White Noise

Reproduction and the Shattered Aura in Don DeLillo’s White Noise

Walter Benjamin’s work as a philosopher and theorist speaks at length of mechanical reproduction and the impact it has on society. Benjamin’s work can therefore be applied to the society depicted in Don DeLillo’s novel White Noise, illuminating it as one of reproduction illustrated in the interactions the book’s characters have with each other and their environment. The society, therefore, ultimately exists under the premise of illusion, failing to distinguish between reality and imitation.

German cultural critic Walter Benjamin discusses in his essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” the effects of mechanical reproduction in regards to the “aura” of art. This “aura” exists in the art’s authenticity and its place in the realm of tradition. “The aura of an object compels attention. Whether a work of art or natural landscape, we confront it in one place and only one place: [in its history]” (Nichols 628). Benjamin proposes that the aura of art exists in its capitalist, elitist quality of uniqueness, that part of what makes art, well, art is the fact that it is belongs to the elite and the poor are deprived of it. Thus, art is no longer evaluated based on innovation, authorship, or general quality but by...

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