Friday, October 31, 2008

Nov 08

November 11th is Kurt Vonnegut's birthday.

We watched from our easy chairs as the Olympic torch burned in China. My son Peter sent these pix from his Beijing sidelines: first a Beijing parking lot for market vendors. Yes, zillions of people peddled zillions of goodies to a market on zillions of bikes. Their drive to thrive economically is set against another sight for which we need no caption.

The Great Wall always reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut.

In his book, Sirens of Titan, I encountered Salo. From a world called Tralfamadore, he' a robot explorer built many millennia earlier to carry a message to a distant galaxy. His spacecraft is powered by the Universal Will to Become, or UWTB, the "prime mover" which makes matter and organization wish to appear out of nothingness. A small component on Salo's spacecraft breaks, stalling him in our Solar System. He requests help from Tralfamadore and hangs out on Titan waiting patiently for the part to arrive and observing distant planets, including our own Earth. Salo's fellow Tralfamadorians respond by manipulating human history so that primitive humans evolve and create a civilization in order to produce the needed replacement part. It turns out that the Great Wall of China (as well as Stonehenge and the Kremlin) is visible from Titan and is a message in the Tralfamadorian geometrical language informing Salo of their progress... so far.

I invite you to celebrate Vonnegut's day on the 11th. Is there something you feel compelled to do to encourage Salo in his long wait?