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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 DeLillo's Underworld by Kirsten Jane Benzon B.A. McGill University, 1996 A Thesis Submitted, i n P a r t i a l Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts i n the Faculty of Graduate Studies Department of English Literature accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard The University of British. Columbia A p r i l , 1999 ©Kirsten Jane Benzoniqqq 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 relationship between space and history as presented i n Don DeLillo's Underworld (1997). I w i l l argue that the h i s t o r i c a l conceptions articulated i n th i s novel both formally and thematically subvert the conventional notion that history i s a primarily temporal and linear construct. I w i l l examine how DeLillo's e s s e n t i a l l y s p a t i a l mode of na r r a t i v i t y works to destabilize p o l i t i c a l , economic and mil i t a r y orders which regulate individual a c t i v i t y . Further, I hope to show how thi s mode works to re-position the individual subject as an agent i n the h i s t o r i c a l text. Drawing on theoretical conceptions of Freud, Fromm, Foucault and Jameson, th i s paper investigates the various c u l t u r a l patterns that, inasmuch as they define modernity, depend upon linear notions of time and progress for the p r o l i f e r a t i o n of the i r hegemonic structures. DeLillo's text, an excavation of the raw material that exists beneath the surface of the " o f f i c i a l " past, throws these patterns into question by asserting the necessary layerdness and m u l t i p l i c i t y of experience. By casting i t s gaze equally at marginal and celebrated figures and dissembling the sequential patterns of supposedly f i n i t e incidence, Underworld coalesces the epistemological influences of modernity with the ontological concerns of postmodernity. Benzon i i i Further, DeLillo's project marks a digression from the depthlessness and amorality associated with postmodern art by depicting the subject as part of a network of commodities and images, signifying, as DeLillo's protagonist remarks, "We are not excluded from our own l i v e s " (Underworld 84). The decomposition of linear signifying chains and t h e i r attendant tyrannical 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 at play i n the narrative. Linear trajectories are exploded into nodal stars, or intersections, of perception and experience. This paper i s concerned primarily with the various hypertextual assemblages i n Underworld, and how the intermeshing of media forms evinces a tolerating and coordinating h i s t o r i c a l configuration. iv Table of Contents Abstract i i Introduction 1 The Invisible Gloved Hand of Dr. Strangelove 4 The Subject i n History .15 The Discombobulated Search 26 Towards a Spatial Narrative 35 Works Cited 52 Benzon 1 A c o n t e m p o r a r y p o r t r a i t n o l o n g e r d i r e c t s o u r a t t e n t i o n t o a n a u t h o r i t a t i v e l i n e a g e , t o e v o c a t i o n s o f h e r i t a g e a n d t r a d i t i o n a l o n e . S i m u l t a n e i t i e s i n t e r v e n e , e x t e n d i n g o u r p o i n t o f v i e w o u t w a r d t o a n i n f i n i t e n u m b e r o f l i n e s c o n n e c t i n g t h e s u b j e c t t o a w h o l e w o r l d o f c o m p a r a b l e " i n s t a n c e s , c o m p l i c a t i n g t h e t e m p o r a l f l o w o f m e a n i n g , s h o r t - c i r c u i t i n g t h e f a b u l o u s s t r i n g i n g - o u t o f ' o n e d a m n e d t h i n g a f t e r a n o t h e r ' . T h e n e w , t h e n o v e l , m u s t n o w i n v o l v e a n e x p l i c i t l y g e o g r a p h i c a l a s w e l l a s ' h i s t o r i c a l c o n f i g u r a t i o n a n d p r o j e c t i o n . - E d w a r d S o j a , Postmodern Geographies Albert Bronzini walks along the dense streets of 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 to be. His eyes set t l e on "an aproned boy [wrapping a] f i s h i n a major headline" (UW 661); given the cold war context, the gesture i s a poignant coalescence of the mundane and the cataclysmic. Though but one isolated gesture of the thousands that compose Don DeLillo's Underworld, Bronzini's glance epitomizes the novelist's own examination of the material that exists i n the neglected space between any two moments. Like Bronzini's double take, DeLillo's text loops back on time, excavating the raw substance of experience that constitutes history and diffus i n g the weight—the often tyrannical gravity—-of those calamitous events, or "major headlines", that make up our o f f i c i a l c o l l e c t i v e past. The relationship 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 central issue i n Underworld. The novel i s quite l i t e r a l l y a compendium of cult u r a l concerns with identity, and considers, i n particular, how technological and economical forces af f e c t individual and soc i a l development. From the blurring of the Benzon 2 se l f and the mass, to the incorporation of the s e l f into the machine (and vise versa), Underworld addresses the mental and physical dynamics of late capitalism with unique observational c l a r i t y . D eLillo attacks the i n t e g r i t y of hegemonic systems not through a quasi-mathematical, inductive dismantling, but by situating these systems i n r e l a t i o n to the human, subject, and defining the relationships between the two forces i n p r a c t i c a l , concrete terms. Such juxtapositions characterize the development of systematization that defines the l a t t e r half of this century, by paying close and various attention to the effects, both micro and macro, such systems have upon c i t i z e n s . Like many of DeLillo's novels, Underworld i s concerned with the subjugation of the individual by the forces of technology, the marketplace, and history. But whereas i n Mao II a r t i s t i c power i s compromised and eroded through duplication and commodification, the present work depicts art that actively reconfigures systems of production and reproduction. Decorated bombers compose a sublime landscape painting. Garbage dumps become the "national parks of the future" (UW 289). Oppressive constructs are diffused through a r t i s t i c reinterpretation and the c u l t i v a t i o n of dimensions that were previously obscured by a thick lacquer of power and image. Where previous novels such as Libra and Great Jones S t r e e t depict subjects i n s o l i t a r y confinement, crippled by professional insecurity and the pressure of public demand, Underworld places these "men i n small rooms" within a greater Benzon 3 scheme, offs e t t i n g their passive seclusion with men and women of action and desire. The i n d u s t r i a l , s p e c i a l i s t modalities of baseball are compromised by the ejection and c i r c u l a t i o n of the 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 into the closed system of the game, and other seemingly impermeable c u l t u r a l machines. These reformulations, I suggest, not only constitute the culmination of themes which flow throughout the corpus of DeLillo's writing, but they also work towards a depiction of the anxiety of powerlessness that characterizes the l a s t half-century. Unfortunately, the sheer bulk and complexity of Underworld cannot be dealt with comprehensively i n a short paper. Indeed, each segment of DeLillo's novel i s deserving of extensive and varied deliberation. Considering t h i s , I wish to l i m i t my inquiry to the work's pervasive examination of the relationship between space and history i n narrative. I am interested primarily i n the mechanics of the text as they formally subvert notions of time and progress i n favour of simultaneity and st a s i s . The f i r s t section of the paper outlines various c u l t u r a l patterns that 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 history. In general terms, I w i l l situate DeLillo's work as one which both synthesizes and re t a l i a t e s against these patterns by retracing the evolution 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 sections of the essay look at the ways i n which DeLillo's narrative subverts and neutralizes h i s t o r i c a l conventions—namely, the deflation of p o l i t i c a l and popular celebrity, and the dismembering and reformulation of temporal and associative narrative sequences. The f i n a l section det a i l s the s p a t i a l q u a l i t i e s of the text, and pays particular attention to substitution of plot with hypertext and causal lines with nodal stars. 1. The Invisible Gloved Hand of Dr. Strangelove F i f t y years ago, the threat of nuclear holocaust sprang from the relationship that existed between two antagonistic megastates, and as ah expression of t h e i r enmity, the threat had a meaning. Since then, the nature of the nuclear menace has undergone a rather peculiar, almost f a r c i c a l transformation. As we approach the year 2000, we are reminded that 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 , rather, l e f t up to the misfirings of a computer system gone haywire. While the talking heads at the U.S. m i l i t a r y assert that the millennial computer g l i t c h i s under control, there i s no reason not to conceal the truth i n matters where c u l p a b i l i t y has no legal precedent. Russia, oddly to i t s credit, has issued a statement that i t s impoverished government cannot even begin to fund reparations of weapons Benzon 5 systems; th e i r plan, resolutely, i s to "wait and see". We'll just have to stand at the mercy of our machines, computer-programming fingers crossed. This Armageddon-as-blunder scenario i s but one version of a more general pattern that has emerged since 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 technological systems. In p r a c t i c a l l y every c u l t u r a l function, the reins of control, and thus re s p o n s i b i l i t y , have shifted from a human being to a precariously designed robot. The effect t h i s displacement i s having on conceptions of identity i s severe, but, as yet, d i f f i c u l t to f u l l y ascertain. In C i v i l i z a t i o n and i t s D i s c o n t e n t s , Freud contends that culture necessarily develops i n a fashion at odds with the individual, where the universal needs of man are overshadowed by the i n c l i n a t i o n to "progress"; this discrepancy gives r i s e not