White Noise Is Rather Tough To Take…

 

White Noise by Don DeLillo was a novel I was expecting to dislike. For some reason, the front cover was repelling me, and I thought it was going to something similar to a postmodern ghost story. I was right, to a certain extent, because Don DeLillo does write a prelude to a ghost story. He maps the mentality of death, and an abject fear of what is to come, and what comes afterwards. His protagonists, Jack Gladney, and his wife, Babette, represent a kind of paralysis of mentality; their fear of death overrides their sense of everything else.

This, I think, can be considered both an advantage and a disadvantage. A disadvantage, because they live, believing that they can and will be dead at any moment; their marriage is overshadowed by a fear of the other dying, and so their petty rows, and Babette’s ‘arrangement’ with Mr Gray is insignificant, in comparison to her fear of losing the physical and emotional entity that is Jack. Therefore in many ways, the sanctity of marriage and union itself is questioned.

The cover that so unnerved me… (1)

Their sense of death however is an advantage because it allows them to explore the parameters of marriage in terms of a whole existence. Instead of a focus on small events, the couple manage to look at everything as a whole. The ‘airborne toxic event’ is not an individual disaster, and instead, the protagonist seems to focus on the impact it has on his entire life; the fact that it is shortened by this unknown threat. In some ways then, the fear of death provides a mechanism so that both protagonists can stay united by the unresolved fear.

The novel places a very heavy emphasis on the importance of technology to modern-day life. Throughout the text, phrases such as “the radio said” are used. This reminds the reader of George Orwell’s 1984, because there is an outside force that influences the character’s movement. The instantaneous information that is available through the television and radio influences the fear of death that Jack and Babette experience; unreliable information seems to only emphasize the unreliable nature of life, and the unpredictability of death. The relative power of the medical industry is also highlighted by Jack’s “brackets and stars” status. His doctor represents an omen, and therefore towards the end of the novel, Jack refuses to visit him, to find out more details of his impending death. This refusal shows a monumental step in his life, because he refuses to indulge the fear itself.

By far my favourite scene however, is when Jack shoots Mr. Gray, the man who has allegedly created the drug that removes a person’s fear of death. The shooting can be seen as an irony, because Mr. Gray represents being fearless. Therefore by causing him serious injury and plotting to kill him, he metaphorically attacks the idea of being unafraid of death. Gunshot wounds are an unnatural way to die, in the same way that it is unnatural to be unafraid of one’s own passing.

The novel itself is an interesting comment on 1980s society, especially because of the novelty value of technology at the time. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I should.

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(1) http://theasylum.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/whitenoise.jpg?w=470

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Granta: The Magazine of New Writing

Granta  is one of those publications in the world that allows new, aspiring writers to publish their new work. Reading the magazine allows the reader to feel as though they too are the edge of literary development. Literature breaks ground every single day; the process never ends, and it remains to evolve over and over again.

Personally, I’ve had a subscription for two years, since I was sixteen years old. I adore the magazine, and I read it, and annotate it to pieces every time it flies through my letterbox. Recently I was re- acquainted with the charm of literature; it began to elude me for a little while, when I was studying for A levels that were at best robotic, and almost dehumanizing. The systematic study of a text essentially begins to remove a personal perception or interpretation; working towards a mark scheme only adds to the sense of futility of actually studying a text. It removes the mystical beauty of it and instead creates a monster completely lacking in soul.

A Collection of Magazines.

So I read through it, at the same time as I plough my way through Rivkin and Ryan and their collection of literature. I read, and I read and I hope that one day, I’ll be published in it. I’ll go straight to Ikea and buy the biggest and most beautiful photo frame and stick it up, right on the wall, where I can see it everyday.

As far as I can see, writing takes a huge amount of discipline; much more than anyone really gives them credit for, because without an office, and a cubicle, a person has to sit down and write of their own accord… push through the writer’s block, completely alone. That is possibly very unsatisfying; being completely alone in your quest to create something worth publishing, or something that people will want to read, however at the same time, there must be a degree of liberation in being entirely dependant on yourself; it is only you that makes it happen, and so when it does happen, and the words are flying off the keyboard, making pretty pictures, and pretty metaphors, then the success is entirely yours. It is literally yours alone, and you don’t have to share with anyone.

So being a part of the aspirational world of the written word can really only be a blessing, and something to be proud of. Anyone who wants to join can, but only those who really want everything in it get to stay for the long run.

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