"THE SIRENS OF TITAN" DREAM OF HAPPINESS
Living is so wonderful when we feel our hearts beating for love, for others.
By Nevin Ulusoy
Why are we here? Why this life in this little planet we call Earth? Our lives are full of pain, suffering, cruelty, tears and we do not know what will happen a minute, no, a second later. The only thing we know for sure in our lives is that we are going to die one day, but the time of it is uncertain. We do not live very long, either, less than a crow, a turtle, much less than a tree. So we do not have much time to answer these questions, but not only because we live for a short time, but also we are busy to nourish ourselves, to have a home and try to find better means for these things and more of course. Nothing is enough for us, and we do not know what to do with ourselves. We stick to the outward explanations or do not think at all.
Kurt Vonnegut,Jr., one of the great American writers of the 20th century, answers these questions and invites us to brainstorm about them by making us laugh, horrify and wonder in his novels. He was born in 1922, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He uses this city to symbolize American values. He fought in the Second World War and his experiences shaped his writings. He was a humanist and fought for freedom, nuclear arms control and the protection of the environment. He also wrote several plays. He died in 2007. He hated the 20th century civilization, the modern world. As a black humorist, satirist and an unbelievable story-teller, he tells us a lot about ourselves.
“Breathing the lovely spring air, smiling and waving at the full moon, shining with its soft light and dancing with the trees, green and with new leaves, sharing them with whoever is around us.“
“The Sirens of Titan”, Vonnegut’s second novel, which was published in 1959, is a perfect example of his writing, what he wants to do in his storytelling. It is a science fiction and a person who does not like science fiction like me cannot stop herself from reading it, laughing, crying and living through it as turning the pages. We are not in much suspense as we read it, we guess, we know what is going to happen to some extent, still we cannot put down the book until we come to the last page. We are left alone with the simple truths of humanity and feel again what a wonderful thing it is to have them. Looking at the wonderful blue sky and being alive, having this life is awesome.
The novel tells us that the human history is a series of accidents, trying to give messages to an alien. He was on his way to give a vital message to the other part of the universe, but he had a trouble with his spaceship and he needed a spare part. The alien did not know what the message was. The whole novel is about accidents in our lives that make no sense, strange events that takes us from place to place, the meaningless complexity of human life. There is no logical explanation of what happens to the characters in the novel, just like in our daily lives. One day Winston Niles Rumfoord went out in space on his space ship and found himself in a “chrono-synclastic infundibula”, a place “where all the different kinds of truths fit together, you can see all the different ways of being absolutely right” there. Unfortunately, he “was scattered through space and time.” There was only his dog, Kazak with him and the dog shared the same fate. They materialized “once every fifty-nine days”. His wife Beatrice was very much disturbed by it, he prophesied about her and she did not like it. He invited one person, he was one of the richest man in the U.S.A. His name was Malachi Constant, meaning “faithful messenger”. He thought that he was going to carry a very important message one day. He led a terrible life actually, no friends, no happiness, just being spoiled with the fortune he had. Beatrice was in an unhappy situation, too, but none of them were much aware of it. In the Rumfoord mansion, there was “a huge oil-painting of a little girl holding the reins of a pure white pony.” She was dressed in white completely and she looked worried. She was Beatrice, and it was her motto for life, to stay clean, not to be involved in life, not to live actually. This picture is seen in the novel in different places, she is obsessed with the picture, even when her memories were erased in Mars, she remembered that picture, admiring the girl without knowing that it was herself. Yes, the characters, Beatrice and Constant forgot themselves, their memories were erased, again and again, they survived the war between Mars and Earth, a war nobody knew why happened, nobody knew why so many people died, just like the wars on Earth. Constant survived with the help of a commander, Boaz, actually, who knew who he was and thought back on Earth could make his dreams come through, going to “Hollywood night clubs”, the key to happiness for everybody in his opinion. Then he became friends with some creatures in Mercury.” Not to be lonely, not to be scared, Boaz had decided that those were the important things in life.” He gives us an important lesson when he says:
-“Just because something feels better than anything else, that don’t mean it’s good for you.” Constant had a letter which he wrote before his memories were erased to remember the important things. The importance of asking the right questions is emphasized in the letter. “Whenever I ask a question, and the pain comes, I know I have asked a really good question.” He had so much suffering, not only him, lots of people, being made the realization of dictators’ dreams, turning people into some kind of robots. When he eventually reached earth, having seen how lonely he was and he looked at Earth from a kind of space ship. “The sermon of the panorama was that even a man without a friend in the Universe could still find his home planet mysteriously, heartbreakingly beautiful.”
Beside all the strange, nonsensical things happen to all of us, there is a meaning in life, in our hearts, as Constant says “…a purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” Living is so wonderful when we feel our hearts beating for love, for others. ” The worst thing that could possibly happen to anybody, would be to not be used for anything by anybody,” Beatrice says and we feel what matters is to be with people we care for. Breathing the lovely spring air, smiling and waving at the full moon, shining with its soft light and dancing with the trees, green and with new leaves, sharing them with whoever is around us. Being ourselves, just for ourselves, not acting for anybody and feeling free to enjoy our home, this world we have.