Fiction in the Age of the Global Accident: Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis
The horizons of contemporary life are defined by what the French philosopher of technology Paul Virilio calls the “global accident” – the accident “that would appear simultaneously to the world as a whole.” In this article, I explore the ramifications of this condition for the novel, focusing on Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis (2003). Virtually complete on 11 September 2001, Cosmopolis has been widely seen as anticipating the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C, and their global repercussions. I argue that Cosmopolis’ apparent prediction of 9/11 is merely a function of its wider and more profound mapping of the world-system’s structural and systemic vulnerability to a host of escalating, pandemic crises.
Paul Crosthwaite is Lecturer in English Literature at Cardiff University. He has published on postmodern fiction, trauma theory, and the significance of speed and acceleration in contemporary culture. His book Trauma, Postmodernism, and the Aftermath of World War II is forthcoming with Palgrave Macmillan.