only to neuroses but also to an array of p r a c t i c a l problems. Unintentional nuclear warfare i s one extreme consequence, but arguably, i t i s not the most detrimental—at least our degradation would be swift and absolute. More portentous are those insidious systems, amorphous e n t i t i e s of disconnected s i g n i f i e r s and indecipherable code, that have assumed powers once wielded by human beings. They are contingent upon time and the regulated, predictable flow of events. Since these systems cannot be described i n mechanical or physical terms, they cannot be pinpointed or isolated. They cannot be challenged, l e t alone amended or abolished. Benzon 6 In an unnerving paradox, such faulty, omnipotent orders compose the very framework of cu l t u r a l l i f e , yet they are perfectly cloaked by culture i t s e l f . Foucault uses the pri n c i p l e of "the Normal",' a paradigmatically clever regime, to i l l u s t r a t e the mechanisms and effects of elusive c u l t u r a l orders (Discipline and Punish 184). According to Foucault, the concept of "normalcy" i s so t o t a l l y ingrained into mass consciousness that i t i s p r a c t i c a l l y indistinguishable from culture i t s e l f . I t operates through negation, emphasizing difference to the point where a l l persons are incl i n e d to operate i n unison. The value of such s o c i a l homogeneity i s , of course, i t s propensity to adopt practices desirable to governing and marketing bodies and to cast c r i t i c a l and radi c a l elements into the unfavoured margins. The Normal thereby ensures that certain defects can f l o u r i s h without being seen as il l n e s s e s ; as Spinoza argues, "factually, greediness, ambition and so,forth are forms of insanity, although one does not think of them as an ' i l l n e s s ' " (Ethics, Proposition 44). Indeed, we do not consider mercenary and cutthroat behavior to be defective because such q u a l i t i e s are evident i n the most "successful" among us and adhere to and propagate the strictures of the Normal. The Normal epitomizes the tr 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. Their omnipotence i s inextricable from t h e i r elusiveness; the more deeply buried the design, the more stable and t o t a l the power. Erich Fromm notes similar principles at work i n capitalism, "a system which has no Benzon 7 purpose and goal transcending i t , and which makes man i t s appendix" (87). There may, indeed, be "purpose" to the spe c i f i c coercion of c a p i t a l , but-, as with Hegel's t e l e o l o g i c a l view of history, i t i s not one of which we have any e x i s t e n t i a l understanding. In i t s massive gri d of causality, the behavior of capital's subjects must be consistent with the patterns i t requires, while those deviating atoms are swiftly buried or expelled l i k e so much toxic 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 of the voice," i n order to "twist and shape you . . . without persuasion" (282). The result of t h i s set-up, i s , of course, the necessary abdication of individual agency, i n appeasement of the behemothic, i n v i s i b l e hand. So much cu l t u r a l theory of the day has regarded this problem with 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. Surprisingly, the most passionate admonitions of the subjugation of the individual came before our own time, written before suspect systems had reached t h e i r insurmountable perfection. Adlai Stevenson, for one, warned i n 1954 that "we are not i n danger of becoming slaves anymore, but of becoming robots" (Fromiti 102). Now that we are robots, no one seems to care. As Jameson says of labour under late capitalism, " i t seems a 'natural' part of l i f e " (25). But i t may be that theoretical explanations for the automatization of people are inherently ineffectual. It may be, too, that understanding the i n t r i c a c i e s of such a broad Benzon 8 and abstract process requires a suitably metaphorical medium of expression. Theory i t s e l f becomes another oppressive regime i n i t s e f f o r t to create 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 to f e e l " (Jameson 5) . The theorist's object, the creation of an impenetrable arrangement of ideas and explications, i s ultimately his bane because the reader's capacity for revolution i s paralyzed by the very impenetrability of the theorist's argument. In other words, i f the aim of cu l t u r a l c r i t i q u e i s to i n c i t e r e v o l t — t o assess and al t e r an unhealthy status quo—then the means and form of expression cannot be rational and t o t a l i z i n g , but must instead be aesthetic, metaphorical and f l e x i b l e . The exposure and dismembering of tyrannical orders i s what Underworld takes as i t s object. At f i r s t glance, Underworld appears to f i t nicely into the parameters of "postmodern f i c t i o n " , an admittedly sketchy category of li t e r a t u r e that, by nature, may include just about anything; the book i s f u l l of "representational inconsistencies and dilemmas" (Jameson x x i i ) . For example, i n Underworld there i s the grotesque Jackie Gleason puking into the stands at an h i s t o r i c baseball game. There i s epic cataloguing at a condbrti emporium, a reinvoking of, perhaps, Homer's Troy-bound f l e e t s . And there i s a private screening of the not-yet-notorious Zapruder f i l m by a pretentious clique of New York a r t i s t s . But these h i s t o r i c a l perversions, though i n part ir o n i c and alienating, are not simply the c u l t u r a l excavation Benzon 9 and recycling associated with a self-consciously clever postmodernity. They do not s i g n i f y that which i s , according to Baudrillard, our era's particular lust for revisionism, or "retrospective apocalypse" (22). Rather, DeLillo's h i s t o r i c a l cognizance and recreation t r i e s to r e - f a m i l i a r i z e and integrate items and constructs which, through extensive commodification, have become foreign to us. The retrospection i s less a mourning of a shattered past or cosmetic surgery on a vacant present, than i t i s a convergence of the two spheres. DeLillo's i s a studied attempt to address contemporary problems through productive juxtaposition of current d i s l o c a t i o n s — f o r one, how we might cohabitate with "drudges who do not dream of family dead" (UW 63), our machines, without becoming l i k e them. Underworld depicts the deep structures, the hidden strata of experience, that exist beneath the epidermis of history. This subterranean focus problematizes the dogmatically linear understanding of history, as well as other similar s o c i o p o l i t i c a l structures (capitalism, militarism, technology) which seek to assimilate and control individual identity. For example, Marvin Lundy's quest to determine the lineage of those who temporarily owned a legendary baseball, collapses the hierarchical doctrine of "Things are higher than Man" (Fromm 95) and intimates a fusion of man with his "things". In t h i s respect, the novel marks a departure from the flatness and depthlessness associated with postmodern art (pastiche) and the Benzon 10 predominance of simulacra. True, DeLillo's narrative frequently invokes two-dimensional, representational figures and images that are the stuff of commodification, but these are not dislocated and distressing signs, dangling i n the a i r l i k e so many Warholian shoes. Instead, DeLillo sets the objects of the marketplace into the hands and minds of perceiving subjects. Thus the baseball and the Lucky Strikes, "target" icon are not merely s i g n i f i c a t i o n s or emblems of human endeavor, but rather they compose part of the re a l symbology of experience and memory. The ceaseless spew of products p i l e s up i n the dumps, but the dumps are meaningful, even mythologized by any interested observer; the splatter of discarded merchandise i s a source of meditation for Brian Glassic who realizes that "the biggest secrets are the ones spread out before us" (LW185). Autonomous images, by nature s o l i t a r y and saturated with t h e i r own ontological power, are placed i n community with each other and i n harmony with the beholder. Glassic spies 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 secretary from Queens who " i s dark-eyed and reads the tabloids arid paints her n a i l s and eats lunch out of molded styrofoam" (185). This networking of images diffuses the authoritarian nature of our representations and i n d u s t r i a l production by drawing them together i n a narrative arrangemerit. Though heavily r e v i s i o n i s t i n both structure and content, the novel's ultimate focal point i s the present, an accumulation of detritus both physical and psychic, no more Benzon 11 fathomable than a New Jersey garbage dump. DeLillo's project i s analogous to Benjamin's interpretation of Klee's Angelus Novus: a looking back at the wreckage of human experience-progress—while moving forward through space. The angel of history, as Benjamin c a l l s i t , "would l i k e to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed" (257). Similarly, for DeLillo, 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 " (Baudrillard 22), but an attempt to reveal processes which have now reached maximum velocity, and to make leg i b l e the necessarily jumbled condition of the past. The angel of history may have more aptly been c a l l e d the angel of space. As Benjamin notes, "where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps p i l i n g wreckage upon wreckage" (257). The past i s a layered, not a ... linear, entity, and i t i s the expression of this layeredness which permits DeLillo's reintegration of sentient, participating subjects into the reductive scheme of history-— to prove, as Nick Shay t e l l s us, that "we are not excluded from our own l i v e s " (UW 82). A dense polyphony of multifaceted, fluctuating, and c o n f l i c t i n g incidents gives credence to subjective experience, not because i t transcends i the structure of a particular h i s t o r i c a l narrative,. but because i t i s i n fact the hidden underpinning of those structures, and composes the swirling dynamo that moves forward both mass and individual identity. Benzon 12 The reintegration of the individual subject into the fabric of culture and the past i s primarily brought about through the supplanting of h i s t o r i c a l time, a regulated and fixed