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The Fascinating Time Chronicles


By Jorge Ortiz

The Lost Time Accidents is a contemporary novel written by John Wray in 2016. The novel
takes its readers into a transcending time experience through the life of Waldy Tolliver where he
indulges upon his ancestral accomplishments and situations to uncover the truths of a
breakthrough time theory from his great-grandfather, Ottokar Toula. In doing so, Wray
successfully incorporates the scientific ideas regarding Marxism, such as the materialist
philosophy that explains the world through scientific, concrete, and logical observations in
contrast to spiritual. Instances such as the innovative ideas presented by renowned figures such
as Albert Einstein, the evident curiosity and observation about the universe from characters
within the plot, and the various predictions of the fate of the universe portray how this detailed
explanation of Marxism is present throughout the wondrous novel from John Wray.

Firstly, Wray implements the scientific perception of Marxism to portray the significant
discoveries of universal postulates through instances such as it's clear allusions to invaluable
leaders. The foundation for the Toula family's hunger for knowledge derived from the great
grandfather, Ottokar, whose scientific theories behind time flow drove his children and grand-
children to heighten their interest upon it. The intellect of Ottokar took influence from a Western
philosopher named Saint Augustine, specifically his "fourteenth chapter of 'Confessions'… "
where he expounded upon the wonders of time stating his profound, observational claim of time
that "the present of things past is memory… the present of things present is perception… of things
future is expectation" (Wray 58). While it may be contradictory that this postulate comes from a
religious saint, Saint Augustine nonetheless relates his critical notions to the scientific
philosophy of Marxism rather than spirituality, clearly showing the first example of Marxist
influence in the novel. These ideas about time undoubtedly influenced Ottokar, transporting the
Marxist sentiments further down the generations from St. Augustine to the great-grandfather.
Wray constructs a knowledgeable, Marxist ambiance through the ambition to understand the
principles of time in which "Wray’s immense talents shine. With effortless
erudition, he captures the swirl of ideas and ideology" (Yu). These are the sort of ideologies that
call for scientific observation in deconstructing the universe seen through St. Augustine's and
Ottokar's pursuit for concrete answers, not spiritual, vague reasonings. In describing Ottokar's
influences in life, Wray creatively incorporates one major figure as a rival for Ottokar's
hypotheses of time. This man, through his Marxist, scientific view of the universe, created a
simple, yet quintessential idea that logically describes the world. "1905 would go down in
history as hit on the preposterously, childish, almost insulting simple formula
E=mc^2, which describes the universal relationship between energy and matter" (Wray 63).
Implementing a significant scientific leader such as Einstein, or referencing a secular explanation
of time from St. Augustine further depicts the prevalence of the scientific perspective of
Marxism in the novel. Their qualitative and quantitative reasonings upon decrypting the
postulates of the universe further emphasizes the extensive hunger for knowledge which greatly
influenced Ottokar in his ambition to create innovative theories of time.

Further into novel, the sentiments of Marxism is prevalent within the specific observations
of the story's characters themselves, for example that of Waldemar, Ottokar's son. Expounding
further into the generations of the Toula family, readers learn about Waldemar who too, acquires
an extensive ambition to learn the truths of time, specifically that of his father. Both Waldemar
and his wife, Sonia, discuss how time travels in spheres, and that people are within
"chromospheres" which prohibit them from noticing the travel. Waldemar theorizes how one can
control time, simply stating "..all that is required to affect time, by logical extension, is simply to
be observing it" (Wray 67). The upholding of the Marxist-influenced practice of scientific
observation is clearly depicted by Waldemar as he states its utility to manipulate time.
Waldemar's idea suggests the vast power a human can attain through the tool of scientific
observation, power that is frequently used throughout Wray's novel. Neville Hawcock, a literary
analyst, conveys a comparison of power seen between science and religion, where.."just like a
religion, science has its heretics. Unlike a religion, the heretics stand a chance: maybe
experiment and observation will vindicate them and win over the orthodox" (Hawcock). It is
clearly seen in this novel that Waldemar follows the empowerment of scientific knowledge
suggested by Hawcock, which altogether convey the Marxist influence of favoring scientific
explanations than religious reasoning. Another example where such observations are depicted in
the novel is during the discussion held between Wittgenstein and Silbermann upon the topic of
dimensions. Through his, concrete observations in life, Professor Silbermann states the concept
how the universe functions in four dimensions, longitude, latitude, altitude, and time. The
scientific lens of the world is clearly favored, supporting Marxism, however, what utterly
solidifies the denouncing of spiritual explanation is Silbermann's metaphorical joke that "…If
neither time nor space absolute… we might as well be Hindus, living on an earth
supported by six white elephants" (Wray 77). Silbermann's mockery of the absurdness in certain
religions signify his invalidation in spiritually understanding the universe. This implies the clear
application of Marxism as scientific explanations are upheld and efficiently in practice according
to the four dimensions thesis from Silbermann.

Finally, the novel progressively supports the ideas of scientific Marxism through instances
such as the successful foresights of the future done through the power of science. There is an
example where the theory of general relativity was utilized to its greatest potential during a post-
war era by British observers. "A solar eclipse confirmed Relativity's prediction that the
gravitational pull of the sun would cause light rays to bend.." (Wray 104). According the novel,
this is concrete evidence how the implementation of Marxist observation is validated by a
universal phenomena, a solar eclipse. In comparison to the outdated and vague explanations of
eclipses by religion, scientific and logical explanations would prove to surpass in the accurate
decryption of solar eclipse, and, to a greater extent, forces of the universe. Furthermore, on a
more serious note, there is the posthumous note from the timekeeper himself. Before his
departure, Ottokar unveiled the secrets of his time flow theories to his future generations. The
note would enlighten the truths of time to empower man, quite similar to the ideas of his son,
Waldemar. Primarily directed to his children, he offered humanity to "Open your Eyes to give
birth to the Cosmos. Close your eyes to make It disappear. Eternal Salvation is yours… Close
your eyes when you want to stop time.. Open them when you're ready to expire" (Wray 187).
This poetic explanation of time truly shows that the power to manipulate time to solely rests
upon the hands of humanity. Ultimately, Ottokar expressed that humanity always had the ability
to distort universal time through the use of their eyes, successfully supporting the ideas of Marx
regarding the empowerment of man. Marx believed that Man had the power to create his own
history, that Man potentially gave birth to himself through sequential human history. These ideas
very well reflect Ottokar's empowering note regarding people and time since both uphold the
extensive capabilities of humanity which utterly portrays the prevalence of Marxism in Wray's
innovative novel.

In hindsight, it seems that John Wray took major influence from Karl Marx when writing
The Lost Time Accidents through the evident, almost coincidental instances supporting scientific
observations than spiritual such as the references to inspirational leaders, the direct observations
from characters, and the validated predictions through science. The novel itself claims to be
innovative as it approaches a mundane topic, such as time, but creating a fresh take to the
concept, offering a new perspective to the relationship of time with life, and to a major extent,
with our universe.


Works Cited

Yu, Charles. "'The Lost Time Accidents,' by John Wray." The New York Times. The New York
Times, 19 Feb. 2016. Web. 02 Apr. 2017.

Hawcock, Neville. "'The Lost Time Accidents', by John Wray." Financial Times. Financial
Times, n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2017.

WRAY, JOHN. LOST TIME ACCIDENTS. Place of Publication Not Identified:
CANONGATE, 2017. Print.

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