By Joy Sorman
Translated by Lara Vergnaud
Joy Sorman's "life sciences" are based on an overtly political premise: that of the medical establishment's inability or perhaps refusal to take them seriously. women's physical struggles - and turns it into a surreal, profound work of fiction that asks: what pain can we endure, and what pain must we fight against, even if the fight hurts more than the disease itselfe? In her introduction to the novel (which is Sorman's debut album in English), Catherine Lacey writes: "Women so often carry this illusion of being bad in need of Being numb, controlled, caged or hidden - an illusion that has been smuggled into us in the Trojan horse of a thousand old stories. I pointed out that and the hundreds of passages that followed, imagined writing them on index cards and placing them above my desk.
Translated by Lara Vergnaud into deceptively simple and playfully archaic prose, the story of Sorman - among the first to have disease as a phor, as a birthright, and as a feminist rebellion - follows Teenage Ninon Moise Parisian woman whose family tree is a history of France and of pathology as shown by a myriad of extraordinary medical cases - a proliferating misfortune which, from 1518 in the 2010s, mutated with each birth, like a virus always faster than humans that it poisons, faster than progress or science. The youngest of this plagued maternal line, Ninon takes an interest in understanding the fate she experiences for her - a spell that will only release its hold on her if she can wrap her head around it.
Unlike her mother and grandmother, Ninon refuses to be patronized by a patriarchal medical establishment who told her family that their spider web of ailments - which reads like the side effect warning on an antidepressant bottle - isn't physical, but harbinger of insanity. She also asks the question that her ancestors retained: is procreation a selfish madness, a madness in itself? In a world where the pressures and the pursuit (at all costs) of reproduction have become a billionaire industry , this becomes a provocative sub-theme. There wouldn't have been Ninon to fear the onset of tingling or paranoia if her mother had simply closed her heart to the idea of a child. But then, isn't the reproduction of the disease? just some form of eugenics disguised as worry? Image "Sciences de la vie" is the first English-language album by the French novelist.
Sorman vividly describes how the imagination can be distorted by failures of the body. As a child, Ninon was not interested in fables or fairy tales, rather obsessed with wi e symptoms At night, her mother, Esther, “unrolled the endless ribbon of the genealogical fable:… cases of trhandle and madness, visual and auditory hallucinations, mental disorders and uterine attacks treated by trepanation and bleeding, bodies that escape, overflow, delirium ”. If those who are responsible for listening to you and taking care of you do not, there is a good chance that you will end up repeating to yourself over and over in your head all the little insults that nature has inflicted on you, forever. . Bitterness may not win you friends, but it comes spontaneously, a symptom in itself.
While investigating her family tragedy, Ninon discovers something like independence: by sex and cigarettes, yes, but really by the act of demanding care. And when she realizes that care does not go through the establishment, she offers it to herself. At the end, Sorman writes: "Ninon Moise, 20, was born, grew up, got sick, got better, got a tattoo, got to know love.ur, and now the sun is peeking through the studio skylight. It is a line that shook me in the depths of gratitude, as I remembered marking my own sick body with images that meant to me freedom, finding security in new ones types of pain - whether it was the buzzing of a needle on my skin, rejecting a lover, or pushing my body to extremes, I knew it couldn't handle.
I cannot read or review this book without dealing with my history of illness. Genetic disease. Disease considered both invisible and feminized by the men in the white coats who told me it would cure me but which only made me sicker, adding a new symptom while they were at it: rabies burning. Sorman 's Alternate Story of Female Disease offers both a horrific dose of truth and a welcome alternative.fortante with the stories that sick women tell each other since the beginning of time. We have often ignored or worse: branded crazy, lobotomized or forcibly sterilized. If it hasn't happened to you yet, then you stand on your hind legs for the moment it will happen. And our generational tales stay with us: I think of my grandmother, who had endometriosis, putting a child halfway down the toilet and burying it on her own. I think of my great-grandmother, living alone in a house on the top of a hill, self-medicating with alcohol and falling to death, no one left to catch up with her. I consider myself to be Ninon, asking the questions and offering the answers and thus getting a ticket for some tense freedom.
In the essay "On Being Sick," Virginia Woolf - who was often bedridden with an unnamed physical condition that may have contributed to her depression - wrote: "Due to the frequency of the disease, the enormous spiritual change it brings ... has not taken its place with love, battle and jealousy among the main themes of literature. Sorman takes this almost as a gamble and then goes further: illness, especially without empathy, plunges us so close to oblivion that when we return, what we have seen must be said.