document, by space, a dimension more conducive to the fluxion that defines subjective action. Such a s h i f t i n focus undermines those oppressive forces which thrive upon linear conceptions of cul t u r a l development. "History, l i k e p o l i t i c s , " says Lyotard, "seems to have a need of a unique point of perspective, a place of synthesis, 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 single 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 , "synthesizing" force that lends i t s e l f e a s i l y to the formation of categories and patterns. It follows that whatever s o c i a l theory i s developed under this conception w i l l invariably conflate d i v e r s i t y into a single strand, p r i v i l e g i n g time and viewing space as contingent rattier than fundamental to human action. Time, as K r i s t i n Ross says, "excludes and subordinates, while space coordinates and tolerates" (8). We need only glance at the miserable occupants of a Le Corbusier complex to see the s t i f f repercussions of a l i f e regulated by straight l i n e s , what David Harvey c a l l s a "structured coherence" (375). Through a variety of formal innovations, DeLillo breaks down the s e r i a l constructs which regulate and control a c t i v i t y l i k e the lines on a baseball diamond. This demolition i s evinced by the narrative's Benzon 13 generally backwards pattern; the story begins i n the present and jumps back i n textual chunks through the decades. The diametrical flow of events i s braided or criss-crossed by anachronistic trajectories and isolated vignettes, thereby creating a nodal network through which experience permeates. This narrative construct i s similar to Edward Soja's Postmodern Geographies, which begins with a coalescent "Preface and Postscript"; t h i s combination, Soja says, signals an "intention to tamper with familiar modalities of time, to shake up the formal flow of lin e a r text to allow other, more ' l a t e r a l ' connections to be made" (1). The sequentially unfolding narrative, Soja suggests, predisposes the reader to think h i s t o r i c a l l y ; such temporal thinking,. 'one damned thing after another', i s the basic apparatus of hegemonic systems, invoking always the threat of suffering or the promise of reward to follow. As Soja says, and as DeLillo's work confirms, "We can no longer depend on a story-line marching straight forward i n plot and denouement, for too much i s happening against the grain of time, too much i s continually traversing the story-l i n e l a t e r a l l y " (23). We can no longer depend upon verisimilitude and fa 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, for instance, at Michael Ondaatje's burnt patient, Almasy, who vindicates Herodotus's H i s t o r i e s because i t i s "both ancient and modern" and i s composed of "supposed l i e s " . Just 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 celebration of the text's Benzon 14 inaccuracies, DeLillo describes i n d e t a i l a shot-by-shot account of an imaginary Eisenstein film, and unites Sis t e r Edgar with J. Edgar Hoover as hermaphroditic counterparts. DeLillo tosses together various media and perspectives, mixing f i l m footage, photographs, news reportage, and omniscient narration to create a multidimensional—-at times, impossibly paradoxical—aggregate of experience. "Our experience of the world," said Foucault i n a lecture on heterotopias, " i s less that of a long l i f e developing through time than that of a network that connects points and intersects with i t s own skein" ("Of Other Spaces" 22). DeLillo's novel captures t h i s concept of life-as-network through his presentation of memory. Although i t i s apparent that memory i s instrumental i n a l l o t t i n g primacy to subjectivity, DeLillo's formulation of memory i s unique because i t operates according to a sp a t i a l rather than temporal paradigm. Its pr i n c i p a l analogous body i s the garbage dump-—embers of experience whose accumulation both i s and shapes the subject's thought, desire and action. As a memorial of humanity, waste counterbalances li n e a r understandings of time and experience, coalescing, as Heidegger would have i t , Becoming and Being. Further, the stacking of refuse i s replicated i n the mind, where gestures and thoughts are continually repeated and restructured, e f f e c t i v e l y breaking temporal lines and stacking them on top of one another. Moments, l i k e objects, c i r c l e back on themselves, i n the fashion of Douglas Hofstatder's Strange Benzon 15 Loops: "by moving upwards (or downwards) through the levels of some hierarchical system we unexpectedly f i n d ourselves back where we started" (10). With this understanding of h i s t o r y — a n entity which includes but i s not exclusive to ti m e — D e L i l l o attributes to his characters a high degree of agency which, i n turn, suggests the inherently reactionary c a p a b i l i t i e s of the human mind. ' 2. The Subject i n History The w r i t e r wants to see i n s i d e the human works, down to dreams and rout ine rambling thoughts, i n order to locate the neural strands that l i n k him to men and women that shape h i s t o r y . - D e L i l l o , "The Power of His tory" "Pause for a moment, you wretched weakling, and take stock of yourself" (295); i t ' s a l i n e Nick Shay remembers from The Cloud of Unknowing, a medieval religious t r a c t that i s also . the t i t l e of one of DeLillo's chapters. Underworld i t s e l f i s a kind of "un-knowing" semantic cloud, which, through the condensation of time and space, decomposes accepted lines of narrative causality. I t asks that we pause, i n the midst of , progressive and cumulative flow, and recognize the unknowable schemes that emerge from the intersections of variable and layered experience. In i t s e x p l i c i t l y retrograde chronology, the novel t r i e s to remodel c u l t u r a l conceptions which have taken shape under a decisively h i s t o r i c a l mode of apprehension. The epistemological thrust of modernism i s replaced by the d i s t i n c t l y ontological 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 of events as they pertain to economic and national expansion, the current moment, entrenched i n the quagmire of unbridled progress, wonders how these events, p i l e d mile high atop one another, impinge upon the subjects with which they coexist. It might have been by accident that DeLillo came across a 1951 New York Times, whose front page sets side by side the headlines: "Giants Capture Pennant" and "Soviets Explode Atomic Bomb". But i t i s of no small consequence that the long and heterogeneous novel which ensued covers the l a t t e r half of the twentieth century. 1 Where the early part of the century saw, as Soja notes, a "rejection of environmental causality and a l l physical or external explanations of s o c i a l processes i n the formation of human consciousness" (35), DeLillo i n s i s t s that there are ineluctable connections among things, though they might operate according to commonly overlooked schemes. Thomas LeClair says i n his treatment of DeLillo's work, that the, equifinal form of the "systems novel" provides the novelist with an "extraliterary conception of man and behavior that confirms or ;extends modernist experiments with character and plot" (10). Indeed, Underworld squelches the el i t i s m and formalism associated with modernist writing and undercuts the modernists' attempt to be outside h i s t o r y — a s well as the i r reliance upon pure form, myth, abstraction and 1 s t a r t i n g i n '51 perhaps accounts f o r Dionysius Exiguus's (a.k.a. Dennis the Short) s i x t h century er r o r of beginning the C h r i s t i a n calender at year one instead of zero. Benzon 17 other theoretical models of c l o s u r e — i n the construction of a well-wrought urn. Just as the thieving Manx Martin wears his children's clothing and wonders "how i t happened that .they're not wearing his hand-me down jackets" (150), the undertakings which characterize modern culture are collapsed together with our present circumstance through DeLillo's reconstruction of history; i n effect, the future clothes the past, reversing conventional views of inheritance. With the anatomical precision of a coroner, DeLillo dissects history 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 vessels, p u l l i n g apart the most r e s i l i e n t tissue to reveal the inflamed tumors within. But the dissection i s more a process of productive unraveling, or deconstruction, than i t i s a destruction. As DeLillo said i n an a r t i c l e for New York Times Magazine, "The novel i s the dream release, the suspension of r e a l i t y that history needs to escape i t s own brutal confinements" ("The Power of History" 61). This narrative model, an i n t r i n s i c a l l y manumitting form, "may problematize the conventions of t e l e o l o g i c a l closure or developmental continuity, but that i s not to 'banish' them from the scene" (Hutcheon 94). Such a "decreation" of history, as that which Hutcheon attributes to her h i s t o r i c a l metafictions, though formally encoded into DeLillo's narrative and executed i n the characters' actions, must be viewed as a commingling of the epistemological with the ontological. If "Longing on a large scale 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 for v a r i e t i e s of longing and wi l l f u l n e s s . A baseball game, then, i s an appropriate event to i n i t i a t e a semifictional r e t e l l i n g of history because i t i s a -place wherein multiple consciousnesses, agendas, and f i c t i o n s gather to participate i n a simultaneously public and personal •activity. It i s , as Marshall McLuhah says, an "outer model of inner psychological l i f e " (237) as well as "the elegant abstract image of in d u s t r i a l society" (239). On the f i e l d , the batter paradoxically represents both himself and his team, the individual and the community, i n a struggle against an enemy force bent on putting both him and his a l l i e s "out". In the stands, amidst intimate conversations, "the crowd repeats the sorry are of the baseball, a moaned vowel f a l l i n g s o f t l y to earth" (35). A whole system erupts according to the variable trajectory of the b a l l — t h e individual narratives of pitcher, batter, f i e l d e r s , and crowd jo i n i n an abstract, unknowable geometric unity. This kind of