David's Reviews > Point Omega

Point Omega by Don DeLillo
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Feb 02, 2010

really liked it
Read on February 02, 2010

Yes, for sure, in this slender little volume (especially in the first half), you'll find Don DeLillo at his most obtusely self-parodic. 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 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... terminal self-seriousness and ludicrous ponderousness... Check out just a few examples from Point Omega:

1. 'Human perception is a saga of created reality. But we were devising entities beyond the agreed-upon limits of recognition and interpretation.'

2. 'Day turns to night eventually but it's a matter of light and darkness, it's not passing time, mortal time. 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.'

3. 'Cities were built to measure time, to remove time from nature.'

These passages would be mitigated somewhat if they were third person narration, but no. 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.

AND YET! AND YET!

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.)
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Comments (showing 1-33 of 33) (33 new)

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message 1: by Jason (last edited Feb 02, 2010 06:37PM) (new)

Jason Yeah, that's where I'm leaning. I reread the last 50 pages tonight.... they're DAMN good.

Review?


David Yes, I agree! The final fifty pages or so really make this novel(la)...


message 3: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Feb 02, 2010 07:10PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Pretty funny review. Let's talk about the nature of time over Chex Mix one of these days.

I liked Russian Ark even though I fell asleep during it in the theater. I'll never see it again, but I appreciated the technical feat, the cinematography, etc.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Fell asleep briefly, I should say.

"I fell asleep briefly during this film!" Slap that on the DVD cover.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio And I stayed wide awake throughout Blart.


message 6: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Very nice review. May need to wait to read this book, though; I'm just not up for "terminal self-seriousness and ludicrous ponderousness" at the moment.

Pass the Chex mix, please.


message 7: by Bram (last edited Feb 03, 2010 06:40AM) (new)

Bram I really like example #1. I'm going to start using that in conversation over chex mix. "So, uh, what are your latest thoughts on the relationship between perception and reality?"...and then BOOM! Interrupt their confused mumblings with the DeLillo quote. Dinner party hero.


message 8: by David (last edited Feb 03, 2010 06:59AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David Does a boy have to put out to get double digit vote counts around here anymore?

Because I will. I totally will.

I think the bad economy is affecting vote returns. People are pinching pennies and votes. I have to believe that. My self worth depends upon it.

I heard a (boo hoo) business news story on NPR about how the economy is laying waste to small business (esp. in California*). And the personal interest example they offered was this husband and wife with fifteen hundred kids or something who put all their savings into a business.

What was the business, you ask (or don't ask)? Those fruit 'floral' arrangements! These stupid fucking things!

Maybe -- and this is just a maybe, mind you -- the problem isn't so much with the economy as it is with people's stupidity. Who the fuck wants a fucking fruit arrangement? Use your brain, tools.

{cry, cry, cry} 'I... I... don't know what to do... I put all my money in this human feces selling franchise... and it... it... turns out people don't want to buy human feces after all! I've got thirteen mortgages on my two million dollar home... and it's devastating... I thought all the economic indicators pointed toward human feces...!'

Seriously. Someone in town here opened a PRINTER CARTRIDGE store. Yep. A PRINTER CARTRIDGE store. Just down the street from an Office Max and an Office Depot.

Ergo, my thesis: Some people deserve to lose their life savings. They actually seem to want to lose their life savings.

Why am I talking about this and why I am talking about this here, of all places? And to whom am I speaking?

Don DeLillo would never write about fruit arrangements. Fruit arrangements don't exist in his world. Just deserts and cities with exclusively modernist architecture (see the Seagram Building on Park Avenue as a cross reference) and indolent bourgeois-bohemian types.

Not that this is all bad. But I think DeLillo knows, just as we all do intuitively, that people don't want fruit arrangements. Not only do they not want to buy them for others, they sure as hell don't want to receive them.

'What the fuck is this? Fucking fruit? Didn't these people ever hear of a Best Buy gift card?'

How do they keep skinned fruit from browning? That's what I wanna know. That thing has got to be so saturated with chemicals that a nearby open flame would cause it to go up like your garden-variety meth lab.

* Did you ever notice that almost any statement can be augmented and clarified with the phrase 'especially in California'? It's true. Try it if you don't believe me.




message 9: by Jason (new)

Jason David wrote: "Did you ever notice that almost any statement can be augmented and clarified with the phrase 'especially in California'? It's true."

