Slaughter-House-Schizophrenia

Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter-House-Five was a time-traveling account of what war can do for a person’s state of [for lack of a better term]… well… being. I was surprised to see that this novel did not receive the response that I thought it would from some other students in this course.  I personally found Vonnegut’s writing to be nothing short of genius. He dared to relay a lot of controversial thoughts to print that [until recently] I may not have even dared to think out loud. 

Anyways, down to business… the Army of Dude website led me to a link for a site that I may not have happened upon on my own: The Unlikely Short-Timer.  This anonymous soldier’s recent post, “Schizophrenic Head Bashing,” was certainly the most unadulterated version of a soldier’s mind on paper that I have come across thus far.  The language is… colorful… but if you can get past all the four letter uses for the letter f, maybe you can see why Vonnegut’s novel turned out the way it did.

“Schizophrenic Head Bashing” is a lengthy, written version of a confrontational conversation that occurs between the author of this blog and his better judgment. Unable to reach any sort of agreement [other than the mutual feelings that he is, in fact, screwed for life], this post is a back-and-forth attempt to justify the grave mistake of signing one’s life away and enlisting in the military.  As it turns out, it doesn’t end after “just putting in your four years.” Nearly every sentence of this choppy, cynical tangent is reminiscent of the derailed thought process in writing that Slaughter-House-Five turned out to be. I couldn’t be more impressed. 

One of the repetitive issues that this soldier brings up in his post is the concept of living a normal life again and going to college rather than going to war. His thoughts on the possibilities of that happening are optimistic:

“Well, hindsight is 20/20 they say. Remember how they all said you should try college first? Hmm. About that. Too late now. Now you went and put your name in the hat because you knew everything, and you were out to crusade and pick your share of cotton for the Greater Good. Where did it get you? Panic attacks? You don’t even remember 90% of your graduating class. Is that because there were just too many people, or were you blown up a bit too much?” (The Unlikely Soldier. Visited site: 23 March, 2009).

This particular part of his post made me think of Billy Pilgrim’s voluntary stay in the Veteran’s hospital while he was in his final year of Optometry school (Vonnegut. 126-42).  It was just a few years after the war, and Billy was there because he was [like the other veterans] “…alarmed by the outside world.” (127) From the sounds of it, the author of “Schizophrenic Head Bashing” is dealing with some of the same issues as poor Billy Pilgrim.  So it goes.

Works Cited

“Schizophrenic Head Bashing.” Theunlikelysoldier.blogspot.com. 2 March 2009. The Unlikely Short-          Timer. 23 March, 2009. http://theunlikelysoldier.blogspot.com/>

Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughter-House-Five. New York: Delta, 1969. (pp. 126-42)

 

 

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