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Space, time and the subject in Don Delillo’s Underworld Benzon, Kirsten Jane 1999

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Space, Time and the Subject i n Don D e L i l l o ' s Underworld by K i r s t e n Jane Benzon B.A. M c G i l l U n i v e r s i t y ,  1996  A Thesis Submitted, i n P a r t i a l F u l f i l l m e n t of the Requirements f o r the Degree of Master of A r t s i n the F a c u l t y of Graduate Studies Department of E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming t o the r e q u i r e d  The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h . Columbia A p r i l , 1999 ©Kirsten Jane Benzoniqqq  standard  In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment  of the  requirements for an advanced  degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. 1 further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department  or by  his  or  her  representatives.  It  is  understood  that  copying or  publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  Department of  £K>6.L0i  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada  DE-6 (2/88)  • Benzon Abstract  This paper considers the r e l a t i o n s h i p between space and h i s t o r y as presented i n Don D e L i l l o ' s  Underworld  (1997). I  w i l l argue t h a t the h i s t o r i c a l conceptions a r t i c u l a t e d i n t h i s novel both f o r m a l l y and t h e m a t i c a l l y subvert t h e conventional  n o t i o n t h a t h i s t o r y i s a p r i m a r i l y temporal and  l i n e a r c o n s t r u c t . I w i l l examine how D e L i l l o ' s e s s e n t i a l l y s p a t i a l mode of n a r r a t i v i t y works t o d e s t a b i l i z e p o l i t i c a l , economic and m i l i t a r y orders which r e g u l a t e i n d i v i d u a l a c t i v i t y . Further,  I hope t o show how t h i s mode works t o r e -  p o s i t i o n the i n d i v i d u a l subject as an agent i n the h i s t o r i c a l text. Drawing on t h e o r e t i c a l conceptions of Freud, Fromm, Foucault  and Jameson, t h i s paper i n v e s t i g a t e s the various  c u l t u r a l p a t t e r n s t h a t , inasmuch as they d e f i n e modernity, depend upon l i n e a r notions  of time and progress f o r the  p r o l i f e r a t i o n of t h e i r hegemonic s t r u c t u r e s . D e L i l l o ' s t e x t , an excavation  of t h e raw m a t e r i a l t h a t e x i s t s beneath the  surface of the " o f f i c i a l " past, throws these patterns  into  question by a s s e r t i n g the necessary layerdness and m u l t i p l i c i t y of experience.  By c a s t i n g i t s gaze e q u a l l y a t  marginal and c e l e b r a t e d f i g u r e s and dissembling t h e s e q u e n t i a l patterns of supposedly f i n i t e Underworld  incidence,  coalesces t h e e p i s t e m o l o g i c a l i n f l u e n c e s of  modernity w i t h the o n t o l o g i c a l concerns of postmodernity.  Benzon  iii  Further, D e L i l l o ' s p r o j e c t marks a d i g r e s s i o n from the depthlessness and amorality a s s o c i a t e d w i t h postmodern a r t by d e p i c t i n g the s u b j e c t as p a r t o f a network o f commodities and images, s i g n i f y i n g , as D e L i l l o ' s p r o t a g o n i s t remarks, "We a r e not excluded from our own l i v e s " The decomposition  (Underworld  84).  o f l i n e a r s i g n i f y i n g chains and t h e i r  attendant t y r a n n i c a l regimes i s achieved by the d i s t i n c t l y s p a t i a l metaphors and mechanisms a t p l a y i n the n a r r a t i v e . L i n e a r t r a j e c t o r i e s are exploded i n t o nodal s t a r s , o r i n t e r s e c t i o n s , o f p e r c e p t i o n and experience. T h i s paper i s concerned p r i m a r i l y w i t h the v a r i o u s h y p e r t e x t u a l assemblages in  Underworld,  and how the intermeshing o f media forms  evinces a t o l e r a t i n g and c o o r d i n a t i n g h i s t o r i c a l configuration.  iv  Table of Contents Abstract  i i  Introduction  1  The I n v i s i b l e Gloved Hand of Dr. Strangelove  4  The Subject i n H i s t o r y The Discombobulated  Search  .15 26  Towards a S p a t i a l N a r r a t i v e  35  Works C i t e d  52  Benzon 1 A  c o n t e m p o r a r y  t o  a n  p o r t r a i t  a u t h o r i t a t i v e  a n d  t r a d i t i o n  o u r  p o i n t  o f  a l o n e . v i e w  o u t w a r d  t h e  s u b j e c t  i n s t a n c e s ,  c o m p l i c a t i n g  s h o r t - c i r c u i t i n g  i n v o l v e  t h i n g a n  t h e  a f t e r  a n d  t o  t o  t o  d i r e c t s  a  t h e  w o r l d  t e m p o r a l  n e w ,  g e o g r a p h i c a l  h e r i t a g e  a s  e x t e n d i n g  n u m b e r o f  f l o w  t h e w e l l  o f  l i n e s  c o m p a r a b l e o f  s t r i n g i n g - o u t T h e  a t t e n t i o n  o f  i n t e r v e n e ,  i n f i n i t e  w h o l e  f a b u l o u s  o u r  e v o c a t i o n s  a n  a n o t h e r ' .  e x p l i c i t l y  c o n f i g u r a t i o n  l o n g e r  S i m u l t a n e i t i e s  c o n n e c t i n g  d a m n e d  n o  l i n e a g e ,  "  m e a n i n g , o f  n o v e l ,  ' o n e m u s t  n o w  a s ' h i s t o r i c a l  p r o j e c t i o n . - E d w a r d  S o j a ,  Postmodern  Geographies  A l b e r t B r o n z i n i walks along the dense s t r e e t s o f the Bronx and  ponders the comic double-take, r e f l e c t i n g that i t  embodies the lapsed moment where a l i f e used t o be. H i s eyes s e t t l e on "an aproned boy [wrapping a] f i s h i n a major headline" (UW 661);  given the c o l d war context, the gesture  i s a poignant coalescence of the mundane and the c a t a c l y s m i c . Though but one i s o l a t e d gesture o f the thousands t h a t compose Don D e L i l l o ' s  Underworld,  B r o n z i n i ' s glance epitomizes the  n o v e l i s t ' s own examination o f the m a t e r i a l t h a t e x i s t s i n t h e neglected space between any two moments. L i k e B r o n z i n i ' s double take, D e L i l l o ' s t e x t loops back on time, excavating the  raw substance o f experience t h a t c o n s t i t u t e s h i s t o r y and  d i f f u s i n g the w e i g h t — t h e o f t e n t y r a n n i c a l g r a v i t y — - o f those calamitous events, o r "major headlines", t h a t make up our o f f i c i a l c o l l e c t i v e past. The  r e l a t i o n s h i p between the i n f i n i t e s i m a l and the  cosmic (the f i s h and the headline) i s a c e n t r a l i s s u e i n Underworld.  The novel i s q u i t e l i t e r a l l y a compendium o f  c u l t u r a l concerns with i d e n t i t y , and c o n s i d e r s , i n p a r t i c u l a r , how t e c h n o l o g i c a l and economical f o r c e s a f f e c t i n d i v i d u a l and s o c i a l development. From the b l u r r i n g o f the  Benzon 2 s e l f and the mass, t o the i n c o r p o r a t i o n of the s e l f i n t o the machine (and v i s e v e r s a ) ,  Underworld  addresses the mental and  p h y s i c a l dynamics of l a t e c a p i t a l i s m with unique o b s e r v a t i o n a l c l a r i t y . D e L i l l o attacks the i n t e g r i t y of hegemonic systems not through a quasi-mathematical,  inductive  d i s m a n t l i n g , but by s i t u a t i n g these systems i n r e l a t i o n t o the human, subject, and d e f i n i n g the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between the two  f o r c e s i n p r a c t i c a l , concrete terms. Such j u x t a p o s i t i o n s  c h a r a c t e r i z e the development of s y s t e m a t i z a t i o n t h a t defines the l a t t e r h a l f of t h i s century, by paying c l o s e and  various  a t t e n t i o n t o the e f f e c t s , both micro and macro, such systems have upon c i t i z e n s . L i k e many of D e L i l l o ' s novels,  Underworld  i s concerned  with the subjugation of the i n d i v i d u a l by the f o r c e s of technology, II  the marketplace, and h i s t o r y . But whereas i n Mao  a r t i s t i c power i s compromised and eroded through  d u p l i c a t i o n and commodification,  the present work d e p i c t s a r t  that a c t i v e l y reconfigures systems of production  and  reproduction. Decorated bombers compose a sublime landscape p a i n t i n g . Garbage dumps become the " n a t i o n a l parks of the f u t u r e " (UW 289). Oppressive  c o n s t r u c t s are d i f f u s e d through  a r t i s t i c r e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n and the c u l t i v a t i o n of dimensions t h a t were p r e v i o u s l y obscured by a t h i c k lacquer of power and image. Where previous novels such as Street  Libra  and Great  Jones  d e p i c t subjects i n s o l i t a r y confinement, c r i p p l e d by  p r o f e s s i o n a l i n s e c u r i t y and the pressure of p u b l i c demand, Underworld  places these  "men  i n small rooms" w i t h i n a g r e a t e r  Benzon 3 scheme, o f f s e t t i n g t h e i r passive  s e c l u s i o n with men and women  of a c t i o n and d e s i r e . The i n d u s t r i a l , s p e c i a l i s t  modalities  of b a s e b a l l are compromised by the e j e c t i o n and c i r c u l a t i o n of t h e b a l l — a p r o j e c t i l e which t i e s  peripheral  s u b j e c t i v i t i e s i n t o the c l o s e d system of the game, and other seemingly impermeable c u l t u r a l machines. These reformulations, culmination  I suggest, not only c o n s t i t u t e the  of themes which flow throughout the corpus of  D e L i l l o ' s w r i t i n g , but they a l s o work towards a d e p i c t i o n of the anxiety of powerlessness t h a t c h a r a c t e r i z e s t h e l a s t half-century. Unfortunately,  t h e sheer bulk and complexity of  cannot be d e a l t w i t h comprehensively i n a short  Underworld  paper. Indeed, each segment of D e L i l l o ' s novel i s of extensive  and v a r i e d d e l i b e r a t i o n . Considering  wish t o l i m i t my i n q u i r y t o the work's pervasive  deserving this, I examination  of the r e l a t i o n s h i p between space and h i s t o r y i n n a r r a t i v e . I am i n t e r e s t e d p r i m a r i l y i n the mechanics of the t e x t as they formally subvert notions simultaneity The patterns  of time and progress i n favour of  and s t a s i s .  f i r s t s e c t i o n of t h e paper o u t l i n e s various c u l t u r a l t h a t have achieved momentum through the s o c i a l and  p o l i t i c a l i n f l e c t i o n s of a d i s t i n c t l y l i n e a r view of h i s t o r y . In general  terms, I w i l l s i t u a t e D e L i l l o ' s work as one which  both synthesizes  and r e t a l i a t e s against these patterns by  r e t r a c i n g the e v o l u t i o n and f a l l o u t of hegemonic "mastery" and accessing  a dormant, but d i s t i n c t l y humanist, "mystery"  Benzon 4 of h i s t o r i c a l understanding. The second and- t h i r d s e c t i o n s of the essay look a t the ways i n which D e L i l l o ' s n a r r a t i v e subverts and n e u t r a l i z e s h i s t o r i c a l conventions—namely,  the  d e f l a t i o n of p o l i t i c a l and popular c e l e b r i t y , and the dismembering and r e f o r m u l a t i o n of temporal and a s s o c i a t i v e n a r r a t i v e sequences. The f i n a l s e c t i o n d e t a i l s the s p a t i a l q u a l i t i e s of the t e x t , and pays p a r t i c u l a r a t t e n t i o n t o s u b s t i t u t i o n of p l o t with hypertext and c a u s a l l i n e s w i t h nodal s t a r s .  1. The I n v i s i b l e Gloved Hand of Dr. Strangelove  F i f t y years ago, the t h r e a t of nuclear holocaust sprang the r e l a t i o n s h i p that e x i s t e d between two megastates,  from  antagonistic  and as ah e x p r e s s i o n of t h e i r enmity, the t h r e a t  had a meaning. Since then, the nature of the n u c l e a r menace has undergone a r a t h e r p e c u l i a r , almost  farcical  t r a n s f o r m a t i o n . As we approach the year 2000, we are reminded t h a t the p e r i l of nuclear exchange i s no longer contingent upon the a l b e i t e r r a t i c whim of a m i l i t a r y commander; i t i s , r a t h e r , l e f t up t o the m i s f i r i n g s of a computer system gone haywire. While the t a l k i n g heads a t the U.S.  m i l i t a r y assert  t h a t the m i l l e n n i a l computer g l i t c h i s under c o n t r o l , there i s no reason not t o conceal the t r u t h i n matters where c u l p a b i l i t y has no l e g a l precedent. Russia, oddly t o i t s c r e d i t , has i s s u e d a statement that i t s impoverished government cannot even begin t o fund r e p a r a t i o n s of weapons  Benzon 5 systems; t h e i r plan, r e s o l u t e l y , i s t o "wait and see". We'll j u s t have t o stand a t the mercy of our machines, computerprogramming f i n g e r s crossed. This Armageddon-as-blunder s c e n a r i o i s but one v e r s i o n of  a more general p a t t e r n t h a t has emerged s i n c e the  advancement and p r o l i f e r a t i o n of i n d u s t r i a l and t e c h n o l o g i c a l systems. In p r a c t i c a l l y every c u l t u r a l f u n c t i o n , the r e i n s of c o n t r o l , and thus r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , have s h i f t e d from a human being t o a p r e c a r i o u s l y designed robot. The e f f e c t t h i s displacement  i s having on conceptions o f i d e n t i t y i s severe,  but, as y e t , d i f f i c u l t t o f u l l y a s c e r t a i n . In and  its  develops  Discontents,  Civilization  Freud contends t h a t c u l t u r e n e c e s s a r i l y  i n a f a s h i o n a t odds with the i n d i v i d u a l , where the  u n i v e r s a l needs of man are overshadowed by the i n c l i n a t i o n t o "progress"; t h i s discrepancy gives r i s e not only t o neuroses but a l s o t o an array of p r a c t i c a l problems. U n i n t e n t i o n a l nuclear warfare i s one extreme consequence, but arguably, i t i s not the most d e t r i m e n t a l — a t l e a s t our degradation would be s w i f t and absolute. More portentous are those  insidious  systems, amorphous e n t i t i e s o f disconnected s i g n i f i e r s and indecipherable code, t h a t have assumed powers once wielded by human beings. They are contingent upon time and t h e regulated, p r e d i c t a b l e flow of events. Since these systems cannot be d e s c r i b e d i n mechanical  o r p h y s i c a l terms, they  cannot be p i n p o i n t e d or i s o l a t e d . They cannot be challenged, l e t alone amended o r a b o l i s h e d .  