Resources for Loss

Quotation from "Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut, contributed by Edward Carr (2021)

I’ve devoted a large portion of my philosophical studies attempting to reconcile my desire for knowledge with the impossibility of knowing anything about death. However, despite my best efforts, venturing into ontology, phenomenology and philosophy of mind, none of my philosophical endeavors, which I’ve relied upon countless times in the past to help me overcome existential difficulties of life, have come anywhere near a satisfactory answer. Since reading Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, and specifically since reading the above quote, I have finally succeeded in reconciling this conflict; I’ve abandoned my pursuit entirely. Billy Pilgrim, who has become ‘unstuck’ in time, utters the philosopher’s plea of “Why?” a question I have asked time and again and have always been able to answer in some fashion, yet regarding death, I have never found an answer. Like Billy, I had been stuck in the narrow scope of logic, always attempting to answer the unanswerable in the best way I could. The answer he receives, however, resonated with me so strongly that it has left me perfectly satisfied: “That is a very Earthly question to ask, Mr. Carr?” I now hear in response to my plea. To seek some answer to what distinguishes life from death is such a human question, as we see ourselves as rulers of the universe when truly we are but limited by the dimensions of space-time, outside of which an infinity of possibilities lie in wait, never to be discovered. The perceived-necessity of being alive is but another of these dimensions, a border around what we know yet a border to be broken upon death. For the present, we are here, now, and that is simply what is; and in the next century, we will be there, beyond death, and that is simply what it will be. I understand that for many, this may be no comfort, as we are human after all; yet I, for one, take solace in the fact that our mortality is but a limit on our knowledge, and death is the battering ram that breaks us through this border and opens us to the universe that lies in wait beyond, whatever that may be.

"Billy licked his lips, thought a while, inquired at last: 'Why me?'

'That is a very Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?'"

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