What is superficial?
What is the spiritual significance in the opening chapter of White Noise? Is it DeLillo’s most visual novel? The musicality of the language works in service of its visual appeal. DeLillo focuses on lines and color. The scenes pop.
Do the concepts that Northrop Frye develops in Secular Scripture apply to modern novels?
I don’t remember when I first read that, but it took hold of me, and I struggled against it for months. Reading Alan Ryan’s eleven hundred page On Politics, part of my attention was absorbed by the ink on the page. It was just another mode of obsession with the superficial, with the shape of things.
This also happened with Ishiguro’s qualifiers.
Toby Lichting observes:
The language his first-person narrators use to sustain this world is necessarily inhibited, hesitant. Artless. Ishiguro is a master of the linguistic hedge, the modifier, the qualifier, the conditional modal and passive tense: “Naturally”, say his characters, when they mean nothing of the sort; “of course”, “that is to say”, “indeed”, “perhaps”, “I would have thought”, “it was to be expected that”. Their behaviour hinges on a disjointed, or outmoded, understanding of the world around them; they are often the last to twig: things that should have been patently obvious for years “suddenly occur” to them. Their inability to express themselves is most acute in dialogue. “How odd” they say when they really mean “I love you” or “You have betrayed me”. At moments of high tension they are most likely to “give a little laugh”.
I fell in love with this style for its politeness. The hedges soften everything, and I sometimes tend toward the overly emphatic, the artificially precise.
Does the chapter serve as a warning, an antidote, a consolation? Since Milton, has the incautious reader risked modeling their behavior just a little after Lucifer the next day at the office, affecting a grandiloquence in an unnecessary email exchange?
I love Cat Power’s albums Dear Sir, Myra Lee, What Would the Community Think, Moon Pix, and You are Free. I like The Greatest.
I dislike Sun, but it has the most beautiful album cover.