Benzon 6 In an unnerving paradox, such f a u l t y , omnipotent  orders  compose the very framework of c u l t u r a l l i f e , y e t they a r e p e r f e c t l y cloaked by c u l t u r e i t s e l f . Foucault uses the p r i n c i p l e of "the Normal",' a p a r a d i g m a t i c a l l y c l e v e r to  regime,  i l l u s t r a t e the mechanisms and e f f e c t s of e l u s i v e c u l t u r a l  orders  (Discipline  and  Punish  the concept of "normalcy"  184). According t o Foucault,  i s so t o t a l l y i n g r a i n e d i n t o mass  consciousness t h a t i t i s p r a c t i c a l l y i n d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e from c u l t u r e i t s e l f . I t operates through negation,  emphasizing  d i f f e r e n c e t o the p o i n t where a l l persons are i n c l i n e d t o operate i n unison. The value of such s o c i a l homogeneity i s , of  course, i t s p r o p e n s i t y t o adopt p r a c t i c e s d e s i r a b l e t o  governing and marketing bodies and t o c a s t c r i t i c a l and r a d i c a l elements  i n t o the unfavoured margins. The Normal  thereby ensures that c e r t a i n d e f e c t s can f l o u r i s h without being seen as i l l n e s s e s ; as Spinoza argues,  "factually,  greediness, ambition and s o , f o r t h are forms of i n s a n i t y , although one does not t h i n k of them as an ' i l l n e s s ' "  (Ethics,  P r o p o s i t i o n 44). Indeed, we do not c o n s i d e r mercenary and c u t t h r o a t behavior t o be d e f e c t i v e because such q u a l i t i e s a r e evident i n the most " s u c c e s s f u l " among us and adhere t o and propagate the s t r i c t u r e s o f the Normal. The Normal epitomizes the t r i c k y nature of our i n v i s i b l e c u l t u r a l regimes. T h e i r omnipotence i s i n e x t r i c a b l e from t h e i r e l u s i v e n e s s ; the more deeply b u r i e d the design, the more s t a b l e and t o t a l the power. E r i c h Fromm notes s i m i l a r p r i n c i p l e s a t work i n c a p i t a l i s m , "a system which has no  Benzon 7 purpose and goal transcending i t , appendix"  and which makes man i t s  (87). There may, indeed, be "purpose"  s p e c i f i c c o e r c i o n of c a p i t a l , but-, as with  t o the  Hegel's  t e l e o l o g i c a l view o f h i s t o r y , i t i s not one o f which we have any e x i s t e n t i a l understanding. In i t s massive g r i d of c a u s a l i t y , the behavior o f c a p i t a l ' s subjects must be c o n s i s t e n t with the patterns i t r e q u i r e s , while those d e v i a t i n g atoms are s w i f t l y b u r i e d o r e x p e l l e d l i k e so much t o x i c waste. As Nick Shay says i n Underworld,  corporations  use "smiles and nods, a c o l l e c t i v e i n f l e c t i o n o f the v o i c e , " i n order t o "twist and shape you . . . without persuasion" (282). The r e s u l t o f t h i s set-up, i s , o f course, the necessary a b d i c a t i o n o f i n d i v i d u a l agency, i n appeasement o f the behemothic, i n v i s i b l e hand. So much c u l t u r a l theory o f the day has regarded  this  problem w i t h a c r i t i c a l , though i n t r i n s i c a l l y complacent, eye. S u r p r i s i n g l y , the most passionate admonitions  o f the  subjugation o f the i n d i v i d u a l came before our own time, w r i t t e n before suspect systems had reached insurmountable  p e r f e c t i o n . A d l a i Stevenson,  their f o r one, warned  i n 1954 t h a t "we are not i n danger o f becoming s l a v e s anymore, but o f becoming robots" (Fromiti 102). Now t h a t we are robots, no one seems t o c a r e . As Jameson says o f labour under l a t e c a p i t a l i s m , " i t seems a 'natural' p a r t o f l i f e "  (25).  But i t may be t h a t t h e o r e t i c a l explanations f o r t h e automatization o f people are i n h e r e n t l y i n e f f e c t u a l . I t may be, too, t h a t understanding the i n t r i c a c i e s o f such a broad  Benzon 8 and a b s t r a c t process r e q u i r e s a s u i t a b l y metaphorical medium of  e x p r e s s i o n . Theory i t s e l f becomes another oppressive  regime i n i t s e f f o r t t o c r e a t e a t o t a l i z i n g dynamic: "the more powerful the l o g i c a l system, the more powerless the reader comes t o f e e l "  (Jameson 5 ) . The t h e o r i s t ' s o b j e c t , the  c r e a t i o n of an impenetrable arrangement of ideas and e x p l i c a t i o n s , i s u l t i m a t e l y h i s bane because the reader's c a p a c i t y f o r r e v o l u t i o n i s p a r a l y z e d by the very i m p e n e t r a b i l i t y of the t h e o r i s t ' s argument. In other words, i f the aim o f c u l t u r a l c r i t i q u e i s t o i n c i t e  revolt—to  assess and a l t e r an unhealthy status q u o — t h e n the means and form of expression cannot be r a t i o n a l and t o t a l i z i n g , but must i n s t e a d be a e s t h e t i c , metaphorical and f l e x i b l e . The exposure and dismembering o f t y r a n n i c a l orders i s what  Underworld  Underworld  takes as i t s o b j e c t . At f i r s t  glance,  appears t o f i t n i c e l y i n t o the parameters o f  "postmodern f i c t i o n " , an admittedly sketchy category o f l i t e r a t u r e t h a t , by nature, may i n c l u d e j u s t about anything; the book i s f u l l of " r e p r e s e n t a t i o n a l i n c o n s i s t e n c i e s and dilemmas" (Jameson x x i i ) . For example, i n Underworld  there i s  the grotesque J a c k i e Gleason puking i n t o the stands a t an h i s t o r i c b a s e b a l l game. There i s e p i c c a t a l o g u i n g a t a condbrti emporium, a r e i n v o k i n g o f , perhaps, Homer's Troy-bound f l e e t s . And there i s a p r i v a t e screening of the not-yetnotorious Zapruder  f i l m by a p r e t e n t i o u s c l i q u e of New York  a r t i s t s . But these h i s t o r i c a l p e r v e r s i o n s , though i n p a r t i r o n i c and a l i e n a t i n g , are not simply t h e c u l t u r a l excavation  Benzon 9 and r e c y c l i n g a s s o c i a t e d with a s e l f - c o n s c i o u s l y c l e v e r postmodernity. They do not s i g n i f y t h a t which i s , according t o B a u d r i l l a r d , our era's p a r t i c u l a r l u s t f o r r e v i s i o n i s m , or " r e t r o s p e c t i v e apocalypse" (22). Rather, D e L i l l o ' s h i s t o r i c a l cognizance and r e c r e a t i o n t r i e s t o r e - f a m i l i a r i z e and i n t e g r a t e items and c o n s t r u c t s which, through e x t e n s i v e commodification, have become f o r e i g n t o us. The r e t r o s p e c t i o n i s l e s s a mourning of a s h a t t e r e d past or cosmetic surgery on a vacant present, than i t i s a convergence of the two spheres. D e L i l l o ' s i s a s t u d i e d attempt t o address contemporary  problems through p r o d u c t i v e j u x t a p o s i t i o n of  c u r r e n t d i s l o c a t i o n s — f o r one, how we might c o h a b i t a t e w i t h "drudges who  do not dream of family dead" (UW 63), our  machines, without becoming l i k e them. Underworld  d e p i c t s the deep s t r u c t u r e s , the hidden  s t r a t a of experience, t h a t e x i s t beneath the epidermis of h i s t o r y . T h i s subterranean focus problematizes the dogmatically l i n e a r understanding of h i s t o r y , as w e l l as other s i m i l a r s o c i o p o l i t i c a l s t r u c t u r e s  (capitalism,  m i l i t a r i s m , technology) which seek t o a s s i m i l a t e and c o n t r o l i n d i v i d u a l i d e n t i t y . For example, Marvin Lundy's quest t o determine the l i n e a g e of those who  t e m p o r a r i l y owned a  legendary b a s e b a l l , c o l l a p s e s the h i e r a r c h i c a l d o c t r i n e of "Things are higher than Man"  (Fromm 95) and i n t i m a t e s a  f u s i o n of man w i t h h i s " t h i n g s " . In t h i s r e s p e c t , the novel marks a departure from the f l a t n e s s and depthlessness a s s o c i a t e d with postmodern a r t (pastiche) and the  Benzon 10 predominance of simulacra. True, D e L i l l o ' s n a r r a t i v e f r e q u e n t l y invokes two-dimensional,  representational figures  and images t h a t are the s t u f f of commodification, but these are not d i s l o c a t e d and d i s t r e s s i n g s i g n s , dangling i n the a i r l i k e so many Warholian shoes. Instead, D e L i l l o sets the o b j e c t s of the marketplace i n t o the hands and minds of p e r c e i v i n g s u b j e c t s . Thus the b a s e b a l l and the Lucky  Strikes,  "target" i c o n are not merely s i g n i f i c a t i o n s or emblems of human endeavor, but r a t h e r they compose p a r t of the r e a l symbology of experience and memory. The c e a s e l e s s spew of products p i l e s up i n the dumps, but the dumps are meaningful, even mythologized by any i n t e r e s t e d observer; the s p l a t t e r of d i s c a r d e d merchandise i s a source of m e d i t a t i o n f o r B r i a n G l a s s i c who  r e a l i z e s t h a t "the b i g g e s t s e c r e t s are the ones  spread out before us" (LW185). Autonomous images, by nature s o l i t a r y and s a t u r a t e d w i t h t h e i r own o n t o l o g i c a l power, are placed i n community with each other and i n harmony w i t h the beholder. G l a s s i c s p i e s i n the Gizaesque heaps a t e a l b i k i n i b r i e f and imagines the owner, a s e c r e t a r y from Queens who " i s dark-eyed and reads the t a b l o i d s arid p a i n t s her n a i l s  and  eats lunch out of molded styrofoam" (185). T h i s networking of images d i f f u s e s the a u t h o r i t a r i a n nature of our representations and i n d u s t r i a l production by drawing them together i n a n a r r a t i v e arrangemerit. Though h e a v i l y r e v i s i o n i s t i n both s t r u c t u r e and content, the novel's u l t i m a t e f o c a l p o i n t i s the present, an accumulation of d e t r i t u s both p h y s i c a l and p s y c h i c , no more  Benzon 11 fathomable  than a New  i s analogous  Jersey garbage dump. D e L i l l o ' s p r o j e c t  t o Benjamin's i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of Klee's Angelus  Novus: a l o o k i n g back at the wreckage of human e x p e r i e n c e p r o g r e s s — w h i l e moving forward through space. The angel of h i s t o r y , as Benjamin c a l l s i t ,  "would l i k e t o stay, awaken  the dead, and make whole what has been smashed" (257). S i m i l a r l y , f o r D e L i l l o , reviewing the past i s not so much " c o l l e c t i v e s e l f - f l a g e l l a t i o n " ( B a u d r i l l a r d 22), but an attempt  t o r e v e a l processes which have now  reached maximum  v e l o c i t y , and t o make l e g i b l e the n e c e s s a r i l y  jumbled  c o n d i t i o n of the past. The angel of h i s t o r y may  have more a p t l y been c a l l e d the  angel of space. As Benjamin notes, "where we p e r c e i v e a chain of events, he sees one s i n g l e catastrophe which keeps p i l i n g wreckage upon wreckage" (257). The past i s a l a y e r e d , not a ... l i n e a r , e n t i t y , and i t i s the expression of t h i s  layeredness  which permits D e L i l l o ' s r e i n t e g r a t i o n of s e n t i e n t , p a r t i c i p a t i n g subjects i n t o the r e d u c t i v e scheme of h i s t o r y - — t o prove, as Nick Shay t e l l s us, t h a t "we from our own  lives"  are not excluded  (UW 82). A dense polyphony of  m u l t i f a c e t e d , f l u c t u a t i n g , and c o n f l i c t i n g i n c i d e n t s gives credence t o s u b j e c t i v e experience, not because i t transcends i  the s t r u c t u r e of a p a r t i c u l a r h i s t o r i c a l n a r r a t i v e , . but because i t i s i n f a c t the hidden underpinning of those s t r u c t u r e s , and composes the s w i r l i n g dynamo t h a t moves forward both mass and i n d i v i d u a l i d e n t i t y .  