You can bring a cult to culture, but you can’t make it think.

The Capitol-Trasher cult; the ultraorthodox cult; the integralist Catholic cult. Their leaders: Marjorie Taylor Greene; primitive authoritarian rabbis; Pater Edmund Waldstein. These groups are violent; they don’t recognize laws and institutions; they are irrational; they are primitive.

Everyone is so surprised that it turns out a significant minority of the Cap-Trash cult didn’t even vote in a presidential election whose result caused them to try to overthrow the government of the United States. They didn’t vote for Trump.

Why are you surprised? Cultists don’t vote. Or if they vote, it’s in robotic blocks, obeying commands from the cult leader.

Get with the program and perceive their world long enough to defend yourself.

They are trying to kill you and kill your world, and you totally need to defend yourself against them.

They’re not cute. Okay? Waldstein thinks burning non-cultists at the stake is a good idea. Greene wants to put a bullet through the head of Nancy Pelosi. Israeli haredim teach fifteen year old boys to burn down city buses and attack police. Why do you cling to the idea that because these people present themselves as god-fearing they deserve your respect?

Read Don DeLillo’s Mao II, his novel about cults, if you’d like to pause and understand the deep reasons people join cults. Or don’t bother learning the deep reasons. The imperative is to fight them with all you’ve got. With all we’ve got.

‘Writing gives me comfort. Trying to understand can be somewhat self-enlightening, maybe in a self-deceptive way, but that’s helpful.’

An interview with Don DeLillo, who has just released a new novel, The Silence.

Digital Blackout, NYC.

UD‘s beloved Don DeLillo will soon issue a new novel, The Silence, about New York City under a digital shutdown. Can’t wait.

‘Florida ferry accident off exclusive island results in deaths of 2 socialites as Mercedes rolls into water’

The postmodern American death (details here), and the ultimate postmodern headline.

If Don DeLillo were writing White Noise today…

he would definitely have found a way to use this in the novel.

The Don DeLillo Death

This blog periodically notes echt-DeLillo deaths in this country, deaths that often involve that icon of affluent leisure, the golf ball. Read the opening pages of Players, or note the many pages of White Noise and other novels of his that mark the untimely death of someone while at play, or the mix of fatal violence and golf.

This is a very Don DeLillo photograph.

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If you doubt the cultural centrality of golf balls in America, read this front-page article in the New York Times, which ominously reports that errant golf balls breaking windows in retirement communities is “an increasingly prominent problem.”

********************

So a recent alleged murder at an expensive neighborhood in Atlanta seems to feature an attorney so incensed that someone threw a golf ball at his $60,000 Mercedes CLS 550 (no damage to the car was found, so it’s not clear anything was in fact thrown) that he took his massive car and ran down and killed a guy (a real estate investor) he thought threw it.

Scripted by DeLillo.

******************

UPDATE: A reader reminds me that DeLillo was far from the first. Many of us will recall this amazing little poem by Sarah Norcliffe Cleghorn:

The golf links lie so near the mill
That almost every day 
The laboring children can look out
And see the men at play.

Is it real, or is it DeLillo?

[His just-purchased $240 million apartment is] not a short-term investment, but a home where [Kenneth] Griffin will spend considerable time, said Zia Ahmed, his spokesman. He added that Mr. Griffin has given … a $150 million gift to Harvard.

‘Whenever I read another so-called great American writer, the beauty of the sentence is not quite there. The humour is not as sharp, the profundity not as deep.’

A director of one of Don DeLillo’s plays describes his reaction to DeLillo’s writing. It’s my reaction too.

He interviews DeLillo:

Retirement … wouldn’t suit him the same way [it did Philip Roth]. “Everybody is different and there are always distractions. But I feel I have an idea in my mind I need to work on. And when I’m able to sit down and put my fingers on the typewriter, things are moving along pretty well. These days I’m much slower. I can’t work at the same pace. But what the hell, I’ll keep going. It’s what’s keeping me alive.”

The Don DeLillo-esque Death

A small airplane crashed Monday night on the TPC Scottsdale Champions Course and police confirmed there were multiple fatalities…

[Versace] King got about 100 yards and began recording video of the fiery crash. He said emergency crews were on the scene several minutes later. He added the weather was “perfect” at the time.

…The Champions course is one of two golf courses at the TPC Scottsdale. It is just east of the TPC Stadium Course, where the annual Waste Management Phoenix Open is held.

“It was crisis as if sprung from the imagination of Don DeLillo…”

UD‘s beloved DeLillo stars in the New Yorker’s account of the YouTube killings.

There will be a temptation to read the attack as a dark parable of the attention economy — the story of someone so hungry for views that she took a handgun to those who, in her belief, had limited them. But the truer story is that going berserk with guns has become a way of American life.

Correct. Guns are now the way America’s berserk turn down the bed and turn out the lights.

[E]very country contains mentally ill and potentially violent people. Only America arms them.