It's true, especially in California.



message 10: by Shelly (new)

Shelly Don DeLillo...




David Yeah, Shells, but what about fruit arrangements?


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio DeLillo could totally take Joaquin Pheonix in a fight. Or fruit arrangement contest. Or a Chex Mix banter off.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio ...especially in California.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio That may just need to be photoshopped...


message 15: by Jen (last edited Feb 03, 2010 01:52PM) (new)

Jen I would do it myself, but I don't own photoshop....and I have something that resembles a life especially in California.


message 16: by Jen (new)

Jen Lemon juice. On fruit. To keep from browning.

I should've sunk my savings (about $4.52) into lemon juice freshening spritzers to sell to that edible fruit family. Because then I could be upside down in my multi- million dollar home too. As it is, I'm stuck in a two story on two acres with a measly little guest house cottage. sigh.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio I don't really have a life, but I also don't have photoshop.

Anyone...?


message 18: by David (last edited Feb 03, 2010 02:03PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David Sure, the lemon juice keeps the fruit from browning, but what keeps the lemon juice from browning? That's what I'd like to know. (And what keeps Elizabeth Barrett from browning? Harharhar. Um... yup.)

It still honks me off that someone would put money into a business that sells bouquets of fruit. You just eat the shit anyway! What good is it that it arrives in bouquet form? I think those people should be shot. Or at least be assigned to pick up road kill off the California highways in order to subsidize their bankruptcy.


Sorry, Joshie. Even if I had Photoshop, I'm not that motivated with respect that particular project. No real payoff.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio I know that Greg likes to photoshop. Greg? Yoohoo, Greg!?!

Fruit art visuals for David:



[image error]





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message 20: by David (last edited Feb 03, 2010 02:14PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David This guy is in so much trouble...

'Yay! A basket of fruit! (I am sooooo going to cut off your penis while you sleep tonight and stick it in the blender!)'

I don't think 'Show her how special she really is' is supposed to be sarcastic in that ad.


message 21: by Jen (last edited Feb 03, 2010 02:13PM) (new)

Jen

This would be even better with Amazing Grace played on the bagpipes, like they have at Wal-Mart.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Jesus Loves The Little Fruits, All The Fruits Of The World (except Satan berries):




message 23: by David (last edited Feb 03, 2010 02:20PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David 'Pineapples shaped like hearts? Well, then. You must really love me. Or hate me. I can't tell which, really. But seriously. This is, like, the weirdest thing anyone's ever given me. And that includes when I won a triple pronged lime green dildo at the last wedding shower... But this! A fruit bouquet! I don't know what to say. So I won't say anything. Ever again. Well... one thing's for sure. You'll never get sex from me again unless GHB is involved. But we can eat this great fruit assortment instead.'

COMING SOON: The Edible Arrangements® raw meats bouquet.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio And soon enough these fruit baskets will come laced with GHB.


message 25: by Jen (new)

Jen Tell that to this lemon




message 26: by Stephen (new)

Stephen http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001...

An article from WSJ, I haven't read it, but it seemed friendly.


message 28: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Such a copy cat, Brian.


message 29: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg David wrote in his review:

" and yet that film suffers from the same malady as some of your novels... terminal self-seriousness and ludicrous ponderousness... Check out just a few examples from Point Omega:

1. 'Human perception is a saga of created reality. But we were devising entities beyond the agreed-upon limits of recognition and interpretation.'

2. 'Day turns to night eventually but it's a matter of light and darkness, it's not passing time, mortal time. 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.'

3. 'Cities were built to measure time, to remove time from nature.'

These passages would be mitigated somewhat if they were third person narration, but no. They're examples of actual character dialogue... "


I'm going to argue that you are wrong when I write my own review. I think all of this lofty talk is meant to be a parody of sorts. Just thought I'd let you know I'm coming for you Kowalski.


message 30: by Jason (new)

Jason Get 'im, Greg!


message 31: by karen (new)

karen ooh, review smackdown!

i like the advertisement; it is like a pay-per-view ufc battle. it creates anticipation.

i got the flat screen!


message 32: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg Haha, now it will only cost you $49.95 to read the review. Or download it illegally.


message 33: by George (new)

George One of the best review about Point Omega, Thank you David..I really love this book, and read it it within 90 minutes...


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