Benzon 12 The r e i n t e g r a t i o n of the i n d i v i d u a l subject i n t o the f a b r i c of c u l t u r e and the past i s p r i m a r i l y brought about through the supplanting of h i s t o r i c a l time, a regulated  and  f i x e d document, by space, a dimension more conducive t o the f l u x i o n t h a t d e f i n e s s u b j e c t i v e a c t i o n . Such a s h i f t i n focus undermines those oppressive f o r c e s which t h r i v e upon l i n e a r conceptions  of c u l t u r a l development. " H i s t o r y , l i k e  p o l i t i c s , " says Lyotard, "seems t o have a need of a unique p o i n t of p e r s p e c t i v e , a p l a c e of s y n t h e s i s , a head or  eye,  developing the d i v e r s i t y of movements i n the u n i f i c a t i o n of a s i n g l e volume" (164).-In Western thought, h i s t o r i c a l time has been the primary dimension because i t i s a t o t a l i z i n g , " s y n t h e s i z i n g " f o r c e t h a t lends i t s e l f e a s i l y t o the formation of c a t e g o r i e s and p a t t e r n s . I t f o l l o w s t h a t whatever s o c i a l theory i s developed under t h i s  conception  w i l l i n v a r i a b l y c o n f l a t e d i v e r s i t y i n t o a s i n g l e strand, p r i v i l e g i n g time and viewing  space as contingent rattier than  fundamental t o human a c t i o n . Time, as K r i s t i n Ross says, "excludes  and subordinates, while space coordinates  and  t o l e r a t e s " (8). We  need only glance at the miserable occupants of a Le  Corbusier complex t o see the s t i f f  repercussions of a  life  r e g u l a t e d by s t r a i g h t l i n e s , what David Harvey c a l l s a " s t r u c t u r e d coherence" (375). Through a v a r i e t y of  formal  innovations, D e L i l l o breaks down the s e r i a l c o n s t r u c t s which r e g u l a t e and c o n t r o l a c t i v i t y l i k e the l i n e s on a b a s e b a l l diamond. This demolition i s evinced by the n a r r a t i v e ' s  Benzon 13 g e n e r a l l y backwards p a t t e r n ; the s t o r y begins i n the present and jumps back i n t e x t u a l chunks through the decades. The d i a m e t r i c a l flow of events i s b r a i d e d o r c r i s s - c r o s s e d by a n a c h r o n i s t i c t r a j e c t o r i e s and i s o l a t e d v i g n e t t e s , thereby c r e a t i n g a nodal network through which experience permeates. This n a r r a t i v e c o n s t r u c t i s s i m i l a r t o Edward Soja's Postmodern  Geographies,  which begins with a coalescent  "Preface and P o s t s c r i p t " ; t h i s combination,  Soja says,  s i g n a l s an " i n t e n t i o n t o tamper with f a m i l i a r m o d a l i t i e s o f time, t o shake up the formal flow o f l i n e a r t e x t t o allow other, more ' l a t e r a l ' connections t o be made" (1). The s e q u e n t i a l l y u n f o l d i n g n a r r a t i v e , Soja suggests, predisposes the reader t o t h i n k h i s t o r i c a l l y ; such temporal t h i n k i n g , . 'one damned t h i n g a f t e r another', i s the b a s i c apparatus o f hegemonic systems, invoking always the t h r e a t o f s u f f e r i n g o r the promise o f reward t o f o l l o w . As Soja says, and as D e L i l l o ' s work confirms, "We can no longer depend on a s t o r y - l i n e marching s t r a i g h t forward i n p l o t and denouement, f o r too much i s happening against the g r a i n o f time, too much i s c o n t i n u a l l y t r a v e r s i n g the s t o r y line laterally"  (23). We can no longer depend upon  v e r i s i m i l i t u d e and f a c t u a l i t y i n h i s t o r i c a l f i c t i o n ; look, f o r i n s t a n c e , a t Michael Ondaatje's who  v i n d i c a t e s Herodotus's  Histories  burnt p a t i e n t , Almasy, because i t i s "both  ancient and modern" and i s composed of "supposed l i e s " . J u s t as Almasy "sketch[es] men i n s k i r t s with faded unknown animals beside [the l i e s ] "  (246) i n c e l e b r a t i o n of the t e x t ' s  Benzon 14 i n a c c u r a c i e s , D e L i l l o d e s c r i b e s i n d e t a i l a shot-by-shot account of an imaginary E i s e n s t e i n f i l m , and u n i t e s S i s t e r Edgar with J . Edgar Hoover as hermaphroditic counterparts. D e L i l l o tosses together v a r i o u s media and p e r s p e c t i v e s , mixing f i l m footage, photographs,  news reportage, and  omniscient n a r r a t i o n t o c r e a t e a multidimensional—-at times, impossibly p a r a d o x i c a l — a g g r e g a t e of experience. "Our experience of the world," s a i d Foucault i n a l e c t u r e on h e t e r o t o p i a s , " i s l e s s t h a t of a long l i f e developing through time than t h a t of a network t h a t connects p o i n t s and i n t e r s e c t s with i t s own s k e i n " ("Of Other Spaces" 22). D e L i l l o ' s novel captures t h i s concept of l i f e - a s - n e t w o r k through h i s p r e s e n t a t i o n of memory. Although i t i s apparent t h a t memory i s instrumental i n a l l o t t i n g primacy t o s u b j e c t i v i t y , D e L i l l o ' s formulation of memory i s unique because i t operates according t o a s p a t i a l r a t h e r than temporal paradigm. I t s p r i n c i p a l analogous  body i s the  garbage dump-—embers o f experience whose accumulation both i s and shapes  the subject's thought, d e s i r e and a c t i o n . As a  memorial of humanity, waste counterbalances understandings  linear  of time and experience, c o a l e s c i n g , as  Heidegger would have i t , Becoming and Being. Further, the s t a c k i n g of r e f u s e i s r e p l i c a t e d i n the mind, where gestures and thoughts are c o n t i n u a l l y repeated and r e s t r u c t u r e d , e f f e c t i v e l y breaking temporal  l i n e s and s t a c k i n g them on top  of one another. Moments, l i k e o b j e c t s , c i r c l e back on themselves,  i n the f a s h i o n of Douglas Hofstatder's Strange  Benzon 15 Loops: "by moving upwards (or downwards) through the l e v e l s of some h i e r a r c h i c a l system we unexpectedly f i n d o u r s e l v e s back where we s t a r t e d " (10). With t h i s understanding of h i s t o r y — a n e n t i t y which i n c l u d e s but i s not e x c l u s i v e t o t i m e — D e L i l l o a t t r i b u t e s t o h i s c h a r a c t e r s a high degree of agency which, i n t u r n , suggests the i n h e r e n t l y r e a c t i o n a r y c a p a b i l i t i e s of the human mind. ' 2. The Subject i n H i s t o r y The w r i t e r wants t o see i n s i d e the human works, down t o dreams and r o u t i n e r a m b l i n g t h o u g h t s , i n o r d e r t o l o c a t e the n e u r a l s t r a n d s t h a t l i n k him t o men and women t h a t shape h i s t o r y . - D e L i l l o , "The Power of H i s t o r y "  "Pause f o r a moment, you wretched weakling, and take stock o f yourself" Cloud  of  (295); i t ' s a l i n e Nick Shay remembers from The Unknowing,  a medieval r e l i g i o u s t r a c t t h a t i s a l s o .  the t i t l e of one of D e L i l l o ' s chapters.  Underworld  itself i s  a k i n d of "un-knowing" semantic c l o u d , which, through t h e condensation of time and space, decomposes accepted l i n e s of n a r r a t i v e c a u s a l i t y . I t asks t h a t we pause, i n the midst o f , p r o g r e s s i v e and cumulative flow, and recognize the unknowable schemes that emerge from the i n t e r s e c t i o n s of v a r i a b l e and l a y e r e d experience. In i t s e x p l i c i t l y retrograde chronology, the novel t r i e s t o remodel c u l t u r a l conceptions which have taken shape under a d e c i s i v e l y h i s t o r i c a l mode of apprehension. The e p i s t e m o l o g i c a l t h r u s t o f modernism i s replaced by the d i s t i n c t l y o n t o l o g i c a l concerns of  Benzon 16 postmodernism; while the dominant paradigm of thought of the preceding decades considers the r e l a t i v e meaning o f events as they p e r t a i n t o economic and n a t i o n a l expansion, the c u r r e n t moment, entrenched i n the quagmire o f u n b r i d l e d progress, wonders how these events, p i l e d m i l e high atop one another, impinge upon the subjects with which they c o e x i s t . I t might have been by accident t h a t D e L i l l o came across a 1951 New  York  Times,  whose f r o n t page sets s i d e by s i d e t h e  h e a d l i n e s : "Giants Capture Pennant" and "Soviets Explode Atomic Bomb". But i t i s o f no small consequence t h a t the long and heterogeneous novel which ensued covers the l a t t e r h a l f of the twentieth c e n t u r y . saw,  1  Where the e a r l y p a r t o f the century  as Soja notes, a " r e j e c t i o n of environmental  causality  and a l l p h y s i c a l o r e x t e r n a l explanations o f s o c i a l processes i n the formation of human consciousness"  (35), D e L i l l o  i n s i s t s t h a t there are i n e l u c t a b l e connections among t h i n g s , though they might operate according t o commonly overlooked schemes. Thomas L e C l a i r says i n h i s treatment o f D e L i l l o ' s work, t h a t the, e q u i f i n a l form of the "systems novel" provides the n o v e l i s t with an " e x t r a l i t e r a r y conception o f man and behavior t h a t confirms or extends modernist experiments ;  c h a r a c t e r and p l o t "  (10). Indeed,  Underworld  with  squelches t h e  e l i t i s m and formalism a s s o c i a t e d with modernist w r i t i n g and undercuts the modernists' attempt t o be o u t s i d e h i s t o r y — a s w e l l as t h e i r r e l i a n c e upon pure form, myth, a b s t r a c t i o n and s t a r t i n g i n '51 perhaps accounts f o r D i o n y s i u s Exiguus's (a.k.a. Dennis t h e Short) s i x t h c e n t u r y e r r o r o f b e g i n n i n g t h e C h r i s t i a n c a l e n d e r a t y e a r one i n s t e a d o f z e r o . 1  Benzon 17 other t h e o r e t i c a l models of c l o s u r e — i n the c o n s t r u c t i o n of a well-wrought urn. Just as the t h i e v i n g Manx Martin wears h i s c h i l d r e n ' s c l o t h i n g and wonders "how  i t happened that .they're  not wearing h i s hand-me down j a c k e t s " (150), the undertakings which c h a r a c t e r i z e modern c u l t u r e are c o l l a p s e d together our present  circumstance through D e L i l l o ' s r e c o n s t r u c t i o n of  h i s t o r y ; i n e f f e c t , the f u t u r e c l o t h e s the past, conventional  with  reversing  views of i n h e r i t a n c e .  With the anatomical p r e c i s i o n of a coroner, D e L i l l o d i s s e c t s h i s t o r y as i f i t were a l i v i n g organism-—separating p r i s t i n e b i t s of skeleton from broken v e s s e l s , p u l l i n g apart the most r e s i l i e n t t i s s u e t o r e v e a l the inflamed w i t h i n . But the d i s s e c t i o n i s more a process of unraveling, or deconstruction,  tumors productive  than i t i s a d e s t r u c t i o n . As  D e L i l l o s a i d i n an a r t i c l e f o r New  York  Times  Magazine,  "The  novel i s the dream r e l e a s e , the suspension of r e a l i t y t h a t h i s t o r y needs t o escape i t s own  b r u t a l confinements"  Power of H i s t o r y " 61). This n a r r a t i v e model, an manumitting form, "may  ("The  intrinsically  problematize the conventions of  t e l e o l o g i c a l c l o s u r e or developmental c o n t i n u i t y , but t h a t i s not t o 'banish' them from the scene" (Hutcheon 94). Such a "decreation" of h i s t o r y , as that which Hutcheon a t t r i b u t e s t o her h i s t o r i c a l m e t a f i c t i o n s , though formally encoded i n t o D e L i l l o ' s n a r r a t i v e and executed i n the characters'  actions,  must be viewed as a commingling of the e p i s t e m o l o g i c a l with the o n t o l o g i c a l . I f "Longing on a l a r g e s c a l e i s what makes  Benzon 18 history"  (UW 11),  then any h i s t o r i c a l examination must f i r s t  account f o r v a r i e t i e s o f longing and w i l l f u l n e s s . A b a s e b a l l game, then, i s an appropriate  event t o  i n i t i a t e a s e m i f i c t i o n a l r e t e l l i n g o f h i s t o r y because i t i s a -place wherein m u l t i p l e consciousnesses, agendas, and f i c t i o n s gather t o p a r t i c i p a t e i n a simultaneously  p u b l i c and personal  • a c t i v i t y . I t i s , as Marshall McLuhah says, an "outer model of inner p s y c h o l o g i c a l l i f e "  (237)  as w e l l as "the  elegant  a b s t r a c t image of i n d u s t r i a l s o c i e t y " (239). On the f i e l d , the b a t t e r p a r a d o x i c a l l y represents  both himself and h i s  team, t h e i n d i v i d u a l and the community, i n a s t r u g g l e an enemy f o r c e bent on p u t t i n g both him and h i s a l l i e s In the stands, amidst intimate conversations, repeats  against "out".  "the crowd  the s o r r y are o f the b a s e b a l l , a moaned vowel f a l l i n g  s o f t l y t o earth"  (35). A whole system erupts  according  t o the  v a r i a b l e t r a j e c t o r y of the b a l l — t h e i n d i v i d u a l n a r r a t i v e s o f p i t c h e r , b a t t e r , f i e l d e r s , and crowd j o i n i n an a b s t r a c t , unknowable geometric u n i t y . This k i n d of s u b j e c t i v e expansion "[renders]  i n e x t r i c a b l e the p u b l i c and the h i s t o r i c and the  p r i v a t e and the b i o g r a p h i c a l " (Hutchedn 94). In  Underworld,  as i n b a s e b a l l , there i s no c l e a r primacy a l l o t t e d t o e i t h e r of the two modes, and t h e i r i n t e g r a t i o n creates a t h i r d , h y b r i d animal. D e L i l l o probes the deep s t r u c t u r e s o f h i s t o r y i n the same manner t h a t Marvin Lundy s c r u t i n i z e s -the photographs from the momentous 1951 b a l l game:  Benzon 19 Ke repiiotographed the footage. He enlarged, r e p o s i t i o n e d , analyzed. He step-framed the a c t i o n t o slow i t down, t o combine s e v e r a l seconds of f i l m i n t o one image. i t was  a work of  Talmudic  refinement, zooming i n and f a d i n g out, t r y i n g t o b r i n g a man's face i n t o d e f i n i t i o n , read a woman's ankle b r a c e l e t engraved with a name.  (177)  Marvin sees the composition of the crowd as a universe of dots, and -once ydu  get i n s i d e a dot, you gain access t o  hidden i n f o r m a t i o n , you s l i d e i n s i d e the s m a l l e s t event" (177). At f i r s t , C o t t e r M a r t i n i s t h a t dot, a shadowy and e l u s i v e one, who  d a r t s among the thousands gathered t o  witness a c r u c i a l moment of triumph and d e f e a t . While there i s a d i s t i n c t i v e n e s s , a m a r g i n a l i t y t o h i s position-—young, black, b r o k e — t h e r e i s a l s o a sense t h a t he i s but  one  element i n an unfathomably complicated compound, a mixture that i s at l e a s t p a r t l y composed of "Dodgers s c o r i n g runs, a man  dancing down an a i s l e , a goateed black i n a Bing Crosby  shirt"  (33) and, extending from the game, a "woman cooking  cabbage" and a "man  who wishes he c o u l d be done with d r i n k "  (32). L i k e C o t t e r , the mass i t s e l f i s an e n e r g e t i c and unruly creature, l o o k i n g f o r a s i m i l a r l y u n t a i n t e d experience. This i s j u s t a k i d with a l o c a l yearning but he i s p a r t of an assembling crowd, anonymous thousands o f f the buses and t r a i n s , people i n narrow columns tramping over the swing-bridge above the r i v e r ,  and  Benzon 20 even i f they are not a m i g r a t i o n o r r e v o l u t i o n , some v a s t shaking o f the s o u l , they b r i n g w i t h them the'body heat of a great c i t y and t h e i r own small r e v e r i e s of desperation, the unseen something  that  haunts the jday—men in, fedoras and s a i l o r s on s h o r t leave, the jstray tumble of t h e i r thoughts, going t o a game.  ( Ji )  This e q u a l i z a t i o n o f the s i n g l e and the many, u n i f i e d i n |i d i v e r s i t y and d e s i r e , i m p l i e s a d i s s o l u t i o n of the b i n a r y <j>f the crowd and the i n d i v i d u a l , and, by extension, the p u b l i c and the p r i v a t e . While the c h a r a c t e r s i n Mao II,  f o r example,  represent d i s t i n c t spheres o f community (the social,, the secluded), with the a r t i s t / a c t i v i s t on the extreme perimeter, Underworld  d i s a l l o w s such b o l d j u x t a p o s i t i o n s . Indeed, the  c i t y i t s e l f " i s both u n i f i e d e n t i t y and aggregate, with .a "body heat" and s t r a y , tumbling  thoughts.  The concept that "small r e v e r i e s of desperation" are commensurate w i t h g r e a t e r h i s t o r i c a l measures such as "migration and r e v o l u t i o n " i s c a r r i e d f o r t h i n t o the c o n f i g u r a t i o n of the crowd i t s e l f , , a jumble of commoners and c e l e b r i t i e s . T h i s arrangement i s reminiscent o f Doctorow's Ragtime i n i t s d e p i c t i o n of e x - c e n t r i c members o f s o c i e t y , t r a d i t i o n a l l y excluded from h i s t o r y , r i d i n g i n tandem w i t h f i g u r e s of notable h i s t o r i c a l import. On Hammerstein's r o o f t o p garden, Freud eats a cup o f c u s t a r d and l a t e r has "one of the f a i n t i n g f i t s that had l a t e l y plagued him when Jung was around"  (Doctorow 33); performing a break-out  from  Benzon 21 Murderer's to  Row,  Houdini i s f l a s h e d by a lewd inmate, but  "was  t e l l no one of t h i s strange c o n f r o n t a t i o n " (26). In  Underworld,  p o r t r a i t s of h i s t o r i c a l l y prominent  even more i n c i s i v e as they are both s p a t i a l l y  f i g u r e s are  and  i d e o l o g i c a l l y i n t e g r a t e d i n t o the middling masses with great d e l i b e r a t i o n : A drunk and s l o b b e r i n g J a c k i e Gleason,  "sending  q u i d b i t s of meat and bread i n many d i r e c t i o n s , p e l l e t s smithereens, s p i t b a l l f l y b y s " Frank S i n a t r a , i n "an awe  and  (18), and a p u k e - s p l a t t e r e d  of muted d i s g u s t " , blend seamlessly  i n t o the c o n f e t t i decadence of the crowd. Apart from such grotesquery, h i s t o r i c a l f i g u r e s are f u r t h e r d e f l a t e d by t h e i r own disengagement w i t h c e l e b r i t y h o o d . J a c k i e , f o r one, i s s k i p p i n g r e h e a r s a l , but he s t i l l t h r i v e s a t the game, h u r l i n g i n s u l t s at awed spectators—whereas crowd and "the way  Frank i s made uneasy by the a t t e n t i v e they use him as a r e f e r e n c e f o r e v e r y t h i n g  that's h a p p e n i n g " ( 2 4 ) .  His image, h i s c a s t i n g as s a l a b l e  goods, has, from h i s p e r s p e c t i v e , become a f o r e i g n e n t i t y ; "didn't know he was  i n t h i s month's  Life  he  u n t i l the page f e l l  out of the sky" (39). His ignorance, f u r t h e r , i s a t t r i b u t a b l e to  a s u p e r s t r u c t u r e which r e g u l a t e s the dissemination of h i s  image, the "people who (39).  are supposed t o t e l l him these t h i n g s "  He d i s i n t e r e s t e d l y glances over advertisements f o r  Quaker S t a t e , RCA V i c t o r and General Motors,  "the venerated  emblems of the burgeoning economy, e a s i e r t o i d e n t i f y than the names of b a t t l e f i e l d s and dead p r e s i d e n t s , " but he i s otherwise preoccupied, "sunk i n deep i n e r t i a , a r a n c i d sweat  Benzon 22 developing,  h i s mouth f i l l e d with the f o r e t a s t e of massive  inner s h i f t i n g s "  (39). There i s a sense  that the  human i c o n ,  whose fame i s instrumental t o the p r o l i f e r a t i o n of marketing regimes, i s at bottom d i s s o c i a t e d from h i s o s t e n s i b l e r o l e i n c a p i t a l i s t machinery.  .  D e L i l l o ' s d e f l a t i o n of, as Hegel c a l l s them, " r e a l h i s t o r i c a l f i g u r e s " i s most palpable i n h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of J . Edgar Hoover. Edgar i s o s t e n s i b l y the.most s o c i a l l y powerful of the gaggle but he exemplifies the most serious forms of r e v e r i e and desperation. This d u a l i t y makes h i s character r i p e t e r r a i n f o r the novel's perversions.  historical  "Hoover i s a d i s i n v e n t i o n , " D e L i l l o maintains,  " r e a l , conjured,  gambled on, guessed a t . Hoover i s t a u t  raging s e l f h o o d . Hoover i n h i s i m p r e g n a b i l i t y , an  and  incitement  t o the n o v e l i s t ' s p e r e n n i a l e f f o r t t o detect the hidden nature of t h i n g s " ("The  Power of H i s t o r y " 62). Though  i n t e g r a l t o the p o l i t i c a l r a m i f i c a t i o n s of the game (he i s informed of Russia's  alone  concomitant nuclear t e s t i n g ) , Edgar's  presence, and s p e c i f i c a l l y h i s p a i n f u l s e l f - c o n s c i o u s n e s s , evinces the f r a i l humanity behind every p o l i t i c a l enigma. [Edgar] admires the rough assurance of these  men.  I t seems t o f l u s h from t h e i r pores. They have a s i z e t o them, a n a t u r a l stamina t h a t mocks h i s  own  • b i b l e - s c h o o l i n d o c t r i n a t i o n even as i t draws him the noise. He's  a s e l f - p e r f e c t e d American who  to  must  respect the saga of the knockabout boy emerging from tenement c u l t u r e , from the backstreets s l a n t  Benzon 23 with danger. I t makes f o r gutsy egos, i t makes f o r appetites.  (29)  Edgar's groomed and meticulous h e r i t a g e wavers against c r a s s , oddly a u t h o r i t a r i a n natures of the other boys. He i s " s e l f - p e r f e c t e d " — c o n s t r u c t e d ,  the  backstreet  synthesized—quite  apart from the " p e r f e c t American" f o r which he's  striving..  His p o l i t i c a l l a r g e s s e , f u r t h e r , s h r i v e l s alongside immensity of character and s t a g e - i n t e n s i t y , the  the  "natural  stamina" t h a t Gleason and Frank e x h i b i t . Despite the c l o u t , Edgar i s , b a s i c a l l y , s t o u t . He i s u t t e r l y swayable—"drawn t o the noise" as f a r as the game and everything e l s e g o — a n d without r o o t i n g i n t e r e s t . "Whoever wins," he says,  "That's  my  team" (29). T h i s l e v e l i n g and dampening of c u l t u r a l l y agreed-upon a u t h o r i t i e s r a i s e s the question of where power i s i n f a c t l o c a t e d . Surely i t cannot be with the b r u t i s h and  bashful  specimens o f f e r e d here. The answer l i e s , o b l i q u e l y , i n minuscule, b a r e l y - t r a c e a b l e s t u f f — p a r t i c l e s t h a t cannot be known but f o r t h e i r e f f e c t s . Edgar, f o r instance, i s moved t o act, t o f l e e the scene, when Gleason coughs up pervading  "an  all-  medium of pathogens, microbes, f l o a t i n g c o l o n i e s of  spirochetes t h a t fuse and separate and engulf"  and elongate  and  spiral  (19). These e x o t i c and minute s t r a i n s of agency,  i r o n i c a l l y , are persuasive  and elemental  forms of  mediation.  They i n c i t e a c t i o n . T h e i r power subverts Le Corbusier's  idea  t h a t " s o c i e t y [ i s ] c o n t r o l l e d by the enlightened businessman and the a r c h i t e c t , both products of an impersonal,  universal  Benzon 24 t r a n s h i s t o r i c a l f o r c e symbolized  by the machine" (Hutcheon  28). I t i s , r a t h e r , the imperceptible p o s i t r o n s o f l i f e and energy t h a t c o n t r o l the behavior of our mechanized businessmen and a r c h i t e c t s . In D e L i l l o ' s t e x t , such " a l l - p e r v a d i n g " media take v a r i o u s m a n i f e s t a t i o n s , from m i c r o b i a l t o p s y c h o l o g i c a l . In a d d i t i o n t o phlegmatic  d e b r i s , s u b t l e patterns of thought  p r e s s u r i z e the subject, as i n Edgar's paranoid f e a r t h a t d i s c u s s i o n of h i s short namesake (Edgar Gaedel, a jockey) w i l l open him up t o a gush of r i d i c u l e a t the hands of J a c k i e (18). Words, then, are t a n g i b l e pathogens. Language t r a n s l a t e s mysterious p a r t i c l e s i n t o u n i t s o f p e r c e p t i o n , t h e microscopic  d e t a i l s of synaptic a c t i v i t y .  