Ec-stasy is the subject of this big novel. Standing outside. Standing outside of time, of one's own consciousness, of life itself.
When Rachel, for instance, is giving birth: “she stood roaring into the forest” (326). Pain = ecstasy.
One extraordinary scene puts a reader with the last people on top of the last mountain as the flood rises and kills them while Noah's ark nudges the last bit of earth. Noah's sister Anna stands among them and watches.
They were now standing on an island and were surrounded by sea on all sides. . . . Was it strange that all they did was stand and stare and stare? . . . (320)
The experience is beyond any he has known since he was eleven, and it is deadly. If it weren't deadly, it would not be ecstatic.
But who is writing about Bellori and his findings? Who is making up the Bible stories? It's a modern Norwegian narrator who himself is looking for ecstatic experience, conditioned to do so, at least in part, by his father's own extremities.