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.
9 thoughts on “July 27th, 2017 — Revisiting Magical Realism for the bloghop — why the unreal matters more than ever”
I couldn’t agree more. On election night I said, “It’s going to be a great next few years for art.” We need to make that art and consume it as well, because it serves to shoreus up. It is too easy to stop believing there’s much light in certain tunnels.
Thanks so much Lydia. Yup– let the unreal art flow! We sure need it. Thanks again.
There was actually a call for artists on that dreadful night, the pundit who ushered it saying he believed that artists would have the truest response to our national nightmare because of the unimaginable world we had entered. Now is not the time for dry academic discussion. Now is the time of the soul.
Thanks for commenting. I agree. Now IS the time for the soul, and who better to do that than artists who engage in the unreal, surreal, fabulist and magically real? Thanks very much and may all our work prosper!
Thanks, Stephanie. Please forgive the late response. May all our work prosper is right! I became politically involved w/ HRC’s campaign and was so disillusioned and heartbroken. I believe the best way for me to participate now is through my work.
OMG, I hadn’t seen the image of the Handmaids protesters. How fantastic! How magically real! How really magical! Not to mention perfectly and horribly appropriate right now.
Thanks for commenting. yes! There are quite a few of these protesters dressing as the handmaids. AND there are all the protesters in Venezuela who are dressing as Wonder Woman…. It’s amazing how this cross talk between political action and the imaginary/magical/fantastic is happening!
Yep, this has been a great year for art! The old world order is crumbling. And isn’t it interesting that America, who needs art more now than anytime in recent history, is killing funding to the arts. Thank you for the wonderful blog, Stephanie. I love your profile picture!
Thanks for commenting, Robin. The US has always had a troubled relationship with the arts– is it the Puritan past, the genocidal past, the capitalist present or all of the above (plus something else)? And it’s for sure worse now. Otoh, people are making great work and finding ways to get it out there. Tracks again.