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What evidence is there to support the claim that Don Delillo is a disturbing writer? In your answer, refer to the novel "White Noise"

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Don Delillo has been described as a disturbing writer. In his novels he presents us with a clear representation of the society in which we live in in a very dry and bland way, pointing to problems that occur in our society that often go unnoticed and un-discussed. We are then forced to notice and discuss them. However, just as we get to this point Delillo deserts us leaving us opinionless, and solutionless, with no answers to our questions and issues. This is most apparent in "White Noise" a novel that demonstrates a representation of our social fear of death. The novel depicts the life of Jack Gladney and his family in post-modern American society, told from Jack's point of view, who is obsessed with fear of death we watch as Delillo points to this social issue and demonstrates how it is transformed and developed in the post-modern world. The dominant worldview within White Noise is a reflection of post-modern ideology and theory involving psychological and social structures. I am going to perceive how these theories are applied and demonstrated in the world of white noise in context of death and fear of death, discussing this social fear and how Delillo describes it inside the post-modern world the Gladney's inhabit. The way in which the Post-modern world views, or rather the way in which it chooses not to view death is described by Jean Baudrillard, a familiar reference when discussing 'White Noise'. His Aesthetic, "Death and the Accident" describes the change in the way we view death in society. Society has changed significantly since the early warrior cultures to our present day situation. This move has been described by Baudrillard as a move from the human to the inhuman; the further into our society we get the greater the distinction is between the two. This is our privilege over animals. Baudrillard discusses how in the primitive world we rejoiced and celebrated death as a natural part of life, making ritual sacrifices to appease its appetite. ...read more.


We see Jack attempt to control his fear or at least repress and calm it, using the grand narratives that have aided people in the past. In chapter 37 we witness a discussion between Murray and Jack highlighting this concept. Murray and Jack discuss Jack's fear of Death and Murray suggests some solutions, which are immediately discredited by Jack when he questions them because he is entrenched in a post-modern world, the more solutions there is to offer Jack the more sceptical he becomes about them and hence they do not work for him. According to Murray, Jack should try to seek his solace in the two great mystical sources: science and religion. Science gives us technology, which both causes death (the Nyodene D) and can possibly cure it (Dylar). Religion gives us the afterlife, something that also causes death (the person has died) but revives the soul as a new life form. He offers Jack the metanarrative of Science; "You could put your faith in technology. It got you here it can get you out. This is the whole point of technology. It creates an appetite for immortality on the one hand. It threatens universal extinction on the other. Technology is lust removed from nature. Its what we invented to conceal the terrible secret of our decaying bodies. But it's also life, isn't it? It prolongs life, it provides new organs for those that wear out. New devices, new techniques everyday. Lasers, masers, ultrasound. Give yourself up to it Jack. Believe in it." (Delillo) Jack makes an attempt at this idea and sets out to find the drug Dylar, however as Murray had explained technology gives and takes away, and despite the possibility of curing his fear the opposite side of the drug is the side affects. Jack also attempts to put his faith in science when he goes to have tests at the hospital. ...read more.


I think Delillo offers us an idea of what will become of the next generations if postmodernism is to continue in the trends he has set out. I think of Wilder as the personification of the 'ultra-consumer' of the future post-modern generation. Throughout the novel Jack expresses a slight envy of Wilder because as Murray says, " He doesn't know he's going to die. He doesn't know death at all. You cherish this simpleton blessing of his, this exemption from harm". (Delillo) He has little to no vocabulary, which, in a world were words have been replaced by images and signs is acceptable, possibly even an advantage, as we see him simply mistake Babette on the television screen for the Babette of real life and begin to cry when she disappears off the screen, just as a toddler does when the parents leave the room. At the supermarket he grabs at items on the shelves, gains instant gratification from them, then grabs out for another straight away tossing the old item away with no sentimentality. He is gratified by the image and the item he no longer needs language. At the end of the novel however he almost becomes a warning, completely unaware of death he rides his tricycle across the expressway. He is the example of the ultra post-modern man, what we could all become if we get carried away with post-modern society, or what our future generations will become. Delillo is a disturbing writer precisely because he leaves us opinionless and solutionless. He leaves it for us to decide whether following in Wilder's footsteps would be the solution to our fears. Should we, as Wilder does on the expressway, let go of our need for control in a chaotic system, or is this a terrible warning, something we should try to avoid and if so how? We are left in a state of ambiguity, worse yet; we are left in the post-modern world he has just shown us. ...read more.

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