TITLE

Necessary Madness in Don DeLillo's White Noise: Becker's Twin Ontological Motives and the Quest for Symbolic Immortality in the Postmodern Age

AUTHOR(S)
Bassett, Jonathan F.
PUB. DATE
January 2009
SOURCE
PsyArt;2009, p1
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Literary Criticism
ABSTRACT
The present paper examines Don DeLillo's novel White Noise based on the psychological theories of Ernest Becker and Robert Jay Lifton. Becker argued that people flee existential anxiety through the twin ontological motives of blending in and standing out. The novel's protagonist, Jack Gladney, is plagued by thanatophobia because of his failed attempt to simultaneously pursue both motives in Hitler studies. In addition to death anxiety, another major theme of White Noise is the fragmentation of modern life due to media saturation. Lifton's work connects these themes by showing how the rapidity of changing knowledge in the postmodern age threatens to undermine the sense of symbolic immortality connecting the self to past and future. Lifton is more optimistic than Becker about the human capacity for abating existential anxiety. DeLillo hints at a similar optimism by illustrating the creative and malleable ways in which the Gladney children symbolically confront their mortality.
ACCESSION #
120435532

 

Related Articles

  • White Noise.  // Antioch Review;Fall1985, Vol. 43 Issue 4, p503 

    Reviews the book "White Noise," by Don DeLillo.

  • MIDWESTERN WASTELAND. McInerney, Jay // New Republic;2/4/85, Vol. 192 Issue 5, p36 

    Reviews the book "White Noise," by Don DeLillo.

  • White Noise (Book). Lhamon Jr., W.T.; Fletcher, Janet; Fialkoff, Francine; Schwarzer, Anneliese; Sutton, Judith; Cameron, Janet // Library Journal;2/1/1985, Vol. 110 Issue 2, p112 

    Reviews the book 'White Noise,' by Don DeLillo.

  • Mao II/ White Noise. (Audio). Bielski, Lauren; Annichiarico, Mark // Library Journal;10/1/1991, Vol. 116 Issue 16, p158 

    Reviews two audio books by Don DeLillo. "Mao II"; "White Noise."

  • WHAT TO READ.  // New York;5/14/2007, Vol. 40 Issue 17, p77 

    The article reviews several books by Don DeLillo including "Libra," "White Noise," and "Pafko at the Wall."

  • The figure in the static: White Noise. Saltzman, Arthur M. // Modern Fiction Studies;Winter94, Vol. 40 Issue 4, p807 

    Examines the metaphor used by Don DeLillo in his novel `White Noise.' Challenge in finding a way of simultaneously engaging and resisting the ambient noise; DeLillo's redefinition of the terms of success and surrender to language; Suggestion by DeLillo that individual words have a kind of...

  • "At the Dead Center of Things" in Don DeLillo's "White Noise": Mimesis, Violence, and Religious Awe. Packer, Matthew J. // Modern Fiction Studies;Fall2005, Vol. 51 Issue 3, p648 

    This article speculates that in Don DeLillo's book "White Noise" the sacred and other anthropological elements have scarcely been considered. Despite the religious awe looming in the airborne toxic event and the narrator's invitation to consider the scientific study of the cultural behavior and...

  • `Who are you, literally?': Fantasies of the white self in White Noise. Engles, Tim // Modern Fiction Studies;Fall99, Vol. 45 Issue 3, p755 

    Examines the illustration of white people in `White Noise,' a novel by Don DeLillo. Portrayals of postmodern identity formation; Struggle over race discrimination; Cultural/racial specificity of white people; Impact of American racial formations in literary creations; Forces of ordinary life in...

  • Foreign Objects, or, DeLillo Minimalist. Hoberek, Andrew // Studies in American Fiction;Spring2010, Vol. 37 Issue 1, p101 

    The article examines the minimalist strategy of author Don DeLillo in his novel "White Noise." The relationship between U.S. fiction of the late seventies and eighties and the failure of modernization theory in both Vietnam and Iran is explored. An argument is presented that DeLillo's formal...

Share

Read the Article

Courtesy of THE LIBRARY OF VIRGINIA

Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics