Or did the Cold War ever really end? This was supposed to be a comment on potted plant's post and it got a wee bit too lengthy...
With the rise of mass communication the average joe/jane is suddenly flooded with a wealth of information--but who's running the show? Technology certainly is a double-edged sword, but I get the feeling the hysteria is born out of a desperate need to absorb all the information that we can--strictly because we can--without the means to really "handle" it, per se. I'm thinking about the images post-September 11th: explosions, people united under the flag, firefighters and police officers covered in soot and the like, solidarity, etcetera... And then i'm thinking about sitting in English class that morning, when the proverbial shit hit the proverbial fan. The cellphone circuits were jammed, everyone calling everyone else once panic mode sets in, so like good young rubber-neckers we snuck out of school and drove down to the Brooklyn Promenade, overlooking the Lower Manhattan skyline.
The "shot heard round the world" becomes a completely different animal when you're so close you can taste / brush away the soot and ash. And it's the distribution of this sensation that spreads this fear. But it's not the same, is it? From the text: "people claimed to be present at the game who were not...some of them honestly insisted they were there because they event had sufficient seeping power...they had to be at the Polo Grounds that day or else how did they feel the thing so strongly in their skin" (94). Such is the power of the media... thousands of miles away from the locus of the event people are running into the streets--or conversely, cowering under their beds. The Cold War et al as a direct result of our penchant for interconnectedness?
I'm not sure about Delillo being "prophetic" or onto something or what have you. But I guess I do see the cover as the supposed triumph of technology and wealth over Religion, or at least a fear of it. What exactly is the unifying force of the "Modern" era? Are people bound by some dogma? Or the power of wealth? Or the paranoia inherent in a culture / society / civilization that revolves around news tickers explosions and the adrenaline rush?