A Postmodern Ethics: Moral Ambivalence in Don DeLillo's “White Noise”
Beginning with an overview of the conceptual establishments of “ethics” and “morals”, and what Immanuel Kant has contributed to the modern ethical perspective, this article briefly surveys the modernist ethical thought and in what way it is challenged throughout the postmodern age, as the postmodernist ethical aspect assumes basically an ontological approach which emphasizes an entirely different relationship between “I, the other, and the third”. In this context, the moral stance of the characters in Don DeLillo’s famous novel, White Noise, is scrutinized around the concept of ‘moral ambivalence’ as well as discussing the characters’ moral choices in relation with man’s ‘death fear’, and the artificial relief provided by the never ending ‘technological progress’ which are slightly referred to as the supporting aspects of the main point presented as “moral ambivalence” in this article. ‘Death fear’ and ‘technological progress’ are conveyed as the extensions of man’s pursuing a concrete meaning of life in today’s world where man faces various unexpected problems s/he is unable to deal with, since they do not fit the patterns of the rationalist order and reason. DeLillo uses his own narrative technique and expresses with a specific sense of humor, man’s disappointment in being left helpless and alone despite the promising “Grand Narratives”of the era.
Keywords: Postmodern Ethics, Morals, Moral Ambiquity, I & the Other, Grand Narratives
Dr Serpil Tunçer
Lecturer, American Culture and Literature Department