new don delillo: point omega

i couldn’t take on falling man (“9/11 fiction”, though by all rights delillo is the writer for the job), but i think this one i’ll pick up.  out tuesday, feb. 2 and he’ll be at bookcourt feb. 11 with it.  below review from max read, timeout, chosen mostly for its spareness and my lack of shared opinion with that espoused on esquire’s, nymag’s and others i found.  waiting for the times and the new yorker to weigh in, but with libra, mao II, white noise and underworld all on my shelves, it’s not much of a deliberation.  i’m ready for a new delillo book:  funny, scary-smart, scientific/futuristic, postmodern, philosophical, political.  if a reviewer is given opportunity to work teleological in, good stuff to come.

“What do you mean, you’ve never heard of the “omega point”? Aren’t you familiar with the works of early-20th-century Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin? Oh, well: Don DeLillo will explain it to you anyway in his slim, excellent, Teilhard-touting new novel, Point Omega, where the obscure Jesuit comes up in a series of informal interviews between 73-year-old former professor and war strategist (probably for the second Iraq War, though it isn’t specified) Richard Elster and New York movie director Jim Finley. The latter wants to film the aging academic talking about his experiences as a top-secret military planner, creating a kind of Fog of War for Generation Y.

If you’ve read anything else by DeLillo, you probably know the deal: The two men spin fascinating bullshit in the charged language of people talking about one thing (the intellectual side of Elster’s career) while thinking about something else (geopolitical chaos). The prose is spare to the point of ponderousness; the ideas dense to the edge of incomprehensibility. Ultimately, no film is made, an unspeakable tragedy strikes, and the interlocutors face the blunt truths of loss and absence.

But what does this have to do with our Jesuit friend Pierre? The omega point is the teleological coordinate of maximum universal complexity and self-consciousness, a point that Teilhard equated with Christ and that Elster, holding court on his porch, equates with, one slowly gathers, death, apocalypse and the ruin of humanity. The two scenes bookending Elster and Finley’s conversations are set at a MoMA screening of Douglas Gordon’s 24 Hour Psycho, an installation that slows Hitchcock’s classic to a 24-hour run time that Elster describes as “like watching the universe die over a period of about 7 billion years.” Reading Point Omega is a similar experience. DeLillo slows down the rapid approach of the world’s end and meticulously ponders its signs, all the while exploring the space between each relentless, uncomfortable moment.”—Max Read

DeLillo reads at BookCourt Feb 11.

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