Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sometimes life isn't all that pretty

This is a response to the newly issued, sanitized version of Huckleberry Finn. People who find Huckleberry Finn (along with To Kill a Mockingbird and even Shakespeare) offensive do not understand the intent of authors who write to gain a deeper understanding of human nature. Books offer us very personal glimpses into the nitty gritty of other people's lives and sometimes life just isn’t all that pretty.

Derogatory racial epithets should make us squirm. But Mark Twain was not using the N-word for shock value, or implying that it was an ok word. Huck Finn takes us on a journey to another era not so very long ago. Maybe the reality of his story jars us briefly out of our small self-absorbed universe. Maybe not. Maybe we discover things that rub our hygienic self image the wrong way. If we're lucky we might get an inkling of the idea that someone who is not like us is actually not all that different.

If we leave this world unchanged and untouched by its harsher realities, pretending they don't exist, then we've missed the whole point of being here. Purging the unsavory parts out of books seems a little like eating pre-digested food. No chewing required.

Real life is not for the faint of heart.