Book Review On Cosmopolis English Literature Essay Free Essay
Standing, or some might state towering, midway between the cinematic, operatic, and historiographic views of Thomas Pynchon and the lingual delectability of our ain neo-Joycean magician Salman Rushdie, Don DeLillo remains an puzzling, advanced, unquestionably un-generic author whose plants invariably surprise and fascinate us because they seem to emerge, sui generis, from a theme-laden imaginativeness which is dovetailed with a micro-machined, precise prose manner which exudes the best of modernist imagism and the choicest of technological discourse. It comes as no surprise, hence, that his latest novel, Cosmopolis, rears up like a swoop-facaded, chrome caryatided, art-deco-style skyscraper from the front page of a 50s magazine like Amazing Science and stuffs us with speculations on imaginativeness, capitalist economy, temporal being, and, yes, even love.
It ‘s a slender volume, to be certain, wrapped in a slick white minimalist screen that shows two positions of a limo, forepart and back, balls of a Mies Van der Rohe skyscraper, and pure white infinites that would make a Tom Wolfe suit proud, but inside it ‘s a horn of plenty, a re-iteration, a sum-up, an extension, an development, and a development of DeLillo ‘s go oning thematic and stylistic experiments, and that ‘s what makes this short novel so utterly compelling and amazing, even at this ulterior phase in DeLillo ‘s thrust to rule what we can still see to be left of true postmodernism in an age of neo-historical nostalgia, difficult women’s rightist re-reading, and postcolonial meandering.
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To set it bluffly, Cosmopolis “ has it all ” when it comes to DeLillo ‘s subjects, and even more when it comes to the development of his prose manner, even though most critics seem to be overlooking that fact in favor of some instead lugubrious comparings between DeLillo ‘s new book and our “ original ” modern novel, James Joyce ‘s Ulysses. As ever, DeLillo remains dogged by such bothersome comparings, possibly the most memorable of these being the one in which he is made to go Thomas Pynchon – as if he could be stretched to suit that adult male ‘s polymathic 60s liberalism, historical recreationism, and planetary and environmental confederacy speculating based entirely on plants of his such as Libra and Underworld – as if he had written no other types of fiction at all.
The fact is, Cosmopolis could non be less like Ulysses even if DeLillo had set out to make a diametral resistance between his ain work and Joyce ‘s, something he clearly was n’t even sing in the least from the beginning. If I may be so bold: Joyce ‘s Ulysses is evidently an inordinately introverted, character-based narrative which takes topographic point during one twenty-four hours in a metropolis, but which transcends all the restrictions of such a narrative through a conjunct application of time-specific modernist theories about the Resurrection of myth and what were called “ artifacts of clip ” and which brings about a generically heroic reunion of two myth-based characters, two race-based characters, two religious-based characters, two nation-based characters, two age-based characters, and so on, and so on.
In Cosmopolis, DeLillo chooses a individual twenty-four hours for his action, but nil else in his narrative even hardly approaches what occurs within the much grander graduated table of Ulysses, and doing the critical error of stating the books are similar boundary lines on the farcical. Most significantly, Cosmopolis ne’er, of all time, holds out the promise of rapprochement. The chief character, Eric Packer, is told pointedly “ Your mastermind and your animosities have already been to the full linkedaˆ¦Your head thrives on ailment will toward others. So does your organic structure, I think, ” and he can non even bask conjugal cloud nine until after he and his married woman have played the function of cadavers in a street-movie, and he has been able to victimize her of money by imitating her being within computing machine memory: “ to analyze the bank, securities firm and seaward histories of Elise Schifrin and so to portray her algorithmically and reassign the money in these histories to Packer Capitalaˆ¦ ” Barely Poldy and Molly here, is it?
