Take A Walk on the Wild Side: Making Cosmopolis Come Alive at Lexington & 47th St.

What’s happening in the story:

Eric has left Didi’s apartment. (In the film, the visit is in the limo, so she has departed the limo.) Eric has just seen on the Money Channel that there’s been an assassination. He reflects on this; he reflects on the city scene. In the book, Michael Chin is still in the limo with Eric. They continue to discuss the movement of the yen.

Torval tells Eric that the credible threat is not to be dismissed, and it’s to the President, not to him. Eric snips, “Do people still shoot at Presidents? I thought there were more stimulating targets.” We will see the violent image of the assassination of Arthur Rapp, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.  We see this violent scene on a TV screen in the trailer.

Here’s an interesting passage from the novel, about Eric watching Knapp, letting us get into Eric’s head a little bit. We see how desensitized Eric has become. The passage also illustrates how DeLillo adds so much context with his language–and the prose is so uniquely DeLillo (see italicized sentence, especially.)

“The man down was Arthur Rapp, managing director of the International Monetary Fund. Arthur Rapp had just been assassinated in Nike North Korea. Happened only a minute ago. Eric watched it happen again, in obsessive replays, as the car crawled toward a choke point on Lexington Avenue. He hated Arthur Rapp. He’d hated him before he met him. It was a hatred with the purest bloodlines, orderly, based on differences of theory and interpretation. Then he met the man and hated him personally and chaotically, with sizable violence of heart.

See no evil….hear no evil….
[Screencap from trailer]
There’s not much for photos for this part of the tour; the next intersection is much more interesting visually, and relevant to the story with all the banking institutions there. So, let’s take a moment to step off the pavement to see where we are. We’re at Lexington and 47th, heading west. The green on the right of map is the park near the Trump Tower (the tallest residential building there, at 1st Ave. and 47th, what we’ve called Eric’s building.).

At far left top, 5th Avenue will move us out of
mid-town east into Diamond District 

Manhattan Island (and width of 47th street) is between 2.0 and 2.5 miles wide. The red marker at 8th Avenue marks the start of the West Side, moving out of Mid-town, just past Times Square.

Here’s another interesting passage at this point of our journey. It touches on the topic of the “future being insistent” which we’ve heard Vija Kinski say to Eric in the trailer. In the novel we hear that Eric is invigorated over Knapp’s assassination. From the novel (our italics):

“He felt his elation deepen. He slid open the sunroof and thrust his head into the reeling scene. The bank towers loomed just beyond the avenue. They looked empty from here. He liked that idea. They were made to be the last tall things, made empty, designed to hasten the future. They were at the end of the outside world. They weren’t here exactly. They were in the future, a time beyond geography and touchable money and the people who stack and count it.” 

Where the story and Eric’s head’s at:

  • Eric continues on his trek for a haircut across town, speaking to advisers, still gambling on the yen’s price dropping. 
  • Eric is taking pleasure in the assassination of Knapp. 

DeLillo theme/motif:

  • The future is “being insistent;” it is moving into the present in various ways. 
  • The world is growing more and more depersonalized. We see this with Eric in his reaction to the Knapp assassination; we see time and money are becoming more removed from real lives (“the people who stack and count it.” in the quote above.)

Next stop:

Intersection at Park Ave. We’re starting to get into the money shots…. The world of commerce mid-town, 47th Street.

Here are links to earlier posts in our walking tour:

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