In Niel Brügger's essay “What about the Postmodern?” Brügger relates Lyotard's idea of the narrative of emancipation, writing that “[in such narratives] it is not only important to legitimate denotative statements, which fall into the sphere of truth, but also to legitimate prescriptive statements, which fall into the sphere of justice,” and that such grand narratives are “no longer trustworthy” (80). In this paper I will first examine the function of the grand narrative in Don DeLillo's White Noise and will then examine grand narratives in a range of short fiction. DeLillo's characters, although espousing doctrines that would seem to subvert existing grand narratives, are building for themselves sets of new grand narratives, which are often precariously founded upon the old. There is a mediation at work in the text evident not just in the way Jack lives his life in the consumer world, bombarded by information, but also in the way Jack narrates this world. I will focus on how that narration is working.
[...] In the new narrative Kat has changed and is the same. She has undergone a physical transformation, if we can call it that, gaining a dimension, but clearly there is an absence in the gaining of the dimension. She has indeed brought with her a part of her previous narrative—an inherent element of repetition that she cannot seem to shed, urge return to the inanimate state”' (Freud qtd. in Rimmon-Kenan 155) of the two-dimensional. It is a perpetual three-dimension return to the two-dimensional. [...]
[...] White Noise seems to point toward the grand narrative of capitalism, consumer culture, mass media as the American narrative, while simultaneously inching toward an argument that dangerous grand narratives are being established even in contemporary antinarrative discourse, in postmodern discourse. This is the same danger that Jameson points toward. From Murray's Braudrillard-take on the most photographed barn in America and his parochial idea that its spectators are thus more-or-less autonomic drones to Heinrich's superrelativistic logic on whether or not it is raining outside (DeLillo an argument is developing that relativism and the naming of the narrative is a new form of narrative, one that is founded on absence. [...]
[...] If we can concede that the postmodern has shown that our modernist narratives like Dirty Harry are built on fantastical assumptions, and that our fantasy narratives are usually reflections of the modern, then perhaps when the elements of our everyday mundane (pizza delivery) are placed in the context of our modernist narratives (good versus evil), it makes the elements in those modernist narratives a bit more absurd. If Dirty Harry can fight evil then why can't a delivery boy fight evil? [...]
[...] And in this way Murray and Jack's insights constitute what Gerald Warshaver calls a new “postmodern folklore.” Warshaver describes the latter in his article Postmodern Folklore” as “[folklore] recast from an object of knowledge into an object of consumption” and which is produced and consumed order to achieve self-fulfillment” (223). There is a new folklore at work of socio- cultural investigation and observation, but it seems that the undertaking of which is an attempt to commodify something akin to a predisillusioned experience (Murray's disillusionment in the above passage). [...]
[...] Loop, I can guess, keeping similar narratives in mind, will create a better life in a new civilization. Possibly. He will bring to that civilization all the wisdom he gained in his old life. A grand narrative model, a creation little narrative. Leyner In Mark Leyner's Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog protagonist Mark Leyner buttons up in a hotel room to write a commissioned free-verse poem. The story of the writing of that poem is called Making of Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog.” Early in the narrative protagonist Mark introduces the story with, “What follows is 24 hours of the postmodern writer in vitro” (Geyh 242). [...]
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