The book that made me finally see “Psycho.” The parallels between the film and the characters in this little novella are what make the book interesting. DeLillo is a prose master so there are some great little lines in there that make it worth your while, but beyond that he’s making readers work with this one. All the characters are so detached and alienated from the world and themselves that it’s, well, painful, and painfully depressing.
I finished it wondering a little what was the point, but, of course, the alienation itself is probably the point. I began to appreciate it when I started thinking about it as a meditation on war, and the planners of war, and how they see the world as an abstraction, a curiosity, something that is not real, a bunch of big ideas. This enables them to construct and set in motion the machinery of death because there aren’t really flesh and blood people and lives and civilizations and societies involved — it’s all just big ideas and theories and stars.
“Consciousness accumulates. It begins to reflect upon itself. Something about this feels almost mathematical to me. There’s almost some law of mathematics or physics that we haven’t quite hit upon, where the mind transcends all direction inward. The omega point,” he said. “Whatever the intended meaning of this term, if it has a meaning, if it’s not a case of language that’s struggling toward some idea outside our experience.”(72)
The planners of war are Norman Bates; their minds have transcended all direction inward until they have begun to eat themselves with dissociation. In the end they have to be someone else to do what they do and they don’t even know that other self that they are, they deny it and almost are unaware of it. If you confront them with the reality of the pain and suffering they create, they will not be able to cope. They will run, retreat, escape, deny, turn away, and become helpless as children. Maybe.
Or maybe it would just be really cool to see “Psycho” slowed down into a 24-hour marathon.