Written by Don DeLillo

A candidate running for Illinois attorney general was robbed at gunpoint while he was taking promotional photos for his campaign Thursday afternoon in the Northwest Side ward where he’s also the Democratic committeeman…

Aaron Goldstein, 42, and several members of his campaign team were in the middle of taking publicity shots when the robbery happened…

“So, as far as the campaign, we are moving forward,” [Goldstein’s campaign manager] said. “Basically, this was a totally a random act of violence in the community. But when it happens to you, of course, you’re shooken up.”

Is It Real, Or Is It DeLillo?

SMALLER FOOTPRINTS GAIN
POPULARITY IN THE HAMPTONS

… Hamptons architect and historian Anne Surchin is starting to see more pared-down builds.

“There’s a trend now for design for smaller houses,” the principal of Anne Surchin Architect said during a discussion Saturday in Montauk. “People are starting to think twice about being wasteful …”

… Southampton has long-standing size limitations for houses, she said, with 20,000 square feet being the cap. These restrictions were part of a 1925 code that was updated in 2003, according to the East Hampton Star. Towns looked seriously at these codes after Ira Rennert’s controversial 62,000-square-foot mansion was built in the 1990s in Sagaponack, rankling neighbors with its size.

… “The new modernism is really all about formalism,” she said. “It’s about making an aesthetic statement.”

That includes “sumptuous details,” like “exotic woods, polished concretes, all kinds of honed marbles,” she said. “There isn’t a place in those houses where you’d find a piece of Formica.”

Even those who don’t have the budget for luxe materials in every room are creating areas “that are absolutely lavish,” she said. For example, “what they do with their kitchens is really important.”

… Some design is being driven by “people interested in being off the grid and treading lightly on the land and not spending an arm and a leg to heat an 18,000-square-foot house.”

New Short Story from …

… Don DeLillo. Just discovered it. Haven’t yet read it. But UD loves Don DeLillo and considers the appearance of any new writing of his to be worth mentioning.

It’s called “The Itch.”

The American Way of Death Revisited

The image of an important American politician crawling in agony across a baseball field, trying to limit himself to just one semiautomatic bullet, comes right out of the novels of this nation’s most celebrated contemporary writer, Don DeLillo.

Anyone who has read White Noise or Players knows that postmodern death and near-death à la DeLillo typically involve some combination of playtime activities, guns, and videotape. In DeLillo, death has lost the majesty, the redemptive possibilities, it had as late as, say Tolstoy’s famous story, “The Death of Ivan Ilych.” Now it’s a sudden violent event that happens while adults are playing miniature golf; and someone’s usually around to film them expiring on the little fake putting green.

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In Players, affluent American death occurs on a grownup golf course on a bright shiny day, with middle-class men, dressed in crayola colors, engaged in “that anal round of scrupulous caution and petty griefs.”

The golfers on this sweet green morning attend to their game. Together again momentarily on a particular fairway they appear almost to be posing in massed corporate glory before a distant flag. It is now that the vigilant hidden thing, the special consciousness implicit in a long lens, is made to show itself.

A man, his back to the camera, rises from the underbrush in the immediate foreground, about two hundred yards from the golfers. When he turns to signal someone, it’s evident he has a weapon in his right hand, a semiautomatic rifle. After signaling he doesn’t reassume his crouch. One of the golfers selects an iron.

This leisure-time massacre is actually part of a film being shown first-class passengers on a WhisperJet. None of them watches with much attention; they’re in an alcoholic/anxious haze.

The audience’s emotional distance from the bloody mess on the screen is deepened by the fact that they’re in an in-flight piano bar, with a performer who uses his instrument to comment in a campy way on what he’s seeing — on the irony of simultaneous golf and terrorism.

Watching golfers being massacred, to trills and other ornaments, seems to strike those in the piano bar … as an occasion for sardonic delight.

Not all postmodern deaths involve bullets, but virtually all, as presented in the work of DeLillo, involve playtime. In White Noise, set in a university, Professor Dimitri Costakis is “lost in the surf off Malibu. During the term break.” The school’s dean, who once “serve[d] as adviser to Nixon, Ford and Carter,” has recently met “his death on a ski lift in Austria.” Death in America is something that happens when you’re having fun. The ski lift dumps you out; the surf engulfs you; men with guns interrupt your game.

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A blimp flying over the U.S. Open went down Thursday just beyond a rim of trees surrounding Erin Hills. The pilot, the blimp’s only occupant, was airlifted from the scene of the crash but was reported as alert and conscious, according to police.

Fan video caught the deflated blimp as it floated to the ground.

That one happened on the same day as the baseball game. It’s hard not to laugh at some of these misadventures, hard not to greet them sardonically. The disparity between the triviality (“petty griefs”) of blimpish voyeuristic activity, and the deflation and airlifting is just funny. It’s just so graphic an illustration of our superficiality, our childish spectatorial lives, so utterly unprepared for seriousness, reality, the crash, the spray of bullets.

Malfunction at Dreamworld

As Don DeLillo pointed out in his most famous novel, White Noise, death while having fun is the quintessentially postmodern death.

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