Type / Thesis

Animating Spirit: Wasted Image and Identity in Don DeLillo’s Underworld

Tso-wei Hsieh

Page / 67-92


Contemporary American writers have put great effort in exploring visual culture and its influence, and Don DeLillo is one of the known authors to discuss this issue. His novels, such as Americana (1971), Libra (1988), and Mao II (1991), emphasize how visual imaginary shapes our daily lives, and examine how images in various ways construct personal identity, especially the broadcasting of violent images that influences subject formation. His concern about these issues also features in Underworld (1997).
DeLillo in Underword points out how characters, such as Nick, who lives in modern consumer society, faces the problem of “modelization” and how they deal with it by “animating” themselves. This paper first discusses Jean Baudrillard’s concept of simulation and its implication, and examine how “modelized” characters are trapped in the “pixel” world. Then, it shows the process in which the subject tries to transform itself from the simulated “death” to the animated life. To achieve this end, the subject makes use of various fragmented and small things in wasted images, even one single dot, word, or syllabus, to discover individual singular experiences, to put down the role designed by simulation, and to achieve the possibility of animating spirit.

Keywords : image, simulation, model, waste, identity.
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