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A Reading of White Noise as a Simulacrum World

Author ZhangYu
Tutor MaoGang
School Lanzhou University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Don DeLillo White Noise simulacrum media consumer society
Type Master's thesis
Year 2010
Downloads 135
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Don DeLillo is a prominent postmodern novelist of contemporary America. His eighth novel, White Noise, published in 1985, scrutinizes modern Americans’lives and their mental state. The present thesis attempts to study the simulacrum world created in the novel in light of Jean Baudrillard’s theory of simulation.The present author attempts to analyze the simulacrum world created in White Noise from three aspects. Firstly, White Noise delineates a hyperreal world where reality is constantly mediated into simulacra—representation of models of real without origin. In this world, what people experience are no longer the authentic experiences but simulacra of them. People are separated from their personal experiences and lose the sense of reality. For DeLillo, mass media are the major means to generate simulacra. The immanent images and information in the media have blurred the boundary between the real and the fiction and the relationship between them is reversed, which threatens people’s ability to perceive the realistic world. What’s more, mass media have instilled the value and ideology produced by capitalism into people and finally controlled them. Secondly, White Noise depicts a consumer society glutted with commodities—another form of simulacra from industrial simulation. In this world, everything could become commodity and people no longer only consume the physiological subsistence but the signs or codes carrying "aesthetic" value fabricated in the daily mass media messages. People try to fill up their spiritual vacuum and gain the sense of security in their purchasing act, but this feeling of "well-being" is temporal and unreliable. Thirdly, White Noise describes a fictional space suffused with simulated characters. These characters in the novel are blind to reality merely pursuing their selfhood in a simulacrum order. They do not explore their authentic identity, instead, they choose a given identity into which they package themselves as "bigger" and more powerful. Therefore, they almost become simulacra themselves and lose their individuality.In White Noise, by presenting how a postmodern simulacrum world exists in contemporary America, where overflow the media and consumer culture, DeLillo attempts to provide readers a critical standpoint to probe the present society and try to initiate the readers to ponder their destiny as modern people inhabiting a world with high-tech and lavish commodities.

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