"“Something Extraordinary Hovering Just Outside Our Touch”:
This paper discusses how the forces of postmodernity and technology combine to create a contemporary version of the romantic sublime, and how this new ‘technological sublime’ figures in Don DeLillo’s novel White Noise. The novel simultaneously depicts and satirizes a postmodern world in which the forces of capitalism, consumer culture, and technology determine people’s existences to the extent that they even invade formerly personal spheres like spirituality, dreams, and self-images. I argue that, in such a world, technology has replaced nature as the primary source of the sublime experience. Moreover, the overwhelming power of natural phenomena has been dwarfed by the complexity and scale of today’s technological networks and globalized system. For theoretical background I draw on the classic accounts of the sublime by Immanuel Kant and Edmund Burke, accounts of postmodernity and contemporary sublimity by Frederic Jameson, Joseph Tabbi, and Jean-François Lyotard, as well as scholarship on DeLillo in general and White Noise in particular.