“Son” by A. Korotko: experience of phenomenological approximation in kairos

Dmitry Drozdovsky, critic, literary critic, translator, writer. October 2019, Kiev

Sometimes a literary work raises the strange question for the reader right in its first sentence: why does "silence shorten the distance"?

“Son” is a literary work built on the verbally expressed phenomenology of experience, which can be called the experience of being a son. The basis of this phenomenon is the character awareness of existential truth and not propositional one. The key to the existentiality of Alexander Korotko's sketch story is a special metaphorical expression of memory; it acquires a taste and, therefore, ontology. Has the reader ever had to recall the process of frying sunflower seeds in a pan, the process of making homemade sunflower seeds that have a unique flavor? The taste of authenticity, and not of deodorized artificiality, but seeds that were tasty as your father made them ...

Metaphorization of the taste sensation of life (in the past) is one of the tricks the narrator uses to visualize in the word what is valuable, what determines the essence of the narrator’s life world. Although the latest category is different for father and son: “Each one of them has their denial of what is happening. Yours is in the present,
mine is in the past.”

The sketch story by A.Korotko resembles a picture of Escher, in which trees grow upside down. The inconsistency of statements is “illogical” only in the plane of linear time. But there are textual dimensions that have internal funnels in which artistic time is straightened at the infinity of one moment. A memory from the past when “events dissolve like raindrops”, means falling out of linear time into space that has special existential and phenomenological significance for the narrator. Then the linearity of the events does not have weight. The images of winter trees are fascinating and surprising. Strangeness is a sign of the text that brings the reader either  tometaphysical horror, worry, anxiety or to metaphysical reflection, contemplation of the past and present by the inner vision.

The phenomenological approximation of facts does not provide for their verbal designation. The memory of fried seeds alone could be described in several pages. But A. Korotko`s work has verbal minimalism, which is a manifestation of artistic “antiquarianism”. What has weight here is clearly not a word, as words will share memories and times. Words can become a barrier. They will define, but not represent.

But you can verbally express the feeling that the son experienced while tasting the seeds fried by his dad. You can get lost in words for a long time, choosing the best match, but the phenomenological approximation involves a wordless grasp, something like intuition or mystical revelation, for which words are not needed. Therefore, “silence does shorten the distance,” because it defines the narrator's idea of the phenomenology of his own past, memory. Like in the work of Marcel Proust, when the taste of Madeleine takes the hero to another time-space, which can be described in several pages, but in fact, there is a moment, the smallest period of time in which the past is condensed and its meeting with the present.

That is why the speech in the sketch of memory is not in the propositional truth, which is conventional, but also because it needs words, and, therefore, consistency between memory experiences in a word and existential truth, which in this work has an ontological and metaphysical character. "Time, unlike us, is always there." But the value definition of time requires "us", otherwise the silence of the ontology of (non) being will remain without color and taste. And acquiring of colors adds special dynamism to physical reality, due to the dramatic nature of the relations between close people who are forever inseparable, no matter where they are now.

The last sentence in the work is symbolic, for it contradicts time, its ontological "cold" nature. Time is not just indivisible, but also indifferent to the phenomenological experience of a person. It is important for the son to be with his father even when the father is gone. And here, in front of the reader, the metaphysical phenomenology of
A. Korotko opens; it has two times that are presented in a small sketch: time as kairos and time as chronos.

Chronos does not have memories and vitally important moments, this is a calendar time, the fluidity of which is ontological and amodal, chronos does not have crossings with the phenomenological world of man. But the story of the “Son” (even the name has a special sentimentally touching marking) is about kairos, personally experienced time that belongs to his son and no one else.

Translated by Oxana Lipkovskayia