Friends — I am participating in the annual Magical Realism Bloghop, organized by writer and foremost electronic impresario of the MR scene, Zoe Brooks.
For this bloghop, I usually post craft tips, but today I’d just like to say a few words about why MR and other forms of non-realist word art matter to me and to those of us living in the US.
We are currently living — at least in the United States — in a moment that feels so nightmarish that many of us wake up hoping for that most banal of storylines — namely: the past 6 months have been a dream.
It is at real moments like this that turning to the unreal — be it in the form of super heroes like Wonder Woman, dystopian fiction like The Handmaid’s Tale, or the clearly (and often absurdly) fictitious acrobatics of World Wrestling Entertainment and its Japanese equivalent New Japan, become experiences where we find ourselves — precisely through the process of forgetting and displacement.
Female protesters have even begun dressing in the red dresses and postmodern bonnets of the Handmaids and appeared in Senate offices!
This is not your regular protest.
The patently unreal opens up something, makes something possible, enables people who are enmeshed in a politics they cannot easily escape, to see a way out through imagining the impossible. This determination to envision that which –until now — has been either invisible or imperfectly seen is what lies at the heart of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, and most of Marquez’s writing.
I am less interested in the technical differences between the genres of fabulism, expressionism, surrealism and magical realism (this is probably wrong of me, but I spent years writing as a scholar of satire, so I think I’m burnt out a bit on those conversations), than in the fact that such word-art exists and changes and prospers. The resilience of the human imagination thrills me. It’s how we survive the worst things that have happened to us.
I hope you’ll read/see something unreal today.
If you live in the United States, make it 2 things.