Ashley's Reviews > Point Omega

Point Omega by Don DeLillo
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's review
Jun 09, 2011

really liked it
Read in June, 2011

Per usual, I'm impressed by DeLillo's control of language. I found this book to be full of sentences and observations that cut to the core of things - fitting in a book about the dangers of over-abstraction and self-consciousness. Though there's a lot to be said about some of the deliberate ambiguities of the narrative, I'd like to focus on three elements:

1. Ideological flaws in DeLillo's characters - a common critique is that DeLillo's character's are walking,talking ideas; not fully realized, empathy compelling, persons. I found that though this is largely true in this novel as well, the ideological stand ins have flaws that at least break them momentarily from their role. For example Elster (who has moved to the desert to live simply) has a drug store of prescription meds he carries around with him (not so organic after all). Jessie who lives her life like a ghost (mysteriously floating in and out of rooms, keeping all of her toiletries in a small zipped up travel bag, materializing in and dissipating from the story as though it was what she was 'born for') never makes her bed. Though this is far from three-dimensional I like that these characters flowed outside of their ideological ideals.

2. A book-ended book featuring a book-ended essay as a primary metaphor. Just a cool meta-tool for a book about self-consciousness. All that was missing was the manic footnoting of a Wallace novel.

3. Multi-media considerations. Speech, haiku, movies, documentary, creative non-fiction, DeLillo considers it all. I particularly like the idea of putting fictional characters in a real-world conceptual art piece (stretching a movie showing over the course of 24 hours so that every scene is extended into frame-by-frame gradations of motion) and letting the reader experience the fictional viewer's thoughts. I think Douglas Gordon would have enjoyed reading about his work in this mode. Particularly DeLillo's insight about waiting:

"But it was impossible to see too much. The less there was, the harder he looked, the more he saw."
"Consciousness accumulates."
"It's healthier to reject certain cautions than fall in line - I assume you know that."
"A great rain came sweeping off the mountains, too strong to think into, leaving us with nothing to say."

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