And, of class, every bit advanced as DeLillo is linguistically, he is non rather yet a Salman Rushdie, so stating that Cosmopolis is similar to a huge novel in which the full history of the English linguistic communication is recorded, parodied, revered, dissected, and sometimes desecrated, is to do an mistake of such awful proportions as to render any farther comparings to Ulysses inane and worthless. A twenty-four hours passes in Cosmopolis, to be certain, but the intent of that twenty-four hours is given about from the beginning, within the interpolated narration of the psychotic character Benno Levin, aka, Richard Sheets, and may outdo be stated by Eric Packer himself: “ This was the twenty-four hours, was it non, for influential work forces to come to sudden messy terminals. ”
What Cosmopolis is, instead than “ is non, ” is a heavy dirge on aspiration, capital, information, technocracy, obsolescence, abstraction, inhuman treatment, impersonality, hungriness, sex, love, matrimony, work forces, arms, district, terrorist act, revolution, psychosis, deformed clip, society, myth, civilization, authorship, Freud, Einstein, and Mircea Eldiade, all in a really short narrative which sometimes makes inexpensive raids into rap civilization, rave civilization, interruption dance, universe music, and homely vicinities, but which stays, for the most portion, as “ on path ” as when the tragic Eric Packer says: “ He knew there was something no 1 had detected, a form latent in nature itself, a spring of pictural linguistic communication that went beyond the standard theoretical account of proficient analysis and out-predicted even the arcane charting of his ain followings in the field. ”
Yet, Cosmopolis besides does what many other DeLillo books do, maintains a sense of additive thematic continuity with the writer ‘s other plants, even while go forthing ample infinite for the stylistic invention he seems to necessitate for each new add-on to his organic structure of work. DeLillo ‘s Cosmopolis appears to take topographic point in a somewhat alternate clip from ours, even though day of the months in the fresh coincide with those in our ain: “ the ticker was n’t demoing the clip. There was an image, a face on the crystal, and it was hisaˆ¦he ‘d activated the negatron camera unintentionallyaˆ¦The Camera was a device so microscopically refined it was about pure information. It was about metaphysics. ” But the scope of the work encompasses most of the familiar district of the DeLillo work, and is hence no mere sci-fi blip like Ratner ‘s Star.
In Cosmopolis, we are given a circuit of DeLillo ‘s typical hyper-realist portrayals of twosomes and household life squeezed by implacable technological forces, narratives taken from such novels of history, state, household, friends, and planetary tendencies as White Noise, Underworld, Mao II, End Zone, and Americana ; we are shown the effects of celebrity and aspiration prognosis in Great Jones Street ; and, possibly most significantly, we are shown the broadest patternings of terrorist act, confederacy, celebrity, fright, power, and degeneracy – merely as we are in all the great and lesser surveies of these subjects the indefatigable DeLillo has given us in books like The Names, Libra, Players, and Running Dog. To set all this within the slender, skyscraper-shaped Cosmopolis is clearly the work of a fictional maestro, and shows us yet another of his master-strokes.
His latest supporter Eric Packer appears like an uneven and frequently unwholesome contradiction, a capitalist who is brooding, “ verse forms made him witting of his external respiration. A verse form bared the minute to things he was non usually prepared to detect, ” brilliant, “ He mastered the steepest affairs in half an afternoon, ” a shaper of sweeping statements like “ Freud is finished, Einstein ‘s following, ” and who enjoys demoing his command of tendencies and the really propensities of society itself: “ He liked pictures that his invitees did non cognize how to look ataˆ¦The work was all the more unsafe for non being new. There ‘s no more danger in the new. ” He knows he can be brought down, “ A individual rises on a word and falls on a syllableaˆ¦the phenomenon of repute is a delicate thing, ” and this fatalism keeps him apart from others: “ A surface separates inside from outside and belongs no less to one than to the other. ” He is obsessed with the coldest parts of technological development. “ I think you get information and turn it into something colossal and atrocious. You ‘re a unsafe individual, ” he is told by his ain married woman, and he cares most about those facets of engineering which pertain to the Scylla and Charybdis of invention and obsolescence: “ The manus device itself [ PDA ] was an object whose original civilization had merely approximately disappeared. He knew he ‘d hold to debris it. ” This is fear ; and it is really existent for him. Merely fanfare can assist, “ He wanted the auto because it was non merely outsize but sharply and disdainfully so, metastizingly so, a enormous mutant thing that stood astraddle every statement against it, ” even if it is on occasion touched by a sense of nostalgia for what is genuinely abiding and valuable: “ He thought about the divider behind the driver. It had a cedar frame with an inlaid fragment of cosmetic Kufic book on parchment, late 10th century, Baghdad, priceless. ”
