White Noise

I somehow got 30 budding engineers to speak somewhat intelligibly about the book White Noise by Don DeLillo by suggesting it in class. Their thoughts are reported below. Spoilers ahead.

Have you read White Noise by Don DeLillo? If so, how much have you read? What has been a line or two that has resonated with you?

  1. I read all of it. The line about stealing life from someone by killing them made me feel uneasy. Then when Jack was standing over him with the gun he felt so alive until he got shot and then all his humanity came rushing back. I actually enjoyed the book more than I thought I would.
  2. I read the first few chapters thoroughly then skimmed the rest. I thought it was neat that the hospital was run by German atheist nuns. Not that it seemed to affect the plot really but it was cool to see how Jack’s perception of the language changed when they spoke, indicating some sort of character development.
  3. Something that resonated with me and I related it to my personal life was the stuff he said about about [sic] the existence of supermarkets. They exist mainly for people to gain worldly pleasure not knowing that all the things are nothing but materialistic joy that will decay as death approaches.
  4. I got about 3/4 of the way through the book. I’m really bad with remembering exact lines. Jack claiming that all plots lead to death during the Hitler seminar resonated with me.
  5. I have read up to the 2nd part and then I sparknoted the rest (ran out of time). I don’t have a favorite line but my favorite character is Babbete [sic] because she is just afraid of death (like many people in society today).
  6. I finished it. I enjoyed all of the supermarket scenes very much because they evoked strong memories from my childhood. I also enjoyed conversation with Heinrich. Such as the one about rain, because they were queer while surprisingly logical.
  7. I will be honest, I did not have time to read this work that you speak so highly about. Unfortunately, the past 2 weeks have been filled with intense studying for finals (Physics 240 last Friday, this class, BME 418 tomorrow and a project, and a calculus 3 final on Monday (@ WCC :))). I will definitely add this book to my summer read list. Nevertheless, I’d like to recommend a few books to you! If you haven’t read it already, try reading 1984 by George Orwell. It’s about a dystopian society set in Oceania around the 1950s-1960s I believe (I read it in 6thgrade lol soooo long ago) that regulates society through the nation of Big Brother (aka Joseph Stalin) and his thought police, a terrifying force that can literally tell if you are thinking unorthodox thoughts (why you hate the government, then life could be better elsewhere, etc.) just based off of your facial expressions and body language. It’s a pretty good read! (Honorable mentions: The Autobiography of Malcolm X (Amazing! And the movie was great. Had Denzel Washington); Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (Truly symbolic piece.)
  8. Yes, approximately 130 pages. I liked when they made fun of tourism at the barn tourist trap thing – it was a pretty accurate satire. Also “who will die first?” kind of stuck with me.
  9. Did not have time. Read a few pages and reverted to spark notes from that seems interesting will probably read over the summer. I liked when the guy played dead then shot him in the wrist.
  10. I have started reading it, however I have not reached a part that has stood out to me in that way yet (emphasis on yet).
  11. Yes, I read the whole book. Can’t say I have quotes memorized but after reading the book I think the most interesting part was the recurrence of fear of death and how it started as a small pattern of Jack thinking “who will die first” and then Babette found out Jack was sick from the toxic air and changed her mind and wanted to die first even after she literally started taking pills to stop her fear of death.
  12. Yes, I almost finished the last chapter (finishing after this). The part where he walked into the motel expecting to find some brilliant man of his wife’s affairs and finds this wreck of man who’s dosed out on his own drug. This scene spoke to me in the sense where he’s taking this drug to avoid the fear of death but he’s killing himself, and Jack takes no mercy and feels no guilt for taunting that man until he shot him back. It’s just kinda scary the depths humans will go to avoid their own fears.
  13. Yes, I read the whole book. I found it interesting how the main character is viewed very differently by others based on his appearance. He is viewed as strong and intelligent in his college robes but weak and old in the store while in normal clothing.
  14. 40 pages. I thought the conversation with Jack and his weird son in the car in the rain was hilarious.
  15. To be honest, I really wanted to and looked up a lot about it, but with studying and assignments, I couldn’t find the time. I was able to explore the theme and concept behind white noise and death.
