You see, DeLillo now apparently culls all of his dialogue from some strange dimly-lit alternate universe where stubbornly humorless men and women sit around drinking scotch and waving their arms in the general direction of infinity -- as a vague, portentous symbol of futility in the face of everythingness. This, certainly, is simultaneously DeLillo's shorthand a Yes, for sure, in this slender little volume especially in the first half , you'll find Don DeLillo at his most obtusely self-parodic. This, certainly, is simultaneously DeLillo's shorthand and shortcoming.
If only his shuttle craft would quit orbiting the earth once in a while and land on its prosaic soil! Yes, I will admit that he's responsible for some of the most jaw-droppingly magical sentences in the history of the English language -- sentences which simply and precisely allude to the most indefinable and inexplicable of human experiences and sensations, but holy shit, Don. Sometimes you need to a let a character break wind or talk about how much he laughed watching Paul Blart or something.
And I don't appreciate the reference to Sokurov's film Russian Ark which, as you should well know, I hate , and yet that film suffers from the same malady as some of your novels Check out just a few examples from Point Omega: But we were devising entities beyond the agreed-upon limits of recognition and interpretation. There's none of the usual terror. It's different here, time is enormous, that's what I feel here, palpably. Time that precedes and survives us. They're examples of actual character dialogue Can you even believe it?
Don't invite DeLillo to your dinner parties. He'll be trying to discuss the enfolding nature of time while everyone is eating Chex mix and trying to catch up on The Biggest Loser. I really, really liked this book a lot. Despite the aforementioned problems. It's really a powerful little book, and about a third of the way in, it really sucks you into its dreamlike spell or torpor. One of my favorite things in art is intentional ambiguity see also Bergman's Persona and Lynch's Mulholland Drive , and Point Omega is a mostly succinctly despondent reverie on the opacity of human experience and our ultimately futile misalignment with the profound and tireless workings of time.
Okay, that was a pathetic attempt to parody DeLillo's ponderousness, but I invite Scribner to blurb that line on the jacket of all future editions of Point Omega. View all 33 comments. Jun 25, Greg rated it really liked it Shelves: Last night at work a man who looked like Zizek approached the information desk. Him, I'm looking for the section on culture process. Me, what do you mean? Him, how can I say this insert vague European accent , pause , yes, i'm looking for, pause, looking like he is thinking , books about, pause, look of satisfaction on his face , the process of culture.
That answer cleared up all my confusions, right?
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He continued to speak down to me and explain that he was making a syllabus for a class and th Last night at work a man who looked like Zizek approached the information desk. He continued to speak down to me and explain that he was making a syllabus for a class and that tonight he was going to create his bibliography.
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Since I was obviously an intellectual ingrate who doesn't know what culture process means, he let me know that a bibliography is a list of books. I imagine this man speaking normally like the characters, especially the aging intellectual Elster, in Point Omega. He could say, The true life is not reducible to words spoken or written, not by anyone, ever. The true life takes place when we're alone, thinking, feeling, lost in memory, dreamingly self-aware, the submicroscopic moments. He said this more than once, Elster did, in more than one way.
His life happened, he said, when he sat staring at a blank wall, thinking about dinner. An eight-hundred-page biography is nothing more than dead conjecture, he said. I almost believed him when he said such things. He said we do this all the time, all of us, we become ourselves beneath the running throughts nd dim images, wondering idly when we'll die. This is how we live and think whether we know it or not. These are the unsorted thoughts we have looking out the train window, small dull smears of meditative panic David Kowalski, in his review, points out the artificiality of the dialog.
The dialog is stilted, sort of in the way the dialog of a Hal Hartley movie would sound if Jacques Lacan helped with the rewrite. I have known people that speak like this. They speak as if Derrida were the screenwriter for the movie-adaptation of their life, which they were important enough to have scored the starring role in. The people who can speak in this manner are privileged to live their lives as children.
They can say that real life is in some paradoxical nether-region because they are children who don't have to live in the real world. This is an age-old ivory tower criticism. But this book is about more than just pointing at the absurdity of certain types of pompous thoughts and attitudes. The Elster character is not just an intellectual, but one that had been hired by the Pentagon to help with the war in Iraq.