subjective expansion "[renders] inextricable the public and the h i s t o r i c and the private and the biographical" (Hutchedn 94). In Underworld, as i n baseball, there i s no clear primacy a l l o t t e d to either of the two modes, and thei r integration creates a t h i r d , hybrid animal. DeLillo probes the deep structures of history i n the same manner that Marvin Lundy scrutinizes -the photographs from the momentous 1951 b a l l game: Benzon 19 Ke repiiotographed the footage. He enlarged, repositioned, analyzed. He step-framed the action to slow i t down, to combine several seconds of f i l m into one image. i t was a work of Talmudic refinement, zooming i n and fading out, trying to bring a man's face into d e f i n i t i o n , read a woman's ankle bracelet engraved with a name. (177) Marvin sees the composition of the crowd as a universe of dots, and -once ydu get inside a dot, you gain access to hidden information, you s l i d e inside the smallest event" (177). At f i r s t , Cotter Martin i s that dot, a shadowy and elusive one, who darts among the thousands gathered to witness a c r u c i a l moment of triumph and defeat. While there i s a distinctiveness, a marginality to his position-—young, black, broke—there i s also a sense that he i s but one element i n an unfathomably complicated compound, a mixture that i s at least partly composed of "Dodgers scoring runs, a man dancing down an a i s l e , a goateed black i n a Bing Crosby s h i r t " (33) and, extending from the game, a "woman cooking cabbage" and a "man who wishes he could be done with drink" (32). Like Cotter, the mass i t s e l f i s an energetic and unruly creature, looking for a s i m i l a r l y untainted experience. This i s just a kid with a l o c a l yearning but he i s part of an assembling crowd, anonymous thousands off the buses and trains, 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 migration or revolution, some vast shaking of the soul, they bring with them the'body heat of a great c i t y and the i r own small reveries of desperation, the unseen something that haunts the jday—men in, fedoras and s a i l o r s on short leave, the jstray tumble of t h e i r thoughts, going to a game. ( J i ) This equalization of the single and the many, unifi e d i n |i d i v e r s i t y and desire, implies a dissolution of the binary <j>f the crowd and the individual, and, by extension, the public and the private. While the characters i n Mao II, for example, represent d i s t i n c t spheres of 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 disallows such bold juxtapositions. Indeed, the c i t y i t s e l f " i s both unified entity and aggregate, with .a "body heat" and stray, tumbling thoughts. The concept that "small reveries of desperation" are commensurate with greater h i s t o r i c a l measures such as "migration and revolution" i s carried forth into the configuration of the crowd itself,, a jumble of commoners and c e l e b r i t i e s . This arrangement i s reminiscent of Doctorow's Ragtime i n i t s depiction of ex-centric members of society, t r a d i t i o n a l l y excluded from history, r i d i n g i n tandem with figures of notable h i s t o r i c a l import. On Hammerstein's rooftop garden, Freud eats a cup of custard and l a t e r has "one of the fainting 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 Row, Houdini i s flashed by a lewd inmate, but "was to t e l l no one of this strange confrontation" (26). In Underworld, portraits of h i s t o r i c a l l y prominent figures are even more i n c i s i v e as they are both s p a t i a l l y and ideologically integrated into the middling masses with great deliberation: A drunk and slobbering Jackie Gleason, "sending quidbits of meat and bread i n many directions, p e l l e t s and smithereens, s p i t b a l l flybys" (18), and a puke-splattered Frank Sinatra, i n "an awe of muted disgust", blend seamlessly into 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 figures are further deflated by th e i r own disengagement with celebrityhood. Jackie, for one, i s skipping rehearsal, but he s t i l l thrives at the game, hurling insults at awed spectators—whereas Frank i s made uneasy by the attentive crowd and "the way they use him as a reference for everything that's happening"(24). His image, his casting as salable goods, has, from his perspective, become a foreign entity; he "didn't know he was i n this month's Life u n t i l the page f e l l out of the sky" (39). His ignorance, further, i s attributable to a superstructure which regulates the dissemination of his image, the "people who are supposed to t e l l him these things" (39). He disinterestedly glances over advertisements for Quaker State, RCA Victor and General Motors, "the venerated emblems of the burgeoning economy, easier to identify than the names of battle f i e l d s and dead presidents," but he i s otherwise preoccupied, "sunk i n deep i n e r t i a , a rancid sweat Benzon 22 developing, his mouth f i l l e d with the foretaste of massive inner s h i f t i n g s " (39). There i s a sense that the human icon, whose fame i s instrumental to the p r o l i f e r a t i o n of marketing regimes, i s at bottom dissociated from his ostensible role i n c a p i t a l i s t machinery. . DeLillo's deflation of, as Hegel c a l l s them, "real h i s t o r i c a l figures" i s most palpable i n his representation of J. Edgar Hoover. Edgar i s ostensibly the.most s o c i a l l y -powerful of the gaggle but he exemplifies the most serious forms of reverie and desperation. This duality makes his character ripe t e r r a i n for the novel's h i s t o r i c a l perversions. "Hoover i s a disinvention," DeLillo maintains, "real, conjured, gambled on, guessed at. Hoover i s taut and raging selfhood. Hoover i n his impregnability, an incitement to the novelist's perennial e f f o r t to detect the hidden nature of things" ("The Power of History" 62). Though integral to the p o l i t i c a l ramifications of the game (he alone i s informed of Russia's concomitant nuclear testing), Edgar's presence, and s p e c i f i c a l l y his painful self-consciousness, 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. It seems to flush from t h e i r pores. They have a size to them, a natural stamina that mocks his own • bible-school indoctrination even as i t draws him to the noise. He's a self-perfected American who must respect the saga of the knockabout boy emerging from tenement culture, from the backstreets slant Benzon 23 with danger. It makes for gutsy egos, i t makes for appetites. (29) Edgar's groomed and meticulous heritage wavers against the crass, oddly authoritarian natures of the other backstreet boys. He i s "self-perfected"—constructed, synthesized—quite apart from the "perfect American" for which he's striving.. His p o l i t i c a l largesse, further, shrivels alongside the immensity of character and stage-intensity, the "natural stamina" that Gleason and Frank exhibit. Despite the clout, Edgar i s , ba s i c a l l y , stout. He i s u t t e r l y swayable—"drawn to the noise" as far as the game and everything else go—and without rooting interest. "Whoever wins," he says, "That's my team" (29). This leveling and dampening of c u l t u r a l l y agreed-upon authorities raises the question of where power i s i n fact located. Surely i t cannot be with the brutish and bashful specimens offered here. The answer l i e s , obliquely, i n minuscule, barely-traceable s t u f f — p a r t i c l e s that cannot be known but for t h e i r e f f e c t s . Edgar, for instance, i s moved to act, to f l e e the scene, when Gleason coughs up "an a l l -pervading medium of pathogens, microbes, fl o a t i n g colonies of spirochetes that fuse and separate and elongate and s p i r a l and engulf" (19). These exotic and minute strains 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 action. Their power subverts Le Corbusier's idea that "society [is] controlled by the enlightened businessman and the architect, both products of an impersonal, universal Benzon 24 tra n s h i s t o r i c a l force symbolized by the machine" (Hutcheon 28). I t i s , rather, the imperceptible positrons of l i f e and energy that control the behavior of our mechanized businessmen and architects. In DeLillo's text, such "all-pervading" media take various manifestations, from microbial to psychological. In addition to phlegmatic debris, subtle patterns of thought pressurize the subject, as i n Edgar's paranoid fear that discussion of his short namesake (Edgar Gaedel, a jockey) w i l l open him up to a gush of r i d i c u l e at the hands of Jackie (18). Words, then, are tangible pathogens. Language translates mysterious p a r t i c l e s into units of perception, the microscopic details 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, for example, that "a man can wish his phantom torment into print" (18)—can cause even more profound anxiety. Accordingly, Russ Hodges, the radio announcer, marvels at what power there i s as he decodes the let t e r s and numbers handed to him; he remarks "how much earthly disturbance, how much summer and dust the mind can manage to order up from a single Latin l e t t e r l y i n g f l a t " (25). The baseball game balances and intermingles three primary l o c i of perception: the individual subject (say, Cotter Martin), the radio broadcast or broadcaster, and the author. As i n a fugue, no voice i n the conversation dominates. The mixture works not only to set up a broad and indeterminate point of view but also, with seeming paradox, Benzon 25 to detract from the significance of the event proper. Look, t for instance, at the way i n which the scene's sequencing gradually distorts the action of the b a l l game. After a break i n the text and a t i e i n the score, there i s Cotter's stripped-down viewpoint: "He watches Maglie bounce a curve i n the d i r t " (32). This i s followed by the somewhat obtuse, digressive position of Russ Hodges: "He hears the announcer from St. Louis, on the other side of the blanket, i t i s Harry Caray . . . and Russ thinks of the Japanese term for disembowelment and figures he and Harry ought to switch names right about now" (33). The authorial voice then intervenes with "Light washing down from the sky," and an interpretive note that "Everything i s changing shape, becoming something else" (33). The l e v e l of perception becomes progressively abstract and subjective, ranging from the vi s