Take a Walk on the Wild Side: Making Cosmopolis Come Alive at 47th & 5th AvenueBuckyW Don DeLillo Original Series: "Take a Walk on the Wild Side: 47th St. NYC Photo Diary and Novel Tour
At our last location at 47th & Madison, there wasn’t a lot to look at, but a lot was happening in the story. At 47th and 5th-6th, it was the opposite. I suddenly was in the midst of activity- people, commotion, lots of chatter. Here I entered the west side of Manhattan, and at 47th St., the heart of midtown: the Diamond District, Times Square and the Theatre District. Once through the crosswalk on 5th, I felt quite acutely what DeLillo described in the novel– an older form of commerce, nothing like Eric’s esoteric, electronic commerce of the future.
First, the story at this location:
We have Jane Melman exiting the limo and running up 5th Ave. Eric spies a man that seems somewhat familiar at an ATM. We get Benno’s first diary entry. Torval is telling Eric to no avail, that they need to reroute, that things are in a state of chaos up ahead. The President’s around, a funeral is proceeding slowly and there’s a “report of imminent activity in the area.”
Eric sees Elise at a bookstore, the Gotham Book Market. They go to lunch. This is the clip we’ve seen where the protesters enter with the rats. It’s also the “I smell sex all over you”, “You need to be inflamed, don’t you?”, and “I need anything you can give me” scene.
FOCUS POST: Foreshadowing the Future “Dance” Between Benno & Eric Packer Our introduction to the “dance” between the men at the end of the story.
DeLillo on Eric’s observations and thinking at the scene in the Diamond District:
“Hasidim in frock coats and tall felt hats stood in doorways talking, men with rimless spectables and coarse white beards, exempt from the tremors of the street. Hundreds of millions of dollars a day moved back and forth behind the walks, a form of money so obsolete Eric didn’t know how to think about it. It was hard, shiny, faceted. It was everything he’d left behind and never encountered, cut and polished, intensely three-dimensional. People wore it and flashed it. They took it off to go to bed or have sex and they put it on to have sex or die in. They wore it dead and buried.”
|There are many stores on this block, with window displays
three or four times the size of what you see here.
“Cash for gold and diamonds. Rings, coins, pearls, wholesale jewelry, antique jewelry. This was the souk, the shtetl. Here were the hagglers and talebearers, the scrapmongers, the dealers in stray talk. The street was an offense to the truth of the future. But he responded to it. He felt it enter every receptor and vault electrically to his brain.”
“He knew the traders and gem cutters were in the back rooms and wondered whether deals were still made in doorways with a handshake and a Yiddish blessing. In the grain of the street he senses the Lower East Side of the 1920s and the diamond centers of Europe before the second war.”
Setting Focus: A Room With a View (Eric’s apartment tower)
Making Cosmopolis Come Alive at: 3rd Ave. & 47th St.
FOCUS (story) : Eric Packer & his Advisers Track the Yen
Making Cosmopolis Come Alive at: 2nd Ave. & 47th St.
Making Cosmopolis Come Alive at: 1st Ave. & 47th St.