Textual  a r t i c u l a t i o n — E d g a r worries, f o r example, t h a t "a man can wish h i s phantom torment i n t o p r i n t "  (18)—can  cause even  more profound anxiety. A c c o r d i n g l y , Russ Hodges, the r a d i o announcer, marvels a t what power there i s as he decodes the l e t t e r s and numbers handed t o him; he remarks "how much e a r t h l y disturbance, how much summer and dust the mind can manage t o order up from a s i n g l e L a t i n l e t t e r l y i n g f l a t " (25). The b a s e b a l l game balances  and intermingles three  primary l o c i of p e r c e p t i o n : the i n d i v i d u a l subject (say, C o t t e r M a r t i n ) , the r a d i o broadcast  o r broadcaster,  and the  author. As i n a fugue, no v o i c e i n t h e conversation dominates. The mixture works not only t o s e t up a broad and indeterminate  p o i n t of view but a l s o , with seeming paradox,  Benzon 25 t o d e t r a c t from the s i g n i f i c a n c e of the event proper. Look, t f o r i n s t a n c e , a t the way i n which the scene's  sequencing  g r a d u a l l y d i s t o r t s the a c t i o n of the b a l l game. A f t e r a break i n the t e x t and a t i e i n the score, t h e r e i s C o t t e r ' s stripped-down viewpoint: "He watches Maglie bounce a curve i n the d i r t "  (32). T h i s i s followed by the somewhat obtuse,  d i g r e s s i v e p o s i t i o n of Russ Hodges: "He hears the announcer from S t . Louis, on the other s i d e of t h e blanket, i t i s Harry Caray  . . . and Russ t h i n k s of the Japanese term f o r  disembowelment and f i g u r e s he and Harry ought t o switch names r i g h t about now" (33). The a u t h o r i a l v o i c e then intervenes with "Light washing down from the sky," and an i n t e r p r e t i v e note t h a t "Everything i s changing shape, becoming  something  e l s e " (33). The l e v e l of p e r c e p t i o n becomes p r o g r e s s i v e l y a b s t r a c t and s u b j e c t i v e , ranging from the v i s u a l , t o the a u r a l , t o the metaphorical. Although these s h i f t i n g p e r s p e c t i v e s coordinate with the multitudinous and d e f l a t i o n a r y aspects o f the t e x t , they a l s o work t o synchronize the a u t h o r i a l v o i c e with the other v o i c e s i t governs. As with  Libra's  Nicholas Branch, ever-  i n v e s t i g a t i n g the Kennedy a s s a s s i n a t i o n , "the author becomes p a r t of t h e event i t s e l f , h i s f i c t i o n an a d d i t i o n t o the h i s t o r i c a l fact"  ( C i v e l l o 123). T h i s s i t u a t i o n i s necessary  s i n c e , as Hodges says of a p i v o t a l boxing match, "When you see a t h i n g l i k e t h a t , a t h i n g that becomes a newsreel, you begin t o f e e l you are a c a r r i e r of a solemn scrap of h i s t o r y " (16). Further, the a u t h o r i a l involvement recognizes t h a t "The  Benzon 26 observer  or t h e o r i s t , u n l i k e the p h y s i c i s t who  stands apart  from h i s experiment, i s p a r t of the system t h a t i s under i n v e s t i g a t i o n " "(LeClair 4). D e L i l l o a s s e r t s a presence at the game through h i s staccato remarks: "Pafko moves t o the w a l l t o play the carom", "Pafko throws smartly t o Cox" i n t e r m i n g l e d with paper f a l l i n g  (16), a l l  from the stands, the  internal  heavings of the p a r t i c u l a r viewers, and the general heaving' of the crowd. Through the b l u n t d e s c r i p t i o n s of s i n g l e movements on the f i e l d , the a u t h o r i a l v o i c e p o s i t i o n s i t s e l f at the scene as the c a r r i e r and remodeller  of scraps of  history.  3. The Discombobulated Search  The h i s t o r i c a l l y - d e s t a b i l i z i n g i n t e r s e c t i o n s of the s o l o the c h o r a l i n c r e a s e i n number as  Underworld  and  unfolds.  Semblances among characters expand l i k e w i s e , f u r t h e r compromising l i n e a r , s e g r e g a t i o n i s t ideas of h i s t o r y and experience.  A f t e r the prologue, C o t t e r i s usurped, or at  l e a s t mirrored, by Nick Shay as the f o c a l p o i n t i n the n a r r a t i v e . And while Marvin t r a c e s the genealogy of the homerun b a l l ,  the concrete  l i n k between Nick and C o t t e r , Nick,  p a c i f i e d waste manager, l i v i n g  "like  someone i n a witness  p r o t e c t i o n program" (66), i s ever r e t r a c i n g the p i v o t a l and banal moments t h a t have l e d up t o h i s Phoenix e x i s t e n c e . I t i s , perhaps, a search i n s p i r e d by Dr. L i n d b a l d , j u v e n i l e t h e r a p i s t , who  t e l l s him t h a t he has  a  Nick's  a  Benzon 27 r e s p o n s i b i l i t y t o decode h i s own h i s t o r y — t h a t he i s :  "required t o t r y t o make sense of i t " (152). But i t i s the i n h e r e n t l y nonsensical nature, the b l u r r y and unsystematic c o n d i t i o n of h i s past t h a t , from Nick's y o u t h f u l p e r s p e c t i v e , makes i t seem i r r e d u c i b l e t o e x p l a n a t i o n . ...  i t was  hard f o r me t o imagine t h a t a l l the  s c u f f l e and boredom of those years, the c r i s s - c r o s s boredom and good times and the f l a r e - u p s and sameshit n i g h t s — I d i d n ' t understand how  the  streaky b l u r i n my nighttime mind c o u l d have some k i n d of form or coherence. Maybe there was  a  h i s t o r y i n her f i l e s but the t h i n g I f e l t about myself was  that I'd leaned a g a i n s t a w a l l i n a  narrow s t r e e t s e r v i n g out some years of mostly aimless w a i t i n g .  (511)  Indeed, there i s a d i f f e r e n c e between a l i f e l i v e d and the one recorded, d i s s e c t e d and analyzed. The p a t t e r n s and connections, i f they do e x i s t , r e q u i r e a mediating p e r s p e c t i v e i n order t o make any k i n d of "sense"; they cannot simply s i t i n someone's " f i l e s " , another o f f i c i a l t e x t beyond the s u b j e c t ' s conception. I t takes Nick's w i f e Marian, f o r instance, t o p o i n t out that Nick, c l u t c h i n g the b a s e b a l l i n ; deep r e v e r i e and remorse, looks " l i k e Hamlet gazing a t Yorick's s k u l l "  (132).  Nick knows t h a t "The t h i r d person watches the f i r s t person. The  'he' knows what the ' I ' can't bear t o t h i n k  about" (119). Through t h i s a u t h o r i a l "he", the "solemn  ,-. Benzon 2% scrap[s] of h i s t o r y " (16) are organized i n t o a  non-causal,  seemingly fragmented arrangement of i d e a s . L i k e the h i s t o r i e s and i s o l a t e d b a t t l e s c o l l e c t e d i n the form of abandoned bombers at the s i t e of Klara's landscape-sculpture, deceased c h i l d r e n transformed  or the  i n t o p a i n t e d angels on a  massive w a l l i n the Bronx, memories are dumped i n t o the t e x t u a l space of the long chapter t o form a new  figure that  i s composed of r e c o n t e x t u a l i z e d experiences. The s e c t i o n "Long T a l l S a l l y " , f o r example, i s a bundle of e p i s o d i c s p l i n t e r s , t i e d together by the p r e v a i l i n g n o t i o n of a search. This search i s executed by both the characters  and  the n a r r a t i v e i t s e l f , excavating and r e l a t i n g the m a t e r i a l from innumerable instances t o wonder, as does B r o n z i n i , deep i s time?"  "How  (111). The s e c t i o n begins with Nick i n the  s t e r i l i t y of a rented Lexus s t r e a k i n g through the desert (with a vague purpose of r e t r a c i n g some l o s t romantic attachment) , and ends with Manx Martin desperately ;  g r e e d i l y swiping h i s son's trophy b a l l . The two though g e o g r a p h i c a l l y and temporally  and  scenarios,  d i s p a r a t e , are  p o s i t i o n e d i n the n a r r a t i v e as the alpha and omega of an obscure loop, outside time. T h e i r a s s o c i a t i o n suggests t h a t , as Nick says,  " A l l mysteries  of the f a m i l y reach  their  culmination i n the f i n a l passion of abandonment" (86).  '  The microscopic mnemonic a s s o c i a t i o n s bookended between the Lexus and the Manx episodes  operate  according t o the same  a b s t r a c t p r i n c i p l e s as the scheme t h a t contains them. Though t e x t u a l l y s l i g h t , the connection between the b a l l and  the  Benzon 29 murder weapon i s evoked through t h e i r adjacent p o s i t i o n i n g . Nick squeezes the b a l l i n h i s hand and the thought f l i c k e r s , "I hefted the weapon and pointed i t " (132). The j u x t a p o s i t i o n of t h e two motions suggests t h e connection  between Nick's  expensive a c q u i s i t i o n , a ' s i g n i f i c a t i o n of h i s m u l t i p l e f a i l u r e s , and h i s as y e t u n i l l u m i n a t e d r o l e as a k i l l e r . S i m i l a r l y , a d e s c r i p t i o n o f the young Nick, "the o l d e r son with h i s d i s t a n c e and dimmed moods and undimmed rage, up on the roof i n the evening s l e e t t o smoke a c i g a r e t t e , " i s poignantly postured against a strand o f h i s "current" thought: "I look a t the Lucky S t r i k e s logotype and I- think t a r g e t " (122). These c o l l a t i o n s r e v e a l the deep s t r u c t u r e s o f the character's  formation.  The "undimmed rage" i s connected  t o h i s f a t h e r ' s f a v o u r i t e brand o f smokes, a brand decorated with a " t a r g e t " , an a b s t r a c t f o c a l p o i n t of the rage t h a t would l a t e r focus more c o n c r e t e l y on George's head. I t i s a n a r r a t i v e t a c t i c that embodies the same type of r i d d l i n g t h a t Dr. ,Lindbald uses i n her r e c o n s t r u c t i o n o f Nick's h i s t o r y ; she assembles the impossible  personal  scenery, s t a t i n g t h a t  Nick's " f a t h e r was the t h i r d person, i n the room the day [he] shot George Manza" ( 5 1 2 ) — a n i m p o s s i b i l i t y that may nevertheless  be t r u e .  Throughout  Underworld,  time and l i n e a r a s s o c i a t i o n a r e  broken down i n t h i s type of c o g n i t i v e c i r c u m l o c u t i o n . The designs o f the "I"  t  the means through which the subject  metabolizes experience, are p l o t t e d out i n unpredictable shards o f mnemonic d e t a i l . The sequencing o f these thoughts  Benzon 30 and statements, a mingling of the "he", the " I " , and numerable other avenues of perception, b u i l d s a unique e p i s t e m o l o g i c a l and o n t o l o g i c a l framework. Here, f o r i n s t a n c e , Nick describes the process of breaking down household garbage.for  the r e c y c l i n g b i n :  At home we wanted c l e a n safe healthy garbage. We r i n s e d out o l d bo.ttles and put them i n proper b i n s . We f a i t h f u l l y removed the c r i n k l y paper from our c e r e a l boxes. I t was l i k e preparing a Pharaoh f o r h i s death and b u r i a l . We wanted t o do the small things r i g h t . Accounting  (119)  f o r "the small t h i n g s " — t h e p a i n s t a k i n g s e p a r a t i o n  and compartmentalization  of the s e l f and one's p a s t — i s here  t r a n s l a t e d i n t o the d i l i g e n t s o r t i n g o f everyday r e f u s e . Garbage, i n t h i s work, may be what E l i o t c a l l e d an " o b j e c t i v e c o r r e l a t i v e " of experience. This notion i s supported  by the  fragment which follows the above, a thought seemingly out of mode with what precedes i t :  "He never committed a f i g u r e t o  paper. He had a head f o r numbers, a memory f o r numbers" (119). This deep k e r n e l o f Nick's past, indeed,  i s the  m a t e r i a l " c r i n k l y paper" i n the s u b j e c t i v e c e r e a l box. Nick's sense of p a t e r n a l abandonment i s accented by both the conspicuous,  disarming placement of the comment and by the  underscoring of h i s f a t h e r ' s specious mathematical prowess and aversion t o "commitment". The  f r a g i l i t y and.ambiguity of t h i s connection  garbage-sorting  (between  and Nick's f a t h e r ' s gambling s k i l l s ) i s  Benzon 31 counterbalanced and f u r t h e r complicated by yet another inapt statement. Nick r e c a l l s how  "In the bronze tower I looked out  at the umber h i l l s and f e l t assured and w e l l defended,  safe  i n my o f f i c e box and my c r i s p white s h i r t and connected t o things t h a t made me  stronger" (119). The t h i r d segment, the  r e a l i t y of the "bronze tower", i s the present scheme of things f o r Nick S h a y — a strengthened and ordered p o s i t i o n , complete with metal tower, pressed s h i r t , and the smell of i n d u s t r y . Nick's placement i n t h i s supremely c o n s t r u c t e d atmosphere, along with h i s d i u r n a l jogging and suburban r o u t i n e , i s p a r t l y an answer t o the ever-precarious and nagging problem of h i s n e g l i g e n t f a t h e r . These three paragraphs,  though divergent from a l o g i c a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n of  the s u b j e c t ' s trauma, i d e n t i f y e s s e n t i a l , b u r i e d operations and r e l a t i o n s which l i n e a r c a u s a l connections cannot i n c l u d e . This breaking-up  and r e c o n s t r u c t i o n of thought  and  i n c i d e n c e a t times becomes an e r r a t i c pendulum—most notably a f t e r the subject has had some type of i n t e r a c t i o n with media, human or otherwise. Nick Shay has one such experience while i n a h o t e l , "waiting f o r room s e r v i c e t o show up with his  brandy" (208). The t e l e v i s i o n i s rebroadcasting a popular  'highway murder scene. The scene has meaning beyond the p a r t i c u l a r circumstances of the highway murder, as i n d i c a t e d by Nick's i n e r t i a and mental s i f t i n g . What follows i s a dense jumble of impressions and a n x i e t i e s . Nick, a v e r s i o n of L e C l a i r ' s "Systems man",  " i s more a locus of communication of  energy i n a r e c i p r o c a l r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h h i s environment than  Benzon 32 an e n t i t y e x e r t i n g ; f o r c e and - d i c t a t i n g l i n e a r c a u s e - e f f e c t sequences"  (10). In the h o t e l , the f i x i t y of time and p l a c e  i s d e s t a b i l i z e d by the i n t e r v e n t i o n of a cab d r i v e r , who  11  " t o l d Nick about the murders of gypsy d r i v e r s , a r e g u l a r event l a t e l y , a game of chance you p l a y every n i g h t " (209), and the n a r r a t o r , who  simply intones, "Nick d i d not l i k e  c a t s . " Each utterance b u i l d s on the previous one i n l a t e r a l , unprogrammatic f a s h i o n . The d e f e a t i s t chant of a New  Yorker,  " E i t h e r they rob you and k i l l you or they rob you and l e t you live"  (209) i s counterbalanced by Nick's own personal mantra  of s t a b i l i t y ,  "I l i v e a q u i e t l i f e i n an unassuming house i n  a suburb of Phoenix"  (209). T h i s s t a b i l i t y e l i c i t s the  i n c l i n a t i o n to place a l l variables  ( i n t h i s case, h i s mother)  i n t o proper domestic z i p l o c k : "Once he got her t o say yes, they'd be able t o spend untrammeled time remembering together" (209). There i s then another r e c o i l i n g t o the cabby whom, Nick assures h i m s e l f , "He'd  tipped . . .  