Monday, March 17, 2014

Passages: ch 36-42

And people still laugh about as much as they ever did, despite their shrunken brains. If a bunch of them are lying around on a beach, and one of them farts, everybody else laughs and laughs, just as people would have done a million years ago." (Pg. 223, L. 14-19)

          I found this excerpt a little humorous, and I liked the way Vonnegut maintains this positive human ability in his "smaller brained" humans. I did not imagine the new human race to hold on to a human attribute like laughter and a sense of humor, so I thought this passage was interesting.

2) "Mainly, though it was an ineffectual assault on the very bottom of the food chain, the billions upon billions of microorganisms who...comprised the muck of the marsh. The explosion didn't bother them much, since they weren't all that sensitive to sudden starts and stops. They could have never have committed suicide in the manner as *Siegfried von Kleist...with a sudden stop." (Pg. 234, L. 4-12)

          This passage caught my attention mainly because of the last line. It is an interesting thought that lower organisms would not and could not commit suicide. It is in the nature of all living things to survive at all costs, and it is fascinating that humans can have the ability to overcome this deeply innate wiring. Do you believe the idea of suicide could have existed in early humans, or was an idea that developed as societies grew larger and people were under "unnatural" stresses?


  1. We talked about suicide in my philosophy class last semester, and it was described as occurring when someone "substitutes" something in place of the fear of death. Humanity's fear of death never goes away, but unlike any other species we are able to convince ourselves that there can be greater priorities than our survival. For example, an individual who is depressed and lonely may reason that, "If I kill myself, someone will finally notice me." This incentive overcomes the fear of death, allowing the subject to commit suicide. I don't think suicide was very common among early humans, for their focus was very much on survival, and there was little to substitute the fear of death with because that fear was actually extremely prevalent in their day to day life.

  2. I agree with Kayla. Suicide is an emotional based desire, whereas survival is an intellectual, instinctual desire. Early humans main focus was one for their people and survival/evolution, not silly emotions.

  3. I think that suicide is selfish, and when doing suicide your putting your silly emotions before everyone in your entire life that loves and cares for you. It makes me upset.

  4. I imagine that, however seldom, there must have been early instances of suicide. We know of occurrences in which one would sacrifice one's self to Gods whose reigns fell upon agriculture, though these cases do not resemble the present-day connotation that suicide has come to accrue, one that is driven by affliction. I also felt that Kayla's connection was on point.