u a l , to the aural, to the metaphorical. Although these s h i f t i n g perspectives coordinate with the multitudinous and deflationary aspects of the text, they also work to synchronize the authorial voice with the other voices i t governs. As with L i b r a ' s Nicholas Branch, ever-investigating the Kennedy assassination, "the author becomes part of the event i t s e l f , his f i c t i o n an addition to the h i s t o r i c a l fact" (Civello 123). This situation i s necessary since, as Hodges says of a pivotal boxing match, "When you see a thing l i k e that, a thing that becomes a newsreel, you begin to f e e l you are a c a r r i e r of a solemn scrap of history" (16). Further, the authorial involvement recognizes that "The Benzon 26 observer or theorist, unlike the physicist who stands apart from his experiment, i s part of the system that i s under investigation" "(LeClair 4). DeLillo asserts a presence at the game through his staccato remarks: "Pafko moves to the wall to play the carom", "Pafko throws smartly to Cox" (16), a l l intermingled with paper f a l l i n g from the stands, the internal heavings of the particular viewers, and the general heaving' of the crowd. Through the blunt descriptions of single movements on the f i e l d , the authorial voice positions 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 intersections of the solo and the choral increase i n number as Underworld unfolds. Semblances among characters expand likewise, further compromising linear, segregationist ideas of history and experience. After the prologue, Cotter i s usurped, or at least mirrored, by Nick Shay as the focal point i n the narrative. And while Marvin traces the genealogy of the home-run b a l l , the concrete l i n k between Nick and Cotter, Nick, a pa c i f i e d waste manager, l i v i n g " l i k e someone i n a witness protection program" (66), i s ever retracing the p i v o t a l and banal moments that have led up to his Phoenix existence. It i s , perhaps, a search inspired by Dr. Lindbald, Nick's juvenile therapist, who t e l l s him that he has a Benzon 27 re s p o n s i b i l i t y to decode his own hi s t o r y — : t h a t he i s "required to try to make sense of i t " (152). But i t i s the inherently nonsensical nature, the blurry and unsystematic condition of his past that, from Nick's youthful perspective, makes i t seem irreducible to explanation. . . . i t was hard for me to imagine that a l l the sc u f f l e and boredom of those years, the criss-cross boredom and good times and the flare-ups and sameshit n i g h t s — I didn't understand how the streaky blur i n my nighttime mind could have some kind of form or coherence. Maybe there was a history i n her f i l e s but the thing I f e l t about myself was that I'd leaned against a wall i n a narrow street serving out some years of mostly aimless waiting. (511) Indeed, there i s a difference between a l i f e l i v e d and the one recorded, dissected and analyzed. The patterns and connections, i f they do exist, require a mediating perspective i n order to make any kind 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 text beyond the subject's conception. It takes Nick's wife Marian, for instance, to point out that Nick, clutching the baseball in; deep reverie and remorse, looks " l i k e Hamlet gazing at Yorick's s k u l l " (132). Nick knows that "The t h i r d person watches the f i r s t person. The 'he' knows what the 'I' can't bear to think about" (119). Through th i s authorial "he", the "solemn ,-. Benzon 2% scrap[s] of history" (16) are organized into a non-causal, seemingly fragmented arrangement of ideas. Like the histories and isolated battles collected i n the form of abandoned bombers at the s i t e of Klara's landscape-sculpture, or the deceased children transformed into painted angels on a massive wall i n the Bronx, memories are dumped into the textual space of the long chapter to form a new figure that i s composed of recontextualized experiences. The section "Long T a l l Sally", for example, i s a bundle of episodic sp l i n t e r s , t i e d together by the prevailing notion of a search. This search i s executed by both the characters and the narrative i t s e l f , excavating and r e l a t i n g the material from innumerable instances to wonder, as does Bronzini, "How deep i s time?" (111). The section begins with Nick i n the s t e r i l i t y of a rented Lexus streaking through the desert (with a vague purpose of retracing some lo s t romantic attachment);, and ends with Manx Martin desperately and greedily swiping his son's trophy b a l l . The two scenarios, though geographically and temporally disparate, are positioned i n the narrative as the alpha and omega of an obscure loop, outside time. Their association suggests that, as Nick says, " A l l mysteries of the family reach t h e i r culmination i n the f i n a l passion of abandonment" (86). ' The microscopic mnemonic associations bookended between the Lexus and the Manx episodes operate according to the same abstract principles as the scheme that contains them. Though textually s l i g h t , the connection between the b a l l and the Benzon 29 murder weapon i s evoked through th e i r adjacent positioning. Nick squeezes the b a l l i n his hand and the thought f l i c k e r s , "I hefted the weapon and pointed i t " (132). The juxtaposition of the two motions suggests the connection between Nick's expensive acquisition, a ' s i g n i f i c a t i o n of his multiple f a i l u r e s , and his as yet unilluminated role as a k i l l e r . Similarly, a description of the young Nick, "the older son with his distance and dimmed moods and undimmed rage, up on the roof i n the evening sleet to smoke a cigarette," i s poignantly postured against a strand of his "current" thought: "I look at the Lucky Strikes logotype and I- think target" (122). These collations reveal the deep structures of the character's formation. The "undimmed rage" i s connected to his father's favourite brand of smokes, a brand decorated with a "target", an abstract focal point of the rage that would l a t e r focus more concretely on George's head. I t i s a narrative t a c t i c that embodies the same type of r i d d l i n g that Dr. ,Lindbald uses i n her reconstruction of Nick's personal history; she assembles the impossible scenery, stating that Nick's "father was the t h i r d person, i n the room the day [he] shot George Manza" (512)—an impossibility that may nevertheless be true. Throughout Underworld, time and linear association are broken down i n this type of cognitive circumlocution. The designs of the "I"t the means through which the subject metabolizes experience, are plotted out i n unpredictable shards of mnemonic d e t a i l . The sequencing of these thoughts Benzon 30 and statements, a mingling of the "he", the " I " , and numerable other avenues of perception, builds a unique epistemological and ontological framework. Here, for instance, Nick describes the process of breaking down household garbage.for the recycling bin: At home we wanted clean safe healthy garbage. We rinsed out old bo.ttles and put them i n proper bins. We f a i t h f u l l y removed the cr i n k l y paper from our cereal boxes. It was l i k e preparing a Pharaoh for his death and b u r i a l . We wanted to do the small things right. (119) Accounting for "the small things"—the painstaking separation and compartmentalization of the se l f and one's p a s t — i s here translated into the d i l i g e n t sorting of everyday refuse. Garbage, i n this work, may be what E l i o t c a l l e d an "objective correlative" 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 figure to paper. He had a head for numbers, a memory for numbers" (119). This deep kernel of Nick's past, indeed, i s the material "crinkly paper" i n the subjective cereal box. Nick's sense of paternal abandonment i s accented by both the conspicuous, disarming placement of the comment and by the underscoring of his father's specious mathematical prowess and aversion to "commitment". The f r a g i l i t y and.ambiguity of thi s connection (between garbage-sorting and Nick's father's gambling s k i l l s ) i s Benzon 31 counterbalanced and further 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 well 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 to things that 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 for Nick Shay—a strengthened and ordered position, complete with metal tower, pressed s h i r t , and the smell of industry. Nick's placement i n this supremely constructed atmosphere, along with his diurnal jogging and suburban routine, i s partly an answer to the ever-precarious and nagging problem of his negligent father. These three paragraphs, though divergent from a l o g i c a l consideration of the subject's trauma, identi f y essential, buried operations and relations which linear causal connections cannot include. This breaking-up and reconstruction of thought and incidence at times becomes an e r r a t i c pendulum—most notably after the subject has had some type of interaction with media, human or otherwise. Nick Shay has one such experience while i n a hotel, "waiting for room service to 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 particular circumstances of the highway murder, as indicated 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 anxieties. Nick, a version of LeClair's "Systems man", " i s more a locus of communication of energy i n a reciprocal relationship with his environment than Benzon 32 an entity exerting;force and - dictating linear cause-effect sequences" (10). In the hotel, the f i x i t y of time and place i s destabilized by the intervention of a cab driver, who 11 "told Nick about the murders of gypsy drivers, a regular event l a t e l y , a game of chance you play every night" (209), and the narrator, who simply intones, "Nick d i d not l i k e cats." Each utterance builds on the previous one i n l a t e r a l , unprogrammatic fashion. The defeatist chant of a New Yorker, "Either they rob you and k i l l you or they rob you and l e t you l i v e " (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 quiet l i f e i n an unassuming house i n a suburb of Phoenix" (209). This 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 (in this case, his mother) into proper domestic ziplock: "Once he got her to say yes, they'd be able to spend untrammeled time remembering together" (209). There i s then