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Are We Merely Bugs in Amber?

AmyMay's picture

Barad’s quantum entanglement, diffracted through Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five.


“Billy Pilgrim says that the Universe does not look like a lot of bright little dots to the creatures from Tralfamadore.  The creatures can see where each star has been and where it is going, so that the heavens are filled with rarefied, luminous spaghetti.  And Tralfamadorieans don’t see human beings as two-legged creatures, either.  The see them as great millipedes—‘with babies’ legs at one end and old people’s legs at the other,’ says Billy Pilgrim.”

            (Slaughterhouse Five, 110)



Barad’s quantum entanglement, diffracted through Slaughterhouse Five, diffracted through identity politics.  Disrupting these identities as fixed, disrupting our sense of ourselves as only our current self, revealing ourselves to be a summation and evolution of all the selves we have ever been and will ever be.  Identity may not be fixed, but does it linearly change?  What happens to our previous selves, when we become someone new?  Does the closeted “heterosexual” self still exist once the out homosexual self has come into existence?  Do we experience ourselves as dots or spaghetti?  Does our subjective experience even matter?


“I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of the Rocky Mountains.  All time is time.  It does not change.  It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations.  It simply is.  Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.”

            -Tralfamadorian (Slaughterhouse Five, 109)


Barad’s quantum entanglement, diffracted through Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, revealing a warped, non-linear concept of time.  Revealing the non-linearity of action, a disruption of cause and effect.  Disrupting cause in effect, therefore disrupting efficacy?  Agency?  Can there be agency without cause and effect?  Can there be a non-linear cause and effect, or are they inherently one after another?  Are we bugs in amber? 


“But you do have a peaceful planet here.”

“Today we do.  On other days we have wars as horrible as any you’ve every seen or read about.  There isn’t anything we can do about them, so we simply don’t look at them.  We ignore them.  We spend eternity looking at pleasant moments…”

            -Tralfamadorian (Slaughterhouse Five, 150)


Barad’s quantum entanglement diffracted through Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, revealing a non-linear element to time, disrupting cause and effect, disrupting agency?  Beings and identities as bugs in amber, ineffectual, resigned to destiny, resigned to simply be.  A disruption of cause and effect, challenging ideas of static individuality, challenging ideas of agency, proclaiming apathy?  Can there be efficacy without linear cause and effect?  Is apathy justified in this diffracted conception of time?  What space does social change occupy in a spacetimemattering of bugs in amber?