is this you? With the re-establishment of the emotional bond with his father, he now felt something.
To escape the horrors of the present, Leon took refuge in Sweden; but he could not leave behind his past—with its accumulated guilt. Unable to cope rationally with his tortured history, he took refuge in his imagination. Acting not as a stone but as a ghost at the service of the Natural Order, he denied his corporeal existence and created a story that envisioned a species to which not only familial life and human affections but also the common ills of twentieth-century society—domestic discord, economic free-booting, environmental despoliation, and war—were unknown.
Like Leon, they have suffered breakdowns because of traumatic wartime experiences. There is an even more striking parallel between Leon and Billy Pilgrim. For both, however, fantasy is a refuge, a means by which they attempt to cope with a tormented past and an unbearable present. To do that, each performs a radical, though unconscious, manipulation of time. His first experience with that time warp occurred during the war.
Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-five (Bloom's Guides) by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Harold Bloom PDF
To the Tralfamadorians, past, present, and future exist simultaneously. All time is all time. It does 24 Oliver W. Ferguson not change.
Through their manipulation of time, Billy and Leon are able to accept the conditions of their existence. I think technically what I undertook was impossible. Not only is the problem of point of view obviated, but Leon is also useful in other ways. There are compelling History and Story 25 points of resemblance between the two.
Hyperbole comes easily for Vonnegut. Like his sunny little dream of a life among the alligators, his description of the Santa Rosalian seals is the hyperbolic expression of his anger and despair over the current state of affairs. Leon, it is important to note, is not given to hyperbole. His approval of the society he describes on Santa Rosalia is consistent and serious.
To satirize the human animal Swift conceived of the houyhnhnms, an equine race of superior beings with none of the vices of mankind. Both characters have to some extent the qualities they condemn in others. She did not realize, Leon concludes, that her big brain would make her life a hell until she had actually performed that experiment.
By separating themselves from the extreme views of their respective narrators, Swift and Vonnegut can achieve the effectiveness of an exaggerated attack on the object of their satire.
They can also suggest the possibility of some positive values as a corrective. Leaving her negating husband and son was an act of affirmation. The other is his unflinching diagnosis of the mortal peril in which humanity finds itself. In his mad imaginings, Leon has conceived an equally bizarre notion to account for his ability to become a ghost.
Allen, Understanding Kurt Vonnegut, p.
Wor k s Ci t e d Allen, William Rodney, ed. Conversations with Kurt Vonnegut. Jackson and London: University Press of Mississippi, Understanding Kurt Vonnegut. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, Berryman, Charles. Robert Merrill. Boston: Hall, Broer, Lawrence R. Revised ed. Tuscaloosa and London: University of Alabama Press, Granville-Barker, Harley. London: Batsford, New York: Delacorte, Palm Sunday. Player Piano. New York: Avon, Wymer, Thomas L. Thomas D.
Harold Bloom, Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. Modern Critical Interpretations - PhilPapers
D onald E. Morse offer. Mauchly and weighing in at thirty tons with eighteen thousand vacuum tubes, the first public demonstration of ENIAC occurred on February 14, It was followed by a series of lectures at a conference in Philadelphia, summer of , which led in turn to the widespread adoption of storedprogram which eventuated in the modern electronic computer. In Player Piano the United States has become a planned society run by corporations for profit.
The power and wealth of the United States, which grew through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in large measure thanks to an amazing outburst of creative technology and invention, remains almost synonymous with the machine. The machine may take the form of the car that provides the famous American mobility while contributing heavily to American personal isolation. Or it may be the various electronic media machines radio, movies, and television that shifted the emphasis from news to instant event.
Or it may be any of the vast array of technics that transformed agriculture into agribusiness, the company into the multinational corporation, or the sleepy stock market into that behemoth of arbitrage, leveraged buy-out, and institutional investment of the new turn of the century.
Instead of building temples, we build laboratories; Instead of offering sacrifices, we perform experiments; Instead of reciting prayers, we note pointer-readings; Our lives are no longer erratic but efficient. Other civilizations reached a high degree of technical proficiency without apparently, being profoundly influenced by methods and aims of technics. The novel thus satirises both the over-dependence on technology and the over-reliance on the expertise of technocrats. The corporation, on the other hand, wants him to be its ideal manager—bright, but completely within the corporate mould.
His wife, in her turn, wants him to be her ideal husband—loving but totally dedicated to succeeding in the corporation. The revolutionary Ghost Shirts want him to be their ideal leader—famous, but selflessly dedicated to their cause. None of these—the corporation, his wife, the Ghost Shirts—wants him simply to be or to be for himself alone. Needless to say, no one ever asks what he wants. The latter write letters in his name, issue manifestos he does not know if he agrees or disagrees with, and act generally as if he were their Messiah—a role he definitely does not wish to play. If he does not really know what he wants to be or become, Paul at least knows that he does not want to be a lone human manager overseeing machines.
It is also his warning against that ancient human desire 32 Donald E. Morse for perfection, especially perfection in society which all too often, as in this novel, leads simply to sterility. All in the name of making everything as easy as possible for everyone and granting everyone a far greater degree of certainty than is usually possible in a non-planned, unregulated, free society. The good life in Player Piano will be achieved thanks to the corporation responsible for running everything in Ilium, which, in return, demands complete loyalty and service.
Such loyalty and service are, however, not just expected, they are required. Vonnegut satirises the kind of husband-wife working relationships that may and often do result from such expectations in the meaningless conversations which take place daily between Paul and Anita. She then coaches him on how to behave at meetings, how to effectively deliver speeches, and how to conduct himself on various social occasions.
One of his prime satiric targets—on which he scored a direct hit—was the North Woods summer festival where General Electric executives had to go and play the silly games described in hilarious detail in Player Piano see especially — Instead, people realise that the corporate world wishes to use their labour as cheaply as possible and will replace them with more reliable machines whenever and wherever possible, not stopping to count or even acknowledge the human cost of those dismissed, fired, or forced to quit.
This point becomes clear early in the novel when Bud Calhoun is fired because he had invented a machine to replace him and so made himself redundant 62— John Ruskin, Thomas Hardy, D.
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Lawrence, E. Forster, and J. Tolkien, and American writers from Mark Twain through the muckrakers and after—all attacked the human waste caused by technology and Big Business. Like the best of these writers, Vonnegut goes beyond speculation and like most of them, describes both the atmosphere of the corporation and the ethos and values it promulgated based upon careful observation. Now at the time, milling machine operators were among the best paid machinists in the world, and yet this damned machine was able to do as good a job as most of the machinists ever could.
I looked around, then, and found looms and spinning machines and a number of textile devices all being run the same way and, well, the implications were sensational. Morse These sensational implications are realised in Player Piano as this future, electronically run society places the good of the corporation and the full employment of machines ahead of human needs and desires, including the human necessity for meaningful work.