'Sound all around' : sonic mysticism and acoustic ecology in Don DeLillo's White Noise

Schweighauser, Philipp. (2003) 'Sound all around' : sonic mysticism and acoustic ecology in Don DeLillo's White Noise. Profils américains, 16. pp. 107-121.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A5250707

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Taking the title of DeLillo’s novel at its most literal, this paper argues that if White Noise is an environmental novel, it is also in important ways a novel about acoustic ecology. In its literal sense, DeLillo’s title refers to the omnipresence of broad-band noises as keynote sounds of the postmodern soundscape. As Barry Truax, whose Acoustic Communication (1984) appeared in the same year as DeLillo’s novel, explains, the constant hum of traffic and technical appliances such as air-conditioners or computers approaches the acoustic qualities of white noise: “Traffic and air-conditioning are […] examples of “broad-band” sounds, that is, sounds whose spectrum or energy content is continuously distributed over a fairly large range of frequencies. When that range is the whole audible spectrum and the distribution is uniform, the sound is called “white noise,” by analogy to white light which contains all visible frequencies” (Truax, 20). Taking my cue from the soundscape studies of Barry Truax and Murray A. Schafer as well as William Paulson’s The Noise of Culture: Literary Texts in a World of Information (1988), I explore the ways in which DeLillo positions his text within the cultural and political landscapes and soundscapes of postmodernity.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaften > Fachbereich Englische Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft > Amerikanistik (Schweighauser)
UniBasel Contributors:Schweighauser, Philipp
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Also published in: Don Delillo. - Montpellier : CERCLA, 2004. - S. 107-121 -- Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:30 Aug 2016 08:14
Deposited On:22 Mar 2012 14:19

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