Sunday, May 8, 2016

Last Things: Zero K by Don DiLillio

The Market abhors a vacuum; where there is a need and money it will create a product to fill it. In Don DeLillo's new novel Zero K, with money one can buy out of the cycle of life, opting for a cryogenic stasis that is neither death nor the ego-driven awareness of life. You can buy a future in rebirth.

Ross Lockhart's wealthy father has summoned him to the death of his second wife, Artis, and to witness her transformation and installation into a womb-like pod that will hold her until, at some undefined future time, she is returned to life. Artis longs for this non-death, and Ross's father does as well. They have financially and spiritually bought into this eschatology of a secular age.

Ross arrives at the Convergence facility in a remote part of the Ukraine. The hallways are filled with nameless closed doors. Everything about the place is unnamed, unexplained, locked away. He is allowed only glimpses into what happens there. There are screens showing war and armies, death and self-immolation, supposedly in the greater world, images of 'last things', end days, death. A dark world bent on apocalypse.

The father's sunglasses brings "the night indoors;" the opening chapters are rife with the stark words of night, blind, empty, nothing, nowhere, abandoned, and especially dark which DiLillo uses eight times in two pages.

Ross's father and Artis are ardent believers in this new technology, a post-death cryogenic suspension which brings disconnection to the chaotic world and the demands of the self, exchanged for a Nirvana state of bliss until future technology reawakens the living dead, mind and body restored. A resurrection. It is a faith-based technology, promising life after death. Between death and rebirth is offered a 'virgin solitude" in an idealized, rebuilt body, waiting in a womb-like pod.

Ross has an obsession with facts, details, math, and especially naming. He learns that his father assumed the last name Lockhart. And his father did lock his heart away from his son, abandoning him and his mother when Ross was a boy. When his father admits he wants to chose to undergo the process with Artis at her death, Ross talks him out of it even while Artis whispers for Ross to 'join them.'

A Convergence worker preaches that apocalypse is "inherent" in the physical world, the world will end, that humanity's insanity of war and destruction of the earth is part of a self-willed apocalypse.

What is death, what comes after, and whether death should be a choice are considered by all the characters. In a dismal and meaningless life caught in a world of technology that brings distance, can wonder still be found?

I received a free ebook though NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
DeLillo infuses the drama with metaphysical riddles: What of ourselves can actually be preserved? What will resurrection pilgrims experience in their cold limbo? With immortality reserved for the elite, what will become of the rest of humanity on our pillaged, bloodied, extinction-plagued planet? In this magnificently edge and profoundly inquisitive tale, DeLillo reflects on what we remember and forget, what we treasure and destroy, and what we fail to do for each other and for life itself. Booklist
Zero K
Don DeLillo
Publication May 3, 2016
$26 hard cover

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