Customer Reviews: Point Omega: A Novel
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Showing 1-10 of 19 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
on April 17, 2010
In this book, DeLillo sets the initial scene in museum in which the art work, "24 Hour Psycho" is being shown. The piece consists of a projection on a scrim of Hitchcock's film, "Psycho", in vastly slowed frame-by-frame style lasting 24 hours. DeLillo eloquently describes how the setting, presentation and altered time transform the film from its original form, creating an entirely different perceptual and conceptual experience. In the gallery, as a man experiences the piece, the reader is confronted with questions of the role of perspective, expectation and time on one's personal perception. In the process, DeLillo very effectively projects a sense of the disorientation and intellectual challenge provoked by the art piece. The next location is in the desert, where a film producer attempts to involve a academic war planner in a proposed documentary. A kind of symmetry occurs here, with the war planner's own concepts forming the basis of his individualized abstract notion of what war would be and what his role would be in planning it. The planner's abstract concept of military planning and government then parallels his difficulty in interacting and understanding his own daughter, and is no less personalized and disconnected from reality than that of the film producer and, for that matter, the man viewing 24-hour Psycho. DeLillo's presentation of the thoughts and perceptions of the man in the museum, the war planner, the film maker all focus on questions of perception and reality, and the characters are themselves disoriented and sometimes confused about what they are experiencing. Interestingly, the daughter is described but her thoughts and perceptions are never revealed. The narrative in this book is important but not foremost. It is a skeleton on which to hang important ideas and questions that are hard to shake off.

This book is austere in its writing and DeLillo's prose is beautifully economical. There is not an excess word, but at the same time the writing is vivid and frequently arresting. Although the writing is clear and very accessible, the book is not a "read" or page-turner, it needs a deliberate and attentive approach and rewards with a rich experience.

This book is food for some interesting thoughts about the influence of time, personal experience and point-of-view perception as they relate to whatever reality might be. It is another important work by DeLillo and it should be read.
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on September 21, 2010
This novella had immense meaning for me. Living myself in the severe isolation of the desert, it hammmered the mindlessness that develops, the struggle for consciousness, if you will, against an ageless and eternal backdrop.
Behind my house stands a strange and elusive monolith of pure granite, a billion years old, over which the sun rises each morning, that might make you believe you were living in the early stages of the film "2001: A Space Odyssey". In fact, you might think at any time that an "apeman" carrying a club was going to stumble on your property (I don't mean a "golfer".) Delillo here, I think, captures what Sartre discusses in "Being and Nothingness". Nature is a mass up against which human consciousness is dwarfed as ephemeral and fleeting. There really is no meaning in Nature to the thoughts or words of men, and I'm afraid we have forgotten that this unique characteristic of humanity "knowing the other" is incredibly beautiful, but limited and, alas, probably headed for a massive transformation that might indeed be called "extinction", at least in the way we have known it. It takes little thought to understand that the complete vanishing of "Jessica" is simply the most concrete way of presenting this. This, being set up against a World of upheaval, the planning of a War, the meeting of strange men in a solitary room, all beckons the reader to understand that Elster has "given up" on consciousness and his own humanity. Elster, like Nietsche, has begun to believe "that consciousness is a disease". With Consciousness gone, time in now out of sync. There is no future, but only an endless and eternal "now", the single glimpse of an eyeball or a bird's feather at each moment as in the "Psycho" scenes. Do we remember the past? Can there be a future? These are some of the incredible "moments" built into the fabulous prose of Delillo's sometimes frightening, but always fascinating, novella.
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I found this to be a mesmerizing book, DeLillo's best, I think, since Underworld. I was disappointed by his last three efforts: Falling Man, The Body Artist, and Cosmopolis, although the latter had its moments. But here he sharpens his sentences with a laser and sandwiches a tale about a filmmaker who wants to make a documentary about one of the architects of the Iraqi War between two episodes of "Anonymity," the same filmmaker watching a video installation called "24 Hour Psycho" (an actual video work which showed at the Museum of Modern Art in Summer 2006) in which the Hitchcock film is shown in ultra slow motion to screen in 24 hours instead of 2. There are a number of interconnections between the two stories having to do with men and relationships, psychological dependence, filmic reality versus actual life, fathers and daughters as opposed to mothers and sons, imagined and actual violence, and the obsessions of the artist to get things right. It's filled with the kind of insights we've come to expect from DeLillo. Like this: "I wondered what he meant by everything. It's what we call self, the true life, he said, the essential being. It's self in the soft wallow of what it knows, and what it knows is that it will not live forever."Or this: "If you reveal everything, bare every feeling, ask for understanding, you lose something crucial to your sense of yourself. You need to know things the others don't know. It's what no one knows about you that allows you to know yourself." I'd have liked to have seen the middle story--depicting the filmmaker, the Iraqi war architect and his daughter--fleshed out a little more fully. It's sort of a teasing mystery that doesn't quite get worked out, but then again, that's part of its allure.
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This novella by Don DeLillo (only 117 pages) opens and closes with an unnamed man in a museum watching Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO being shown over and over again in slow motion, its two-hour span being stretched to fill an entire day (this is an actual videowork by Douglas Gordon). For the man, lurking in the darkness at one side of the screen or the other, time dissolves, scale becomes meaningless, and random details take on an almost mystical significance. Mesmerizing. The story that comes in between has many of the same qualities, yet it held me completely in its thrall. Curiously enough, I thought again of a classic movie, L'AVVENTURA by Michelangelo Antonioni, another work in which very little happens, although you cannot tear your eyes away.

