Review | Thursday 25 February 2010
Fans of DeLillo, which are justifiably legion, have grown accustomed now to somewhat slender volumes since 1997’s mammoth Underworld. Point Omega finds DeLillo more pared-back than ever, creating an atmosphere both claustrophobic and redolent with possibility.
We begin with an art installation at MOMA showing Hitchcock’s Psycho film in such slow motion that it takes 24 hours to run, completely entrancing Elster, a man who visits daily to watch, to apprehend the world anew in ‘slow time’. That he normally spends much of his time at a shack deep in the American desert regions comes then as no surprise – he is clearly on a quest for metaphysical underpinnings. That Elster was in a former life a ‘war philosopher’, a principal adviser to the US forces in its conduct of the Iraq war, reminds us of more familiar DeLillo territory, and most of the book revolves around a visit by a filmmaker, Finley, who wants to convince him to do an unedited interview with him about this period.
Finley intends staying only a couple of days, but soon finds his stay at the ranch extending for weeks, with their conversation turning to a favourite trope of our retired military-analyst-cum-philosopher: an auto-da-fe of consciousness, a point at which it lapses in favour of a new, ‘higher’ state – the ‘omega point’ of the title. With the arrival of Elster’s daughter Jessie at the ranch, however, the quotidian returns in ways neither expect. Classic then (albeit rather minimalist perhaps!) DeLillo!