Friday, December 10, 2010

Magic is old hat, with equally old rabbits

 Although you have flirted from time to time with magical realism, you are more likely, when you have pinned yourself down, edited away or boarded up portals to the overt supernatural, to arrive at a tactical position where there is invariably an explanation for everything.  Supernatural to you means volition and agenda from non-living sources, perhaps from sources that once were human, but even there, you are quick to spread the Crime Scene Do Not Trespass tape.  There are enough motives inherent in any two people to produce the exquisite tension of story, which lives side-by-side with the even more exquisite tension of the quotidian in all its routine boredom.

In such cases of the daily routine, the blooming of a flower is magical realism, even though flowers bloom with some regularity in nearly every venue.  In such cases you do not need alternate universes or charms and curses .  You have spent entranced hours reading such stories and count yourself as irrevocably changed by Philip Pullman and his Golden Compass Trilogy to the point where you have plans to produce a novel set in a venue where you've put in considerable years teaching.  At the moment in your scant plans for it, there is indeed a portal through which graduate students disappear.  There too, you believe an explanation exists that is of a logical par with the motivational logic in a mystery novel.

The escaped kitten you are attempting to trap is the notion that reality-based novels are as much magical as their sister and brother genera.  The key for you at the present moment is the enormous flux resident in daily life as individuals pursue their curiosity and agenda, setting forth elaborate cover stories as if to mask the meaning of their behavior not so much from others as from themselves.  Do we--do you--set up these elaborate motives and agendas to hide true intent?

Nothing bordering on originality to ask such questions; philosophers have been asking such questions for hundreds of years, psychologists for scores of years, and anthropologists and sociologists  for at least a hundred years; the issue grows more pointed when you itch to know if, just as writers require editors, individuals need some sounding board somewhere, someone to edit the insubstantial from the text.

You were at one time a fan of the spectacular magical effect, but have now reached the point where true magical realism is to be found in any of the keys of modern harmonic scale and in many of the novels and studies that you live amid both literally and figuratively.  For that matter, there are untold mysteries you have scarcely begun to identify, crouched between the intervals of musical scales outside your Western-oriented ears; and now the art of translation makes it possible for you to try on emotional garments of other cultures as you check yourself in the mirror to see how well you fare as an Asian or African or Meso-American.

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