  16. I read the whole book. I will have to paraphrase but I love Jack’s struggles with the logic about why mountains are upstate. Jack declares that he knows the logic provided is incorrect but he can’t figure out why it is illogical. I thought this played with our ideas of logic and intuition.
  17. Yes, I read the whole thing. I’m having a hard time remembering a quote, but I’ll tell you what I didn’t like. When Jack did exactly what Babette feared and killed the crazy, addicted, sad old researcher. He was such an awful character. I liked the bun at the end. I didn’t agree with her reasoning for being religious but she seemed like a very good person, and also very quick and smart. I definitely was surpised by the book. It wasn’t what I expected.
  18. I read it cover to cover. I don’t remember any specific wording from the book, but what made me feel the most was when Heinrich was at the evacuation center explaining to the group of people what the cloud meant. He was a child and often seemed to just be annoying sound smart and play the devil’s advocate throughout the book, and this was the one time I appreciated his character.
  19. I read up through the middle of part III. The overarching themes of death were very eye-opening to me. It starts with lots of discussion of appearances, acting how you want (putting on a façade), and replacing some very dark things about situations (XXX to death). In Part II XXX they kept talking about death and then they ran from it with the toxic cloud (even though initially Jack was adamant he shouldn’t run(. I’m actually excited to see how it ends. “Who will die first?”
  20. Yes, I read a good chunk of it, then sparknoted the rest to get the full story. The lines./ideas that resonated with me that I clearly remember was when Jack and his wife always talk about death and say “who is going to die first?” I just thought this was such a strange thing that a married couple would say and I think it pretty well embodies a large theme of the book.
  21. I’ve read about half of it and sparknoted the rest of it. One thing I think is important that the book acknowledges is how we are immersed in things around us that we don’t even notice all the things that life is supposed to be (white noise). Many things are like white noise, they’re there but sometimes it’s hard to notice it unless we really pay attention.
  22. I’ve read a little more than 2/3 of it; a line that’s stuck in my head is “all plots tend to lead deathwards. Such is the nature of plots.”
  23. Yes, I have read most of it. I am 3/4 of the way through. A line that resonated with me is in the very beginning when he asks “who will die first?” between himself and his spouse. I don’t know why it sticks with me but my best guess is because in this millennial age marriage/dating are less common and I believe it is because people don’t want to live their life with a time stamp of their spouse’s death dictating it.
  24. I only read about 60 pages and I really hate the author’s writing style so I just stopped and studied instead. I remember Jack saying him and Babette wondered “who was going to die first” which is a weird thing to think about. It seems like a cool story so I’ll try to read it over summer break.
  25. I have read White Noise by Don DeLillo. I finished it. I thought it was weird how he seemed obsessed with death.
  26. Yes, I decided to read White Noise. Finished the book last night. Wasn’t my favorite honestly but the whole fear of dying was the main weird thing. The irony in the line “all; plots tend to death” is definitely touched on at the end when he tries to feel more alive by killing Willie the doctor. Side note: thought Babette had Alzheimer’s for the beginning. Side note 2: Wish the “toxic cloud”, the “billowing black cloud” etc. etc. was a larger portion fo the book because that was my favorite portion. Figured out that “white noise” is everyday sounds, background, and DeLillo repetitively says “the TV said this.”
  27. Yes, I’ve read it through twice! We are the sum of our data and we are the sum of our nerve impulses. The scene at the end with the nun also stuck with me. I keep thinking about how she said the world needs to believe that people like her believe in a higher power.
  28. Yes, read the whole thing. I don’t remember specific lines but I liked the various references to circuits and other things we have learned in this class. Also thought it was interesting and ironic that he sought out the same pills that made his wife the way she was.
  29. ~75 pages. The most photographed barn was a weird example from my point of view. Reminded me of money and how it has only given value. Although the barn had an aura as a result, money has a more sinister feel.
  30. I have not read White Noise. I understand what white noise is and appreciate your recommendations for books. However, like my last class with you, I will reserve my time to read it for after the class has ended. I enjoyed Fallen Leaves by Will Durant and fully plan on reading this book as well.