such rich centers of possibilities and meanings
There is of course no other way this could end, which is fitting given that one of the (many) things Jerusalem is about is predestination. Moore’s vision of the world is closely related to the one we’ve been exhaustively exploring throughout this series. He does not actually use the word hypercube (and indeed envisions the structure in even higher dimensions), but it’s nevertheless clearly what’s going on. And though it would be wrong to describe it as a prison (he’s ultimately too optimistic for that), the multidimensional superstructure in which he places us is nevertheless utterly inescapable. As Moore imagines it, reality is a fixed solid existing in at least four dimensions, in which all events are fixed, and human consciousnesses simply experience their lives on endless repeat, passing through their allotted portion of the structure over and over again, experiencing the same unchanging lives each time.
This poses several problems, of which the loss of free will is only one, and a fairly minor one at that. Some are acknowledged by Moore, either within Jerusalem itself or in interviews, most notably the apparent loss of any moral perspective. Moore, being a monstrously intelligent man, anticipates these, emphasizing the sacredness of consciousness and the way that it imposes morality and aesthetics upon the world, and for the most part this works. Certainly there’s a flat truth to it: whatever the overall cosmological structure of reality (or even just history) may be, we are in the end pinned to linearly experienced consciousness, and in a way that means that our perception of morality is all-encompassing. Moore unfolds this with moving humanity, suggesting that we are ourselves harsher moral judges than any external force could ever be, but the point stands as a simple, stark description of how the world works: in the end, we are alone with our experience of it and left to make of that what we will.
Within the novel, of course, this is a cheat, albeit a fairly well-earned one. The narrative perspective shifts among two dozen or so characters in the course of the telling, but they are all in the end Moore’s perspective upon Moore’s world, a fact all but explicitly acknowledged by Moore’s blatant avatar within the work, an artist working on an installation about the working class Northampton neighborhood she lives in that consists of thirty-five works corresponding precisely to the novel’s thirty-five chapters. And the larger cosmology of the novel tacitly acknowledges this cheat: in fact there is an afterlife that one can retire to when one is tired of repeating one’s life, consisting of existence in the higher realm of Mansoul in which the four-dimensional solid of reality can be observed from above, and where the immortal souls appear to have free will and the ability to die. And there are several points where it’s noted that there’s a level above Mansoul on which the pattern repeats, occupied by a singular architect that Moore has been perfectly willing to suggest is him all along, typically via a long and deadpan interview routine in which he discusses the idea of simulationism before noting that the designer would probably incarnate himself in the simulation, and that most portrayals of God are of an older man with a long beard before trailing off pointedly.…