So this book is a sidewalk strewn with junk, trash which I throw over my shoulders as I travel in time back to November eleventh, nineteen-hundred and twenty-two. I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day.
When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
It was during that minute in nineteen-hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.
Armistice Day has become Veteran's Day.
Armistice Day was sacred.
Veteran's Day is not.
So I will throw Veteran's Day over my shoulder.
Armistice Day I will keep.
I don't want to throw away any sacred things.
What else is sacred?
Oh, Romeo & Juliet, for instance.
And all music is.
~Kurt Vonnegut from his novel, Breakfast Of Champions
I hold with this, all of it, even that part about Romeo & Juliet, while acknowledging that what he expressed about all music being sacred was written well before the advent of rap music with its vapid cliché-riddled celebration of thuglife and its relentless decimation of the English language.
November 11, 2010
Also because I, too, was accidentally born on this very day in the year nineteen-hundred and fifty-two, in the eleventh minute of the twenty-third hour, which is, for you mathophobes, 11:11pm.
By the way, the end of the excerpt above can really only be read one way, in spite of those who have tried to read and interpret it another.
When he says "God spoke clearly to mankind" he means that silence was that voice. Silence as in nothing but the stillness of a gentle breeze uninterrupted by anything more divine than that.
I got it immediately, the first time I read it back in high school.
And I still do. Bastard could write, eh?
I know he meant it this way because, like myself, Vonnegut was an avowed agnotheist. Which is why he's in Heaven now, you heathen infidels.