25 November 2010

Day 243: Deadeye Dick

Deadeye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut.  ISBN: 9780440017806.

In line with yesterday's post, I really sort of like Rudy/Vonnegut's view on our lives being an opening and closing to a peephole... but the lack of autonomy given in that viewpoint is also disappointing.  I think we have more control over our lives than just watching as they unfold, but it also very much explains Rudy's lack of desire to really change anything for himself and fits very well with his general malaise and personality.  And what bothers me most is that I can identify with that malaise and feeling of stuck-ed-ness for lack of a better word.  

I think the most telling sentence regarding this belief is expressed by Rudy about his father's death which he describes as, 'Otto was allowed to stop being himself and once again became wisps of nothingness again.' (paraphrased.)  On some level this is absolutely beautiful.  I love the idea that we were once nothing, and then we become something and have to go through life and experience it, and when it's done we get to be nothing again.  I like the idea of cycles of rest and activity, it flows so well with what we already know of life.  But Rudy sees it pessimistically because during a critical part of his life he lost the ability to define himself, at least as the public saw him.

Instead of giving Rudy some strength, this "peephole" mentality took it away from him.  I think he fell back on it and resigned himself to his fate because, when his peephole opened, he was told that he was rich and he was white and he was male and he was privileged, etc.  And so he accepted that this was another circumstance of being allowed to view life through "this" peephole.

The level of consciousness we're given is an extremely bizarre thing, and I definitely sometimes feel like I'm looking through a peephole, but it's not quite apt.  We still do have some ability to interact with things around us, whereas if you're only looking at something through a peephole it means you're stuck behind a door with little to no ability to do anything about it, unless you yell through or open the door.  But Vonnegut is trying to reinforce that feeling of being stuck, and so Rudy is definitely stuck behind his door and in his situation.  But we aren't Rudy, and we can open the door, kick it down, yell at it or through it.  And even though we can't change the fact that we're looking through a peephole, we can change the door.

I didn't rate it as highly, but I liked this review from a fellow Goodreader.  I didn't find any book bloggers who had covered it.

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