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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Tutor;        “Every Death is Premature”. Post-modern _        No. 44917

Ben Harker _        Society and death in ‘White Noise’

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. However as times have changed, developments in technology and the change into a capitalist society has caused humans to be viewed in economic terms, as producers and consumers. These things are the way in which capitalism views our lives and if we are neither of these two we are nothing, we are dead. This forces death out of the social realm, we no longer have a place for it in our lives as death has become Unnatural! As Jack says “every death is premature” (Delillo) Death is alienated and pushed out of the world of the living into solitary silent graveyards; pushed out to the edges of the suburbs no longer celebrated but mourned. Death becomes the opposite of life, not a natural part of it, and due to this binary opposition, in a world that spends its time denying, repressing and hiding from it, death is everywhere. To appreciate an opposite one must be seen in context to the other, our Post-modern society stresses life, prolonging life, living healthily but these are all related to death. Death becomes the other. Everywhere life is death must be.

This is clearly demonstrated in the novel, throughout there is constant harbingers of death, the disasters on the television, the Airborne Toxic Event, even in the supermarket Jack notes the constant roar of waves and radiation, the white noise that surrounds us everyday the language in which “the dead talk to the living”. (Delillo)

This out casting of death from life can also be seen when Jack visits a graveyard. It is eerily quiet here, a graveyard miles away from the bustle of everyday life, death is un-consuming, therefore there is no waves and radiation, no mass marketing, no media, no noise! “I was beyond the traffic noise, the intermittent stir of factories across the river. So at least in this they had been correct, placing the graveyard here a silence that had stood its ground” (Delillo)

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“On the way back from the airport, I got off the expressway at the river road and parked the car at the edge of the woods. I walked up a steep path. There was an old picket fence with a sign; THE OLD BURYING GROUND Blacksmith village” (Delillo) Here we clearly see just how far death has been pushed to the psychological, and literal suburbs of life. When he enters he notes “The headstones were small, tilted, pockmarked, spotted with fungus or moss…embedded in the dirt was a narrow vase containing three small American flags, the only sign that someone ...

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