The Postmodern Relationship with Nature in Don Delillo’s White Noise


University of Ottawa


With climate change and species endangerment a news regularity, it is essential to examine how the dominant postmodern social activity, consumerism, impacts nature. Importantly, it is necessary to inquire about the human relation to nature in postmodernity. This paper examines Don DeLillo’s novel White Noise to understand how consumerism reconfigures the human relationship with nature and importantly transforms this relationship along consumer parameters. Using Jean Baudrillard’s philosophy of the consumer society and hyperreality, this paper elaborates how the characters of White Noise perceive and interact with nature through images and signs of entertainment and advertising. Shifting from literary predecessors, these consumer aspects remove the affiliation and critical aspect to inquire about the environment. Ultimately, while the environment once offered tranquility, harmony, and reflection, the images and signs of nature are merely recirculated and postmodern sites of consumption are instead accepted as society’s ‘natural’ environment. While highlighting these aspects in White Noise the paper relates these insights to the postmodern condition and concludes with strategies to reclaim the former empathic relationship with nature.