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In the Future, Toward Death

Finance Capitalism and Security in DeLillo’s ‚Cosmopolis‘

Johannes Voelz


Pages 505 - 526

open-access



This essay aims to come to terms with the cultural appeal of security, which—so this article contends—is better understood as a fascination with insecurity. The essay focuses on Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis in order to show that this novel stages the appeal of (in)security as resting on its promise to offer an alternative to the future-fixation of the risk regime of financial capitalism. In Cosmopolis, financial risk and the contemporary cult of security come together as two thematic axes. The future-mindedness of financial risk management is counteracted by the threat constructions that drive the concern with security and that emphasize finitude and mortality. The preoccupation with security enables a turn to existential matters that the virtual abstractions of finance have seemingly made inaccessible. While proposing an opposition between a logic of risk based on virtuality and a logic of security based on authenticity, DeLillo’s novel also suggests that it is impossible to break out of the logic of risk management pervading late modernity. The appeal of security articulated in this novel rather lies in the promise to existentially revitalize life within the confines of financialized capitalism.

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