Is Causation Magical?
While I share David Pryce-Jones’s aversion to Gabriel García Márquez’s unforgivable political affiliations and the undue accolades he received in eulogy, I’m not certain that Mr. Pryce-Jones’s article “Poet of Self-Pity” (May 19 issue) accurately represents magic realism. First, though magic realism had its origins in Latin America, I would argue that the former director of the national library in Argentina, Jorge Luis Borges, had more to do with the genesis of this genre than did García Márquez. More important, the definition of magic realism I provide for my students is “a genre of literature that combines the mundane with the fantastic in order to demonstrate how imagination affects perception.” Rather than promoting the idea that consequences require no response and effects exist independent of causes, García Márquez’s surreal scenarios illustrate how our preconceived notions, cultural biases, and innate limitations prevent or at least significantly challenge our ability to objectively view the world. The result or effect is a world where what is so (reality) and what we think is so (fantasy, i.e., magic) are inextricably bound insofar as we experience it. Consequently, we should acknowledge this limitation and make a conscious and conscientious effort to accurately understand circumstances and respond appropriately.
This admonition is aptly demonstrated in García Márquez’s short story “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” in which Father Gonzaga, the village priest, denounces a genuine miracle — the appearance of a very old man with enormous wings — while embracing (one suspects) the almost certainly fake sideshow attraction of a woman turned into a spider for disobeying her parents. Meanwhile, the village doctor simply examines the winged being without trying to categorize him according to a preexisting scheme and concludes only that the old man’s wings seem quite natural. Regardless of whether one accepts or rejects García Márquez’s conclusions, it is important to understand what those conclusions are. Ironically, García Márquez did not heed his own advice: Despite overwhelming evidence against it, he embraced the clearly immoral and logically flawed ideology of Marxism.
Allen Community College
David Pryce-Jones responds: I am certain that I do not represent magic realism accurately because by definition it can’t be done, and that goes for the branch of it known as Marxism.
Beware the Clown
Upon seeing the cover of the June 2 issue, the thought flashed through my mind that it could have borne the words “A Dangerous Clown,” comparing Senator Harry Reid to Tonio in the opera I Pagliacci.