Monday, January 2, 2017

January 2: Shot in Dresden, iPhone 7 Plus, Kurt Vonnegut

All this happened, more or less.  The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true. One guy I knew really was shot in Dresden for taking a teapot that wasn't his.  Another guy I knew really did threaten to have his personal enemies killed by hired gunmen after the war.  And so on.  I've changed all the names.

This is the first paragraph of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five.  At the beginning of the book, Vonnegut talks about how difficult it has been for him to write about his war experiences.  More specifically, his difficulties with writing about the firebombing of the city of Dresden while he was a prisoner of war there.  When reality becomes like fiction, Vonnegut turns science fiction into reality.

I have spent the day becoming part of the 21st century.  Translation:  I now am the proud owner of an iPhone 7 Plus.  My daughter helped me set up a Snapchat account.  I have sent a "snap" to a friend.  (Or is that supposed to be "I snapped a friend"?)  I'm not sure.  I have always been a little bit of a Luddite.  Distrustful of technology.  That's why, until about a week-and-a-half ago, I was not on Facebook.

There is something about a constantly mediated reality that I distrust.  Even though I write this blog, I don't share everything.  I still have difficulty with some aspects of my life.  Things that are too painful or embarrassing to approach right now.  Sort of like Vonnegut struggling with his wartime past.  I may write about these experiences eventually, like Vonnegut.

I once met Kurt Vonnegut.  Really.  He came to the university where I teach.  It was a few years before he died, and age had diminished him a little bit physically.  He walked unsteadily, and his voice had the rumble of a lifelong smoker.  However, his intellect was intact.  He spoke of the importance of teachers, and the nobility of the classroom.  It was really inspiring. 

As I sat in the audience, I imagined Vonnegut in a zoo on the planet Tralfamdore with the main character of Slaughterhouse, Billy Pilgrim.  Vonnegut as a prisoner in Dresden as the bombs began to fall.  Vonnegut as a Vietnam War protestor, marching and raising hell.  I imagined all of the Vonnegut realities.

So, my reality has expanded today.  I'm still a little distrustful of things like Facebook and Twitter, but it's a healthy distrust.  I will still write things in my daily planner.  I will still carry around a journal and fountain pen, in which I will record thoughts and inspirations.  I have to keep in mind that iPhones and blogs and journals and Facebook are all tools.  Ways to approach reality.

I think that Vonnegut, if he were alive today, would own the latest iPhone.  He would be tweeting (or poo-tee-weeting).  He would be writing on a tablet, and taking pictures and posting them on his timeline.  In short, he would be the King of all Media. 

Saint Marty hopes that, some day, he will be a really cool old guy like Kurt Vonnegut, talking/tweeting/blogging/Snapchatting about peace and love and sex and extraterrestrial life.

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