Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Billy Pilgram hears a flying saucer and thinks it’s an owl!

Click on the image above for a HI-Rez view
I have been searching. Part of my research has been to find the very first reference in popular culture to owls in relation to UFO abduction. Since the publication of The Messengers in 2015, I’ve been saying that this was in Whitley Strieber’s Communion. But a reader of this blog (Mr. Smith) just pointed out an earlier reference, from another one of my heroes, Kurt Vonnegut!

I will now have to revise what I say.

Billy Pilgram, Vonnegut's protagonist in Slaughterhouse-Five, hears a flying saucer and thinks it’s an owl—all in the moments BEFORE an abduction!

This is a perfect collision of owls and UFOs, where they blur together to the point where they are mixed up. I fully realize that Slaughterhouse-Five is a novel and Communion is non-fiction, but I am more intrigued by the clarity of the symbolism. And, both books are—without question—icons of pop-culture.

an excerpt:
Overhead he heard the cry of what might have been a melodious owl, but it wasn’t a melodious owl. It was a flying saucer from Tralfamadore, navigating in both space and time, therefore seeming to Billy Pilgrim to have come from nowhere all at once... The only noise it made was the owl song. It came down to hover over Billy, and to enclose him in a cylinder of pulsing purple light.
I read Slaughterhouse-Five while I was in high school, probably back in 1979. To say it blew my mind would be an understatement. I even saw Kurt Vonnegut when I lived in New York. We stood in line together at a corner bodega. He was buying a watermelon! (I am suddenly writing in very short sentences)

I read this in high school, probably 1979
Reading Slaughterhouse Five (1969) by Kurt Vonnegut was a defining right of passage in the 70's. Here's an 11 minute excerpt where Billy Pilgrim tries to understand time as explained by the Trafalmadorians. This is part of an audio interview with researcher Richard Dolan.

  one-click audio download HERE  

Plus you get to hear the beautiful voice of Jose Ferrer.


Laura Bruno said...

I was obsessed with that book for much of high school and college. Billy Pilgrim has come "unstuck in time." Kurt Vonnegut knew or sensed way more than it first appeared. I don't know if you've found this a common side effect of UFO sightings or owls, but the non-linear time, moving back and forth is a major experience I started having after the events described in your book. The movie "Arrival" also does a nice job with this concept, but I don't recall any owls in there. :)

James Dowell said...

Have been following this owl stuff of yours off and on... But this billy pilgrim connection is out there. Cats cradle and slaughter house five are reference points for me ... The movie too... So vonnegut is too... Whatever else kurt was he had some deep wisdom... Lets not forget the subtitle a children's crusade...