Winegarden by Anthony Ferner

Winegarden by Anthony Ferner

Winegarden recounts episodes in the life of Jacob Winegarden, an agnostic Jewish professor of theoretical physics whose speciality is ‘thought experimentation’. A burly, vague, distracted man, a fan of popular films such as Toy Story and Fantastic Voyage, Jacob is still forlornly infatuated with his enigmatic wife, Miriam. She brings him back to reality: he is in a world of his own, she says, but there are things that need doing in this one.Winegarden operates at the elusive boundary between physics and metaphysics, trying to understand what the world of quantum mechanics can tell us about the soul, the existence of God, the meaning of love and memory; about how those who are absent can also be present. He uses pencil and paper, and classic aids to thought such as cats, zombies or occasionally Golems, because these creatures occupy ambiguous spaces between states of being and not-being and can thus illuminate the nature of the universe. His apparently whimsical thought experiments are revealed to have a deadly serious purpose. Making connections between his life and his work is his way of coping with the uncertainties of love, the trailing tendrils of his Jewish heritage, and the trauma of a devastating loss. Winegarden fears certainty: if the truth is bleak, it may be better not to know, to be uncertain. And if it has to be known, then there will be thought experiments that can imagine other universes where things might be different.Moving backwards and forwards in time and touching on different parts of Winegarden’s life and thoughts, the stories are designed to fit together as a novella. Together they tell a larger personal story of grief and survival, the ambivalence and persistence of love, and the meaning of being Jewish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.