another r e c o i l i n g to the cabby whom, Nick assures himself, "He'd tipped . . . nicely" (209). F i n a l l y , the sequence i s concluded as "He look[s] at the TV screen, where the tape was nearing the point when the driver waves, the c r i s p wave from the top of the steering wheel, and he wait[s] for room service to knock on his door" (209). The perverse narrative sequencing—or, more precisely, "snowballing"—as i l l u s t r a t e d above i s a formal attempt to provide alternative perspectives and interpretations of both the single, fixed act, and what i s acknowledged as the orderly flow of experience contingent upon time. The text Benzon 33 formally resembles a piece of garborator-twisted string depicted i n White Noise: There was a long piece of twine that contained a series of knots and loops. It seemed at f i r s t a random construction. Looking more closely I thought I detected a complex relationship between the size of the loops, the degree of the knots (single or double) and the intervals between knots with loops and freestanding knots. (259) Scrutinizing the looping intervals, DeLillo wonders, i n the words of Bronzini, "what we'd learn by going deeper into structures beneath the standard model, down under the quantiim, a m i l l i o n times smaller than the old Greek atom" (222). DeLillo thus introduces tensions, dislocations and associations that exist despite the long periods that separate them, as i f the straight l i n e of time had been looped and knotted prior to i t s inspection. This expression and reconfiguration of deep, elongated time has notable effects upon the characterization of the subject. The manslaughter/suicide scene between Nick and George i l l u s t r a t e s the depth that i s accomplished by temporal contortion. The "he" t e l l s how "In the extended interval of the trigger p u l l , the long quarter second, with the action of the trigger sluggish and rough, Nick saw into 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 piercing the v e i l of countenance and accessing the subjective intention behind i t . The dispensing of Benzon 34 temporal strictures allows for further, more inherently s p a t i a l maneuvering. It i s not c l e a r l y articulated what i s "seen" behind the smile of one who has tricked a teenaged boy into blowing his head o f f . Nor i s i t detailed what particular reaction t'his blunder incites i n Nick. Rather, the f a l l o u t of the shooting i s imparted by textual expansion, where the terms and motions of the act repeat themselves, continually set-up against one another i n s l i g h t l y variable shades. Each bolt of text, arranged i n single-sentence paragraphs, emulates the f i r i n g of the gun—as well as the synaptic misfirings of the stunned observer. He f e l t the trigger p u l l and then the gun.went off and he was l e f t there thinking weakly he didn't do i t . But f i r s t he pointed the gun at the man's head and asked i f i t was loaded. (780) While the f i r s t sentence expresses a passivity on the part of the shooter, the second sentence highlights the subject's deliberate involvement i n the act. The question of c u l p a b i l i t y i s tossed around from one textual b u l l e t to the next. Several times, there i s a flashing disclaimer, "And the way the man said no when he asked i f i t was loaded." Conversely, the sequence of the motion and the perception i s inverted, as i n the following: Then the noise busted through the room and he stood there thinking weakly he didn't do i t . Benzon 35 But f i r s t he force-squeezed the trigger and saw. into the smile and i t seemed to have the s p i r i t of a dare. (780) This r e i t e r a t i o n obstructs the logical-temporal progression of the scene just as a skipping record halts musical momentum. The f i r s t words of most statements propose a cycle wherein the subject ("He") i s stymied by both cognitive ("But") and temporal ("Then") obstacles. But, as with hip-hop 's repetitious tripping of the needle atop v i n y l , the clogging and stagnancy evident i n thi s depiction create the background for a new discourse that operates within the expansion-space of a single point i n time. 4. Towards a Spatial Narrative I t i s s carce ly any longer poss ib l e to t e l l a s t r a i g h t s tory s equent ia l l y unfo ld ing i n t ime. That i s to say, we are always aware of what i s t r a v e r s i n g the s tory l a t e r a l l y . And instead of being aware of a point as an i n f i n i t e l y small-part 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 smal l par t of an i n f i n i t e number of l i n e s , as the center of a s t a r of l i n e s . Such awareness i s the r e s u l t of our constant ly having to take in to account the s imul tane i ty and extension of events and p o s s i b i l i t i e s . - Berger, The Look of Things DeLillo's decomposition of linear signifying chains, as presented i n his networked modeling of incidence and perception, i s the fundamental means of destab i l i z i n g temporal structures i n Underworld. The. interfacing of public and private, as well as large- and small-scale h i s t o r i c a l Benzon 36 figures, and the excavation' of random d i e t r o l o g i a , 1 contributes further to a sense of i n t e r - h i s t o r i c i t y where the mechanisms of power are dispersed'amongst minuscule and i n f i n i t e l y variable agents. This suggests, both formally and thematically, that history i s neither f i n i t e nor solely temporal i n nature, but rather the cumulative result of endless circumlocution—in other words, DeLillo extends into i n f i n i t y the t r a d i t i o n a l notion of history as a process of continual change or "progress" to produce an amplified, c r y s t a l l i n e , and irreducible stasis of spatio-temporal interconnectivity. This view of history i s conducive to the needs of the individual because i t permits the expression of relationships and connections which the linear model, ever-advancing and accumulating debris, does not allow. I t interrupts those systems which rely upon the uniform straightness of time through the coalescence of the ^ one to the many, the substitution of the l i n e with the star. The v a r i a b i l i t y and hypertextuality of the narrative i s epitomized most keenly i n the structures of baseball. Like chess, baseball i s a game of "location, situation and memory" (674). Baseball operates upon the tension between regiment and randomness. The diamond i n s i s t s on a basic, unwavering route of progress. "For baseball," as McLuhan says,' " i s a game of one-thing-at-a-time, fixed positions 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 st a f f and l i n e i n management organization" (239). But t h i s 1 N ick ' s term for "the science that i s behind something" (UW 280). Benzon 37 f i x i t y i s repeatedly upset by the intersecting arc of the b a l l and the i n f i n i t y of possible plays. 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 dictates 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 th e i r crouches, and everything submits to the pebble-skip of the b a l l , to rotations and backspins and airstreams. 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 vortices. There are things that replay unrepeatably, muscle memory and pumping blood and jots of dust, the narrative that l i v e s i n the spaces of the o f f i c i a l play-by-play. (27) If i t - i s the unpredictable atom, the b a l l , and i t s attendant physical properties which precipitate and govern action, 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 least a gross approximation. Further, the variable "coefficients" and "vortices"—expressions 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 narrative l i k e a virus or radioactive f a l l o u t . As Andrew Paulus declares, "our wins and losses tend to have impact well beyond our borders" (670); s i m i l a r l y , Edgar muses that "pathogenic bacteria could be every b i t as destructive as megaton bombs. Worse, i n a way, because the sense of i n f i l t r a t i o n [ i s ] i t s e l f a form of death" (57). The b a l l , despite i t s tininess, has the hegemonic power of state 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 to t h i s , they make the radioactive core the same size as a baseball" (172). Thus the game i s not, as John Duvall suggests, simply an "auratic frenzy" (286), which can "eclipse a moment c r u c i a l to the construction of the Cold War" (287), but i t , i s another echo of the distant c o n f l i c t , part of the intersection which forms the node of the h i s t o r i c a l moment. Through inherently spatial metaphors such as baseball, Underworld explores the m u l t i p l i c i t y and the "network" of history. In so doing, i t i n s t i l l s the "coordination and toleration" that K r i s t i n Ross noted i s absent i n s o c i a l theories that t r y to situate concepts into devisable patterns and sequences. DeLillo's chief, and perhaps most coarse, means of creating this s p a t i a l network i s the intermeshing of a variety of media forms. A collage of film, photographs, news reportage, and omniscient or subjective observation, the novel forms a quasi-hypertextual space through which ideas and events c i r c u l a t e . Klara, for example, looks at a photograph of Truman Capote's Black & White B a l l and i s forced to contextualize her work i n the desert. She wonders, "What i s i t about this picture that makes i t so hard for me to remember myself?" (79). Surrounded by famous people and powerful people, men i n the administration who were running the war, and I want to paint i t over . . . maybe t h i s i s 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 his discussion of inter t e x t u a l i t y i n Mao II (a novel which opens with an image of a mass Moonie wedding), the photograph "invites us. to consider . . . the nexus that f u l l y characterizes the f i e l d of postmodern intertextuality" (215). But Klara's s e l f -perception steps beyond what i s apparent i n Mao II where Br i t a , the thieving photographer, "shoots and shoots and. shoots" (54) enough to make her object f e e l " f l a t as bi r d s h i t on a Buick" (54). Conversely, i n Underworld, the image i s a catalyst for subjective r e f l e c t i o n rather than degradation. And even Klara's epiphanies are not the end of the hypertextual scheme; rather, they become units i n a larger, compound construction. The event