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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Reading Cosmopolis Through DeLillo's Clairvoyant Underworld Book Cover

Cover Art Chosen by DeLillo
The cover of the first edition of DeLillo's 1997 Underworld. DeLillo himself chose the image for it. Scary huh?  That's not an airplane up there but it sure looks like one now that we know the future context and perceive the image with hindsight. Actually it is a bird. A bird, a gull maybe, like the one Eric Packer sees into that dawn of his last day alive.

August 1974 Philippe Petit walks a tightrope between the Twin Towers.

Man On Wire youtube


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ddpV1GvF7E&NR     can paste in browser

Now approaching the 10 year anniversary of the loss of the twin towers, Petit says, .... and that are now gone. Interviewed recently for his one-man show of his life story, Petit said that the towers still exist -- in his mind. "I don't see time begin and end. In my head, the twin towers are still alive.... On the subject of the towers disappearing, of course it was an immense -- sadness is not the word -- it was something alive that was pulled out of me," he said. Years after the attack, he holds onto that 1974 memory. "Nothing can change that. The memory of this adventure is an intimate, romantic, poetic, joyful feeling that will continue...for the rest of my life." LINK

Dan Goodwin Climbing Millennium Tower 

Spider Dan has climbed an amazing list of towers:
The list of towers "Spider Dan" has climbed before reads like an encyclopaedia of famous American towers. Starting off with the Sears Tower, Chicago in 1981, he has also conquered the World TradeCentre (North Tower) New York, the CN tower in Toronto and the Hancock Centre, also in Chicago. 

These buildings are seductive.  And seduction is coupled with challenge. Always. Just like mountains, like Everest. They are objects beckoning the subject. They were Strange Attractors from Baudrillardian theory. Just as particles in a particle accelerator with opposite charges seek each other, play with each other, and when they collide....pouf!

These are beautiful films but the suggestiveness of the Twin Towers is inescapable. Add the bomb and explosion in 1992 and it seems incomprehensible our government did not perceive the seductiveness of the Twin Towers.

Vija: "You live in a tower that soars to heaven and goes unpunished by God."
She found this amusing.
"And you bought an airplane. I'd nearly forgotten this. Soviet or ex-Soviet. A strategic bomber. Capable of knocking out a small city. Is this right?" (C 103)

Baudrillard might say that the World is thinking this 9-11 Event that's coming.

Collapse of Twin Towers
It is probable that the terrorists had not foreseen the collapse of the Twin Towers (any more than had the experts!), a collapse which - much more than the attack on the Pentagon - had the greatest symbolic impact. The symbolic collapse of a whole system came about by an unpredictable complicity, as though the towers, by collapsing on their own, by committing suicide, had joined in to round off the event. In a sense, the entire system, by its internal fragility, lent the initial actions a helping hand. ( The Spirit of Terrorism 8)

Baudrillard- The Spirit of Terrorism

But governments lie within the order of production not seduction. The meaning of the Event of 9-11 lies in its secret. The 24/7 media coverage of circulating information drowned us in bits, but information is not knowledge. It is not knowing. The circulating bits of information reveal and conceal the meaning of any Event.  The media circulating information becomes the Event. The secret of 9-11 is that governments are powerless to stop terrorism except to put the domestic population under more and more surveillance to create the empty sign of a security it cannot provide.

What does this have to do with Cosmopolis?

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