“The boundary we need”: Death and the challenge to postmodernity in Don DeLillo’s "White Noise"

Mark Brown

Abstract


Don DeLillo’s White Noise is often taught as an exemplar of postmodern literature because of its concern with the postmodern themes of identity and spectacular commodification. There is much in the text, however, to suggest that DeLillo’s central characters are searching for certainties, some of which are related to earlier cultural paradigms. This paper argues that Don DeLillo’s novel explores ways to overcome the persistent displacement of meaning in postmodern texts by establishing death as one concept outside the systems of signs which is irreducible, certain and universal. DeLillo’s characters are in search of a “transcendental signified” (Derrida) able to bring a halt to the potentially infinite postmodern regressions of late twentieth century American culture. Here I argue that in White Noise it is death which provides this exterior metaphysical principle.


Keywords


Don DeLillo; White Noise; Postmodernism; Death

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18172/jes.3873

Copyright (c) 2020 Mark Brown

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© Universidad de La Rioja, 2013

ISSN 1576-6357

EISSN 1695-4300