Cosmopolis (novel)

novel by Don DeLillo

Cosmopolis is a 2003 novel by Don DeLillo, about a 28 year-old multi-billionaire asset manager who makes an odyssey across midtown Manhattan in order to get a haircut.


  • A poem bared the moment to things he was not normally prepared to notice.
  • When he died he would not end. The world would end.
  • There was something about the noise that he did not choose to wish away. It was the tone of some fundamental ache, a lament so old it sounded aboriginal.
  • Talent is more erotic when it's wasted.
  • There are great themes running through my mind. The themes of loneliness and human discard. The theme of who do I hate when there's no one left.
  • World is supposed to mean something that's self-contained. But nothing is self-contained. Everything enters something else.
  • Money makes time. It used to be the other way around. Clock time accelerated the rise of capitalism. People stopped thinking about eternity. They began to concentrate on hours, measurable hours, man-hours, using labor more efficiently.
  • Computer power eliminates doubt. All doubt rises from past experience. But the past is disappearing. We used to know the past but not the future. This is changing.
  • To know and not to act is not to know.
  • You know what anarchists have always believed....The urge to destroy is a creative urge...This is also the hallmark of capitalist thought. Enforced destruction. Old industries have to be harshly eliminated. New markets have to be forcibly claimed. Old markets have to be re-exploited. Destroy the past, make the future.
  • "You know what capitalism produces. According to Marx and Engels."
"Its own grave-diggers."
  • A rat became the unit of currency.
  • It's interesting to be near a man somebody wants to kill.
  • The logical extension of business is murder.
  • Maybe he felt an allegiance to his history. It is one thing to speak around an experience, use it as reference and analogy. But to detail the hellish thing itself, to strangers who will nod and forget, this must seem a betrayal of his pain.
  • It is in me to hurt someone and I haven't always known this. The act and depth of writing will tell me if I'm capable.
  • [This] was releasing [him] from the influence of his neocortex. He felt even freer than usual, attuned to the registers of his lower brain and gaining distance from the need to take inspired action, make original judgments, maintain independent principles and convictions, all the reasons why people are fucked up and birds and rats are not.
  • I can see the scornful humor and pity in what I do sometimes. And I can almost enjoy it on the level of being helpless.
  • But whatever the sundry facts, I'm not so different from you in your inner life in the sense that we're all uncontrollable.
  • People think about who they are in the stillest hour of the night. I carry this thought, the child's mystery and terror of this thought, I feel this immensity in my soul every second of my life.
  • He stood in the street. There was nothing to do. He hadn't realized this could happen to him. The moment was empty of urgency and purpose. He hadn't planned on this. Where was the life he'd always led? There was nowhere he wanted to go, nothing to think about, no one waiting. How could he take a step in any direction if all directions were the same?
  • "I have become an enigma to myself. So said Saint Augustine. And herein lies my sickness."
  • I've never liked thinking back, going back in time, reviewing the day or the week or the life. To crush and gut. To eviscerate. Power works best when there's no memory attached.
  • There are dead stars that still shine because their light is trapped in time. Where do I stand in this light, which does not strictly exist?
  • Even when you self-destruct, you want to fail more, lose more, die more than others, stink more than others. In the old tribes the chief who destroyed more of his property than the other chiefs was the most powerful.
  • What did he want that was not posthumous? He stared into space. He understood what was missing, the predatory impulse, the sense of large excitation that drove him through his days, the sheer and reeling need to be.

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