The Prophet DeLillo
Or, The Author Voted Most Likely to Have a Crystal Ball in their Possession
It would appear, Hypothetical Reader, that a plot point from Don DeLillo’s 1985 novel White Noise has unfortunately become a reality. The incident — currently referred to as the 2023 Ohio Train Derailment — appears to be quite the escalating disaster as more details slowly emerge.
If this is the first you’re hearing of the incident, it may be due to both the government and legacy media seemingly downplaying the issue.1 A little odd given that climate catastrophe seems to be something both Western government and legacy media seemingly can’t get enough of and warn against — or complain about, rather — in the present day, but I guess it’s a different story when it’s something that doesn’t reflect on one’s public image all too well. And God forbid the government and legacy media actually take some form of responsibility or do something of actual benefit for society.
The incident itself bears a striking resemblance to the middle section of DeLillo’s White Noise — a section called “The Airborne Toxic event”. This section of the book is concerned with the main character and his family’s reaction to a chemical spill from a derailed train that releases a large, noxious black cloud over the suburban region where the protagonist’s, and many other families, live.
In the following year, 1986, the Chernobyl Disaster happened. Due to the nature of what DeLillo was exploring in White Noise and how, only a mere year later, a major nuclear accident that affected suburbanites occurred, more and more the term Prophetic came to be associated with Don DeLillo’s name.2 And this association only seems to be getting stronger as time goes on.
The train that derailed and subsequently exploded in early February of 2023 in Ohio, it, just like with the train in White Noise, released a large, noxious black cloud into the sky in addition to a multitude of toxic chemicals into the air.
— Photo of the black smoke billowing from the train wreckage.
An odd coincidence? In late August of 2022, only months before the incident in Ohio, there was a movie adaptation of White Noise released on Netflix. It took 37 years after the publication of the novel for it to get film adaptation released, but it only took a little over 5 months life to imitate art (again).3
If, as a result of this post, Hypothetical Reader, you find yourself desiring to panic read through all of DeLillo’s body or work, do not worry — you’re not the only one.
An unprecedented move, I’m sure.
Rivalled only by The Simpsons.
Quite the spooky coincidence or one hell of a marketing stunt in an attempt by film studios to garner some attention for the film?