Don DeLillo

Left handed people seem to do things with more style.


There were times when I thought all of us at the network existed only on videotape. Our words and actions seemed to have a disturbingly elapsed quality. We have said and done all these things before and they had been frozen for a time, rolled up in little laboratory trays to await broadcast and rebroadcast when the proper time slots become available. And there was the feeling that somebody's deadly pinkie might nudge a button and we would all be erased forever. These moments in the washroom, with a dozen men sawing away at their teeth, were perhaps the worst times of all. We seemed to be no more than electronic signals and we moved through time and space with the stutter and shadowed insanity of a TV commercial.

Below Forty-Second, people were able to choose their own pace and yet here the faces seemed gray and stricken, the bodies surreptitious in the scrawls of their coats, and it occurred to me that perhaps in this city the crowd was essential to the individual; without it, he had nothing against which to scrape his anger, no echo for grief, and not the slightest proof that there were others more lonely than he.

White Noise

The supermarket shelves have been rearranged. It happened one day without warning. There is agitation and panic in the aisles, dismay in the faces of older shoppers. They walk in a fragmented trance, stop and go, clusters of well-dressed figures frozen in the aisles, trying to figure out the pattern, discern the underlying logic, trying to remember where they'd seen the cream of wheat...smeared print, ghost images. In the altered shelves, the ambient roar, in the plain and heartless fact of their decline they try to work their way through confusion. But in the end it doesn't matter what they think they see. The terminals are equipped with holographic scanners, which decode the binary secret of every item, infallibly. This is the language of waves and radiation, or how the dead speak to the living. And this is where we wait together, regardless of age, our carts stocked with brightly colored goods. A slowly moving line, satisfying, giving us time to glance at the tabloids in the racks. Everything we need that is not food or love is in the tabloid racks. The tales of the supernatural and the extra-terrestrial. The miracle vitamins, the cures for cancer, the remedies for obesity, the cults of the famous and the dead.

It is for others, not for us...the others who spend their lives believing that we still believe. It is our task in the world to believe things no one else takes seriously. To abandon such beliefs completely, the human race would die. That is why we are here. A tiny minority. To embody old things, old beliefs. The devil, angels, heaven, hell. If we did not pretend to believe these things, the world would collapse.

We all had an aura to maintain and in sharing mine with a friend, I was risking the very things that made me untouchable.

What we are reluctant to touch often seems the very fabric of our salvation.

This is a society of kids. Kids are a true universal...Once you're out of school, it is only a matter of time before you experience the vast loneliness and dissatisfaction of consumers who have lost their group identity.

Waves and radiation. I've come to understand that the medium is a primal force in the American home. Sealed off, timeless, self-contained, self referring. It's like a myth being born right there in our living room, like something we know in a dream-like and preconscious way.

The power of the dead is that we think they see us all the time. The dead have a presence. Is there a level of energy composed solely of the dead? They are also in the ground of course, asleep and crumbling. Perhaps we are what they dream.

Fear is self-awareness raised to a higher level.


Cotter likes this man's singleness of purpose, his insistence on faith and trust. It's the only force available against the power of doubt.

Longing on a large scale is what makes history. This is just a kid with a local yearning but he is part of an assembling crowd, anonymous thousands off the buses and trains, people in narrow columns tramping over the swing bridge above the river, and even if they are not a migration or a revolution, some vast shaking of the soul, they bring with them the body heat of a great city and their own small reveries and desperations, the unseen something that haunts the day-men in fedoras and sailors on shore leave, the stray tumble of their thoughts, going to a game.

Sometimes I see something so moving I know I'm not supposed to linger. See it and leave. If you stay too long, you wear out the wordless shock. Love it and trust it and leave.

Power meant something thirty, forty years ago. It was stable, it was focused, a tangible thing. It was greatness, danger, terror, all those could measure hope and you could measure destruction...Many things that were anchored to the balance of power and the balance of terror seem to be undone, unstuck. Things have no limits now. Money has no limits. I don't understand money anymore. Money is undone. Violence is undone, violence is easier now, it's uprooted, out of control, it has no measure anymore, it has no level of values.

You feel sorry for yourself. You think you're missing something and you don't know what it is. You're lonely inside your life. You have a job and a family and a fully executed will, already, at your age, because the whole point is to die prepared, die legal, with all the papers signed. Die liquid, so they can convert to cash. You use to have the same dimensions as the observable universe. Now you're a lost speck. You look at old cars and recall a purpose, a destination.

Pain is just another form of information.

She saw a brick facade flushed with coral light, more or less on fire with light, and the brick seemed revealed the way only light reveals a thing--it is baked clay of some intenser beauty than she'd ever thought to notice.

He saw how remote sensors pulled hidden meanings out of the earth. How sweeps and patches of lustrous color, how computer fuchsias or rorschach pulses of unnamed shades might indicate a change in water temperature or where the dwindling grizzlies go to forage and mate. He looked at spindly barrier beaches that showed white as shanked bone. He fount sizable cities pixeled into mountain folds and saw black lakes high in the ranges, kettle holes formed by glacial drift.

He could not stop looking.

The photo mosaics seemed to reveal a secondary beauty in the world, ordinarily unseen, some hallucinatory fuse of exactitude and rapture. Every thermal burst of color was a complex emotion he could not locate or name.

When the wind gusted out of the mountains it rebodied the dunes and if you were up out of the Pocket and sitting around at home with a beer and a snack you saw your laundry go horizontal on the backyard line, all of it, sheets, hankies, boxer shorts, pajama bottoms like people of all sizes and shapes snapping from the pressure, letting their souls fly forth to the gypsum hills.

Do you know the famous old painting, Albert? Children playing games. Scores of children filling a market square. A painting that's about four hundred years old and what a shock it is to recognize many games we played ourselves. Games still played today...

Children find a way. They sidestep time, as it were, and the ravages of progress. I think they operate in another time scheme altogether.

Baseball's oh so simple. You tag a man, he's out. How different from being it. What spectral genius in the term, that curious part of childhood that sees through the rhymes and nonsense words, past the hidings and seekings and pretendings to something old and dank, some medieval awe, he thought, or earlier, even, that crawls beneath the midnight skin.