Magic in the Real World

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This post is part of the Magic Realism Blog Hop 2015. For links to the other blogs taking part, check out the links below

For three years I have been reading and reviewing magic realism on the Magic Realism Books Blog. And the more I read, the more I am of the opinion that magic realism is not a genre, but a way of looking at and describing the world – the real world. Gabriel Garcia Marquez said: It always amuses me that the biggest praise for my work comes for the imagination, while the truth is that there’s not a single line in all my work that does not have a basis in reality. 

Magic realism is a rejection of the modern Western rationalist and scientific world view, which excludes the marvellous and unexplainable. You can see this in terms of cultural differences between the West and other cultures. But I believe that, like me, the majority of people in the West actually have a magic realist outlook on life. Philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote that: The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. I totally agree.

When I am writing (especially when I am writing poetry, but also sometimes when I write fiction) I am conscious that I am experiencing and seeing the world differently. It is a form of heightened or extended reality. Michel Ajvaz wrote: The frontier of our world is not far away; it doesn’t run along the horizon or in the depths. It glimmers faintly close by, in the twilight of our nearest surroundings; out of the corner of our eye we can always glimpse another world, without realizing it.

Fantasy crosses the frontier and stays there. Magic Realism presents the world with the frontier in place – glimmering in the twilight. It does not deny reality but is, in Alejo Carpentier’s words,  a privileged revelation of reality, an unaccustomed or singularly favourable illumination of the previously unremarked riches of reality, an amplification of the measures and categories of reality, perceived with peculiar intensity due to the exaltation of the spirit which elevates it to a kind of “limit state”.  Without magic, reality becomes two dimensional. The magic illuminates and throws the “real” into relief. The real can only be seen fully if you see it from different angles and perspectives, if you can hold it up to the light and look into it and see that the magic is inside and an integral part of it.

blog hop 2015 dates


6 thoughts on “Magic in the Real World

  1. People keep putting my work into fantasy (which is okay) and I keep telling them it isn’t fantasy, but a different way of seeing. Maybe yes, maybe no. I think the world is more magical than we wish to believe. Sure, it may come down to the day when science says everything that appears magical has a quantum component we’re not aware of. But, until then, my books will go on the magical realism or fantasy shelves.

  2. Yes, Zoe, this point of view makes a lot of sense. It also connects Magic Realism to another modern genre, Visionary Fiction, which is all about looking at reality with a different consciousness. I’ve always felt that the two are inextricably linked because of this feature.

  3. I don’t want to live in a world without magic in it. I remember when I was casting about, trying to find just into which category my books fell, I found some definitions that did not include magic– and I thought, “No, I do not want to be here.” There are other boundaries for MR, of course, the most prominent, for me, being the acceptance of the magical in the reality — but as long as I write and breathe — there will be magic.

  4. Great explanation of what magic does to reality! Since so much of what we ‘know’ is perspective, have to agree that element of curiosity and wonder that magic brings is a valuable and treasured view!

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