I must say that my tutor’s feedback on Assignment 2 has been a real eye-opener as to the need to follow and track down alternative or new directions and developments when tackling an analysis, and in Dr. Belshaw’s words ‘to look for interesting problems or contradictions and push them as far as they will go.’ Not easy to do but a pointer to a method of working.
As a telling example of how this could be done, or at least this is my interpretation, the feedback offers me a rich chain of ideas to develop, sort of offspring born from my analysis in a kind of ping-pong game that could continue in several ways and modes. These are ideas that were perhaps implicit in my analysis but not fully explored.
Idea one: white noise as masking ambient sounds in the same way that possessions mask mortality.
Idea two, following from idea one: if possessions mask mortality the story itself can be viewed as a memento mori or vanitas.
Idea three, chained to idea two: the story as memento mori makes us think of the Dutch still life which analogously ‘represents possessions as a kind of inventory on display’.
Idea four, back to DeLillo’s text: the ‘meticulous attention to detail’ of the Dutch still life brings us back to DeLillo’s precisely descriptive and visual writing and to his well-honed ability to express content through form.
Idea five, developed intuition : DeLillo’s precious language can be considered as belonging to the white noise of possessions, so again as something protecting us from the fear of death.
Idea six, how to improve the analysis: the sounds of words could have been dealt with in my analysis ‘along with the discussion of subject matter’ to bring them in closer connection with content. A very good suggestion, I shall try to improve my text by taking this into account into my final review.
Idea seven, further development: to extend the research Dr. Belshaw has suggested me to read Thomas Hardy’s poem In Wind and Rain as a poetic equivalent of White Noise. I have read the poem which I did not know – I studied in Italy, and I see a lot of connections with later parts of DeLillo’s book and his beautiful family dialogues. Another track to follow.
In his feedback on my reflective commentary Dr. Belshaw cites an essay by Wolfgang Kemp as a useful read to extend my grasp of the role of the reader (or the viewer) and draw parallels between the verbal and the visual. It is a dense essay on reception aesthetics – pivoting around the concept of the implicit beholder and how the work structures itself in order to be approached and there are several points that deserve close attention. For the time being I focused on the chapter of the ‘Forms of Address’ which helped me during my semiotic analysis of Las Meninas (Assignment 3).
Hardy, Thomas ‘During Wind and Rain’ in The Longman Anthology of Poetry. (Pearson, 2006) At: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/52314 (Accessed 27/03/2017)
Kemp, Wolfang (1998) ‘The Work of Art and Its Beholder The Methodology of the Aesthetic of Reception’ in Cheetham, Mark A. (ed.): The subjects of art history : historical objects in contemporary perspectives, Cambridge 1998, pages 180-196 [online] At: http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/artdok/1916/1/Kemp_The_work_of_art_and_its_beholder_1998.pdf (Accessed 27/03/2017)