Is Don DeLillo's endgame of consciousness played out?
by Don DeLillo
$24.00 List Price
Don DeLillo's Point Omega is a hard book to critique because it is chock-full of brilliance and ought to be supported simply because we need books that allow humanity to think about the condition of being human. But, in fact, Point Omega's excess of thought and brilliance is its biggest problem. Slight though it may be, the book totters under the burden of its complexity. At its arid heart is Richard Elster, "a defense intellectual" who, even before our government started its unconstitutional moral experiments, wrote a scholarly essay titled "Renditions." Its first sentence is "A government is a criminal enterprise," but the bulk of it is "a study of the word rendition, with references to Middle English, Old French, Vulgar Latin," in which "he asked the reader to consider a walled enclosure in an unnamed country and a method of questioning, using what he called enhanced interrogation techniques." The essay got him invited to "a table in a secure conference room with the strategic planners and military analysts." Working for the government "in the blat and stammer of Iraq," Elster "was there to conceptualize . . . to apply overarching ideas and principles to such matters as troop deployment and counterinsurgency."
We meet him in the California desert of Anza-Borrego, along with filmmaker Jim Finley, who has arrived on the scene hoping to make a movie in which Elster theorizes for the camera. Elster has retreated to his lair to recover from "the nausea of News and Traffic" and now passes his time contemplating it. In the heat and desolation, with a lot of "deep time, epochal
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