Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Slaughterhouse 5 - discussion questions for Book Groups

S5 discussion q's

who is Kilgore Trout?

"so it goes", a religious incantation to accompany death. Perhaps a reflex to avoid horror. Is this how religious ritual gets going?  Who's doing the avoiding in this case? KV, the reader, society?

Is the whole book a jazzed up therapy act for KV? You can see how the pieces are all like fragmented memories and recollections, probably whiskey-driven late at night. Is it literature (in the sense of being a deliberate work made of text) or is is something like a mental patient's artwork, astounding and healing yet not quite art? Do you even buy the OR in the last sentence? We could replace with AND, and then talk about why it's both healing and artful. 

Trafalmadorians see all of time in a deep, holistic, mode. Does a sense of deep time mean that nothing is anybody's fault? "The moments are just structured that way, and things are as they are. We never worry about such things". 

Nothing, well how about some things? So, turning the dial down a bit, is morality a function of timescale? A evil act this afternoon (killing a person) could turn out to be the right thing to do in a year. A year's atrocity (bombing cities) defensible over a century. What evil would we tolerate to improve life over a millennium?

Are there moral decisions that are independent of the passage of time? Questions involving the verb To BE rather than those including To DO?

Does Buddhism, say, differ from Christianity on moral issues because of its time structure? Cyclic/holistic rather than Linear/atomic. 

Would you like to be a Trafalmadorian specimen?  Advantages: No job, plenty to eat, can prance around naked, have sex with other excellent specimens, make small talk with the keepers. Or would you wish to get back to your real life?

They were rather obtrusive, had obvious spaceships, got involved with their captives, made worrying remarks about causality, and so forth. Perhaps they were just learning their craft. How do you know that you aren't already in the hands of the rather more competent Crypto-Trafalmadorians?  If so, what sort of real life could you wish to get back to?