Crowds and Don DeLillo’s “Mao II“

Excerpt from an interesting 1993 lecture by Tom Leclair on Mao II

“The real secret, though, belongs to crowds. Bodies
gather together to become one powerful body reciting one powerful idea
that will let them forget their uncertainty and their individual bodies.
Millions of Maoists create a revolution. Thousands of Moonies chant the
end of time. The Islamic revolution unites politics and religion. The
crowds at Khomeni’s funeral mourn the passing of a body. The Iranians
beat their own bodies to keep the body of their Master from leaving. And
then in their religious and political passion they expose the body of
their leader. Even Masters have skinny legs.”

Not all crowds achieve the power of certainty and forgetting for
themselves. Not the homeless in New York. They are a true band of
hostages, pure uncertainty about tomorrow’s home, pure body in the
layers of clothes they wear. They are the crowd we want to forget, not
just because they indict our social and political and economic system
but because they are bodies that cannot hide from themselves. Like us,
they are readers but what they read, says Omar, is their own small
space. They see themselves in themselves.

Are they homeless because they are crazy?

Or are they crazy because they are cannot get away from themselves?

More on DeLillo here

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