Sensory Misperception in White Noise
How can a person trust what they perceive to be real if his or her senses lie? Usually, people rely on their sensory knowledge because that is the only way to describe their perception of reality. However, if the only way to make sense of the world fails, what can a person do? They turn to someone else, possibly of a higher authority, to tell them the truth. They disregard their own personal knowledge and seek the insight of another being or entity to tell them the reality of things. In the novel White Noise by Don DeLillo, examples of sensory misperception are as ubiquitous as the number of stars in the sky. Even though this statement is blatantly false, sensory misperception occurs more often then the reader might imagine, affecting DeLillo’s entire cast without bias. This misperception occurs as a result of a lack of intuition and individuality, aspects that appear to be left out of DeLillo’s character creation pool. Most of the characters do little to no thinking on behalf of themselves, and usually rely on the thoughts of an outside source (a TV or radio) to know what to believe. They take in the periphery noise and turn it, in a sense, into a belief system. Therefore, sensory misperception occurs because the characters allow themselves to disregard their own intuition and to inherently believe what another entity tells them to believe.
Jack’s oldest son Heinrich fails to use his common sense even though he appears to be the most intellectually capable child in the family. Jack is driving him to school when Heinrich starts the conversation.
“It’s going to rain tonight.”
“It’s raining now,” I said.
“The radio said tonight.” (DeLillo 22)
Even though the rain is splashing down on the windshield, Heinrich invokes a massively analytical argument over whether or not it is raining. Jack counters, saying “just because it’s on the radio doesn’t mean we have to suspend belief in the evidence of our senses”...