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In the section on disease, and its symbolic literary uses, I got to thinking about the limits to using disease in modern work. This of course doesn't apply to historical fiction where you can have people who don't live in 3rd world countries get TB and polio, as well as science fiction where you can just make up whatever new disease you want to fit the story.

However, for literature occuring in our modern world there are only a handful of diseases that characters can suffer from without the reader wondering "why doesn't this guy take some penicillin?" (Which actually just gave me the idea of using a character who is severely alergic to anti-biotics)...anyway, because so much of the mystery behind diseases is gone (mystery is one of the things that Foster points out, in making diseases meaningful in lit.) there is a lot less to be done. Cancer doesn't hold the same suggestion of delicacy and a "weak constitution" that TB had for the Victorians. While readers might give cancer the same "wasting disease" connotation that TB had, virtually all modern readers understand that being frail isn't what results in getting cancer. We are all aware of professional atheletes and other otherwise extremely fit and healthy people who got cancer. Smallpox has a completely new connotation is it is now more of a biological weapon than a disease. AIDS, is really the only remaining life threatening VD, but it lacks the visual "marks of sin" type symptons, as well as the eventual insanity that syphilis offered Victorian writers.

While in saving SO many lives modern medicine has taken a whole lot of diseases away from writers, there are a whole lot of rare genetic disorders that more people are aware of that can be used.  CIPA or Congenital Insensivity to Pain with Anhidrosis, for example, is extremely rare, but those with it don't feel pain, it seems like there are all sorts of thematic uses for a condition like that. Also, given the public awareness that there are MANY rare disorders with very few cases, writers can probably get away with making up one perfectly suited to their needs.  

Overall, it feels a bit morbid to sound upset about so many diseases being cured, and simultaneously excited about genetic disorders, but I'm talking about this from a purely literary stand-point.  

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