The latest book of America's greatest metaphysical writer is difficult, challenging and voluntarily obscure since what we are attending in a sense, isthe last confession of a great mind towards the end of his life.Let us remind ourselves here that De lillo is also a political writer constantly aware of the impact of the main events in American life such as the assassination of Kennedy,the Cold war, Terrorism and Nine Eleven in Manhattan etc..The subject in this latest book is topical : a scholar and an academic outsider, named Elster ,who has definite theories about the obligations of being a great Power , has been contacted by the Government to be in the War room during the Irak War .Elster believes quite strongly that the earth has become a place of danger and anger,is a notable thinker and naturally , he fascinates a young film maker who plans to make a film on him. Elster eventually agrees to it, if the filmmaker Jim, will join him in the desert. So far, nothing insanely difficult, except that Jim is obsessed by the famous film" Psycho " by Hitchkock and views it incessantly at the Moma in New York ; we know that films and TV series fascinate de Lillo anyway ; I think that the point of this secondary plot is to insure us that reality is better apprehended by film than by any other means of perception since De Lillo constantly questions the relevance of our personal perceptions .
Now we are transported in a desert of the South West, in a remote and extraordinary wild landscape of mountains and strange noises, no cities, no villages,just an old house falling apart : a metaphysical non place.This fantatic landscape is of utmost importance . The monologue starts and focuses on reality,time, terror: " It is different here, time is enormous, that's what I feel here palpably…" says Elster , who blabbers on unaware of his listener. A third person arrives suddenly, Jessie, his adult daughter whom Elster adores; she is a shadow, gliding along the walls, eating and sleeping silently , even more remote than the old man, not quite autistic. Nothing happens much except that the Omega Point is mentioned and it is a metaphysical notion of Teilhard de Chardin,a French paleontologist and philosopher. The omega point a transcendental concept : the pole of convergence of evolution, where cosmic consciousness reigns.This is what this terribly remote desert has inspired to all thinkers throughout time and history : here thought can stop, cosmic consciousness takes over in a Heideggerian way.That is evidently the toughness of this book: the ultimate truth being alluded to in a fragmentary monologue with no counterpoint of any other speaker..
An awful tragedy however takes place in the tale : Jesse disappears, she cannot be found . She must have walked away silently in the desert. They look all over for her, call the state police and Rangers but in vain . Gone and lost, she has to be left behind ... An atrocious end who terrifies them both. The horrified Jim is obliged to take the poor haggard Elster away and escort him to New York to his ex Wife's care.. End of the main story,no conclusion offered; Jim returns to the MoMa to view another time with total strangers, the slow motion of "Psycho" with Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins.Formal Movies like this one, are less dangerous than real people who live and suffer and want to die.Read