Monday, 29 October 2007

DeLillo in the Wild VA spots the rare, wild DeLillo in Ben McGrath's profile of noted extortionist Scott Boras: Being Catholic, who you are as a person, you don’t appreciate any association with Satan. Philosophically, in areas that I can’t talk about, we were on different pages. This was the day, was it not, for influential men to come to sudden messy ends. People call me from the outside world all the time—they want me to negotiate everything. I’m not the person who will go out and negotiate anything, at any time, for anyone who happens to wear some sort of uniform. People don’t go to the Super Bowl for the game. Most Super Bowl games are not competitive, or good games. They go there for the event. They go there for the three-day weekend. The game doesn't change the way you sleep or wash your face or chew your food. It changes nothing but your life. I looked at the producer and I go, "Who in their right mind would ever do such a thing, to disclose the intimate negotiations between you, the people you deal with every day, the teams, and everything?" Computers will die. They're dying in their present form. They're just about dead as distinct units. A box, a screen, a keyboard. They're melting into the texture of everyday life. Even the word computer. Someone almost feels vindicated: Boras sounds as bland—as Wonder Bread—as your typical DeLillo character and/or narrator, i.e. he represents all that is banal and evil in contemporary literature. (Full disclosure: the bit about James Wood in that link is a tad ironic now, all things considered.) I wonder whether the fault lies not with Boras, but with McGrath. Boras might could be a run-of-the-mill agent whose rambling lectures were edited into DeLillo-speak by one of The New Yorkers' infamous dictators—but why would anyone do that? What would the benefit be? But there's another possibility: Given his legendary powers of salesmanship, perhaps Boras doesn't speak DiLillo-ese—perhaps he learned it for the exclusive purpose of sounding like someone being profiled in The New Yorker. No one actually sounds like that, of course, but Boras wouldn't know that. He'd push the hard-line and become the first person outside a DeLillo novel to speak like someone inside one. That would be some feat. Relatedly: this seems an opportune moment to play a round of Spot-the-DeLillo: Ask the weasel why he did it, boys. I punished myself by going for long underwater swims in the artifical lake, coming up gasping, the sky regarding me through misty spectacles, quire curiously. A man showed her his mutilated arm and asked for change. Milk is the subtlest of insults. Paper streamers came out of our eyes. As Jonathan noted, one of these things is not like the other. Care to guess? (Answer.)

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