colin f lane

Vodolazkin: NYRB

Morson, Gary Saul. 'Living Outside of Time'. The New York Review of Books, vol. LLX, no. 1, January 19, 2023, pp. 48-50.


What is the Alternative?

Medieval Time

Being a mosaic does not necessarily mean scattering into pieces. When those pieces are viewed from above, one sees that there is something important in each of them. They are connected not as a causal sequence, but by their relation to God and your aspiration for him.

Time as we usually understand it is an illusion; events in a different time are no different from those in a different space.

For Vodolazkin, that means they are quasi-simultaneous and may resemble two mirrors reflecting each other infinitely.

Empathy, Mercy, Justice

We can look forward to what Vodolazkin calls a new 'concentration', which will entail 'inner strengthening and social reconsolidating'.

By focusing on their unique souls, people will try, and occasionally succeed, in overcoming their focus on mere self.

In Vodolazkin's novels, the deepest moments of self-understanding occur when an empathic hero enters into the souls of others.

Looking into whole individuals as opposed to outward, at external world, of machines

In the age of concentration, as Vodolazkin foresees it, people will prize such empathy above all.

'They key conceptual pair is justice and mercy,' Vodolazkin has observed, 'where mercy is higher than justice.'

Literature will lead the way, because when readers of fiction identify with characters unlike themselves, they practice empathy.

'The experience we receive from reading books,' Vodolazkin observes, 'is also our experience.'