Economist Essay

1667 words - 7 pages

Gambling: Reality versus Game
Gambling. An activity that involves risk and risk taking. In Don Delillo’s Falling Man novel, Keith is a broken man who gets over the haunting, shocking, and nerve numbing events he experienced on the day of the 9/11 attack. He recounts these events vaguely and distantly, thinking about them in his head as if they weren’t especially important or relevant to him. He acts as a bystander to his own experience and looks onto his experience as if he was a third party observer. Keith’s nature to do this extends to his obsessively strong inclination and urge to play poker. In order to avoid the events of reality, Keith numbs himself by separating his conscious in the ...view middle of the document...

” No matter if the table was “felt or baize,” (Delillo 27) Keith knows that poker has nothing to do with the severed connections he has with his estranged wife, Lianne. Poker is an uncluttered activity that is irrelevant to the conditions of the bitter reality, both of his broken relationship and the accident, he has undergone. Poker does not require him to think about any connections or events in reality in order to play the game.
While engaged in the game of poker, Keith takes on an alternate role, an alternate identity, that has a different set of ambitions and motivations that govern himself compared to the harsh reality that forces him to take on his true identity in life. This detachment with reality shows in Keith’s everyday interactions with the real world. He is ordinary, laid back, and otherwise uninterested in anything involved in the real world while he gets really into poker and finds it enjoyable and interesting to engage in. For example, during his musical therapy session, he could not focus on the music itself, being unable to distinguish the flutes from the clarinets and instead, have his mind wander to think of a prostitute he once met, “Nancy, what’s-her-name, briefly, between incidental sex acts” and of what the radiologist said in her Russian accent, “once it’s over, you forget instantly the whole experience so how bad can it be.” (Delillo 18) In Keith’s having to engage in reality under his still traumatized, shocked state, he repels the radiologist’s assurance as a “description of dying” (Delillo 19). To add to the unconvinced attitude of Keith’s, he also views negatively the entire physical task of lying on the ‘long narrow table within the closed unit” as a ordeal that screamed “helpless confinement.” In this way, Keith is trying to avoid facing the components of reality by repelling everything that even remotely puts him in touch with what happened during the accident.
In addition to repelling them consciously, Keith also repels reality subconsciously whenever he awakens from his shock and begins to function more like he did in the past before the accident happened, “The ordinariness, so normally unnoticeable, fell upon him oddly, with almost a dreamlike effect.” (Delillo 51) When Keith went out for a walk in the park at Engineer’s Gate with the objective of returning the suitcase to Florence, he observes and sees three girls in the neighborhood rollerblading, and immediately wants to turn back. He cannot accept or integrate himself into the same life he had before the accident happened, because doing so causes him discomfort. Poker, however, allows him to avoid and block out all of those experiences.
In “The Experience of Play,” Gerda Reith brings up one of the main characteristics of gambling, the notion of it being a ‘peculiar character’ characterized by their extreme separateness from everyday life. Reith says that it is both a ‘temporal and spatial’ (Reith 257) separateness, signaling the experience of...

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