nicely"  (209).  F i n a l l y , the sequence i s concluded as "He l o o k [ s ] at the TV screen, where the tape was  nearing the p o i n t when the d r i v e r  waves, the c r i s p wave from the top of the s t e e r i n g wheel, and he w a i t [ s ] f o r room s e r v i c e t o knock on h i s door"  (209).  The perverse n a r r a t i v e s e q u e n c i n g — o r , more p r e c i s e l y , " s n o w b a l l i n g " — a s i l l u s t r a t e d above i s a formal attempt  to  provide a l t e r n a t i v e p e r s p e c t i v e s and i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of both the s i n g l e , f i x e d a c t , and what i s acknowledged as the o r d e r l y flow of experience contingent upon time. The  text  Benzon 33 f o r m a l l y resembles a p i e c e of garborator-twisted s t r i n g d e p i c t e d i n White  Noise:  There was a long p i e c e o f twine t h a t contained a s e r i e s of knots and loops. I t seemed a t f i r s t a random c o n s t r u c t i o n . Looking more c l o s e l y I thought I detected a complex r e l a t i o n s h i p between the s i z e of the loops, the degree of t h e knots ( s i n g l e o r double) and the i n t e r v a l s between knots with and f r e e s t a n d i n g knots.  loops  (259)  S c r u t i n i z i n g the looping i n t e r v a l s , D e L i l l o wonders, i n the words of B r o n z i n i , "what we'd l e a r n by going deeper i n t o s t r u c t u r e s beneath the standard model, down under the quantiim, a m i l l i o n times smaller than the o l d Greek atom" (222). D e L i l l o thus introduces t e n s i o n s , d i s l o c a t i o n s and a s s o c i a t i o n s t h a t e x i s t d e s p i t e the long periods t h a t separate them, as i f the s t r a i g h t l i n e of time had been looped and knotted p r i o r t o i t s i n s p e c t i o n . This expression and r e c o n f i g u r a t i o n of deep, elongated time has notable e f f e c t s upon the c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n of the s u b j e c t . The manslaughter/suicide  scene between Nick and George  i l l u s t r a t e s the depth t h a t i s accomplished  by temporal  c o n t o r t i o n . The "he" t e l l s how "In the extended i n t e r v a l of the t r i g g e r p u l l , the long quarter second, with the a c t i o n of the t r i g g e r s l u g g i s h and rough, Nick saw i n t o the smile on the other man's face" (780). Nick sees into  the smile,  e f f e c t i v e l y p i e r c i n g the v e i l of countenance and accessing the s u b j e c t i v e i n t e n t i o n behind i t . The dispensing of  Benzon 34 temporal s t r i c t u r e s allows f o r f u r t h e r , more i n h e r e n t l y s p a t i a l maneuvering.  I t i s not c l e a r l y a r t i c u l a t e d what i s  "seen" behind the smile of one who has t r i c k e d a teenaged boy i n t o blowing h i s head o f f .  Nor i s i t d e t a i l e d what p a r t i c u l a r  r e a c t i o n t'his blunder i n c i t e s i n Nick. Rather, the f a l l o u t of the  shooting i s imparted by t e x t u a l expansion, where the  terms and motions of the a c t repeat themselves, c o n t i n u a l l y set-up a g a i n s t one another i n s l i g h t l y v a r i a b l e shades. Each b o l t of t e x t , arranged i n single-sentence paragraphs, emulates the f i r i n g  of the g u n — a s w e l l as the synaptic  m i s f i r i n g s of the stunned observer. He f e l t the t r i g g e r p u l l and then the gun.went off  and he was l e f t there t h i n k i n g weakly he d i d n ' t  do i t . But f i r s t he p o i n t e d the gun a t the man's head and asked i f i t was loaded.  (780)  While the f i r s t sentence expresses a p a s s i v i t y on the p a r t of the  shooter, the second sentence h i g h l i g h t s the s u b j e c t ' s  d e l i b e r a t e involvement i n the a c t . The q u e s t i o n of c u l p a b i l i t y i s tossed around from one t e x t u a l b u l l e t t o the next. S e v e r a l times, t h e r e i s a f l a s h i n g d i s c l a i m e r , "And the way the man s a i d no when he asked i f i t was loaded." Conversely, the sequence of the motion and the p e r c e p t i o n i s i n v e r t e d , as i n the f o l l o w i n g : Then the n o i s e busted through t h e room and he stood there t h i n k i n g weakly he didn't do i t .  Benzon 35 But f i r s t he force-squeezed  the t r i g g e r and saw.  i n t o the smile and i t seemed t o have the s p i r i t o f a dare. (780) This r e i t e r a t i o n obstructs t h e l o g i c a l - t e m p o r a l  progression  of the scene j u s t as a skipping record h a l t s musical momentum. The f i r s t words o f most statements propose a c y c l e wherein the subject  ("He") i s stymied by both c o g n i t i v e  ("But") and temporal ("Then") o b s t a c l e s . But, as with h i p hop 's r e p e t i t i o u s t r i p p i n g of the needle atop v i n y l , the c l o g g i n g and stagnancy evident i n t h i s d e p i c t i o n c r e a t e the background f o r a new discourse t h a t operates w i t h i n the expansion-space of a s i n g l e p o i n t i n time.  4. Towards a S p a t i a l N a r r a t i v e I t i s s c a r c e l y any l o n g e r p o s s i b l e t o t e l l a s t r a i g h t story sequentially unfolding i n time. That i s t o s a y , we a r e always aware o f what i s t r a v e r s i n g t h e s t o r y l a t e r a l l y . And i n s t e a d o f b e i n g aware o f a p o i n t as an i n f i n i t e l y s m a l l p a r t of a s t r a i g h t l i n e , we are aware of i t as an i n f i n i t e l y s m a l l p a r t o f an i n f i n i t e number of l i n e s , as t h e c e n t e r of a s t a r of l i n e s . Such awareness i s t h e r e s u l t o f o u r c o n s t a n t l y h a v i n g t o take i n t o account t h e s i m u l t a n e i t y and e x t e n s i o n o f events and p o s s i b i l i t i e s . - B e r g e r , The Look of Things  D e L i l l o ' s decomposition of l i n e a r s i g n i f y i n g chains, as presented  i n h i s networked modeling of incidence and  p e r c e p t i o n , i s the fundamental means o f d e s t a b i l i z i n g temporal s t r u c t u r e s i n Underworld.  The. i n t e r f a c i n g of p u b l i c  and p r i v a t e , as w e l l as l a r g e - and s m a l l - s c a l e h i s t o r i c a l  Benzon 36 f i g u r e s , and the excavation' of random  dietrologia,  1  c o n t r i b u t e s f u r t h e r t o a sense o f i n t e r - h i s t o r i c i t y where t h e mechanisms of power are dispersed'amongst  minuscule and  i n f i n i t e l y v a r i a b l e agents. T h i s suggests, both f o r m a l l y and t h e m a t i c a l l y , t h a t h i s t o r y i s n e i t h e r f i n i t e nor s o l e l y temporal i n nature, but r a t h e r the cumulative r e s u l t o f endless c i r c u m l o c u t i o n — i n other words, D e L i l l o extends  into  i n f i n i t y the t r a d i t i o n a l n o t i o n of h i s t o r y as a process o f c o n t i n u a l change o r "progress" t o produce an a m p l i f i e d , c r y s t a l l i n e , and i r r e d u c i b l e s t a s i s o f spatio-temporal i n t e r c o n n e c t i v i t y . This view of h i s t o r y i s conducive t o the needs o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l because i t permits t h e e x p r e s s i o n o f r e l a t i o n s h i p s and connections which the l i n e a r model, everadvancing and accumulating d e b r i s , does not allow. I t i n t e r r u p t s those systems which r e l y upon the uniform s t r a i g h t n e s s of time through the coalescence of the ^one t o the many, the s u b s t i t u t i o n of the l i n e with the s t a r . The v a r i a b i l i t y and h y p e r t e x t u a l i t y of the n a r r a t i v e i s epitomized most keenly i n the s t r u c t u r e s of b a s e b a l l . L i k e chess, b a s e b a l l i s a game of " l o c a t i o n , s i t u a t i o n and memory" (674). B a s e b a l l operates upon the t e n s i o n between regiment and randomness. The diamond i n s i s t s on a b a s i c , unwavering route of progress. "For b a s e b a l l , " as McLuhan says,' " i s a game of one-thing-at-a-time, f i x e d p o s i t i o n s and v i s i b l y delegated s p e c i a l i s t jobs . . . with i t s fragmented  tasks and  s t a f f and l i n e i n management o r g a n i z a t i o n " (239). But t h i s 1  N i c k ' s term f o r  "the s c i e n c e t h a t i s  behind something"  (UW 280).  Benzon 37 f i x i t y i s repeatedly upset by the i n t e r s e c t i n g arc of the b a l l and the i n f i n i t y of p o s s i b l e p l a y s . In t h i s sense, the b a l l i s i t s e l f a type of media, as i t s movement at once d i c t a t e s and r e f l e c t s the course of events; once i t i s h i t , "nothing i s the same" (27). The men  are moving, coming out of t h e i r crouches,  and everything submits t o the pebble-skip of the b a l l , t o r o t a t i o n s and backspins and a i r s t r e a m s . There are drag c o e f f i c i e n t s . There are t r a i l i n g v o r t i c e s . There are t h i n g s t h a t r e p l a y unrepeatably, muscle memory and pumping blood and j o t s of dust, the n a r r a t i v e t h a t l i v e s i n the spaces of the o f f i c i a l play-by-play.  (27)  I f i t - i s the u n p r e d i c t a b l e atom, the b a l l , and i t s attendant p h y s i c a l p r o p e r t i e s which p r e c i p i t a t e and govern a c t i o n , then the " o f f i c i a l play-by-play" i s at bottom a f a l l a c y , or at l e a s t a gross approximation. Further, the v a r i a b l e " c o e f f i c i e n t s " and " v o r t i c e s " — e x p r e s s i o n s of a d i s t i n c t l y inhuman or unconscious r e a l i t y — e x t e n d beyond the game through the b a l l , which permeates the world and the n a r r a t i v e l i k e a v i r u s or r a d i o a c t i v e f a l l o u t . As Andrew Paulus d e c l a r e s , "our wins and l o s s e s tend t o have impact w e l l beyond our borders" (670); s i m i l a r l y , Edgar muses that "pathogenic b a c t e r i a c o u l d be every b i t as d e s t r u c t i v e as megaton bombs. Worse, i n a way, infiltration  because the sense of  [ i s ] i t s e l f a form of death"  (57). The  ball,  d e s p i t e i t s t i n i n e s s , has the hegemonic power of s t a t e  Benzon 38 weaponry, made e x p l i c i t by Marvin's t r i v i a :  "when they make  an atomic bomb, l i s t e n t o t h i s , they make the r a d i o a c t i v e core the same s i z e as a b a s e b a l l " (172). Thus the game i s not, as John D u v a l l suggests, simply an " a u r a t i c frenzy" (286), which can " e c l i p s e a moment c r u c i a l t o the c o n s t r u c t i o n of the Cold War" of  (287), but i t , i s another echo  the d i s t a n t c o n f l i c t , p a r t of the i n t e r s e c t i o n which forms  the node of the h i s t o r i c a l moment. Through i n h e r e n t l y s p a t i a l metaphors such as b a s e b a l l , Underworld  explores the m u l t i p l i c i t y and the "network" of  h i s t o r y . In so doing, i t i n s t i l l s the " c o o r d i n a t i o n and t o l e r a t i o n " t h a t K r i s t i n Ross noted i s absent i n s o c i a l t h e o r i e s that t r y t o s i t u a t e concepts i n t o d e v i s a b l e patterns and sequences.  D e L i l l o ' s c h i e f , and perhaps most coarse,  means of c r e a t i n g t h i s s p a t i a l network i s the intermeshing of a v a r i e t y of media forms. A c o l l a g e of f i l m ,  photographs,  news reportage, and omniscient or s u b j e c t i v e o b s e r v a t i o n , the novel forms a quasi-hypertextual space through which ideas and events c i r c u l a t e . K l a r a , f o r example, looks a t a photograph  of Truman Capote's Black & White B a l l and i s  f o r c e d t o c o n t e x t u a l i z e her work i n the d e s e r t . She wonders, "What i s i t about t h i s p i c t u r e that makes i t so hard f o r me to  remember myself?" (79). Surrounded men  by famous people and powerful people,  i n the a d m i n i s t r a t i o n who were running the  and I want t o p a i n t i t over . . . maybe t h i s i s  war,  Benzon 3S what I'm doing, I don't know, i t ' s a work i n progress. (79) As Thomas Carmichael notes i n h i s d i s c u s s i o n of i n t e r t e x t u a l i t y i n Mao II  (a novel which opens w i t h an image  of a mass Moonie wedding), the photograph " i n v i t e s us. t o consider  . . . the nexus t h a t f u l l y c h a r a c t e r i z e s the f i e l d  of postmodern i n t e r t e x t u a l i t y "  (215). But K l a r a ' s  self-  perception steps beyond what i s apparent i n Mao II where B r i t a , the t h i e v i n g photographer, "shoots and shoots and. shoots" (54) enough t o make her o b j e c t f e e l " f l a t as b i r d s h i t on a Buick" (54). Conversely, i n Underworld, catalyst And  the image i s a  f o r s u b j e c t i v e r e f l e c t i o n r a t h e r than  degradation.  