Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Speaking the Same Language

In my Composition classes we've been talking about cultural issues, like language and culture clash. We've been talking about using MLA because writing is a conversation and MLA is the language we use. It's all about being able to speak the same language, only then can we have a conversation.

Today I had a meeting with Juan for my thesis. I feel like we're not speaking the same language yet. His definition of magical realism is a pretty hard-core, Gabriel Garcia Marquez one. Magical realism means "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings." Okay, I can appreciate that.

However, I also find it problematic to use only that definition. Why? Because of the "magic" part. You look cross-culturally and the common denominator of what magic is, is a description of seeming. Things that seem to be magical, are. It is belief in the magic that makes it real. Magic becomes a description of reality. With me so far?

So, then I start thinking of a less literal description of magical realism - manipulation of our accepted perception of reality. A broader umbrella. Beneath that umbrella falls Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried because the whole book is a conversation about what reality is and how reality and truth are not always synonymous. How things seem becomes more important than how things are. Again, we're back to describing reality.

In my mind, it's all inter-connected and magical realism is a first-cousin to metafiction and ways of story-telling. I briefly mentioned Tim O'Brien as a magical realist author to Juan, and got a very skeptical reaction. I couldn't articulate my thoughts at the moment, so I dropped it.

Bottom line: right now we're not quite speaking the same language. I've got to figure out how to articulate it in a way that's clear before I can make progress on my theoretical defense portion. I've got to figure out how I translate Tim O'Brien into Gabriel Garcia Marquez.


The One and Only John said...

I totally get what you're getting at in terms of how you define the concept. I've never read Marquez, so I can't refute or support his claim. It sounds to me like you're counting magic as a means of explaining things similarly to the way science does. But there are things that science cannot explain, like how bees can fly when physics says they can't. You've mentioned language, perhaps you just need to reword your position. Trying deconstructing his definition into its' basic parts, do the same with yours, and put yours back together the way his would.

Ali said...


Jenny said...

You could translate O'Brien into Spanish....