depicted by the photograph i s combed back into the fabric of the text, and the consciousness of other subjects: Capote's b a l l i s later retold from star-struck Hoover's point of view, and Klara i s reduced to the memory of "a middling painter c a l l e d whatever she's cal l e d . Sax or Wax or something" (574). In this sense, the recontextualized narration of visua l media:—written and not merely inserted p i c t o r i a l l y — a l l o w s juxtapositions and connections that each medium alone would hot be capable of portraying or producing. The "jostled footage" (488) of the Zapruder film, to take another example, i s perceived by an audience that has to "contend with the impact" (488). And Mick Jagger i n Cocksucker Blues makes Klara think how ' Benzon 40 "everything that everyone has eaten i n the l a s t ten years has gone into that mouth" (382). The material imparted by the medium i s situated alongside the subject, whose participation and perception add dimension to the event, thereby creating a matrix, or an intersection of lines which form a star. The Texas Highway K i l l e r i s one such star, whose various narrative incarnations emanate from a brutal crime mediated by videotape. The footage thus works "to make a channeled path through time, to give things a shape and a destiny" (157). The k i l l i n g , because i t i s random (and i n that sense a vaguely democratic gesture) i s "a crime designed for taping and immediate playing" (159). Indeed, the shooting i s "replayed" i n various instances throughout DeLillo's text, indicating 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, for one, watches the news report with deep interest and i s "not able to look at the tape without wanting to c a l l out to Janet" (217) each time they a i r the exploding head. Nick, however, does not pay attention to i t ; he knows f i r s t hand what i t ' s l i k e to shoot a man and doesn't need a video to t e l l him. Nick's son, whose < personal computer "had a multimedia function that allowed him to look at a copy of the famous videotape showing a dr i v e r , being shot" (118), displays the endgame that results from this combination of innocence... and technology. The m u l t i p l i c i t y of narratives that the computer provides, l a t e r picked up i n the novel's culminating description of the world wide web, epitomizes the l i b e r t i e s afforded by Benzon 41 interconnectedness. With the computer, the acts of the Texas Highway K i l l e r are drawn out of obscurity, and J e f f , a completely dislocated subject, can e f f e c t i v e l y plunge into and manipulate the details of the shooting. Jeff became absorbed i n these images, devising routines and programs, using f i l t e r i n g techniques to remove background texture. He was _looking for l o s t information. (118) Rather than passively absorbing the scenario, J e f f , enabled by his computer system, scrutinizes and manipulates the image so as to find something hidden i n the blur of pixels. And unlike Nicholas Branch, whose search for the "hidden principle" (171) of the Kennedy assassination has him suffocating i n a "room of growing old" (14), the d e t a i l s , variables, and permutations through which Jeff s i f t s are invigorating and regenerative. The inte g r i t y of the pereeiver 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 incident, which begins "Elegy for the Left hand Alone". The i n i t i a l statements l i n k the document, the recorded data, to the unsuspecting person behind the recorder: "It shows a man driving a car. I t i s the simplest sort of family video. You see a man at the wheel of a medium Dodge" (155). The video, as an "It" which "shows", mutates into the "You" who "sees". The mediating-agent between the object and the subject i s the g i r l , simply "aiming her camera through her rear window" (155). She captures the world that i s "already lurking i n the camera, Benzon 42 already framed, waiting" (156). This suggestion, that the world awaits f i l m and that i t i s i n a sense the same as footage, relieves the media of any accountability. Rather, . the f i l m i s pure agency, as the pathogens that are coughed up and scattered from Gleason's mouth. i n the i r randomness and crudity, there i s a direc t correlation between the f i l m and the mind: "It i s the jostled part of your mind, the f i l m that runs through your hotel brain under a l l the thoughts you. know you're thinking" (156). Another spindle projected from the shooting incident i s the Highway K i l l e r himself. He turns out to be a grocery clerk, Richard. His l i f e i s markedly banal, spent d i l i g e n t l y administering Nitrospan to his father and occasionally eating "a muffin standing up, a hand cupped under his chin to catch the crumbs" (272). He has a crush on his friend's wife and leaves milk out for a stray cat. Though there i s nothing to explain his murderous tendencies, microscopic glimpses into the workings of. his mind reveal acute dislocation caused by a paucity of soc i a l intercourse. Again i t i s the materialization of 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 this dislocation as well as a. sense of intimacy and completeness. He watched her over there and talked to her over here. . . . He talked to her on the phone and made eye contact with the TV. This was the waking of the Benzon 43 knowledge that he was r e a l . . . . He needed her to keep him whole. (270) This mediated s e l f - r e a l i z a t i o n reminds one of Oswald who, i n L i b r a , could "see himself shot as the camera caught i t " and saw, as i f through Ruby and the millions i n t h e i r l i v i n g rooms, "the twisted picture of his face on TV" (440). Similarly, the t e l e v i s i o n figure i s , for Richard, a face to meet; the TV i s i t s e l f the locus of an impossible discussion. The sense of "realness" comes with the situation of the s e l f on t e l e v i s i o n , the l i f e - g i v i n g force. The distancing from the s e l f , processed and distorted through equipment, i s a l i b e r a t i o n , as "the altered voice went on, talking i n that flat-graphed way, he was actually chatting now, confident, getting the f e e l of the medium, the format" (270). Through the description of Eisenstein's "lost" f i l m , the author creates yet another intertext, t h i s time link i n g with Underworld i t s e l f . Though i t i s a somewhat hyperbolic analogy, the fragmentary construction of Eisenstein's f i l m i s a r e f l e c t i o n of DeLillo's text: "The plot was hard to follow. There was no plot. Just loneliness, barrenness, men hunted and ray-gunned" (431). S t i l l , the deep focus i n each segment of film, i t s emphasis on space and physical d e t a i l , illuminates those variables that permeate the novel as a whole. Overcomposed closeups, momentous gesturing, actors t r a i l i n g t h e i r immense blended shadows, and there was something to study i n every frame, i n every Benzon 44 camera placement, the shapes and planes and then the juxtaposition shots, the sense of rhythmic contradiction, i t was a l l spaces and volumes, i t . was tempo, mass and stress (429) DeLillo's closeups—the 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 contradiction" of the George Manza shooting a matter of "tempo, mass and stress". The action depicted i s a grotesque counterpart to the events of the novel, a heightened version of Nick's boyhood shooting as well as a commentary on the perverse consequences of s c i e n t i f i c inquiry. The mad s c i e n t i s t aims his gun. A figure stands against a wall, his body going white. The s c i e n t i s t shows a tight smile. The victim i s transfigured, pain-racked, his lower l i p dribbling off his face, a growth appearing at the side of his neck, a radiant time-lapse melanoma. (431) The sly smile of George i s transferred into the tight smile of the s c i e n t i s t . A s c i - f i version of Nick's r i f l e brings about a "transformation" more obscene than death, rendering the victim 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 as a means of r e f l e c t i n g and energizing character 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 Benzon 45 dominant mediator of popular consciousness. Film i s poignant because i t makes concrete and v i s i b l e those structures and simultaneities that logic negates. It has the involving property of what McLuhan c a l l s "cool media", as. "the head-camera shows by projection 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 that approach a common point" (157), a c o l l i s i o n which works upon principles incommensurate with conventional l o g i c a l systems and patterns. There's something here that speaks to you d i r e c t l y , saying t e r r i b l e things about fprces beyond your control, lines of intersection that cut through history and logic and every reasonable layer of human expectation. (157) This integral "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 peculiar "intersections" 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 bi l l b o a r d . Hundreds congregate and "stare stupidly at the juice" (821)? unlike Klara's Black & White photograph and Bruegel's the Triumph of Death, the advertisment on the board i s but another v e i l through which an alternate 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 disparate energies. It appears "when the t r a i n Benzon 46 light s h i t the dimmest part of the b i l l b o a r d . .. . under the rainbow of bounteous juice 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 " (882). Esmerelda's image, l i k e the taped murders on the Texas highway, i s the material product of opposing impulses. The impossibility of what i s revealed by the passing t r a i n i s evinced by "the sound of the crowd . . . a gasp that shoots into sobs and moans and the cry of some unnamable pain of elation" (821). This visionary episode i s , i n the l a s t pages of the novel, reiterated i n the more viable, though perhaps blasphemous connection between the Internet and heaven. The World Wide Web, with i t s " b i l l i o n distant net nodes" (825) and merging of places and moments in 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 linked, hyperlinked, t h i s s i t e leading to that, t h i s fact referenced to that, a keystroke, a mouse-click, a password—world without end, amen. (825) Though i t i s Sister Edgar who i s entrenched i n t h i s information matrix, the narrative incorporates the reader as well, signifying that the complicity of a l l subjectivity extends beyond the pages of the novel—from f i c t i o n to r e a l i t y and back agains "When you decide to v i s i t the H-bomb home page she begins to understand" (825). This convergence of subjectivity, as with the u n i f i c a t i o n of the two Edgars, Benzon 47 "Sister and Brother" (826), i s the antithesis of the fusion bomb; i t i s "a way of seeing the other side and a s e t t l i n g of difference" (826). L i f e magazine appears sporadically throughout the narrative l i k e a priest i n a morality play. 