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They Were all Theoretically Dead Now – “Slaughterhouse-Five” – Kurt Vonnegut

March 18th, 2011 · No Comments · Humanism, Philosophy, War

One time on manoeuvres Billy was playing ‘A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,’ with music by Johann Sebastian Bach and words by Martin Luther. It was Sunday morning. Billy and his chaplain had gathered a congregatation of about fifty soldiers on a Carolina hillside. An umpire appeared. There were umpires everywhere, men who said who was winning or losing the theoretical battle, who was alive and who was dead. The umpire had comical news. The congregation had been theoretically spotted from the air by a theoretical enemy. They Were all theoretically dead now. The theoretical corpses laughed and ate a hearty noontime meal. Remembering this incident years later, Billy was struck by what a Tralfamadorian adventure with death that had been, to be dead and to eat at the same time. Toward the end of manoeuvres, Billy was given an emergency furlough home because his father, a barber in Ilium, New York, was shot dead by a friend while they were out hunting deer. So it goes.

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