Portrayal of Science in Middlesex
Middlesex was definitely a good read. Eugenides provides excitement from the very beginning and manages to maintain the reader’s attention – for the most part – with his clever and abundant literary techniques. However, Eugenides sometimes takes his showmanship a bit too far. In some instances, Eugenides’s gross overdescription of certain characters and settings is annoying and distracting, and an abridged version of the novel, which eliminates some of this nonsense, would be a better read. Nevertheless, Eugenides’s flash certainly does add value in most cases, and it is quite clear that he has a knack for successfully producing a boudaryless, postmodern novel.
Middlesex is also quite interesting from the standpoint of how the perception of science has changed over time, particularly in the last 50 years. That is, Eugenides shows how the status of science, in general, has waned in many respects. There was a time, as Eugenides illustrates, when it was acceptable to use the authority of science to establish a claim as factual. In the first part of the novel, Milton says “It’s science, Ma” to substantiate a particular idea that was being discussed. Milton’s enthusiasm over science in general was typical of many around the middle part of the century. Although its seeds of destruction were arguably already well in place (Nietzche, Heidegger, Newton vs. Einstein, “Paradigm Shifts”….any other ones??), science still held high authority and even seemed quite necessary for survival against those crazy Communists. Yet, by the end of the century, science had been greatly humbled, and modernity seemed to be on the fall. Eugenides in a few instances well illustrates the subjective nature of science through the story of Dr. Luce. Luce makes a convenient diagnosis of Cal in order for his theory to be supported, even if that means not reporting the truth (which may require further investigation). Eugenides uses this story to illustrate the dark and manipulative side of science, a side which many have come to see in the last 20 years or so.