Tag Archives: representation

So linking to this interview is… complicated. This version of the interview has part of it. This version has another, different part.

So as not to just dump the link and run, a couple things that might be cool to look at:

  • (2nd link, page 167)
    Once I figured out what he was even talking about, Jameson didn’t really sit well with me, and I think the second question posed on this page does a fair bit to explain why. The interviewer, Larry McCaffery, remarks that “the mythology or background sections in The Left Hand seem to have been created with specific intentions in mind.” And I agree. Even though le Guin goes on to deny that this was conscious, in the sense that she wasn’t consciously academically analyzing her story while writing it, to me the sections not narrated by Genly or Estraven are absolutely intertwined with the plot elements. Those sections serve as a lens onto the actual action, and vice-versa, allowing us to understand plot and myth and science and anthropology as part of a text that feeds into and interacts with itself (the most obvious example: the second chapter about brothers vowing kemmer, and the final revelation that Therem and Arek had done the same). But Jameson bases his theory of ‘world reduction’ on his analysis of the text as lacking any real narrative cohesion, anything to unify it other than reduction. I don’t see that lack at all.
  • (1st link, page 40)
    Gregory: A number of feminist critics, including Joanna Russ,** criticized The Left Hand of Darkness for being too “masculine” in its presentation. How do you respond to that sort of criticism?
    Le Guin: […] I was writing that novel back in 1967 and 1968, and we’ve all moved on a long, long way since then.* When I’m at work on a novel I’m not trying to satisfy anybody who has a specific program they want propaganda for. I dissatisfy a lot of my gay friends and I dissatisfy a lot of my feminist friends, because I don’t go as far as they would like.
    *interview date: 1982 **emphasis mine

i feel like brecht would have a field day with this…

Suddenly Ethnicity and Deliberate Values Dissonance were particularly interesting (primarily because upon reading the former I laughed out loud), but I think considering them in connection can be beneficial, especially in the context of part of our conversation on Thursday, when we talked about what we perceived to be a blending of cultures in Genly’s home world. Most of the time when we read something, we perceive the default characterization to be set as white male. Genly’s name isn’t codified as white male however, so this does play with our perceptions of him as a character, but the added notation of his “dark skin” (which we perceive as “of African descent” black, not possibly “Desi” black) is another offhand detail that produces a sense of….disassociation, I suppose? In which we can see similarity between ourselves and Genly, but not enough to the point where we can slide comfortably into his skin. Granted, this is a bit problematic, because one of the reasons why the white male is the default is purportedly because it’s just easier to identify with white males (not that decades upon centuries of social conditioning has put that into place or anything), so….as a result of this, are we meant to not identify with Genly because he’s different? Or because he’s just similar enough for it not to matter?