Don DeLillo and systems thinking

DeLillo also explores narrativization, or the creation of plots with actions, actors, purposes, etc. Burke’s pentad is useful here; the idea is that people create stories with acts, agents, agencies, scenes, and purposes. This is how we observe reality, or reduce the complexity of raw perception. We find the creation of stories with clear actors, purposes, etc., irresistible.

Strategies & Tactics

I call a “strategy” the calculus of force-relationships which becomes possible when a subject of will and power (a proprietor, an enterprise, a city, a scientific institution) can be isolated from an “environment.” A strategy assumes a place that can be circumscribed as proper (propre) and thus serve as the basis for generating relations with an exterior distinct from it (competitors, adversaries, “clienteles,” “targets,” or “objects” of research). I call a “tactic,” on the other hand, a calculus which cannot count on a “proper” (a spatial or institutional localization), nor thus on a borderline distinguishing the other as a visible totality. The place of the tactic belongs to the “other.”

Forgetting about space

The functionalist organization [of modern urban life], by privileging progress (i.e., time), causes the condition of its own possibility–space itself–to be forgotten; space thus becomes the blind spot in a scientific and political technology.

The fiction of knowledge

To be lifted to the summit of the World Trade Center is to be lifted out of the city’s grasp. One’s body is no longer clasped by the streets that turn and return it according to an anonymous law; nor is it possessed, whether as player or played, by the rumble of so many differences and by the nervousness of New York City traffic. When one goes up there, he leaves behind the mass that carries off and mixes up in itself any identity of authors or spectators. As Icarus flying above these waters, he can ignore the devices of Daedalus in mobile and endless labyrinths far below.

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