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 that pour over the crowd at the 195i b a l l game. In contrast with it's name, the magazine's images function to connect the morbidity of two realms, despite th e i r temporal disparity. Bruegel's The Triumph of Death, "a landscape of visionary havoc and ruin" (41), f a l l s upon J. Edgar Hoover's shoulder; he i s fascinated by i t s "cankers, lesions and rottin g bodies so long as his connection to 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 also conveys the p i l l a g i n g and polluting Edgar associates with himself. 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 form "a death rank on the dance f l o o r " (576). The painting reaffirms to Edgar what he already knows, that "the l i v i n g are sinners" (50). But Bruegel's painting offers as well an eerie p a r a l l e l between the b a l l game and the effects of a simultaneous Russian nuclear t e s t — a correlation that would la t e r form the dual headline. To Edgar, entranced by the painting,, the connection i s a l l too clear. Benzon 48 The meatblood colors and massed bodies, this i s a census-taking of awful ways to die. He looks at the f l a r i n g sky i n the deep distance out beyond the headlands on the left-hand page—Death elsewhere, Conflagration i n many places, Terror universal, the crows, the ravens i n s i l e n t glide, the raven perched on the white nag's rump, black and white forever, and he thinks of a lonely tower standing i n the Kazakh Test Site, the tower armed with the bomb. (50) His personal terror i s mediated by the painting into a "Terror universal". Similarly, "The homerun that won the game," says DeLillo, that was "soon to be known as the 'shot heard around the world' had found i t s awful counterpoint. A Russian mushroom cloud" ("The Power of History" 63). This connection between the game and the mushroom, cloud i s corroborated i n the narrative, which, i n the f i n a l chapter, produces scenes of nuclear holocaust that replicate those i n Bruegel's depiction of Death and Conflagration. Nick and Brian are escorted through the Kazakh Test Site by Viktor Maltsev of the Tchaika company. They tour the Museum of Mishaps which catalogues and archives the residual effects of the 1951 nuclear test, a v i r t u a l incarnation of. Bruegel's "meatblood colors and massed bodies" (50). It i s the boy with the skin where his eyes ought to be, a bolus of spongy flesh, oddly l i k e a mushroom cap, springing from each brow. It i s the bald-Benzon 49 headed children standing along a wall i n th e i r underwear, waiting to be examined. I t i s the man with the growth beneath his chin, a thing with a l i f e of i t s own, embryonic and pulsing. (800) The very mushroomy and "embryonic" autonomy of t h e i r deformed tissue embodies the shape of the explosion that ravaged them, reaffirming that processes, f r a c t a l - l i k e , repeat i n f i n i t e l y down the chain of scale. As with the b a l l game, signs of the western marketplace riddle.the scene, at once t e r r i b l y out of sync with the despair at hand and indicative of capital's stake i n the nuclear program. Items and products are inexplicably but inextricably part of the suffering at the Test Site. Nick sees "the dwarf g i r l who wears a t - s h i r t advertising a Gay and Lesbian f e s t i v a l i n Hamburg, Germany, bottom edge dragging on the floor" (800) and fetuses "preserved i n Heinz pickle jars" (799). The products and slogans are morbid testimony that the bomb with i t s "Many buzzing neutrons [and] very l i t t l e blast [is] The perfect c a p i t a l i s t t o o l " (790). Its perfection i s , as Viktor says, that the bomb w i l l " K i l l people, [but] spare property" (790). The nuclear weapon i s a perversion of those lucky c o l l i s i o n s that, i n th e i r randomness, somehow lead to productive explorations of the s e l f and culture. The weapon, rather, i s the dark side of fusion: linear thinking disguised as a star. It emerges from a logic that i s correct and workable but ultimately redundant; "Once they imagine the bomb, write down equations," says Viktor, "they see i t ' s Benzon 50 possible to build, they b u i l d i t " (791). And though DeLillo's various formal ploys and h i s t o r i c a l subversions attempt to retrace and reformulate the mechanisms of linear thought, regimental time and progress have remarkable, chameleonesque staying power. Because mass desire demands "A method of production that w i l l custom cater to c u l t u r a l and personal needs, not to cold war ideologies of massive uniformity" (786), the systems mutate into something that resembles div e r s i t y and egalitarianism; tyrannical structures "fade and wane, states disintegrate, assembly lines shorten t h e i r runs and interact with lines i n other countries" (786). But look at the kids at the Kazakh Test Site, who, despite blindness, s t i l l "are playing follow the leader. 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 kind of ubiquitous presence i n global culture, w i l l eventually degrade into the same homogeneity; that is> c a p i t a l continues to "[burn] off the nuance i n a culture" (785). And the system pretends to go along, to become more supple and resourceful, less dependent on r i g i d categories. But even as desire tends to specialize, going s i l k y and intimate,, the force of converging markets produces an instantaneous c a p i t a l that shoots across horizons at the speed of l i g h t , making for a certain" furtive sameness, a planing away of particulars that affects everything from Benzon 51 architecture to leisure time to the way people eat and sleep and dream. (786) The fusion of "converging markets" i s a "furtive" version of the atomic explosion. As i n any perfect system, any ret a l i a t o r y action taken against i t i s reduced to submission. "Consume or die," says garbage guru Detwiler, "That's the mandate of the culture" (287). Even the baseball, at once a medium for s o c i a l coalescence and action, i s also a product with value attached to i t — a value contingent upon time and the forces of i n f l a t i o n — w o r t h to Manx "thirty-two dollars and change" (655) and to Nick, decades la t e r , "thirty-four thousand f i v e hundred dollars" (132). For DeLillo, waste and weapons are "mystical twins" (791), though th e i r respective forces have a n t i t h e t i c a l effects. Waste i s the spa t i a l manifestation of "the secret history, the underhistory" (791) that Underworld t r i e s to present and validate. The garbage dump i s a node,of a c t i v i t y , a "culminating structure" where " a l l the great works of transport, trade and linkage [are] directed to i n the end" (184). Its expanse and volume are generative forces that, as Detwiler maintains, "rose f i r s t , i n c i t i n g people to b u i l d c i v i l i z a t i o n i n response" (287). In eff e c t , the heaps of debris are memories made tangible. And, as David Harvey says, "If i t i s true that time i s always memorialized not as a flow, but as memories of experiences of places and spaces, then history must indeed give way to poetry, and time to space, as the fundamental material of so c i a l expression" (7). Benzon 52 Works Cited Baudrillard, Jean. The I l l u s i o n of the End. Trans. C. Turner. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1994. Benjamin, Walter. I l l u m i n a t i o n s . Trans. H. Zohn. New York: Schocken Books, 1969. Berger, John. The Look of Things. New York: Viking, 1974. Carmichael, Thomas. "Lee Harvey Oswald and the Postmodern Subject: History and Intertextuality i n Don DeLillo's Libra, The Names, and Afao I I . " Contemporary F i c t i o n 34 (Summer 1993): 204-218. Ci v e l l o , Paul. American L i t e r a r y Naturalism and i t s Twentieth Century Transformations. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994. DeLillo, Don. L i b r a . New York: Penguin, 1988. .Mao II. New York: Penguin, 1992. . "The Power of History." New York Times Magazine. 7 Sept, 1997: 60-63. . Underworld. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997. . White Noise. New York: Penguin, 1984. Doctorow, E. L. Ragtime. New York: Plume, 1996. Duvall, John. "Baseball as Aesthetic Ideology: Cold War History, Race, and DeLillo's 'Pafko at the Wall.'" Modern Fiction Studies 41-2 (1995): 285-314. Freud, Sigmund. C i v i l i z a t i o n and i t s D i s c o n t e n t s . Trans. J. Strachey. Norton & Norton: New York, 1961. Benzon 53 Fromm, Erich. The Sane S o c i e t y . New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1955. Foucault. D i s c i p l i n e and Punish. Trans. A. Sheridan. New York: Vintage, 1979. ."Questions of Geography." Power/Knowledge: S e l e c t e d Interviews and Other Writings. Ed. C. Gordon 1980. . "Of Other Spaces: Trans. J. Miskowiec. D i a c r i t i c s 16 (1986): 22-27. Gregory, Derek. Geographical Imaginations. Blackwell: Cambridge, 1994. Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity. Cambridge: Blackwell, 1990. Hutcheon, Linda. A P o e t i c s of Postmodernism. New York: Routledge, 1988. . Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism of the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke UP,. 1997. LeClair, Tom. In the Loop: Don DeLillo and the Systems Novel. Urbana: University of I l l i n o i s Press, 1994. Lyotard, J.F. The Postmodern Condition. Trans. G. Bennington and B. Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 1971. McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997. Ondaatje. Michael. The English P a t i e n t . Toronto: Vintage, 1993. Benzon 54 Ross, K r i s t i n . The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the Paris Commune. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988. Soja, Edward. Postmodern Geographies. London: Verso, 1989. 

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