White Noise, or Reality as the Return of the Repressed
The essay focuses on Don DeLillo’s novel White Noise with the aim to understand its author’s reaction to the advent of the ‘civilization of appearance’. This analysis shows how DeLillo’s view is ambivalent: despite being indeed fascinated by the coming of the new world, he is still deeply interested in real-life events that can be concretely experienced in opposition to their representations and simulations. What strikes him most is individual death, namely a problem that cannot be subsumed within the symbolic order of the new society. In a certain sense, the novel depicts a ‘return of the repressed’ built on a disturbing ‘return of reality’. The novel oscillates between a sense of tragedy and a sense of irony (if not of the ridiculous). Therefore, on one side, it testifies to the arrival of what will be called ‘postmodernity’; on another side, it criticizes postmodernity by showing how its ideologists might be silly, trivial and grotesque.
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