The Role of Technology in Kurt Vonnegut's Writing

Topics: Kurt Vonnegut, Technology, Cat's Cradle Pages: 7 (2819 words) Published: October 8, 1999

Thesis: Technology is the villain in Kurt Vonnegut's works because of his hatred of corporate insensitivity and his awareness of the destructive social impact of science and technology.
I. Kurt Vonnegut has a great awareness of the destructive social impact of science and technology. A. Contraptions that Vonnegut calls "social transplants" replace contact with the awful real relatives and friends with synthetic ones. 1. Computers minimize human contact even better than TV's and CD players with headphones can. 2. Vonnegut voices his hate of the computer because it is a nervous system outside of our own. 3. The start of this was in the 4th century before Christ; audiences accepted people who memorized things to say on stage as genuine relatives. 4. Films and plays show us people talking much more entertainingly than really people talk and shows humans making sounds much lovelier than real humans make. 5. All of these have contributed to our lack of contact with our families and other humans B. We no longer have developed imaginations because of technological developments. 1. Parents and teachers must be present to help develop our imaginations. 2. Imagination was very important once because it served as our major source of entertainment. a. People used to be able to read a book and envision the story in their mind and that was entertainment. b. Now there are shows, actors, movies and television to show us the story. C. He believes the American dream has materialized into a junkyard by way of the glories of technology. 1. Technology and salesmanship have stripped and raped the land and divested the people of a sense of pride. 2. People are no longer the hard workers they used to be because machines do their job for them. 3. Many Americans are jobless because of the computerization in corporations, and Vonnegut blames American scientists and technologists for this. 4. Only those who still have manual labor to perform are truly happy.

II. Vonnegut has a deep hatred of corporate insensitivity. A. Vonnegut's job at General Electric provided him with much material for his novels 1. He saw a computer-operated milling machine while he worked at G. E. a. It made perfect sense to have a little box make the decisions. b. He hated the idea though because it was hurting the humans who get dignity from their jobs. 2. His brush with science at G. E. instilled in him a profound dislike of technology. 3. While at G. E. he found profit motives couched in sentimental tributes to pure science and individual freedom being sacrificed for personal advancement. 4. He also noticed how technology was developed in a moral vacuum. 5. He eventually quit his job there to write a novel about people and machines. B. Kurt Vonnegut despises any institution that dehumanizes men and considers him a mere number and not a human being. 1. Too many corporations and business view us as big parts of one animal. a. We are actually separate universes.

b. Each universe has its own way of ignoring celebrating or fending of technology. 2. Vonnegut is annoyed at the trend towards the submergence of the individual into a collective state.

III. Technology is portrayed as the villain in Kurt Vonnegut's writing. A. In Player Piano machines have replaced most of the jobs of humans. 1. The humans prove to be dispensable in a fully automated society. 2. Companies have been computerized so much that the factories are staffed by a handful of men. 3. He foreshadows the mechanical millennium

and the bleak future for humans because of the computerization. B. Vonnegut warns us of the bleak future that lies ahead due to the advancement of technology. 1. He hints that we, like the dinosaur and the saber-toothed tiger will face extinction. 2. Humanity is...

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