Thursday, January 20, 2005

I have been revisiting an old literary favorite of mine, "Slaughterhouse -Five" by Kurt Vonnegut. I loved this book when I was a different me. It is interesting to revisit it, like revisiting a college classroom. I don't remember it really. I don't remember what I got from it then -- it was so long ago. I am quite certain I am taking something entirely different from it today. This revisiting is a part of a "looking backward" period I have been indulging myself in. I am not a great fan of looking backward. I find it to be counter productive and inefficient. Perhaps this attitude is born of too many self help books and 12 step church programs. After safely escaping one too many over-programmed church circles, I have actually said that too much "inner healing" causes a person to turn to a pillar of salt, like Lot's unfortunate wife. I felt it almost sinful to do so. My opinion wasn't hip at the time. So it goes.

My "looking backward" is more of a curiosity than anything else. I cannot remember the young woman I once was. I know I wasn't all that bad -- just lost. As my kids get older, their maturing interests remind me of someone I used to be -- someone I used to know. I miss that person in some ways. In "The Lovely Bones" the young heroine leaves the earth in a violent death, and her soul rushes screaming into heaven. I related to that imagery oddly. I became a Christian much in the same way, my wounded spirit rushing, screaming into heaven -- leaving the pieces behind with little desire to salvage any of it. The Christian experience re-enforced that imagery as I went on to my public baptism where the "old man" was "put to death". Why do we allow so much of the baby to be lost with the bath water?

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but I know it is the beginning of my New Year Journal. I am sharing an excerp from "Slaughterhouse-Five" herein:

"I looked through the Gideon Bible in my motel room for tales of great destruction. 'the sun was risen upon the Earth when Lot entered into Zo-ar', I read. 'Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of Heaven; and He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.'
So it goes.
Those were vile people in both those cities, as is well known. The world was better off without them.
And Lot's wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.
So she turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes.

People aren't supposed to look back. I'm certainly not going to do it anymore.
I've finished my war book now. The next one I write is going to be fun.
This one is a failure, and had to be, since it was written by a pillar of salt. It begins like this:
Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time."....