I started this So It Goes blog in an occasional way in May 2010.
Someone Tweeted me yesterday, saying: “Dude. You need to sue them…” because he had seen copies of a new magazine called So It Goes billing itself as “A biannual arts and culture journal”.
Nothing to do with me.
So It Goes is simply a common phrase and I imagined they, like I, just nicked the phrase from Kurt Vonnegut’s 1969 novel Slaughterhouse-Five.
I will re-phrase that, I imagined we both used the title in homage to the greater glory of Kurt Vonnegut.
And that is, indeed, the case. In an interview about the new magazine, editor James Wright says: “The phrase comes from one of my and my co-editor’s favourite books Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. The author uses the phrase to illustrate the passage of time, death and the inexplicable. To us, the words speak to life’s inherent unpredictability. Vonnegut often used the phrase for comic relief, and considering the obstacles involved in publishing this issue, it seemed rather apposite!”
So It Goes sounds and looks like a good magazine. I have not seen a printed copy yet, but I wish it well.
So It Goes was also the title of a weekly Granada TV music show 1976-1977; I first worked for Granada in 1978. The show was presented by Tony Wilson and included the first ever TV appearance of The Sex Pistols. It was taken off air after what was considered “an expletive-strewn appearance by Iggy Pop”. As far as I am aware, the ever-literate Tony also named his show after the Slaughterhouse-Five phrase.
In Slaughterhouse-Five, which centres on the destruction of Dresden in the Second World War, the novel’s hero Billy Pilgrim spends time on the planet Tralfamadore and he writes:
“The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.
“When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in a bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is So it goes.”
In 1976, Nick Lowe released a song called So it Goes, but the refrain…
So it goes…but where it’s going, no-one knows
… does not sound like the Kurt Vonnegut use of the phrase… more like the general everyday use… but it will do. It will do.