Think history doesn’t repeat itself? Think again.
I. Then. An excerpt from Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five,” published in 1969.
“This, too, was the title of a book by Trout, The Gutless Wonder. It was about a robot who had bad breath, who became popular after his halitosis was cured. But what made the story remarkable, since it was written in 1932, was that it predicted the widespread use of burning jellied gasoline on human beings.
It was dropped on them from airplanes. Robots did the dropping. They had no conscience, and no circuits which would allow them to imagine what was happening to the people on the ground.
Trout’s leading robot looked like a human being, and could talk and dance and so on, and go out with girls. And nobody held it against him that he dropped jellied gasoline on people. But they found his halitosis unforgivable. And then he cleared that up, and he was welcomed to the human race.”
II. Now. Heems, formerly of Das Racist and producer of Lushlife, releases “Soup Boys.” Lyrics include the following line: “Drones in the morning/ drones in the night/ I’m trying to find a pretty drone to take home tonight.”
III. Now. Teju Cole writes an essay on drones, Obama and literature for The New Yorker titled “A Reader’s War.” Below, an excerpt from the piece, posted February 11, 2013.
“Of late, riding the subway in Brooklyn, I have been having a waking dream, or rather a daytime nightmare, in which the subway car ahead of mine explodes. My fellow riders and I look at one another, then look again at the burning car ahead, certain of our deaths. The fire comes closer, and what I feel is bitterness and sorrow that it’s all ending so soon: no more books, no more love, no more jokes, no more Schubert, no more Black Star. All this spins through my mind on tranquil mornings as the D train trundles between 36th Street and Atlantic Avenue and bored commuters check their phones. They just want to get to work. I sit rigid in my seat, thinking, I don’t want to die, not here, not yet. I imagine those in northwest Pakistan or just outside Sana’a who go about their day thinking the same. The difference for some of them is that the plane is already hovering in the air, ready to strike.”