Fresh Kills Landfill and the visibility of garbage

Don DeLillo’s 1997¬†Underworld¬†defies the conventions of usual landfill novels by demanding the visibility of waste rather than its invisibility. The psychological storybook that surrounds waste disposal in the twentieth and twenty-first century, I would argue, is increasingly one of blame, guilt and embarrassment. The waste we create on a daily, monthly, yearly basis is unacceptable and dramatically impacting our environment. It is no surprise that the main method of waste disposal involves digging a whole, burying our waste and covering it up with soil in the cleverly named ‘Sanitary Landfills’. We have a desire to see our waste disappear, whether we are watching the garbage man carry away our trash bags, or flushing our waste down the toilet (DeFina, 1991).

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