The Family is the cradle of the world's misinformation

Dangerous radicalism? Subversive? Ironic commentary?

The Family is the cradle of the world’s misinformation. There must be something in family life that generates factual error. Overcloseness, the noise and heat of being. Perhaps something even deeper, like the need to survive. Murray says we are fragile creatures surrounded by a world of hostile facts. Facts threaten our happiness and security. The deeper we delve into the nature of things, the looser our structure may seem to become. The family process works toward sealing off the world. Small errors grow heads, fictions proliferate. I tell Murray that ignorance and confusion can’t possibly be the driving forces behind family solidarity.  What an idea, what a subversion. He asks me why the strongest family units exist in the least developed society. Not to know is a weapon of survival, he says. Magic and superstition become entrenched as the powerful orthodoxy of the clan. The family is strongest where objective reality is the most likely to be misinterpreted.  What a heartless theory, I say. But Murray insists it’s true.

— Don De Lillo, White Noise (Penguin Classics Deluxe Editio)

About the author

Kevin Holtsberry

I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season - oh, and watching golf too).

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