Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mother Night

The short novel "Mother Night" by Kurt Vonnegut is absolutely incredible piece of Vonnegut's writing.

It is a story of an American who went to Germany before WWII and became Nazi propagandist before and during the War. His radio addresses broadcasted by Nazis in English were meant to promote Nazi view for English speaking audience. He was also approached by US military espionage and became silent spy for US - however - almost useless and disheartened to the cause. He married German girl and was in true deep love with her.
The story begins when, after 15 years he is in Jerusalem's jail, awaiting his trial for war crimes and writes the story of his life. I will not reveal the other plot's details - trust me - they are incredible and startling....

However, the fantastic story of the novel is not its only virtue. It is also a deep reflection on, and in some sense, an exposition of Vonnegut's views on the reasons of war time atrocities.
See this:

"I have never seen a more sublime demonstration of the totalitarian mind, a mind which might be likened unto a system of gears where teeth have been filed off at random. Such a snaggle toothed thought machine, driven by a standard, or even substandard libido, whirls with the jerky, noisy, gaudy pointlessness of a cuckoo clock in hell.

The boss g-man concluded wrongly that there were no teeth on the gears in the mind of Jones. "You're completely crazy." He said. Jones wasn't completely crazy. The dismaying thing about the classic totalitarian mind is that any given gear, though mutilated, will have at it's circumference unbroken sequences of teeth that are immaculately maintained, that are exquisitely machined.

The missing teeth, of course, are simple obvious truths, truths available and comprehensible even to ten year olds, in most cases.

The willful filing off of gear teeth, the willful doing without certain obvious pieces of information. That was how (...) Rudolf Hoess, Commandant of Auschwitz, could alternate over the loudspeakers of Auschwitz great music and calls for corpse carriers-that was how Nazi Germany could sense no important differences between civilization and hydrophobia-that is the closest I can come to explaining the legions, the nations of lunatics I've seen in my time."

There is also an incredible, non naive love story and a great account of human courage to keep integrity - sometimes at the highest price - the price of life itself....

Finally - I could not stop contemplating on my, very personal, connection of the subject of my previous post to the theme of "Mother Night". That happened by chance ... well there are no more events happening just by chance...

1 comment:

  1. riven8:47 AM

    indeed it is a wonderful book, and one of the most depressing I have ever read. I don't want to discuss specific moments of the plot because this would mean spoiling the book for potential readers - everyone just read it. By the way, here is the source of its title:

    "A man, the microcosmic fool, down in his soul
    Is wont to think himself a whole,
    But I'm part of the Part which at the first was all,
    Part of the Darkness that gave birth to Light,
    The haughty Light that now with MOTHER NIGHT
    Dusputes her ancient rank and space withal,
    Ant yet t'will not succeed, since, strive as strive it may,
    Fettered to bodies will LIght Stay."

    - Goethe, "Faust"


Modern philosophy and the scholastics

For many years I was intrigued by the thought of Edith Stein. Of course one reason for the curiosity was her conversion from Judaism to Ch...