Friday, April 04, 2003

Hi Rod,

I've read your posting of March 06, in which you said you had started to think about Magic Realism. Please, accept some humble further food for your thoughts. You quoted a definition that puts that MR is the application of surrealism to life in the form of literature. I would advance a different viewpoint: It's not that surrealism is applied to life but that life is surreal.

To begin with, although the expression was coined by Franz Roh, a German art critic, in the 1920s, it's no wonder MR has flourished in Latin America:

* Imagine Blair driving a brand new Ferrari at 150 mph down the M5. Unlikely, to say the least. Well, that's what a former Argentine president did while in office. The police officer who made him pull up at a hard shoulder couldn't believe his eyes when he realised it was no one else but Mr President in person who was at the wheel.
* How many junkies would you need to have so as to daydream with Chirac babbling out of control over the boobs of a girlie, and mind you, in public? Well, you wouldn't need any if you were in Venezuela because that's what a greater-than-life President did for all the journalists to relish.

However, in order to avoid a 'chauvinist' bias, I'd invite you to help yourself with these two examples of MR, one from here and one from India:

Do you remember when 30 Royal Marines invaded a Spanish beach, La Linea, in Andalucia, by mistake back in February 2002? The first official comment by the MoD was: 'No, they had not drunk too much wine and no, they were not part of an invasion force" (Financial Times, February 19, 2002). The Mayor of La Linea tried to downplay the episode remarking "It was a mere error on a map, nothing more."

In 2001 I read a bizarre news about monkeys attacking official buildings in New Delhi. We both know there are many people monkeying around in public offices but this was rather different: Rhesus monkeys have a sacred status for Hinduism (they are deemed to be the encarnation of Hanuman, a monkey God, you see), therefore nobody can touch them. Around 10,000 apes had taken up India's Stormont causing havoc everywhere, smashing PCs onto the floor, munching up top secret files, raiding the fridges, etc. There was no way they could be ousted by any violent means -let alone cordial ones. The big heads at the government came up with a clever solution: thousands of fiercesome-looking Langur monkeys have been 'appointed' to guard the premises. These monkeys don't bother people but would gladly have a feast with the brains of a Rhesus. They are being paid in bananas.

That's MR at its best. Isn't life made just of surreal stuff after all?

Cheers,

José


Jose, this is brilliant

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