Monday, December 27, 2021

Bewilderment, by Richard Powers

Powers is in a league all his own when it comes to writing about the environment and impending climate catastrophe. He speaks with crystalline emotional and moral clarity about the natural world crashing down around us; we should be terrified, he says, and we must confront the political and economic powers invested in keeping us blithely indifferent.

He toys with possible solutions: for example, a brain-training program that can essentially transfer an advanced state of consciousness from one mind to another, a consciousness that sensitizes the recipient to the awe-inspiring beauty, variability, and interconnectedness of the created world. 

 A few places feel confusing, at least temporarily. And one plot point (regarding the father Theo and his now-dead wife Amy) doesn’t ever make emotional sense. But overall the novel makes me feel, not bewildered, but in awe at the infinite possibilities out there in the expanding universe, and right here in my own mind.

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