Thursday, 7 January 2016

From My Blue Notebook: The Danish Girl, Adam and Eve and the psychology of Gender.

 Having been in deep hibernation-mode for the last month I feel I must be waking up, as I am sitting here writing my first post for  a whole month. Perhaps it was yesterday morning’s battle to reduce our brilliant tree into branches and overflowing carrier bags that cleared the air for me.

Halleyluya for 2016. That’s what I say!

Lester Ralph's illustration  for the fist volume edition
of  Mark Twain's Eve's Diary 

One Christmas treat for me was a trip to the movies to see the currently trendy Danish Girl. Since then, in this house the subject of the complexities and ambiguities of gender identity has joined in with - cooking-with-deep-flavour, the scientific Periodic Table,  the Labour-non shuffle, the flooding of Great Britain and the Christmas  council’s cock-up of the collection of the black and green bins - as a recurring subject of conversation. I suppose  all this is about being a woman.  

Speaking of which, looking through my Blue Notebook on
The Blue Notebook
New Year’s Day, I came across notes I made when re-reading my favourite very-wise Ursula le Guin talking about Mark Twain’s witty take on the legend of Adam and Eve.

Le Guin, in her beautifully written evaluation, reveals the elements in Mark Twain’s tale that has resonances in our lives today and our concerns regarding the gender roles.

Ursula comments: ‘(in Mark Twain’s Tale ).. It is not
Adam’s superior psychology of brains or brawn but his blockish stupidity. He does not notice, does not listen. Is uninterested, indifferent, dumb. He will not relate to her, she must relate herself in words and actions to him and relate him to the rest of Eden. He is entirely satisfied with himself as he is; she must adapt her ways to him. He is immovably fixed at the centre of his own attention. To stay with him she must agree to be peripheral to him, contingent, secondary. The degree of social and psychological truth in the picture of life in Eden is pretty considerable...’

The Danish Girl is brilliantly acted and beautifully shot and takes a sensitive and nuanced approach on the tragic, true story on which it is based.  

Later, as I watched the press and on the screen the hard-line opinions of proponents and opponents of the transgender agenda my mind leapt back to Ursula’s conclusions about about Adam and Eve.  He is entirely satisfied with himself as he is; she must adapt her ways to him. He is immovably fixed at the centre of his own attention.

Interestingly we would need a new pronoun to make this statement apply to one rather beautiful, highly articulate transgender person (who objected to being certificated at her birth as a girl) sitting there in the studio.

Ursula, I think, would have smiled, alongside Mark Twain.

The Book

To read, perhaps?

The Wave in the Mind by Ursula K Le Guin (2004)
The Diaries of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain 

New Edition 2015
The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff


And the Film 

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