even Klara's epiphanies are not the end of the  hypertextual  scheme; r a t h e r , they become u n i t s i n a l a r g e r ,  compound c o n s t r u c t i o n . The event depicted by the photograph i s combed back i n t o the f a b r i c o f the t e x t , and the consciousness o f other s u b j e c t s : Capote's b a l l i s l a t e r r e t o l d from s t a r - s t r u c k Hoover's p o i n t o f view, and K l a r a i s reduced t o the memory o f "a middling p a i n t e r c a l l e d whatever she's c a l l e d . Sax o r Wax o r something" (574). In t h i s sense, the r e c o n t e x t u a l i z e d n a r r a t i o n o f v i s u a l media:—written and not merely i n s e r t e d p i c t o r i a l l y — a l l o w s  j u x t a p o s i t i o n s and  connections that each medium alone would hot be capable o f p o r t r a y i n g o r producing. The " j o s t l e d footage"  (488)  o f the  Zapruder f i l m , t o take another example, i s perceived by an audience t h a t has t o "contend with the impact" (488). And Mick Jagger i n  Cocksucker  Blues  makes K l a r a t h i n k how  ' Benzon 40 "everything that everyone has eaten i n the l a s t ten years has gone i n t o t h a t mouth" (382). The m a t e r i a l imparted by the medium i s s i t u a t e d alongside the s u b j e c t , whose p a r t i c i p a t i o n and p e r c e p t i o n add dimension t o the event, thereby c r e a t i n g a matrix, or an i n t e r s e c t i o n of l i n e s which form a s t a r . The Texas Highway K i l l e r i s one such s t a r , whose v a r i o u s n a r r a t i v e i n c a r n a t i o n s emanate from a b r u t a l crime mediated by videotape. The footage thus works "to make a channeled path through time, t o g i v e t h i n g s a shape and a d e s t i n y " (157). The k i l l i n g , because i t i s random (and i n t h a t sense a vaguely democratic gesture) i s "a crime designed f o r t a p i n g and immediate p l a y i n g "  (159). Indeed, the shooting i s  "replayed" i n v a r i o u s instances throughout D e L i l l o ' s t e x t , i n d i c a t i n g as much about those who watch i t , or ignore i t ,  as  i t does about the crime i t s e l f . Matty, f o r one, watches the news r e p o r t w i t h deep i n t e r e s t and i s "not able t o look a t the tape without wanting t o c a l l out t o Janet" (217) each time they a i r the exploding head. Nick, however, does not pay a t t e n t i o n t o i t ; he knows f i r s t hand what i t ' s l i k e t o shoot a man  and doesn't need a video t o t e l l him. Nick's son, whose <  personal computer "had a multimedia f u n c t i o n t h a t allowed him t o look at a copy of the famous videotape showing a d r i v e r , being shot" (118), d i s p l a y s the endgame t h a t r e s u l t s from t h i s combination of innocence... and technology. The m u l t i p l i c i t y of n a r r a t i v e s that the computer p r o v i d e s , l a t e r picked up i n the novel's culminating d e s c r i p t i o n of the world wide web,  epitomizes the l i b e r t i e s a f f o r d e d by  Benzon 41 interconnectedness. With the computer, the acts of the Texas Highway K i l l e r are drawn out of o b s c u r i t y , and J e f f , a completely d i s l o c a t e d s u b j e c t , can e f f e c t i v e l y plunge  into  and manipulate the d e t a i l s of the shooting. J e f f became absorbed i n these images, d e v i s i n g r o u t i n e s and programs, using f i l t e r i n g  techniques  to remove background t e x t u r e . He was _looking f o r l o s t information.  (118)  Rather than p a s s i v e l y absorbing the s c e n a r i o , J e f f , enabled by h i s computer system, s c r u t i n i z e s and manipulates the image so as t o f i n d something  hidden i n the b l u r of p i x e l s .  u n l i k e N i c h o l a s Branch, whose search f o r the principle"  And  "hidden  (171) of the Kennedy a s s a s s i n a t i o n has  him  s u f f o c a t i n g i n a "room of growing o l d " (14), the d e t a i l s , v a r i a b l e s , and permutations through which J e f f s i f t s are i n v i g o r a t i n g and r e g e n e r a t i v e . The i n t e g r i t y of the p e r e e i v e r i s not squelched even i n a c l i n i c a l r e t e l l i n g of the shooting i n c i d e n t , which begins "Elegy f o r the L e f t hand Alone". The i n i t i a l  statements  link  the document, the recorded data, t o the unsuspecting person behind the r e c o r d e r : " I t shows a man  d r i v i n g a c a r . I t i s the  simplest s o r t of f a m i l y v i d e o . You see a man  at the wheel of  a medium Dodge" (155). The video, as an " I t " which "shows", mutates i n t o the "You" who  "sees". The  mediating-agent  between the o b j e c t and the s u b j e c t i s the g i r l ,  simply  "aiming her camera through her r e a r window" (155). She captures the world that i s "already l u r k i n g i n the camera,  Benzon 42 already framed, w a i t i n g " (156). This suggestion, t h a t the world awaits f i l m and t h a t i t i s i n a sense the same as footage, r e l i e v e s the media of any a c c o u n t a b i l i t y . Rather, . the f i l m i s pure agency, as the pathogens t h a t a r e coughed up and s c a t t e r e d from Gleason's  mouth. i n t h e i r randomness and  c r u d i t y , there i s a d i r e c t c o r r e l a t i o n between the f i l m and the mind: " I t i s the j o s t l e d p a r t of your mind, the f i l m t h a t runs through your h o t e l b r a i n under a l l the thoughts  you. know  you're t h i n k i n g " (156). Another s p i n d l e p r o j e c t e d from t h e shooting i n c i d e n t i s the Highway K i l l e r h i m s e l f . He turns out t o be a grocery c l e r k , Richard. H i s l i f e i s markedly banal, spent  diligently  administering Nitrospan t o h i s f a t h e r and o c c a s i o n a l l y e a t i n g "a muffin standing up, a hand cupped under h i s c h i n t o catch the crumbs" (272). He has a crush on h i s f r i e n d ' s w i f e and leaves milk out f o r a s t r a y c a t . Though there i s nothing t o e x p l a i n h i s murderous tendencies, microscopic glimpses  into  the workings of. h i s mind r e v e a l acute d i s l o c a t i o n caused by a p a u c i t y of s o c i a l i n t e r c o u r s e . Again i t i s the m a t e r i a l i z a t i o n o f the k i l l i n g s — t h e video and the green eyes of Sue Ann the anchorwoman—that provides both evidence of t h i s d i s l o c a t i o n as w e l l as a. sense o f intimacy and completeness. He watched her over there and t a l k e d t o her over here.  . . . He t a l k e d t o her on the phone and made  eye contact with the TV. This was t h e waking o f the  Benzon 43 knowledge t h a t he was keep him whole.  real.  ...  saw,  to  (270)  This mediated s e l f - r e a l i z a t i o n reminds one Libra,  He needed her  of Oswald who,  in  c o u l d "see himself shot as the camera caught i t " and  as i f through Ruby and the m i l l i o n s i n t h e i r  rooms, "the t w i s t e d p i c t u r e of h i s face on TV"  living  (440).  S i m i l a r l y , the t e l e v i s i o n f i g u r e i s , f o r Richard,  a face t o  meet; the TV i s i t s e l f the locus of an impossible  discussion.  The  sense of "realness" comes with the s i t u a t i o n of the  self  on t e l e v i s i o n , the l i f e - g i v i n g f o r c e . The d i s t a n c i n g from the s e l f , processed and d i s t o r t e d through equipment, i s a l i b e r a t i o n , as "the a l t e r e d v o i c e went on, t a l k i n g i n t h a t f l a t - g r a p h e d way,  he was  a c t u a l l y c h a t t i n g now,  confident,  g e t t i n g the f e e l of the medium, the format" (270). Through the d e s c r i p t i o n of E i s e n s t e i n ' s " l o s t " f i l m ,  the  author creates yet another i n t e r t e x t , t h i s time l i n k i n g w i t h Underworld  i t s e l f . Though i t i s a somewhat h y p e r b o l i c  analogy, the fragmentary c o n s t r u c t i o n of E i s e n s t e i n ' s f i l m i s a r e f l e c t i o n of D e L i l l o ' s t e x t : "The There was  p l o t was  hard t o f o l l o w .  no p l o t . Just l o n e l i n e s s , barrenness, men  hunted  and ray-gunned" (431). S t i l l , the deep focus i n each segment of f i l m , i t s emphasis on space and p h y s i c a l d e t a i l , i l l u m i n a t e s those v a r i a b l e s that permeate the novel as a whole. Overcomposed closeups,  momentous g e s t u r i n g ,  t r a i l i n g t h e i r immense blended shadows, and was  actors there  something t o study i n every frame, i n every  Benzon 44 camera placement, the shapes and planes and then the j u x t a p o s i t i o n shots, the sense of rhythmic c o n t r a d i c t i o n , i t was was  a l l spaces and volumes, i t .  tempo, mass and s t r e s s  (429)  D e L i l l o ' s c l o s e u p s — t h e Demming's J e l l o (513), Condomology (109), the garbage dump (185)-—are s i m i l a r l y  "overcomposed",  as i s the "rhythmic c o n t r a d i c t i o n " of the George Manza shooting a matter of "tempo, mass and s t r e s s " . The  action  d e p i c t e d i s a grotesque counterpart t o the events of the novel, a heightened v e r s i o n of Nick's boyhood shooting as w e l l as a commentary on the perverse consequences of scientific  inquiry. The mad  s c i e n t i s t aims h i s gun.  A f i g u r e stands against a w a l l , h i s body going white. The s c i e n t i s t shows a t i g h t s m i l e . The v i c t i m i s t r a n s f i g u r e d , pain-racked, h i s lower l i p d r i b b l i n g o f f h i s face, a growth appearing at the s i d e of h i s neck, a r a d i a n t timelapse melanoma.  (431)  The s l y smile of George i s t r a n s f e r r e d i n t o the t i g h t smile of  the s c i e n t i s t . A s c i - f i v e r s i o n of Nick's r i f l e b r i n g s  about a "transformation" more obscene than death, rendering the v i c t i m a cancerous blob of r a d i o a c t i v i t y . The moving image i s repeatedly evoked i n Underworld means of r e f l e c t i n g and e n e r g i z i n g c h a r a c t e r because, p a r t i c u l a r l y over the past f i f t y years, i t has been the  as a  Benzon 45 dominant mediator of popular consciousness. F i l m i s poignant because i t makes concrete and v i s i b l e those s t r u c t u r e s and s i m u l t a n e i t i e s t h a t l o g i c negates. I t has the i n v o l v i n g property of what McLuhan c a l l s  "cool media", as. "the head-  camera shows by p r o j e c t i o n both scene and the eye movement simultaneously" (309). I t i s a means through which  symmetries  can be known, as the Texas Highway K i l l e r footage expresses "Random energies t h a t approach a common p o i n t " (157), a c o l l i s i o n which works upon p r i n c i p l e s incommensurate with conventional l o g i c a l systems and p a t t e r n s . There's something here that speaks t o you d i r e c t l y , saying t e r r i b l e things about fprces beyond your c o n t r o l , l i n e s of i n t e r s e c t i o n t h a t c u t through h i s t o r y and l o g i c and every reasonable l a y e r of human e x p e c t a t i o n . (157) This i n t e g r a l "randomness" culminates i n the two f i n a l episodes of the book, both of which are b u i l t upon p e c u l i a r " i n t e r s e c t i o n s " which verge upon the sublime. There i s , f i r s t , the awe and fear brought about by the appearance of Esmerelda's face upon a Manhattan b i l l b o a r d . Hundreds congregate and "stare s t u p i d l y at the j u i c e "  (821)? u n l i k e  K l a r a ' s Black & White photograph and Bruegel's Death,  the  Triumph  the advertisment on the board i s but another v e i l  through which an a l t e r n a t e information-form emerges. Esmerelda's image, l i k e the l i t e r a r y works i n Borges' l i b r a r y , i s a node which appears i n the random, f l e e t i n g c o l l i s i o n of d i s p a r a t e e n e r g i e s . I t appears "when the t r a i n  of  Benzon 46 l i g h t s h i t the dimmest p a r t of the b i l l b o a r d . .. . under the rainbow of bounteous j u i c e and above the l i t t l e suburban lake and there i s a 3ense of someone l i v i n g i n the image, an animating s p i r i t " Esmerelda's  (882). image, l i k e the taped murders on the Texas  highway, i s the m a t e r i a l product of opposing impulses.  The  i m p o s s i b i l i t y of what i s r e v e a l e d by the passing t r a i n i s evinced by "the sound of the crowd . . .  