April 5, 2010
Don DeLillo /// Point Omega
The infinities of the desert.  The abstraction and semantics of war. The dilation, or banishment, of our artificial time, which is measured by cities.  The heat death of the universe.  All these and more are themes lightly sketched in Point Omega—on the one hand, DeLillo doesn’t push the ideas too hard (lest we rediscover the solipsism congenital to any prophecy of imminent mass extinction); on the other, he does little more than provoke private meditation on each topic (and, well, maybe that solipsism—also pervasive in the executive handling and conceptualization of Iraq—was worth exploring?).  The story itself moves like a stage play, quietly subverting the meaning of its dialogue, elliptically orbiting the sort of Lacanian lack that Bolaño would have plundered for another 200 evil pages.  DeLillo’s mode is easier on the soul, perhaps, in its clean disappearance and cold-eyed framing, but it makes the horror at Point Omega's center a theoretical, epistemological problem, not immediately relatable except on a rarified plane.  This squares just fine with the notion that life is an unsustainable arrangement of matter, a heightened energy state that wants to revert to non-consciousness; it does not, however, seem to affect the human dimension of the novel in the ways you would expect and demand. The manufacture and dissolution of various realities taxes our cognition on a daily basis, yet the people contemplating our passion for self-destruction as a branch of natural physics are not much troubled by the implications that crop up.  And so we arrive at an honest, not-especially-satisfying dead end: philosophy is someone thinking in a wasteland, alone or with others, and knowing that their thought will never truly alter the stones or brush or endless sky above.       

Don DeLillo /// Point Omega

The infinities of the desert.  The abstraction and semantics of war. The dilation, or banishment, of our artificial time, which is measured by cities.  The heat death of the universe.  All these and more are themes lightly sketched in Point Omega—on the one hand, DeLillo doesn’t push the ideas too hard (lest we rediscover the solipsism congenital to any prophecy of imminent mass extinction); on the other, he does little more than provoke private meditation on each topic (and, well, maybe that solipsism—also pervasive in the executive handling and conceptualization of Iraq—was worth exploring?).  The story itself moves like a stage play, quietly subverting the meaning of its dialogue, elliptically orbiting the sort of Lacanian lack that Bolaño would have plundered for another 200 evil pages.  DeLillo’s mode is easier on the soul, perhaps, in its clean disappearance and cold-eyed framing, but it makes the horror at Point Omega's center a theoretical, epistemological problem, not immediately relatable except on a rarified plane.  This squares just fine with the notion that life is an unsustainable arrangement of matter, a heightened energy state that wants to revert to non-consciousness; it does not, however, seem to affect the human dimension of the novel in the ways you would expect and demand. The manufacture and dissolution of various realities taxes our cognition on a daily basis, yet the people contemplating our passion for self-destruction as a branch of natural physics are not much troubled by the implications that crop up.  And so we arrive at an honest, not-especially-satisfying dead end: philosophy is someone thinking in a wasteland, alone or with others, and knowing that their thought will never truly alter the stones or brush or endless sky above.       

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