walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

The Trouble with Literature

Oprah's latest pick, _Middlesex_, is about a very, very rare version of a fairly rare phenomena (intersex). Eugenides didn't talk to anyone who is intersex prior to writing the novel (difficult to know what, if any, research he did at all, beyond knowing about this particular version of the condition from a medical standpoint).

Given my recent reading, I wonder if maybe this particular condition informed some ideas prevalent in past centuries (tribades, women who sexually desired other women, whose clitorises grew through masturbation, etc.). Now, I'm all in favor of some book (_Middlesex_) getting additional play (through Oprah) and therefore getting more attention paid to some little known phenomenon (in this case, a really rare version of a fairly rare phenomena). Googling around suggests that some of the intersex activists have taken advantage of the situation to Get The More Accurate Word Out.

I get that art (literachoor, etc.) can help us Learn Stuff and Make Sense of the World. Heck, the instinct for narration is basic to the human condition; without it, nothing makes any sense at all.

Still, I can't help feeling about this the way I do about the whole Pearl/Jolie thing. Yay, Pearl likes that Jolie is playing her. Double Yay about the whole Halle Berry playing Tierney Cahill. But...still. It would have been nice if it were different.

Here's a far better explanation than I can devise of why:

http://www.mindfully.org/Reform/2003/Middlesex-Limitations-MythMar03.htm

Even when I'm reading trashy fiction, I like my trashy fiction to NOT pull me up short with obvious historical, psychological or other errors. I can't help feeling that Literature "ought" to be held to a higher standard (given that it is supposedly setting a higher standard).
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