2 years ago
“I have no body. I’m only a mind or a self, alone in a vast space.”
“I seize up.”
“I’m too weak to move. I lack all sense of resolve, determination.”
“I thought about my mother dying. Then she died.”
Last year, I read a fantastic novel by Don DeLillo, “White Noise”. The book chronicles the events of a normal, middle-class American family living in the 80’s, and how they interact with their surroundings in a Capitalist society. I’m currently writing a paper on the conditions of the modernist novel versus the post-modern novel, and I’m using this book as a reference point, and I just wanted to spill some thoughts on it.
The novel deals with many conditions facing people living in the late twentieth century, including aggressive consumerism, isolation, media saturation, and fear of death.
A man named Jack discovers his wife, Babette, taking a mysterious pill one day. Lacking evidence to confront her about it, he says nothing. He eventually discovers a prescription pill bottle with the name Dylar taped underneath the cover of their radiator. Jack brings it to a pharmacist to see what exactly it is, but no one has ever heard of it. He confronts his wife.
After she explains to Jack her means of obtaining it, which I won’t get into here, Babette reveals that Dylar is an experimental medication that will cure the users fear of death.
To me, this struck very close to home. It seems like every single day, a new drug emerges which is said to cure some sort of emotion, whether it’s anxiety, depression, nervousness, hyperactivity, stress, etc. It almost seems like there are no real emotions. Everything we feel are just chemical impulses in our brains that are either good or bad, and if they’re bad, then there’s a pill for it. Is the fear of death just another chemical impulse?
To me, this is all terrifying. We are constantly surrounded by death, whether it’s in the media, in our own lives, in the tabloids, in books and entertainment, in history. It is White Noise. The fear is something that is very much human. This fictional drug, which when compared to what’s on the market today seems VERY likely to exist in the near future, is completely dehumanizing. This fear is something that every single one of us has in common, whether one wants to admit it or not, which is also a disturbing thought to me. Fear is the underlying human condition, and it’s what unifies us all. However, you can also find solace in all of this. At least we’re united by SOMETHING, as grim as it is. Death is something we all will have to face sooner or later, so we’re not alone in our fears.
I can keep going on about this and many other points but I doubt will read this much, so it’s bed time for me.