In an creative person, a poet, or a philosopher, his compulsions could be baronial, “ ‘There ‘s an order at some deep degree, ‘ he said. ‘A pattern that wants to be seen, ‘ ” but in a capitalist whose name ever seems to arouse in the head the unwholesome phrase “ meat-Packer, ” they are ever Satanic, expulsive, animatic, unfertile, and conflagratory: “ He wanted to be buried in his atomic bomber, his Blackjack A. Not buried but cremated, conflagrated, but buried as wellaˆ¦reaching maximal height and levelling at supersonic elan velocity and so sent immersing into the sand, fireballed one and allaˆ¦ ” In add-on to the prefiguring of Levin ‘s interpolated narrative, we ever know what the result of Packers ‘ twenty-four hours will be. How could we non, when fatalism is so all-pervasive? “ What did he desire, ” he asks himself, “ that was non posthumous? ” His being is so mentalized that it appears about wholly disembodied at some points, “ There are heads runing, a few, here and at that place, the polymath, the true futurist. A consciousness such as yours, hypermaniacal, may hold contact points beyond the general perceptual experience, ” so much so that he sees himself making things before they really go on: “ He knew the spycam operated in existent clip, or was supposed to. How could he see himself if his eyes were closed? ” He wants to go extra-corporeal in some manner, “ he ‘d ever wanted to go quantum dust, exceeding organic structure mass, the soft tissue over the castanetss, the musculus and fat, ” and to populate everlastingly as translated information: “ It would be the master-thrust of cyber-capital, to widen the human experience toward eternity as a medium for corporate growing and investing, for the accretion of net incomes and vigorous reinvestment. ” In a farther dimension of alternate clip, he would be gazing back at himself from the face of his ain ticker: “ This is non the terminal. He is dead inside the crystal of his ticker but still alive in original infinite. ” If there was of all time a instance of true Pynchonian postmodernist open-endedness, so Packer ‘s ageless narrative and techno-immortality must be it!
But, if Packer is so a adult male out of clip, is he obsolescent? Even modern hard currency machines seem beyond his disdain, “ he was believing approximately automated Teller machines. The term was aged and burdened by its ain historical memory. It worked at cross-purposes, unable to get away the influence of besotted human forces and jerked meat moving parts, ” as do the really video shows of his information, “ He was tired of looking at screens. Plasma screens were non level plenty. They used to look level, now they did non, ” and the really medical engineerings which keep him alive: “ he did n’t cognize why stethoscopes were still in usage. They were lost tools of antiquity, quaint as blood-sucking worms. ” He sometimes connects to the past, as has been mentioned, but merely when things are used up or outmoded and rendered so nostalgic that they can non be any menace to him, nor worthy of any existent “ modern ” regard: “ The floor of the limousine was Carrara marble, from the preies where Michelangelo had stood half a millenary ago, touching the tip of his finger to the white rock. ”
Eric Packer leaves a 48 room castle atop a mathematically formulated edifice, “ It was 89 narratives, a premier figure, in an insignificant sheath of brumous bronze glass, ” to acquire a haircut – half a haircut, truly -A and so is accosted by one of those whom he has scorned after he himself has killed as a consequence of some utterly wretched and unfathomable lecherousness for power over his escort. Small admiration, so, that the insane Benno Levin ‘s account of his ain disease might good be taken as a unequivocal statement on lunacy, one which, given the arrant loveless implausibleness of Eric Packer ‘s ain “ twenty-four hours in the metropolis, ” might depict the illness of our ain mercenary waste land of capitalistic surplus: “ When I try to stamp down my choler, I suffer enchantments of hwa-byung ( Korea ) . This is cultural terror chiefly, which I caught on the Internet. ” One has to inquire oneself, what sort of a societal order would let a individual adult male to hold adequate money to set “ the shark in the 30 pes armored combat vehicle lined with coral and sea moss, built into a wall of sandblasted glass blocks ” at the top of an 89 floor edifice, whether it is described by a premier figure or non? Of class, with the “ chilling small geek-humanoid ” President of Microsoft presently worth over $ 50 billion himself, possibly we already have our reply.
