DeLillo Goes Psycho

Okay. We admit that’s a stupid headline. Anyway.

We dove into our review copy of Don DeLillo’s latest novel (it’s really a novella, despite claims made by its cover and press materials) Point Omega last night. It opens with a protracted scene of a man at the 2006 MOMA showing of Douglas Gordon’s videowork, 24 Hour Psycho. Gordon’s project, first presented in Glasgow and Berlin in 1993, slows Alfred Hitchock’s classic Psycho to a crawl, stretching the entire film over 24 hours.

DeLillo’s description:

The slightest camera movement was a profound shift in space and time but the camera was not moving now. Anthony Perkins is turning his head. It was like whole numbers. The man could count the gradations in the movement of Anthony Perkins’ head. Anthony Perkins turns his head in five incremental movements rather than one continuous motion. It was like bricks in a wall, clearly countable, not like the flight of an arrow or a bird. Then again it was not like or unlike anything. Anthony Perkins’ head swiveling over time on his long thin neck.

Ah, DeLillo — “it was not like or unlike anything” — redact your own similes. There’s also this classic DeLilloian line in the episode, somehow both concise and oblique: “The film made him feel like someone watching a film.” Maybe watching this 35 second YouTube clip of 24 Hour Psycho will make you feel like someone watching a 35 second YouTube clip of 24 Hour Psycho.

2 thoughts on “DeLillo Goes Psycho”

  1. I recall when this came to London, a sceptical spectator perhaps but it was mesmerising. Two hours later it was only hunger and a date that impelled me from the screening. I’m not certain I wouldn’t have sat through the whole 24 hours.

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    1. Two hours? Anthony, you would have received great approval from the (probably psychotic) unnamed character who watches the installation…he gets mad when people don’t give it its due by watching for at least 30 minutes.

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