Elster is a Baudrillard type of intellectual and some of the words used in Point Omega point towards the now-dead French theorist. Paroxysm is one of those words. Elster's job in the Pentagon was as a post-modern theorist who thought he could create new realities by creating new phrases to describe them.
Or that it is over, even if it is not, since it will be the words that create the reality, not the reality that will need to be represented by the words. This type of intellectualism often gets disparaged as being relativistic, and now is not the place to go into the merits of this kind of critique. Instead, of being a criticism of the ethical standpoint of a left wing intellectual who has sided with that he calls, a criminal enterprise , it is about the personal standpoint of the intellectual when real-life comes crashing in to his theories.
Everything DeLillo shows in this character borders on the ridiculous, except for the way that he treats his daughter.
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While going on a trip to the grocery store he will test and ramble on about the 'objective status' of the GPS thing in his car but make sure to tell his daughter to buckle her seatbelt. Elster can ramble on about some esoteric bullshit in almost every scene we see him in but then show him taking a concrete delight in cooking for his daughter and wanting to share this life-sustaining event with her. But then something happens to her, and Elster goes from being a fountain of lofty liquid bullshit to being inconsolably human.
The two stories converge to a degree that DeLillo leaves to the readers imagination. The thoughts of the man watching the movie everyday while the other visitors of the museum pass by the video installation quickly, without taking the time that he is taking to see the 'reality' can be juxtaposed with Elster's with questions about the validity appropriateness? There is a lot happening in this short and sparse book. Normally, I don't re-read a book immediately after finishing it. I re-read this book, and since finishing it a second time I've picked it up to read five or ten page sections wherever I would open the book to.
This is not something I normally do. There is something going on in the book that I still haven't been able to pinpoint in the text. I've actually been considering buying a copy of it, the copy I've been reading is borrowed from the library. It is the kind of book that begs to be underlined and have marginalia added to it. It is the kind of book that needs to be engaged with, and have the meaning pried out of the words on the page. Not too much really happens in the novel, but it is a much more interesting read than White Noise and while less of a page turner than Libra it is arguably a more important novel.
View all 14 comments. Feb 01, brian rated it really liked it. Back now to inorganic matter. This is what we want.
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We want to be stones in a field. View all 30 comments. Nov 16, Lilo rated it did not like it Recommends it for: Recommended to Lilo by: I found it at the Dollar Store. You may call me uneducated, ignorant, unappreciative, or a philistine, I'll still say that I hated this book. I only finished it because I refused to believe that it would not come to any point, be it point Omega or any other point. And this would have been a ba You may call me uneducated, ignorant, unappreciative, or a philistine, I'll still say that I hated this book.
And this would have been a bargain for the author, as come to think of it, I wouldn't do it for twice the money. If I only think what I could have done with the time I wasted on this book! I could have read a book that was worthwhile reading, I could have taken the dogs for walks, I could have pulled weeds in the garden, I could have done some housecleaning.
View all 63 comments. Feb 17, Ademption rated it liked it Shelves: Consider me the Bizarro David MK. He doesn't like poor people and their B. Contrarian-contrarian that I am, I don't like whiny rich people who are so jaded they drone on about the ineffability of everything, and how no one is really sure of anything ever, and you can't cross the same river twice and so on. Elster, a defense intellectual, picked for his mean liberal arts skills, is one such man Fuck, if that's what it takes, the DOJ should give me a job.
I'm a renaissance man with a liberal arts degree. It is implied that he helped contrive the jingoism for Iraq II, trying to make it a "haiku war," creating facts from nothing and brainwashing the populace into an undulating hour news channel wargasm. He is self-centered, completely oblivious to those who die and to those who repeat his empty propaganda.
He plays abstract games and goes about his life until he meets a prosaic personal tragedy that undoes him. There is also a documentary filmmaker, Finley, but he is merely an eye to observe Elster. And Elster's daughter also makes an appearance. She's self-absorbed too, broken in fact.
She just floats about, trapped miles below her own skin, doing whatever it is that she does, walking this way and that. Her dad thinks her quirks are complex in the way that Cameron Diaz's characters think their cross-purpose yammering substitutes for complex see Amanda from "The Holiday" for a prime example. Elster's Russian ex-wife makes an appearance via phone conversations, and Delillo gets her accent and stilted grammar pitch-perfect.
