I see

I’m inside-out. The inside has turned into the outside, and it is more real than what is in front of my eyes. My computer, my desk, the solid object worth of everything around me ripples like an oasis. Words, it is the words which have pulled me through their narrow white portals. I feel exposed. I feel naked as Karen’s body when she pulled herself out from her shirt straddling Bill’s legs. Is it DeLillo’s words which have effected this transformation? Have his words drawn me out like Karen’s arms so that the baggy clothes of my everyday life no longer hide me? I am astonished by how so few pages could cause such a reaction. Like the “Master” DeLillo has lifted me: “out of ordinary strips of space and time” (9).  I am involved “in this mysterious exchange” – and I ask myself, (of the writer), “How are you changing me?” (43).

Bill tells Brita, “I only know what I see. Or what I don’t see” (47). And yet it is Brita that is seeing. She is seeing Bill. Her gaze is single-minded, relentless in its penetration. Bill is exposed under her lens. I remember Karen’s father with his binoculars in the stands. He is at once distant and separated, with the perspective which sees the mass as a whole although he seeks for the individual. And in this view he can distinguish the insides of the living body of many and read its future in the position of the parts. Brita is seeing the individual and instead of the separation, she is connected and joined to him. Her camera (literally and figuratively) captures him, his essence, and in doing so, his inside is pulled outside through the medium of her lens. Just as the medium of the writer’s words pull me inside-out.

In the culmination of a desire for loss: “Everything is seamless and transparent” (46). My walls are undone.

2 thoughts on “I see”

    1. I finished the novel late last night, and having thought about your question, Doctor Sample, it occurred to me that the second-half of the book was totally unlike the first-half, in regards to my sensation of being turned inside-out. In fact, I felt lost in the strangeness and unfamiliarity of the crowds, action, people. I had the opposite reaction. Truly, I retreated into myself to distance myself from the flurry of impressions – impressions which were fast, furious, and impersonal.

      The first chapters were so intimate for me, that the shock was worse, since I had felt so vulnerable and exposed going into the second-half of the book. Perhaps this was intentional on DeLillo’s part; maybe, this was exactly what he was trying to accomplish. The interior raw world of the characters in the beginning are wide-open to the reader, and we transverse their intricate byways without any self-consciousness. I believe DeLillo wanted that for us. But the abrupt change when the characters move out of the house and into the “world” is difficult. I found myself closing down, shutting my doors, retreating into myself.

      When we go into the mind of the hostage, I found it impossible to enter into his captivity because I have been jolted out of my groove when Bill enters traffic in NYC in Chapter 7. Weird. All I can say at this point. I will continue to think on it. Thank you for the question.

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