Man and scientific and technological progress in the novels of K. Vonnegut

Man and scientific and technological progress in the novels of K. Vonnegut

The ancestors of the world-famous American writer of German descent Kurt Vonnegut arrived in America long before the appearance of the Statue of Liberty. Both grandfather and father Vonnegut were born in Indiana, but always felt “like Germans in America.” The future writer was born in the city of Indianapolis, he received his education at the Cornell University of New York State – he started as a biochemist.

In his youth, Kurt Vonnegut revolved among young scientists and worked closely with his brother Bernard, “a man who knows more about lightning than any other in the world.” It was during these years that Vonnegut had a pessimistic view of the future. In an interview with a Literaturnaya Gazeta correspondent on the writer’s 75th birthday in November

1997, Vonnegut said: “… all the scientists around me were pessimistic, especially in matters of the future of the atmosphere, drinking water or soil, and in assessing the vitality of a spaceship, called the Earth. ” Vonnegut’s statement is known in one of the public appearances: the writer proposed to enter for engineers and scientists an oath that they would have to give before the end of the university, like the Hippocratic oath for doctors. Vonnegut is sure, that it is scientists who turn concrete achievements of science into destructive force. He wrote: “I thought a lot about Oppenheimer, Einstein, etc. If they were so clever – and they were much smarter than me – then what the hell they did not warn us about the consequences, the irreparable losses that made whole areas of the Earth impossible for life! ” These reflections and searches determined one of the main themes in the writer’s work. Vonnegut writes about the dangers threatened by a man created by the technotronic civilization.

One of the main motives in the work of Kurt Vonnegut was the theme of preventing the third world war. The writer was a participant in the Second World War – he was in the ranks of American volunteers who joined the Allied army after the destruction of the port of Pearl Harbor.

Vonnegutu was able to learn all the horrors of the German captivity. In Dresden, he fell under the famous barbarian bombing of the city, arranged specifically on February 23, 1945 by Anglo-American aircraft. The city was destroyed to the ground, killing 135 thousand people. Only a few remained alive. Among them is Kurt Vonnegut.

This heavy experience of the writer caused his warnings about the danger of a new war, transferred to mankind in an artistic form. Vonnegut’s prose was especially alarming and harsh when the USA began talking about the creation of high-radiation weapons – a neutron bomb, and President R. Reagan called this weapon “a ray of death, which was previously only dreamed of.”

In the novel “Sirens of Titan,” which was translated into Russian in 1988, Vonnegut gives a parody of science fiction. At the very beginning the author warns: all events and heroes are absolutely real. But only the problems of mankind are really real, and the war with the Martians, creatures from other galaxies and travel to other planets are described in the novel. Despite the apparent elegant simplicity of construction, the novel reveals the multilayeredness of the semantic layers, the combination of buffoonery and serious, the philosophical vision of topical human problems.

Fantasy in the works of Vonnegut serves to create an “alienation effect.” According to the writer, a person ceases to notice ordinary things, perceives much without hesitation, because “it is accepted”, gets used to injustice, does not resent inhuman deeds, false values. Roman Vonneguta makes the reader look at the world from the side and in the mirror of the grotesque see yourself real.

In the history of the planet Trafamador, the writer reflected the problems of his concern. The inhabitants of this planet created machines that provided them all. Once the machines were commissioned to search for the meaning of existence. Scrupulously exploring everything possible, the machines reported: the life of beings is meaningless. The affected residents began to kill each other with grief, and all the same cars were called to the rescue who coped better with the task. So on the planet there were only cars.

Vonnegut pays attention to the danger of averaging, leveling the personality, which deprives a person of his individuality. People consume the same products, use the same things, watch the same thing on TV. As a result, most of them begin to think in general stereotypes that are skillfully embedded in their minds of various kinds of manipulators. The author is amazed at the simplicity with which people themselves abandon their own uniqueness and willingly join the low-grade “mass culture”, turning, in fact, into robots. This manipulator of social consciousness is shown in the novel in the image of Rumford. Thanks to his fantastic abilities, he can predict the future of earthlings, which gives him tremendous power over them.

Vonnegut masterfully and with flawless logic debunks the misunderstood concepts of “freedom”, “equality”, “happiness”, showing that these words are meaningless. So, Rumford, wanting to teach people from violence and wars, provokes an attack of the Martians on Earth to establish new fair order. In order to unite people, Rumford introduces compulsory equality, creates a society where everyone sees, hears and feels the same way. Result: the gray, dull mediocrity triumphs. Empowering Rumford with the ability to suddenly appear in different parts of the world, the writer has in mind the historical pattern of the emergence of dictators “willing good”, then in one country or another.

Thanks to the original and artistic study of universal human issues, the novel “Sirens of Titan” became a classic of world literature.


Man and scientific and technological progress in the novels of K. Vonnegut