Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Magical Realism II

Magical Realism - Part II

Myth, folklore and magic in real world locations:
One of the precepts of magical realism is that the story takes place in a real setting as opposed to an imagined world setting such as those found in fantasy or Sci-fi. The characters and the atmosphere are imbued with a penchant and respect for myth and folklore and magic. Magic is considered a normal aspect of everyday life, either as a coping mechanism or even a chosen path to enlightenment, beyond the societal mores or cultural influences. The characters accept magic as common in their everyday lives. There's nothing unusual about it, either because magical ways of acting and thinking have been handed down through generations or they've adopted magic as a coping mechanism during difficult times.

Political unrest and revolution:
Often the locale is a community or country beset by political turmoil, corruption and unrest. Characters may be subjugated, oppressed, driven from their homes, persecuted imprisoned, tortured or abandoned by their governments.

Irony and paradox are stylistic tools for the author who tackles stories precariously poised on a seesaw as it teeters between political disasters and spiritual quests.

The plot line is often not linear:
Many magical realism plots are told in cycles as opposed to linear logical timelines. The stories weave in and out, spiral and return, often playing with time.
The carnivalesque and ritual in magical realism:
Another theme found in a number of magical realism novels is the carnivalesque (or carnival), ritual and the "masque". These extraordinary events become bridges for those who don’t necessarily believe in everyday magic and offers a transition where they can slip into the magical world and experience unusual, sometimes paranormal events.

“The concept of carnival celebrates the body, the senses, and the relations between humans. "Carnival" refers to cultural manifestations that take place in different related forms in North and South America, Europe, and the Caribbean, often including particular language and dress, as well as the presence of a madman, fool, or clown. In addition, people organize and participate in dance, music, or theater. Latin American magical realists, for instance, explore the bright life-affirming side of the carnivalesque." – from the magical realism website, Marginal

This opens to door to a further realm of literature (which also slips intothe surrealism movement) and gives the author the opportunity to stretch it out there while still staying within the construct of reality. During carnivalesque scenes, whether in dream or reality, the characters' perception of events is altered by the music, the masks, the activities. The whole concept of carnival is to heighten and distort the senses, and a magical realism/surrealist author uses this as a device to highlight themes and address issues already set forth in their fiction.

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