D. DeLillo – Underworld

He dealt in human behavior, people’s habits and impulses, their uncontrollable needs and innocent wishes, maybe their passions, cetrainly  their excesses and indulgances but their kindness too, their generosity, and the question was how to keep this mass metabolism from overwhelming us. 

Mastery. You know it when you see it. But let’s start with a less evident question. First impression. We have here a poetic decription of an somewhat important profession. Although the last part gives a tiny hint, when taken out of context, it’d be pretty hard to come up with the correct answer. Yet it is crucial to truly appreciate this piece of Dellilo’s epic. Who is ‘he’? A noble leader? Sympathetic CEO?  He could be a writer too, except he might not refuse to overwhelm the reader a bit. Still it is what they in fact deal with if anybody ask you,

However, this is not the case. The man’s function is a lot more low-key. A lot less flashy and prestigious. But not half as much as it should be. Plain and simple he deals with waste. Garbadge. Number one product of modern civilisation. When things are supposed to be used as little as possible to make way for countless new purchases we wake up in a world endangered by a garbadge avalanche. But Dellilo’s passage is too refined to state the obvious. It is the system and we are inside. We can critcise only to a certain point. Than there are people who are made by it. Me, you and everyone we know. Looking at it this way, it is not only indulgance and care-free living, so clearly to blame. If we look soberly there are so many positive, welcomed feelings lying around in this messed place. All the small gifts of love and affection. Whole cementary of good deeds, part of them had been a path to a greater good. Few of them saved lives or created longlasting happiness. It is not one massive, toxic pile of rubish anymore.

Now, that’s  how we can regard even the most disgusting objects as ones that posses a hidden meaning. A collection of shadows, reflections of human endeavors. All sorts of them. By-products of good and evil. Units of a biger entity, no matter how stupid it might seem at the first glance. Take your time to reconsider. Than again, maybe it’s only literature displaying ability to show anything in bright light. Artificial light.