Eerie Synchronicity

The following passage in Don DeLillo’s White Noise (pp. 242- 243) sounds eerily like a scene from the new Nic Cage movie, “Knowing.” Is this just a coincidence? Merely an example of random synchronicity? (Self, you do realize, don’t you, that you are beginning to sound just like the Nic Cage character in the movie?) Did Alex Proyas read White Noise? Could he possibly be a Don DeLillo fan? Read and comment, dear blog readers. The “Wilder” mentioned in the passage is the narrator’s son.

There was someone sitting in the backyard. A white-haired man sitting erect in the old wicker chair, a figure of eerie stillness and composure. At first, dazed and sleepy, I didn’t know what to make of the sight. It seemed to need a more careful interpretation than I was able to provide at the moment. I thought one thing, that he’d been inserted there for some purpose. Then fear began to enter, palpable and overwhelming, a fist clenching repeatedly in my chest. Who was he, what was happening here? I realized Wilder was no longer next to me. I reached the doorway to his room just in time to see his head sink into the pillow. By the time I got to the bed, he was fast asleep. I didn’t know what to do. I felt cold, white. I worked my way back to the window, gripping a doorknob, a handrail, as if to remind myself of the nature and being of real things. He was still out there, gazing into the hedges. I saw him in profile in the uncertain light, motionless and knowing. Was he as old as I’d first thought — or was the white hair purely emblematic, part of his allegorical force? That was it, of course. He would be Death, or Death’s errand-runner, a hollow-eyed technician from the plague era, from the era of inquisitions, endless wars, of bedlams and leprosariums . . . I watched for a long time, waiting for him to move a hand. His stillness was commanding. I felt myself getting whiter by the second. What does it mean to become white? How does it feel to see Death in the flesh, come to gather you in? I was scared to the marrow.

Disgruntled Amazon Reviewer

Self has been reading Don DeLillo’s White Noise since Friday. Penguin publishes this as part of a series on “Great Books of the Twentieth Century.” Seems fairly topical, even prescient, in the light of current events (The book was published in 1985, when self was still in grad school). Consult Amazon to see what readers have to say about it. Encounter one very disgruntled student who had to read it for a class. Self feels for the poor student, forced to (in all probability) write a paper about a book she can’t relate to (We’ve all been there).

    I had to read this book for my contemporary literature class and it was horrible. It has good ideas and themes for a literature class if you look at it from that perspective but as a book it lacks everything that a good book has. don’t pick this one up for entertainment i can save you a ton of time by telling you what happens. he goes to the grocery store about 4 times, they go through an airborne toxic event in which they refuse to believe that it’s happening and he goes crazy. there you go. whole book in one sentence. hope this helps

HA HA HA HA HA HA! Whoever wrote this is such a card! Frustration seeps from every word!

In spite of the “no caps” look and the unfortunate tendency towards run-on, self thinks the sentence “He goes to the grocery store about four times” (fairly accurate), they “go through an airborne toxic event” (extremely accurate), “they refuse to believe that it’s happening” (fairly accurate) “and he goes crazy” is very very very funny.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Saw “Knowing”

And it was pretty much a come-down from Alex Proyas‘ earlier work (“Dark City”, anyone?  Remember that?  With Rufus Sewell?  Remember the creepy Strangers:  the nails that seemed to go on forever, scratching along the walls; the hovering just inches above the floor?).  Even before the movie started, self was already having to overcome major disappointment:  Beard Papa is no more!  Yes, the space where it used to be, just a few doors down from the Century 20, was empty today.  (Something of a double whammy:  Friday there was a message on self’s answering machine, from Costco.  The Middlefield Costco will be torn down, in a week! Eeek! Self loved shopping in that Costco. Now she’ll have to go to the one in Foster City, or the one in Mountain View)

It was such a gorgeous day, too!  Warm!  And there were self and hubby, seated in a dark theatre, with approximately 50 0ther people (a very chatty crowd, self might add.  There were a couple of Filipinas behind us, a group of middle-aged women to our left, and families, all of them quite excitable) Soon enough, however, the audience settled into stunned silence, as scene after scene of epic disaster and carnage unfolded, at times set to the lush strains of classical music.

The opening sequences had self filled with anticipation, for they had that “Proyas” look:  the dark sets, the sense of metaphoric gloom.  And Nic Cage’s receding hairline was not too distracting.  But by the time cute single parent (of course, of opposite gender to Nic) made her appearance, and also vaguely looking Nordic stranger in a black coat, movie was beginning to strain credulity (Oh, did self forget to mention that Nic Cage was supposed to be an MIT professor, and in one scene he is actually shown in a classroom, and everyone in the class of thirty or so students was good-looking?  Bursting with health and dewy youth, as if they were students in some coastal California college like Cal Poly instead of geek-magnet MIT???), and the movie truly descended to the depths when Nic’s son and his new (female) playmate picked up his and hers snowy white rabbits, provided by strangers in black coats (Why is it that every time messengers from the beyond show up in a Hollywood film, they are always of chilly Nordic appearance?).

Which recalled to self a time when son and she were watching B-movie about Stone Age cavemen, and the protagonist/tribesmen were constantly battling other tribes and offing the men and dragging the women into dark caves by the hair, and when self said, “Oh no, why do you suppose they are only taking the women, is that for, for  —  ”  Self then fell silent, belatedly mindful that son at the time was only eight years old.  But son turned around very calmly and said to self, “For reproduction?”

HA HA HA HA HA HA!  Son is such a card!  But when he was growing up, he was constantly astonishing self by completing her sentences, so uncanny was his intuition (and vocabulary).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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