Independent filmmaker Jim Finley travels to the remote Southern California desert to interview Richard Elster, a retired academic recruited by the recent Bush administration to lend intellectual credibility to the planning for the Iraq war and counterterrorism operations. Jim wishes to persuade him to sit in front of a blank wall in New York and make a movie in one very long uninterrupted take, in which Elster will say anything he wishes to say without questioning, more a credo than a mea culpa. As the two men spend their days together in their desert cabin, time dissolves once more. The arrival of Elster's daughter Jessie alters the dynamic, but only somewhat. Anything that happens subsequently seems to take place offscreen (Antonioni again), yet by the time Jim drives out of the desert everything will have changed. I know this sounds as exciting as watching paint dry, but this was one book that I genuinely could not put down until I had finished it; I wish I could say quite why.

In FALLING MAN, DeLillo offered an oblique but emotionally powerful response to the Twin Towers attacks; here he is dealing with things like Abu Ghraib and extraordinary rendition, but his treatment is even more oblique. While politics often play a part in DeLillo's writing, they are always in the background, taking a distant third place to his philosophical and human concerns. The Omega Point referred to in the title comes from the evolutionary philosophy of Teilhard de Chardin, representing the point of highest complexity and most fully developed consciousness towards which civilization can aspire. Elster, it seems, sought a personal omega in the cleansing paroxysm of war. But the determinedly non-eventful passage of DeLillo's novel denies such aspirations, and if there is a heightened consciousness at the end of the book, it is found in acceptance of the silent infinite.

Frankly, I have no idea how to rate this. My five stars reflect my personal sense of being in the presence of greatness. But I realize that others may suspect that this emperor has no clothes.
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on May 8, 2015
This is one of the best mysteries I've ever read. If you haven't read it yet, don't read this review, because it gives away the ending, so stop here. In the opening scene, Anonymity, which takes place on September 3rd, we are introduced to all the main characters except Jessie. We meet the anonymous man in the theater showing the slowed-down version of Psycho. We meet Richard Elster (using a cane) and Jim Finley (in jeans and running shoes), also in the theater, and both seen through the eyes of the anonymous man. In Chapter 3 we meet Elster's daughter Jessie who, by the chapter's end, mysteriously disappears. We also learn in this chapter that Jessie had gone to the theater to watch the slowed down version of Psycho the day after her dad had gone, thus September 4th. In Chapter 4, we learn from Jessie's mother that the man whom Jessie had "run away from" was named Dennis, and that Dennis had been calling her under a Blocked Caller ID. At the end of Chapter 4, Jim also gets a Blocked cell phone call. Then in Anonymity 2, we learn it's September 4th and that the anonymous man meets a woman in the theater and gets her phone number. We also learn that the anonymous man, in a sense, melds into becoming Norman Bates, the murderer in the Psycho movie. I would argue that the woman in the theater can only be Jessie, and that the anonymous man is Dennis. Dennis, therefore had to have 'kidnapped" and/or "murdered" Jessie, and had gotten Jim's cell phone number off Jessie's cell phone, and is the one sending Jim blocked calls. Debate?
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on November 20, 2015
Delillo is about finding the light in the darkness, although no literary critic will say this. Out of the noisy, speedy, metallic modern world, a light shines through and a red rose blooms. Delillo was raised on the sacraments and the sacred heart. You can tell.
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on May 25, 2010
Time is the leading thread of this novel. It tells how it affects people and how people are trying to manipulate Time.

I believe that Don Delillo didn't write a novel but a long poem instead. Not modern poetry but an epos if you will or better: a play from antiquity (both limited in Space and Time). And like a Greek tragedy it has only a few characters: Richard Elster an old scientist and philosopher, Jim Finley a film maker and finally Jessica, the daughter of Richard. The main character is Time.
Richard, gloomy and taciturn. Jim, idealistic and has his head in the clouds. Jessica seems to carry a secret and is a little reclusive.

