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Submitted Literature

Point Omega

By Don DeLillo

Review

DeLillo’s latest novel, whilst less overtly associated with trauma than his previous Falling Man, nevertheless constitutes a useful representation of PTSD and particularly of the potential for changes and personality/ identity conflicts post- trauma. The novel focuses on the ageing former war advisor Richard Elster, who retires to a desert ‘somewhere south of nowhere’ to contemplate 'Point Omega' – the end of human consciousness. Following the mysterious disappearance of his daughter in the desert, Elster struggles to cope with integrating his former identity - philosopher, spy, military advisor - with his altered post-traumatised sense of self.  As DeLillo guides the reader through the symptoms of PTSD, Elster’s self-imposed  disconnection from human consciousness leads to devastating consequences for his daughter’s safety.  A self-consciously traumatic novel the relationship to PTSD, and particularly to dissociative symptomology occasionally seems awkwardly forced.  However the deeply sinister undertones, and paradoxical perceptions of self-autonomy throughout, designate this as an interesting if not fundamental example of DeLillo’s literary relationship with trauma.

Key Themes:

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Significant Quotes / Pages

maybe he was seeing too much. But it was impossible to see too much. The less there was to see, the harder he looked, the more he saw. This was the point. To see what’s here, finally to look and to know you’re looking, to feel time passing, to be alive to what is happening in the smallest registers of motion.’pp5-6

Consciousness is exhausted. Back now to inorganic matter. That is what we want. We want to be stones in a field.’ p53

 

‘I was cooking the omelettes now.  He seemed to wonder what he was supposed to do with the fork in his hand...Then I went to his bedroom and talked him out of bed. Nothing happened that was not marked by her absence.’p86

He spoke in fragments, opening and closing his hand. I could watch him being driven insistently inward.’p87

 ‘I thought of his remarks about matter and being, those long nights on the deck, half smashed, he and I, transcendence, paroxysm, the end of human consciousness. It seemed so much a dead echo now. Point omega. A million years away. The omega point has narrowed, here and now, to the point of a knife as it enters the body. All the man’s grand themes funnelled down to local grief, one body, out there somewhere, or not.’ p98

Reference: Don, DeLillo. 2010. Point Omega. Picador, 2010

Reviewer

Mrs Susan Karpasitis
Date Review Submitted: Thursday 5th May 2011