The ex-wife, she's my favorite. She's the best flat character in the parade. I hated Elster so much, because he is weak. He isn't weak because personal tragedy undoes him. He's weak because he is amoral, willing to harm nameless others, not responsible for his key role in a bureaucratic process that hurts many, and then isn't the super man all the way down -the guy ordinarily skipping on a road paved with other people's necks- when something rather commonplace happens to him.
He is hard and emotionless, reptilian, until he feels pain. Master of the universe, and titan in his own mind, until he bumps into an emotional reality. I want my coldblooded, self-styled badasses to stay unrepentant, true to their uncaring form like Anton Chigurh or Lilah Morgan. Elster reminds me of a few guys I've worked with. The amalgam of these guys would be someone wearing death metal t-shirts of gore and pain, willing to be theoretically cruel to outsourced teams as long as he wasn't actually implementing the policies he had a hand in crafting, not directly telling departments to work harder for less, instead having digital tools and support staff play the intermediary for him, ever ready to break the rules of the social contract and hide in bureaucracy to get things done faster and cheaper, insisting others play by the rules, and gleefully not following any protocols in secret.
Pale, thin, definitely among the first against the wall if an armed revolution came. A poseur who would in no way defend himself and his actions, only point to a machine and shrug at how life sure is random in a half-hearted attempt at justification. Seduced by power, but too much of a scrotum to grab the reins and be the primary actor.
The social contract, that he is so willing to bend and twist on the sly, is the only thing keeping him on life support in civilized society. Thank god, he wasn't born a Mexican, or even 70 years ago in any nation. Elster is an ideal of that amalgam: That said, Delillo can write! The plot is besides the point. It reminds me of Murakami's Sputnik Sweetheart: It is rather confusing, having this something leap out of Nothing, but then Nothing descends again covering everything in blankness. There are no explanations or satisfactory resolutions. It is Delillo's sentences that make this book worthwhile.
He crafts some beauties about the unknowability of knowability and the limits of human knowledge, time, space, heat, light, and death-- epic sentences. The guy could talk about the horror of waiting in line for his healthcard or renewing his plates at the DMV, and I'd want to read and nod, and say "Yes, Don.
You have your pen on the pulse of this age, and you also manage to make the dull roar of it sound entertaining. That's how I read this book, checking out the sentences, cocking my head, blinking, re-reading them, and marveling at his huge looming boulders. I'm giving in Point Omega 3 stars, because it is such a short book, the plot is nonexistent, and there are no real characters besides Elster. Maybe it is time for Delillo to write more plays or try his hand at essays. He's gotten so spare, there are only sentences to go on.
View all 11 comments. Feb 18, Jason rated it it was ok. It was shiny, crisp, and industriously stamped in solid black 'Jan ' on the pages' top edge. I snatched it up as soon as another returned it to the inclined sill, probably its first day in circulation, drawing immediate attention. I missed the fine print next to it on orange card stock that cautioned, "only for loyal fans How could I go wrong with a page novella from the author that inspired the youngest generation of serious writers of fiction?
I suspect it's me that went wrong. When scouting an author that's new to me--dammit I know this--I should select a seasoned, time-tested, award-winner like White Noise or Libra or Underworld. Instead, I believe Point Omega is a book most appropriately called a 'filler. He's been very consistent with this publication interval since If so, then Point Omega has productively 'filled' the space between his normal-length publications. Third , a 'filler' is that mid-career book, say the 13th or 14th or 15th, in a prolific career when the author, frankly, gets bored with his normal fare and tries stretching his award-winning themes and attributes in common vectors, along similar veins, but to such a tenuous--almost absurd--dimension that the subject matter becomes almost concept-writing, or writing that's experimental.
Point Omega by Don DeLillo
This is indeed his fifteenth novel, and we all expect him to continue writing, so it's reasonable that DeLillo is at the mid-point in his career. Also, the concept of Point Omega is wicked esoteric, and it's bereft of the common mile markers of normal writing that, for me, helps root a novel to earth, placing it into the family of novels that you can explain clearly to your friends. This book does not lend itself to easy explanation. Fourth , 'filler' books win no awards. I tell you now, with only my small Goodreads library and 40 years of reading experience, that Point Omega will win no awards.
