Ironical Coincidings

A few days ago I finished reading Don DeLillo’s White Noise (1985), a rather bleak look at the postmodern predicament centered on a professor of “Hitler Studies” who fears death. The self-consciousness about one’s own self-consciousness about one’s own self-consciousness occasionally gets annoying, but passages like the following make up for it. Here (these are the opening two paragraphs of the book) DeLillo does for postmodern life what Cormac McCarthy does for the Old West.

The station wagons arrived at noon. a long shining line that coursed through the west campus. In single file they eased around the orange I-beam sculpture and moved toward the dormitories. The roofs of the station wagons were loaded down with carefully secured suitcases full of light and heavy clothing; with boxes of blankets, boots and shoes, stationery and books, sheets, pillows, quilts; with rolled-Up rugs and sleeping bags; with bicycles, skis, rucksacks, English and…

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