Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Variations in Youtube: Kurt Vonnegut edition

I was looking on YouTube for the beautiful musical piece where Kurt Vonnegut reads the section from Slaughterhouse 5 about war and life proceeding backwards. They played it at the event we had in his honor at Butler University, where he was meant to speak the week he died. This is the song that I wanted. It's called "Tock, Tick."

This is one of the most beautiful things I've heard. It was played that night because Vonnegut requested it, before he died. He wasn't dying at the time, though his family suspected he knew that he would. His son read the speech that he was going to read, which was an awful thing to see. I wrote his ghost a letter. I was told the instructors would deliver it to the family if I liked. I didn't think they would want to read it, since it was really about me, and not their dead relative, who I didn't know.

Inspired by the same passage, there is something of a YouTube meme with perhaps predictable but nonetheless affecting content. Here is another, which seems too obvious, too invested in its own pathos:

Explosions in the Sky is sort of the band that exists solely for the gratification of people too invested in their own pathos.

This one is sort of interesting for how badly it misses the mark in terms of tone, perhaps even willfully:

I give this one, a school project, credit for more creativity (though the clock stuff gets a little old) and much better choice of music. Not strictly related (note that time is moving forward) but it seemed of a piece.

This one mostly hasn't music, but it does have Vonnegut reading. It also seems to understand that the move from war imagery to home imagery is important, though this could be expanded. It's telling I guess that we have stock footage of the one thing more readily available than stock footage of the other.

This one is very similar, without any music, but it has more imagery of the home:

This one is from a different passage, and, well, super-weird.

Here's a song that Born Ruffians made about Kurt Vonnegut. It's pretty good.

Here is Vonnegut reading from Breakfast of Champions, which is what made me think about this tonight. I need to go sleep. Good night.


  1. Ha. I kind of resent that comment about Explosions in the Sky, but of course, it's also pretty true a lot of the time.

  2. Yeah, it is kind of a dick thing for me to say, but I've never felt moved by their music.

  3. Yeah. When I read that, I thought, "Man. Mike's a dick. If we were kids at the playground, my mom would probably tell me not to be his friend."

    I dig EitS, but can still understand what you're saying about their music. I'm just a post-rock/instrumental nerd in general, and they're sort of a staple. Most people listen to music in my car and can't tell the difference between This Will Destroy You and EitS, and think, "This is pretty, but it's kind of boring. Can we put on something else?" And, I generally say, "Sure. No problem," and hand them my iPod.

    In other news, you are completely right about that video. It is really obvious and invested in its own pathos. 5 years ago I'd have probably thought it was really artistic and cool, but now I'm of the same opinion.

  4. I'm so glad you found that video. Can't find the speech anywhere though...wish I could.

  5. I know -- surely someone filmed it, but where do they keep it? No clue. No clue.

  6. Someday I might petition IPL (Public Library, not Power & Light) for it--someone's blog reminds me they were going to keep a copy of the speech in the special collections there. Or actually, someone from Butler might have the tape, as you say. They taped all the others.