DeLillo ‘s Cosmopolis shows us the logical effects of unchecked aspiration in the most everyday and the most elevated of fortunes, and all of the human and societal costs accrued thereof. Much is made of a universe of bright, machine-perfect surfaces, and the manner human personality, motivation, desire, and love can be abstracted into watercourses of fluxing informations. Symmetrical procedure, the binary system of nothings and 1s, is all that seems to count, and we wonder how it is that Eric Packer could hold missed the critical importance of the organ which funnels his biological seed out towards its assorted ends throughout the novel ‘s individual twenty-four hours of action, the nut-sized prostate secretory organ which gives that seed the really medium of its extension, the liquid instead than the information “ watercourse ” existent human extension requires, something which could ne’er be merely written as an algorithm. His married woman was one such illusive concept, “ He began to understand that they ‘d invented her beauty together, cabaling to piece a fiction that worked to their common maneuverability and delectation. They ‘d married in the shroud of this mute agreement, ” but he still did n’t see the significance of a bantam portion of his human physiology and still thought he had his life under control as he eventually impregnated her behind a hoarding.
The biggest job out of all those he ‘d had to cover with was that, as we are told by agencies of a repeated textual mantra in the novel, Packer ‘s prostate was asymmetrical.
Doomed. Never traveling to equilibrate the books. Not adequate money in the universe to salvage his life. As DeLillo ends his mammoth, all-out analysis of compulsion, greed, capitalist economy, and failure, the adult male who felt he ‘d caught diseases from the Internet tells us an all important concluding truth about the billionaire:
Packer “ should hold listened to his prostate. ”
Cosmopolis is set in April 2000, a postmillennial, pre-9/11 clip important for being a month removed from the NASDAQ ‘s record-setting shutting figure, 5048.62. This, so, is the beginning of the terminal of the 1890ss roar, and DeLillo ‘s supporter, billionaire currency- and stock-speculator Eric Packer, is poised on the surface of a bubble that ‘s about to split. On one degree, the narrative is rather simple: Eric leaves his multistory, multimillion-dollar flat on Manhattan ‘s east side and takes a trip across town on 47th Street in his custom-made limo to acquire a haircut, a journey delayed by midtown traffic, a presidential motorcade, a broken H2O chief, a blame star ‘s funeral emanation, an anti-global-capital public violence, and Eric ‘s caprices. It is besides a journey from wealths to torment ( as Eric ‘s hubristic guesss conveying his imperium crashing down ) , from forenoon to dark, from life to decease — all reenforcing the inevitableness of clip ‘s pointer. Yet at the same clip it is a journey from the present to the yesteryear: Eric ‘s finish is his male parent ‘s childhood vicinity and the barbershop where Eric had his first haircut — this adult male whose success is based in his ability non merely to foretell the hereafter but to convey that hereafter into being needs the acquaintance, the repeat, the sameness of his distant yesteryear. The novel ‘s construction reflects this tenseness between the forward and backward motion of clip: the majority of the narrative follows Eric ‘s trip from river to river chronologically, but two interpolated extracts from the diaries of Benno Levin ( a.k.a. Richard Sheets ) , ex-currency analyst and current homeless individual who will, seemingly, kill Eric, are presented chronologically rearward and out of sync with Eric ‘s narrative.
These structural and thematic geographic expeditions of clip provide the context for Eric ‘s hunt for forms — the predictable and governable — in Numberss, nature, and life, versus life ‘s inclination to offer us unmanageable random phenomena — surprise. Within the stiff order of the twenty-four hours, Eric is offered many surprises: several unexpected brushs with his cryptic married woman ; the unexplainable and ( for him ) black rise of the hankering against the dollar ; a pick pie in the face courtesy of an international pastry terrorist ; and his opportunity brush with Benno, who has staked his ain individuality on Eric ‘s decease. As surprise overwhelms him, Eric tries more and more headlong to asseverate control, singing from the homicidal to the suicidal.
Once once more, DeLillo has captured the kernel of a peculiar American minute: the solipsism of power, the paranoia of control, the unfairnesss and immateriality of wealth, the daze of acknowledgment as a system begins to fall in. Cosmopolis is a beautiful and superb book.