Not Being Here - Poem by gershon hepner
“I’m sorry I could not be here tonight, ”
said Don DeLillo, winning an award.
Even if you’re not quite out of sight,
you make think that you are, if you are bored.
Human consciousness perhaps is reaching
a paroxysm or a sense of the sublime,
but there’s no point if you’re not there in teaching
if you for being here have not got time.
Alexandra Alter writes in the January 30,2010 WSJ (“What Don DeLillo's Books Tell Him”) :
Don DeLillo still bangs out his novels on an old Olympia typewriter. He barely watches television, except for sports and the occasional documentary. He doesn't use email. He could scarcely be more insulated from mainstream American culture. And yet Mr. DeLillo has written with eerie foresight about many of the issues that define 21st-century America, from international terrorism, which he wrote about in his 1991 novel 'Mao II, ' to globalization, environmental disasters, the allure of technology and the psychology of crowds. 'Writers, some of us, may tend to see things before other people do, things that are right there but aren't noticed, ' Mr. DeLillo, age 73, says during a rare interview at his publisher Scribner's office in midtown Manhattan….
'Point Omega' takes its title from the Omega Point—a concept coined by the French paleontologist and Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who described the Omega Point as the final stage in the evolution of consciousness. Mr. DeLillo, a lapsed Catholic, says he first read Mr. Chardin's work 'quite a long time ago, ' after he graduated from Fordham University. He reread it as he was writing 'Point Omega, ' and says he was captivated by 'the idea that human consciousness is reaching a point of exhaustion, and that what comes next may be either a paroxysm or something enormously sublime.' Mr. DeLillo, who grew up in the Bronx as the son of Italian immigrants, says his Catholic upbringing inevitably creeps into his work: 'It has an effect in ways I can't be specific about—the sense of ceremony, the sense of last things, and the sense of religion as almost at times an art.'
His approach to writing borders on obsessive. He fixates on the shapes of letters and words, and judges each phrase for its visual appearance as well as its rhythm and clarity. He likes word combinations where one word surrounds another, such as 'raw sprawl, ' says Ms. Graham, his editor at Scribner. Sometimes, Mr. DeLillo says, he will swap out a word for a more rhythmically appealing one, even if it alters the meaning of the sentence. He often types up a single paragraph at a time, using a clean sheet of paper for each paragraph, so that he can study the architecture of each passage in isolation. In public, Mr. DeLillo has avoided being cast as a literary insider. Gerald Howard, who edited Mr. DeLillo's novel 'Libra, ' recalls sitting next to Mr. DeLillo at the ceremony for the 1985 National Book Awards, when Mr. DeLillo won an award for 'White Noise.' The author, asked to give an acceptance speech, stood up and said, 'I'm sorry I couldn't be here tonight, but I thank you all for coming, ' and abruptly sat down.
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