English 248-002: Literature and Contemporary Life
Response 8: DeLillo, Spahr, Holmes, Opheim
DUE: November 14, 2013
For response #8, please write about some aspect of DeLillo's White Noise or any of the poems included in the packet which I handed out in class (also available on D2L). Please be sure to focus on something specific and cite some passages or parts of passages in your analysis. Remember, you should have a point or a key question that you are pursuing. Here are a few prompts if you're having trouble getting started:
- Choose a character, theme, image, effect, repeated word or phrase group, or a particularly rich passage from Part II or Part III of White Noise. Do a focused analysis of this small element to see what you can learn about the novel as a whole.
- In the note on page 13, Juliana Spahr admits that her attempt to "sort through the news" after 9/11 did not help her feel less naive about this event. When news reporting fails as a source of clear or helpful information, Spahr says she turned to writing lyric poetry as a way of understanding or connecting with the tragedy; for her, poetry was "more useful" than the news (13). Drawing on the example of one or two poems in the packet (not necessarily Spahr), consider how connection/disconnection or distance/closeness (in relation to information technologies) become a theme or concern for the poet. How does the poem's engagement with media culture translate to specific techniques, devices, images, or effects? Be sure to cite specific examples for analysis.
- In "Opus Seed Iris Omega," Ashley Opheim writes that "A medium is a tool in which the world makes itself known and seen and heard" (line 36). This concept is probably familiar to you, if you think back to Nicholas Carr, Anne Blair, Victor Hugo, or even Walt Whitman. In your notebook, make a list of the major Information/Communication Technologies (ICTs) or "knowing tools" we encounter in White Noise. Then make the same list for Opheim, Holmes, or Spahr. What kinds of knowing/seeing/hearing do the tools encourage or support in the text? Do you see any similar comments being made by both DeLillo and a poet? If not, how do you interpret the differences?
- In Part III of White Noise, we encounter Jack throwing out his possessions twice (249, 280). Compare and contrast these two incidents, analyzing what each implies--given its location in the novel, the language used in the scene, the character's development before and after, or some other element of fiction you can analyze in detail. You might also consider: what does Jack's link between "an immensity of things" and "a mortality" (250) mean, metaphorically, for those who struggle with information overload today?