It was ground out like scrap meat for sausage in those old, cast iron, hand-cranked meat grinders. And like that ground meat, you can't quite tell its original cut, shape, form, or function. Fifth , a 'filler' is forgettable. Like in acting, it's the movie a major star appears in that goes straight to DVD, and you're like "That's Michael Caine I never heard of that movie". When DeLillo's career is over, this book will not measure into his top 10, maybe not even the top half.
I'm justified in making this prediction without having read any other DeLillo because I've read many National Book Award novels, know the quality of their writing, and can make a reasonable call. You can too if you've been a reader all your life. Course, I could be wrong and have, stupidly, missed something. I was intrigued by the dustcover description of the protagonist, Elster, "a 'defense intellectual' involved in the management of the country's war machine I'm not an 'intellectual' by any means, but 20 years of school, 2 Masters, and years of Professional Military Education--I was looking forward to tangible similarities between me and Elster.
Nothing of the sort. Elster refuses to agree to the idea but strings Jim along out in the desert where he does reveal a little about his intellectual provenance including his study of Teilhard de Chardin whose principal idea is of a universe moving toward greater complexity and consciousness . In Line three, Jessie goes to the Psycho exhibit and meets the man on the wall. She tells him her father recommended the exhibit. We already know that Jim recommended it to Elster and took him to the exhibit. The man on the wall tries to arrange a date with Jessie.
He gets her phone number but not her name. Line three ends with the man returning to the exhibit. The direction of the novel is the opposite of movement toward greater complexity and consciousness. It is toward a self-contained, self-defining and blind will to power. That is the idea behind the government's notion of war as haiku.
Elster's parsing of the word "rendition" is no different from Psycho in slo-mo: The novel's central metaphor is autism. The man on the wall in either manifestation and Jessie are obviously symptomatic. Jim and Elster are no better. The signs are there: Jerry Lewis , Psycho in slo-mo, war as haiku , the desert with Elster's solace in it as signifier for total annihilation, the word "rendition". There are clear parallels to Thomas Pynchon , especially Gravity's Rainbow. In Pynchon the tension balances along the relationship between knowledge greater complexity?
In Point Omega the movement toward annihilation rendition is symptomatic of a defect or disturbance in mental process.
Point Omega | Book by Don DeLillo | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster
In his review for Publishers Weekly , Dan Fesperman revealed that the Finley character is "a middle-aged filmmaker who, in the words of his estranged wife, is too serious about art but not serious enough about life" and compares Elster to "a sort of Bush -era Dr. Strangelove without the accent or the comic props". DeLillo seldom explored in much depth as a younger writer. DeLillo made a series of rare public appearances in the run up to the release of Point Omega throughout September, October, and November , and was set to do more press publicity upon the novel's release.
Memos and Testimonies from the "War on Terror"'. This event was "an evening of readings and response, [with] Members and friends of PEN read[ing] from the recently-released secret documents that have brought these abuses to light - memos, declassified communications, and testimonies by detainees - and will reflect on how [America] can move forward as a nation. An extract from Point Omega was made available on the Simon and Schuster website on December 10, DeLillo made an unexpected appearance at a PEN event on the steps of the main branch of the New York City Public Library in support of Chinese dissident writer Liu Xiaobo , who was sentenced to eleven years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power" on December 31, Point Omega spent one week on the New York Times Bestseller List, peaking at 35 on the extended version of the list during its one-week stay on the list.
On the whole, reviews for Point Omega have been positive. An early mostly positive review appeared on the website of Publishers Weekly on December 21, Its narrator Jim Finley is an experimental filmmaker who travels to the Arizona desert in an attempt to convince aging intellectual Richard Elster to participate in a film comprised solely of one long, unedited take of Elster talking about whatever he likes. He was the outsider, a scholar with an approval rating but no experience in government. He sat at a table in a secure conference room with the strategic planners and military analysts.
He was there to conceptualize, his words, in quotes, to apply overarching ideas and principles to such matters as troop deployment and counter-insurgency. He was cleared to read classified manuscripts, he said, and he listened to the chatter of the resident experts, the metaphysicians in the intelligence agencies, the fantasists in the Pentagon. Elster becomes disillusioned with the whole process soon; he comes to realize the hollowness of his role and soon moves to the desert.
Time becoming slowly older. Not day by day. This is deep time, epochal time.
This is time draining out of our lives. Cities were built to measure time, to remove time from nature. This is the thing that literature is meant to cure.