EGL 192 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Stepfamily, Religious Experience, Suggestibility

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26 Jan 2017
EGL 192- Intro To Fiction
White Noise- Don DeLillo
How is DeLillo portraying the popular culture department: people who study celebrities, movies, television,
popular artifacts, things that are not designed to last
It is implied that like a common language, these popular artifact give people something in
commonis this something that we should want or not?
Hitler Studies:
Jack uses propaganda to teach about Hitler, he is showing movies and not doing his part to teach them about the
actual Hitler, but the Hitler featured in film. There is a replacement of actual Hitler with movie version Hitler
“Every semester I arranged for a screening of background footage. This consisted of propaganda films, scenes shot
at party congress, outtakes from mystical epics featuring parades of gymnasts and mountaineers—a collection I’d
edited into an impressionistic eighty-minute documentary.”
This passage talks about the popular culture renderings of Hitler and Elvis (movie Hitler and movie Elvis). If pop
culture has leveled these characters to the point where we can compare them, their transposition into figures into
movies and television shows makes them somewhat equal
"You've established a wonderful thing here with Hitler. You created it, you nurtured it, and you made it your own.
Nobody on the faculty of any college or university in this part of the country can so much as utter the word Hitler
without a nod in your direction, literally or metaphorically. This is the center, the unquestioned source. He is now
your Hitler, Gladney's Hitler. It must be deeply satisfying for you. The college is internationally known as a result of
Hitler studies. It has an identity, a sense of achievement. You've evolved an entire system around this figure, a
structure with countless substructures and interrelated fields of study, a history within history. I marvel at the effort.
It was masterful, shrewd and stunningly preemptive. It's what I want to do with Elvis."
Jacks view of television:
Does the book justify the need for not wanting to watch television?
That night, a Friday, we ordered Chinese food and watched television together, the six of us. Babette had made it
a rule. She seemed to think that if kids watched television one night a week with parents or stepparents, the effect
would be to de-glamorize the medium in their eyes, make it wholesome domestic sport. Its narcotic undertow and
eerie diseased brain-sucking power would be gradually reduced.
Heinrich and the Rain scene/ what he wants to do scene:
Heinrich is giving the radio more credit than the image that he sees right in from of him. This is suggesting that
people can not think for themselves and we must rely on technology to tell us facts.
"It's going to rain tonight." "It's raining now," I said. "The radio said tonight." I drove him to school on his first day
back after a sore throat and fever… Look at the windshield," I said. "Is that rain or isn't it?" "I'm only telling you
what they said." "Just because it's on the radio doesn't mean we have to suspend belief in the evidence of our
senses…. What if this guy with the gun comes from a planet in a whole different solar system? What we call rain he
calls soap. What we call apples he calls rain. So what am I supposed to tell him?" "
Heinrich is asked what he wants to do, and he is abdicating any sense of choice or responsibility. Heinrich is
suggesting that humankind is no different than animals, there is no choice and there is just a question of neurons
firing and instigating impulse.
"Do you want to go?" "Who knows what I want to do? Who knows what anyone wants to do? How can you be sure
about something like that? Isn't it all a question of brain chemistry, signals going back and forth, electrical energy
in the cortex? How do you know whether something is really what you want to do or just some kind of nerve impulse
in the brain? Some minor little activity takes place somewhere in this unimportant place in one of the brain
hemispheres and suddenly I want to go to Montana or I don't want to go to Montana. How do I know I really want to
go and it isn't just some neurons firing or something?
Is Jack in any position to criticize Heinrich?
The questions that Jack asks Heinrich about the man he is playing chess with are premeditated by the media
because people in the media have asked these questions so many times before that these questions are now second
"You've been playing chess with the man for months. What do you know about him except that he's in jail for life, for
murder? Is he young, old, black, white? Do you communicate at all except for chess moves?" "We send notes
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