a gasp that shoots  i n t o sobs and moans and the c r y of some unnamable p a i n of elation"  (821). This v i s i o n a r y episode i s , i n the l a s t pages  of the novel, r e i t e r a t e d i n the more v i a b l e , though perhaps blasphemous connection between the Internet and heaven. The World Wide Web,  with i t s " b i l l i o n d i s t a n t net nodes"  (825)  and merging of places and moments i n time, i s the supreme metaphor of s p a t i a l i t y . Everything i s connected. A l l human knowledge gathered and l i n k e d , h y p e r l i n k e d , t h i s s i t e l e a d i n g to t h a t , t h i s f a c t r e f e r e n c e d t o t h a t , a keystroke, a mouse-click, a password—world without end, amen. (825) Though i t i s S i s t e r Edgar who  i s entrenched i n t h i s  information matrix, the n a r r a t i v e i n c o r p o r a t e s the reader as w e l l , s i g n i f y i n g that the c o m p l i c i t y of a l l s u b j e c t i v i t y extends beyond the pages of the n o v e l — f r o m f i c t i o n t o r e a l i t y and back agains "When you decide t o v i s i t the H-bomb home page she begins t o understand"  (825). T h i s  convergence  of s u b j e c t i v i t y , as with the u n i f i c a t i o n of the two  Edgars,  Benzon 47 " S i s t e r and Brother" (826), i s the a n t i t h e s i s of the f u s i o n bomb; i t i s "a way difference"  of seeing the other s i d e and a s e t t l i n g of  (826).  L i f e magazine appears  s p o r a d i c a l l y throughout  the  n a r r a t i v e l i k e a p r i e s t i n a m o r a l i t y p l a y . Most s i g n i f i c a n t l y , i t ' s among the f l u t t e r i n g pages t h a t pour over the crowd at the 195i b a l l game. In c o n t r a s t with it's name, the magazine's images f u n c t i o n t o connect the morbidity of two realms, d e s p i t e t h e i r temporal d i s p a r i t y . Bruegel's Triumph  of  Death,  The  "a landscape of v i s i o n a r y havoc and r u i n "  (41), f a l l s upon J . Edgar Hoover's shoulder; he i s f a s c i n a t e d by i t s "cankers, l e s i o n s and r o t t i n g bodies so long as h i s connection t o the source i s s t r i c t l y p i c t o r i a l "  (50). But, of  course, i t ' s not. The image echoes the b a l l game's carnivalesque atmosphere, with the fans " a l l around him cheering" (50), but i t a l s o conveys the p i l l a g i n g  and  p o l l u t i n g Edgar a s s o c i a t e s with h i m s e l f . The image contains the "black and white"  (50) of Capote's b a l l , which i s packed  with a medieval gamut of monks and executioners, "skeleton men  and raven women" (576), who  dance f l o o r "  form "a death rank on the  (576). The p a i n t i n g r e a f f i r m s t o Edgar what he  already knows, t h a t "the l i v i n g are s i n n e r s " (50). But Bruegel's p a i n t i n g o f f e r s as w e l l an e e r i e p a r a l l e l between the b a l l game and the e f f e c t s of a simultaneous  Russian  nuclear t e s t — a c o r r e l a t i o n t h a t would l a t e r form the dual h e a d l i n e . To Edgar, entranced by the painting,, the connection i s a l l too c l e a r .  Benzon 48 The meatblood c o l o r s and massed bodies, t h i s i s a census-taking of awful ways t o d i e . He looks a t the f l a r i n g sky i n the deep d i s t a n c e out beyond the headlands on the l e f t - h a n d page—Death  elsewhere,  C o n f l a g r a t i o n i n many p l a c e s , T e r r o r u n i v e r s a l , the crows, the ravens i n s i l e n t g l i d e , the raven perched on the white nag's rump, b l a c k and white f o r e v e r , and he t h i n k s of a l o n e l y tower standing i n the Kazakh Test S i t e , the tower armed w i t h the bomb.  (50)  His personal t e r r o r i s mediated by the p a i n t i n g i n t o a "Terror u n i v e r s a l " . S i m i l a r l y , "The homerun t h a t won game," says D e L i l l o , t h a t was  the  "soon t o be known as the  'shot  heard around the world' had found i t s awful counterpoint. A Russian mushroom cloud" ("The  Power of H i s t o r y " 63).  T h i s connection between the game and the mushroom, c l o u d i s corroborated i n the n a r r a t i v e , which, i n the  final  chapter, produces scenes of nuclear holocaust t h a t r e p l i c a t e those i n Bruegel's d e p i c t i o n of Death and C o n f l a g r a t i o n . Nick and B r i a n are escorted through the Kazakh Test S i t e by V i k t o r Maltsev of the Tchaika company. They tour the Museum of Mishaps which catalogues and archives the r e s i d u a l e f f e c t s of the 1951  nuclear t e s t , a v i r t u a l i n c a r n a t i o n of. Bruegel's  "meatblood c o l o r s and massed bodies"  (50).  I t i s the boy with the s k i n where h i s eyes ought t o be, a bolus of spongy f l e s h , oddly l i k e a mushroom cap, s p r i n g i n g from each brow. I t i s the b a l d -  Benzon 49 headed c h i l d r e n standing along a w a l l i n t h e i r underwear, w a i t i n g t o be examined. I t i s the  man  with the growth beneath h i s c h i n , a t h i n g with a l i f e of i t s own,  embryonic and p u l s i n g .  (800)  The very mushroomy and "embryonic" autonomy of t h e i r deformed t i s s u e embodies the shape of the e x p l o s i o n t h a t ravaged them, r e a f f i r m i n g t h a t processes, f r a c t a l - l i k e , repeat  infinitely  down the c h a i n of s c a l e . As with the b a l l game, signs of the western marketplace  r i d d l e . t h e scene, at once t e r r i b l y out of  sync w i t h the d e s p a i r a t hand and i n d i c a t i v e of c a p i t a l ' s stake i n the nuclear program. Items and products are i n e x p l i c a b l y but i n e x t r i c a b l y p a r t of the s u f f e r i n g a t the Test S i t e . Nick sees "the dwarf g i r l who  wears a t - s h i r t  a d v e r t i s i n g a Gay and Lesbian f e s t i v a l i n Hamburg, Germany, bottom edge dragging on the f l o o r " "preserved i n Heinz p i c k l e j a r s "  (800) and fetuses  (799). The products  and  slogans are morbid testimony t h a t the bomb with i t s "Many buzzing neutrons  [and] very l i t t l e b l a s t  capitalist tool"  (790). I t s p e r f e c t i o n i s , as V i k t o r says,  t h a t the bomb w i l l  " K i l l people,  [ i s ] The p e r f e c t  [but] spare property"  (790).  The nuclear weapon i s a p e r v e r s i o n of those lucky c o l l i s i o n s t h a t , i n t h e i r randomness, somehow l e a d t o productive e x p l o r a t i o n s of the s e l f and c u l t u r e . The weapon, r a t h e r , i s the dark s i d e of f u s i o n : l i n e a r t h i n k i n g d i s g u i s e d as a s t a r . I t emerges from a l o g i c t h a t i s c o r r e c t  and  workable but u l t i m a t e l y redundant; "Once they imagine  the  bomb, w r i t e down equations," says V i k t o r , "they see i t ' s  Benzon 50 p o s s i b l e t o b u i l d , they b u i l d i t "  (791). And though D e L i l l o ' s  v a r i o u s formal p l o y s and h i s t o r i c a l subversions attempt t o r e t r a c e and reformulate the mechanisms of l i n e a r regimental time and progress have remarkable,  thought,  chameleonesque  s t a y i n g power. Because mass d e s i r e demands "A method of production t h a t w i l l custom c a t e r t o c u l t u r a l and personal needs, not t o c o l d war i d e o l o g i e s of massive u n i f o r m i t y " (786), the systems mutate i n t o something t h a t  resembles  d i v e r s i t y and e g a l i t a r i a n i s m ; t y r a n n i c a l s t r u c t u r e s "fade and wane, s t a t e s d i s i n t e g r a t e , assembly l i n e s shorten t h e i r runs and i n t e r a c t w i t h l i n e s i n other c o u n t r i e s " (786). But look at the k i d s a t the Kazakh Test S i t e , who, d e s p i t e b l i n d n e s s , still  "are p l a y i n g f o l l o w the l e a d e r . A boy f a l l s down, gets  up. They a l l f a l l down, get up" (802). Likewise, the machinery of c a p i t a l , though i t may demonstrate a k i n d of ubiquitous presence i n g l o b a l c u l t u r e , w i l l e v e n t u a l l y degrade i n t o the same homogeneity; t h a t is> c a p i t a l continues t o "[burn] o f f the nuance i n a c u l t u r e "  (785).  And the system pretends t o go along, t o become more supple and r e s o u r c e f u l , l e s s dependent on r i g i d c a t e g o r i e s . But even as d e s i r e tends t o s p e c i a l i z e , going s i l k y and intimate,, the f o r c e of converging markets produces an instantaneous c a p i t a l t h a t shoots across horizons a t the speed of l i g h t , making f o r a certain" f u r t i v e sameness, a p l a n i n g away of p a r t i c u l a r s that a f f e c t s everything from  Benzon 51 a r c h i t e c t u r e t o l e i s u r e time t o the way people eat and s l e e p and dream.  (786)  The f u s i o n of "converging markets" i s a " f u r t i v e " v e r s i o n of the atomic e x p l o s i o n . As i n any p e r f e c t system, any r e t a l i a t o r y a c t i o n taken against i t i s reduced t o submission. "Consume o r d i e , " says garbage guru D e t w i l e r , "That's t h e mandate of the c u l t u r e "  (287). Even the b a s e b a l l , a t once a  medium f o r s o c i a l coalescence and a c t i o n , i s a l s o a product with value attached t o i t — a value contingent upon time and the f o r c e s of i n f l a t i o n — w o r t h t o Manx " t h i r t y - t w o d o l l a r s and change" (655) and t o Nick, decades l a t e r , thousand  f i v e hundred d o l l a r s "  "thirty-four  (132).  For D e L i l l o , waste and weapons are "mystical twins" (791), though t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e f o r c e s have a n t i t h e t i c a l e f f e c t s . Waste i s the s p a t i a l m a n i f e s t a t i o n of "the s e c r e t h i s t o r y , t h e underhistory" (791) t h a t  Underworld  tries to  present and v a l i d a t e . The garbage dump i s a node,of a c t i v i t y , a "culminating s t r u c t u r e " where " a l l the great works of t r a n s p o r t , trade and linkage [are] d i r e c t e d t o i n the end" (184). I t s expanse and volume are generative f o r c e s t h a t , as Detwiler maintains, "rose f i r s t , c i v i l i z a t i o n i n response"  i n c i t i n g people t o b u i l d  (287). In e f f e c t , t h e heaps of  debris are memories made t a n g i b l e . And, as David Harvey says, " I f i t i s t r u e t h a t time i s always memorialized not as a flow, but as memories of experiences of places and spaces, then h i s t o r y must indeed g i v e way t o poetry, and time t o space, as the fundamental m a t e r i a l of s o c i a l expression"  (7).  Benzon 52 Works C i t e d B a u d r i l l a r d , Jean.  The  Illusion  of  the  End.  Trans. C. Turner.  Stanford: Stanford UP, 1994. Benjamin, Walter.  Illuminations.  Trans. H. Zohn. New York:  Schocken Books, 1969. Berger, John.  The  Look  of  Things.  New York: V i k i n g , 1974.  Carmichael, Thomas. "Lee Harvey Oswald and the Postmodern Subject: H i s t o r y and I n t e r t e x t u a l i t y i n Don D e L i l l o ' s Libra,  The  and Afao I I . "  Names,  Contemporary  Fiction  34  (Summer 1993): 204-218. C i v e l l o , P a u l . American Century  Literary  Naturalism  and  its  Twentieth  Athens: U n i v e r s i t y of Georgia  Transformations.  Press, 1994. D e L i l l o , Don. L i b r a . .Mao  II.  New York: Penguin, 1988.  New York: Penguin, 1992.  . "The Power o f H i s t o r y . "  New  York  Times  Magazine.  7 Sept,  1997: 60-63. . Underworld. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997. . White  New York: Penguin, 1984.  Noise.  Doctorow, E. L.  Ragtime.  New York: Plume, 1996.  D u v a l l , John. "Baseball as A e s t h e t i c Ideology: C o l d War H i s t o r y , Race, and D e L i l l o ' s Modern  Fiction  Freud, Sigmund.  Studies  Civilization  'Pafko a t the Wall.'"  41-2 (1995): 285-314. and  its  Discontents.  Strachey. Norton & Norton: New York, 1961.  Trans. J .  Benzon 53 Fromm, E r i c h .  The  Sane  New York: Henry H o l t and  Society.  Company, 1955. Foucault.  Discipline  and  Trans. A. Sheridan. New  Punish.  York: Vintage, 1979. ."Questions of Geography." Interviews  and  Other  Power/Knowledge:  Selected  Ed. C. Gordon 1980.  Writings.  . "Of Other Spaces: Trans. J . Miskowiec.  Diacritics  16  (1986): 22-27. Gregory, Derek.  Geographical  Blackwell:  Imaginations.  Cambridge, 1994. Harvey, David. The  Condition  of  Cambridge:  Postmodernity.  B l a c k w e l l , 1990. Hutcheon, L i n d a .  A Poetics  of  New York:  Postmodernism.  Routledge, 1988. . Jameson, F r e d r i c .  Postmodernism  of  the  Cultural  Logic  of  Late  Durham: Duke UP,. 1997.  Capitalism.  L e C l a i r , Tom. In the  Loop:  Don  DeLillo  and  the  Systems  Novel.  Urbana: U n i v e r s i t y of I l l i n o i s Press, 1994. Lyotard, J.F.  The  Postmodern  Condition.  Trans. G. Bennington  and B. Massumi. Minneapolis: U n i v e r s i t y of Minneapolis Press, 1971. McLuhan, M a r s h a l l . Man.  Understanding  The  Extensions  of  Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997.  Ondaatje. M i c h a e l . The English 1993.  Media:  Patient.  Toronto: Vintage,  Benzon 54 Ross, K r i s t i n . Paris  The  Commune.  Emergence  of  Social  Space:  Rimbaud  and  Minneapolis: U n i v e r s i t y o f Minnesota  Press, 1988. Soja, Edward.  Postmodern  Geographies.  London: Verso, 1989.  the  

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