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White Noise: An Umbrella Term for Modernity-Induced Perception of Life and Death - Essay Example

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White noise is a susurration, a fusion of signals and messages, a leveling of sounds into one all-sound – its individual components become indistinguishable. White noise is essentially anti-dramatic. No highs, no lows, no emphases, no diminuendos, all utterances made equal. …
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White Noise: An Umbrella Term for Modernity-Induced Perception of Life and Death

Download file to see previous pages... While the term, in the modern industrial background, refers to a life affected and pervaded by the harmful and toxic effects of technology, it also refers to the central character – Jack’s endeavor to live a fearless life. Though he is afraid of the prospect of death and is meticulous about any possible threats to life, he gradually learns that a life filled with the fear of death is more stifled than death itself. Therefore, “white noise” seems to equate both life and death in the novel. Dellilo, indeed, attempts to refer to the dilemma of modern man: the dilemma is that on the one hand, modern man hankers after individuality; on the other hand, this individuality is coerced by the dins and bustles of modern life. While the cacophony of modern life serves as the background of Jack’s life, it is perceived as a part of life too. Jack ultimately perceives it at the end of the novel. He feels that he himself is a part of the white noise, of the “cacophony, as a stream of sounds, some human, some artificial” (Frow 45). Thus white noise has been endowed with an array of meanings throughout the whole novel. Referring to Dolillo’s concept of white noise, Yurick comments: White noise is a susurration, a fusion of signals and messages, a leveling of sounds into one all-sound – its individual components become indistinguishable. White noise is essentially anti-dramatic. No highs, no lows, no emphases, no diminuendos, all utterances made equal. People who have trouble sleeping – perhaps they want to shut out the screams of the world and their minds – put on earphones that emit a monotonous, soothing sound (Yurick 273). Indeed, the term “white noise” is analogous to human life as a whole or it is a referent to the universe itself. It includes both life and death. Ironically, when Jack struggles to run away from death, he essentially evades life, as John Frow comments in this regard, “the story…shows how J.A.K. Gladney is the ultimate buffoon who lives his life in denial of both life and death” (13). When he speaks of the events in his surroundings, the white noise seems to affect the tone of his narrative. The blurring effects of the white noise also tend to blur the pleasure of living a life. He fails to perceive that though death is “nothing but an awful, endless stream of white noise,” life is also a part of this white noise; he also fails to understand that the white noise itself comprises the activities of life. Therefore, it is the sign of life. Indeed, for Jack, modern man’s busy life is the symbolization of both life and death. While it endows man with the individual choice to be or to exist as he or she likes, it steals away his or her opportunity to be heard amid the chaos. Throughout the whole novel, the narrator’s voice is overpowered and often overwhelmed by a chorus “of background sounds that hum throughout the narrative” (Frow 45). It seems that the narrator represents one who has lost in the crowd and endeavors hard to be heard. Obviously the narrator’s (Jack) struggle to be heard symbolizes modern man’s angst to plunge into oblivion and also to get lost in the crowd. Jack and Babette’s assumption of death as “nothing but an awful, endless stream of white noise” essentially evolves from this angst of modern man. Getting plunged into oblivion and chaos equates to the biological death of a modern man. The continuous data smog on the print and electronic media as well as the chorus of traffic humming, vehicles’ acoustic confusion, etc. seems to steal away Jack and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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