At the beginning of the novel - as a sort of introduction - an unnamed person (Elster or Finley?) - talks about a video performance at The Museum of Modern Art in New-York-City. The performance is an attempt to reach unlimited Time; The movie 'Psycho' by Alfred Hitchcock is electronically slowed down to full 24 hours. So if you stare for only a short while at the video screen it's as if nothing happens. Almost infinite or unlimited Time.
There are not many visitors to the room of the video-show and they stay only for a minute at the most. The mysterious person who explains to the reader the video performance and the behavior of the public, stays in the dark shadow of the room (Jessica?) and only now and then he/she walks around the room for a while.

Richard Elster and Jim Finley live in a house with a corrugated metal roof above a clapboard exterior and located at the edge of a desert. They only stay for a few weeks. Jim tells Richard that he would like to make a video-film with Richard as the only character. He doesn't have to say or do anything. This way a parallel is made between the video performance and the real life at the edge of the desert. Here too Jim Finley searches for unlimited Space and Time. But this peaceful situation can't go on for ever. Sooner or later real life will stand at your front door.

One day Jessica visits her father Richard. She stays for a few days. One day she disappears without leaving a trace (literally). No footprints in the dust, no tire tracks, nothing. She vanished into thin air. Maybe she was never there in the first place, she could be a ghost or a hallucination.
When all is said and done we die. We reach the final checkpoint, Point Omega. We become matter and the curtain falls

Talking about poetry: this is the last sentence from 'Point Omega',

" Sometimes a wind comes before the rain and sends birds sailing past the window, spirit birds that ride the night, stranger than dreams."
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on July 2, 2010
Point Omega was my introduction to a great American wrtiter. The novel examines aspects of time and space, switches between fantasy and reality, with some philosophical observations and is also a bewildering account of an open ended search for truth and meaning, without a beginning and an end. The book opens with a frame by frame screening of Hitchcock's 'Psycho', in an almost empty cinema, where the narrator endures, and even seems to relish, the experience of slowing time, with nothing much else happening apart from the screening - which is more of a ritual than an entertainment. The bulk of the novel concerns the narrator's stay with an old man, a former government adviser he wishes to film, which he envisages somewhat like a 'talking head'. DeLillo develops, describes and expertly analyzes the growing relationship and interaction between both characters. The old man seems to be trying to exorcize his demons, which is the motivation for the projected movie. To complicate matters the old man's enigmatic daughter arrives, stays for a while then mysteriously vanishes. DeLillo even refers to the controversial theologian, palaentologist and philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (who believed in the eventual evolutionary perfection of the human species). The film is never produced, the daughter's fate ramains unknown, but the twentyfour hour movie continues frame by tortuous frame. Masterfully conceived.The Learning Process: Some Creative Impressions
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on January 13, 2011
This book is about times--personal time, film time, desert time, subliminal time, geologic time. It also forces on the reader a time dictated by the novel itself. Point Omega is exceedingly short, and the plot fairly shallow. The whole of the story could have been a vignette from Underworld: a film-maker would like to actualize his latest vision by filming non-stop the unscripted rambling of an ex-military intelligence man who purposefully lives completely isolated from the world he used to know, way out in the desert. The film-maker, the man and his daughter interact and some things happen. That's it. But the plot isn't what makes this book fantastic.

DeLillo opens in a room with a silent projection of the film Psycho playing at a speed which stretches the duration of the film to 24 hours, thus flexing film time toward its lower limit. The viewer must engage with the film, and the reader with the narrator, at this altered speed. The speed of the big city, or your school or family life gets co-opted by the multiple times of this novel--times much slower than most things. And then it's over, quickly, because this magnificent novel is only 117 pages long.
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on May 27, 2011
They say that a good novel teaches you how to read it; this is a good novel, some people just aren't very good learners, despite how very explicit DeLillo is in the beginning of the book.
Most of the bad reviews I'm seeing here are 'I read it in an hour, and it was awful', 'I read it in one evening, and was hugely disappointed,' etc.
The book opens with a man in a room watching a display where the movie 'Psycho' is slowed down to the point where it takes 24 hours to play through. The frames move at a geologically slow pace, and this is how the book must be read too. Remember that this book is written by an old man, a man for whom the world is slowing down, and for whom it will soon stop completely. Take time and care with the words. He spent a lot of time crafting them, and they're worth the time to really appreciate each image, each turn of the phrase, each emotion.
Sure, the book doesn't have much of a 'plot' or 'resolution.' The point isn't to see where the novel is -going-, it's to see where it -is- right here, right now. Look around yourself. Check yourself into a different time signature, slow things down.
This was the first DeLillo I read. Since, I've read a number of others, including Underworld and The Body Artist, but Point Omega is still one of my favorites. Just because it's thin doesn't mean it doesn't have a lot to teach you. And for the reviewers who said that issues were 'introduced, but never developed,' or some such thing... Teaching doesn't always mean giving answers. Sometimes, it means showing someone something to think about, and then letting them go off to think about it.
This is that kind of book. The one that, if you read it slowly, and give it all your attention, it will put something in your mind that will still be working around weeks later.
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