The problem of consciousness may just be a semantic one. The brain absorbs a sea of sensory input, the tiniest fraction of which reaches the shore of our awareness. We pay attention to what is most novel, most necessary at the time. At its most reductive, the word 'consciousness' refers to the synchronized firing of neurons across multiple areas of the brain, the mental experience of attending.
But should consciousness be summed up simply by its subsconscious mechanism? I would prefer a more imaginative answer.
After his father, Saul, undergoes brain surgery and slips into a coma, Howard Akler begins to reflect on Saul's life, the complicated texture of consciousness, and Akler's struggles with writing and his own unpredictable mind. With echoes of Paul Auster's The Invention of Solitude and Philip Roth's Patrimony, Men of Action treads the line between memoir and meditation, and is at once elegiac, spare, and profoundly intimate.
'Like Harley J. Spiller’s Keep the Change, Howard Akler’s Men of Action similarly compresses a great deal – whole lives – into a very few pages ... As might be expected, Men of Action delves into the father-son relationship, while also encompassing the father’s life, the parents’ marriage and the son’s youth in Toronto, where Mr. Akler still lives. But its more submerged subject is the act of writing itself, which is demonstrated with the carefully observed, resonant economy of poetry.'
– The New York Times Holiday 2015 Gift Guide