Repeated many times in Kurt Vonnegut's novel, Slaughterhouse Five, this line demonstrates the aliens' view of time and events. As they see time all at once they can look back at past events and simply state So it Goes.

A useful quote.

Actually, "So it goes" what the aliens from Trafalmadore say whenever they see a dead person. Since they can see any point in time they choose, they know that the person is simply not doing well at that particular moment, but at other moments in time he is alive and well. Thus, whenever Kurt Vonnegut mentions a dead person or object in Slaughterhouse Five, he says "So it goes."

A few years ago, I didn't know any dead people. My Grandmother's brother, who we called Uncle Ed, had died of lung cancer, but I didn't know him, so his funeral meant nothing. So it goes.

When I was a sophomore in high school, the first person I knew who died was a friend's mother. She died of Ovarian Cancer, and in the few months preceding her death she seemed to shrivel and melt like rotten fruit. So it goes.

A few months after that, my grandfather finally died of prostate cancer. His prostate had swelled up with a tumor until it was almost as big as a basketball, or so I was told. Finally, it crushed his liver. So it goes.

After that, another friend's mother died suddenly of a brain tumor. She took about two months to die. So it goes.

A few months ago, a friend's mother died of cancer, ovarian again. She died in about six months, and her husband cried as he read a eulogy for her. So it goes.

Those are the only people I've ever known to die. I suppose I've been very lucky. A man I work with from Bangladesh can remember being stuck in rivers that were clogged with dead people. So it goes.

Life - roll my die, change this life
You said this movie was mine
But now you go and change your mind
This is my life
So it goes
You come in on your own in this life
You know you leave on your own
Cause? I don't need no cause
When my feelings fall
You showed me things I didn't want to see
I don't believe that love is free
Sure fine way to treat a man

So it goes...you come in on your own in this life
And you know you leave on your own

I'm just a boy in a white bandana
Another drink and I won't miss her
--The Verve from their album A Northern Soul.

It was February in Reno, Nevada, which, contrary to popular belief, is a really chilly place in the winter. This girl and I had been through an ultra-painful break-up a few weeks earlier, but we were taking this film class at night together, so we were pretty much stuck with each other for at least three hours a day, once a week, for the rest of the semester. She drove a '60-something Karmann Ghia, I drove a '78 Toyota Corolla with locks that didn't work.

Class got out at nine. I walked out to the parking lot and saw her struggling with her car, twisting the key and swearing like a drunk parrot. Her locks had frozen, so I told her to get in my car so we could go to the 7-11 and get some hot water. The ride to the store was pretty much silent. There's not a whole lot you can say to a old lover in freezing temperatures that won't hit the floor and break a toe. My stereo was playing a mix tape I had made the day after we had broken up, so it was mainly bittersweet depressive sap -- a lot of The Cure, some Joy Division, a little Modest Mouse thrown in to anger it up some. When we got to the convenience store, she got out of the car softly like a snowflake and walked inside.

I sat in my car, listening to the music, watching my breath, pretending I was smoking.

She came out in tears, claiming that the clerk wouldn't give her any water. I told her to sit and I'd be right back. I walked inside and asked the clerk for some hot water to de-ice a lock. The clerk laughed and said she couldn't understand the woman who was just in here, then handed me a complementary cup of boiling water.

As I handed the cup to the crying girl in my car, I said, "Don't spill." She looked up to thank me, but the weather still had her tongue. There was just this frosty moment hanging between us.

Then this Verve song comes on over the stereo, and she finds the words to ask, "What is this?" Right before I pulled away from the store, I looked at her expectant eyes, and I think we both realized that one of the biggest mistakes we'd made, aside from getting together, was breaking up. Some sort of cosmic irony was coming through those speakers, not just another sad existentialist song.

We both went home alone that night.

In Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut uses this phrase one hundred times on pages:

2, 6, 9, 24, 25, 27, 32, 32, 35, 36, 38, 41, 42, 45, 45, 45, 52, 53, 54, 62, 65, 65, 68, 69, 73, 79, 81, 81, 82, 83, 83, 84, 89, 90, 91, 91, 92, 96, 99, 100, 101, 103, 103, 106, 109, 109, 112, 117, 128, 129, 135, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145, 148, 149, 151, 152, 156, 156, 157, 159, 159, 165, 165, 165, 167, 171, 177, 178, 178, 179, 180, 183, 187, 188, 188, 196, 198, 200, 200, 202, 203, 204, 205, 210, 210, 210, 210, 210, 212, 212, 214, 214, 214, 214.

Kurt -

They called you a pessimist in your Times obit. Fifth paragraph, first page, impossible to miss. Is that some bullshit? A pessimist is someone who has given up on the whole situation. Most folks, I'd guess, would probably give up after dragging a score of burnt up corpses out of a city's worth of rubble. Or if they then went on to watch their country dragged by its nose into Korea and Viet Nam to do some more burning, maybe that's when they'd give up.

You never did. You kept on believing that we, we the population of this planet, might actually learn something if the lesson was presented well. And you presented it pretty goddamn well when you put your mind to the task. Your actions define optimism.

So I submit this note of appreciation, now that it is too late, from myself and every other ex- high school science fiction nerd. Thank you for showing us how to laugh in the face of horror. Thank you for teaching us that it is never really the end of the world, even though it seems like it is all the time. If I had the grant money I'd put your books in every library in the world.

Love,
- Jack

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