Magical Realism

Yesterday I attended an all-afternoon party. It was one of those sit-at-one-table-for-the-whole-time affairs, and the conversation mostly centered on a group of individuals I’m sure I’ve never met… (although maybe I did at some point over the past 36 years)

But I am used to this, and am quite comfortable just sitting back and listening, drinking a little, eating too much, admiring the babies in attendance, and complimenting everything I can… (a typical Yucatecan party)

Then the conversation turned to darker topics: insecurity, corruption, the election, organized crime … (such things     never used to be issues, let alone ones that were talked about at family gatherings)

In Yucatan, we have been relatively safe from organized crime. Our “City of Peace” seemed to be immune from many of the ills that plague other parts of the country. There are lots of theories as to why this is the case, but after the stories I heard around that table, I began to fear that this could change at any time… (and I started to feel pretty panicked)

I am convinced that fear is eating away at our national backbone, and because we are so scared, we have accepted a serious decline in our quality of life. We have allowed many unsavory situations to become the norm because we think we have no choice… (how did we buy into this?)

I decided to divert the despair by reading through some of my favorite blogs. Usually MEXFILES offers a hard realistic look at Mexico’s current events, nonetheless I decided to see what the blog would be reporting today. Lo and behold, this post was just what I needed to see… (serendipity at work?)

It  (  ) spoke about an annual Quince Años that is held for disadvantaged young women in our nation’s capital. The smiles on the girls’ faces and the innocent enjoyment shining from their eyes melted my fear… (like a miracle?)

It is said that such “magic realism” occurs when phantasmagorical elements infuse the real world. As they are presented in a straightforward manner, (with pictures!) the “real” and the “fantastic” unite… (good will and positivism are the result)

I am not such a “Pollyanna” as to dare say that good works alone will “save” our country. But Mexicans (and internationals who live here) need to get out of the negativity that has them mired in fear of “what might happen.” It is time to get off our duffs, stop obsessing about our own concerns and work towards a more positive society.  It is also time to stop apologizing, and stick up for ourselves. We cannot allow this negative image to continue. Will everyone buy into this? Doubtful. But you’ll recognize the ones that have… (they’ll have smiles on their faces like the quicañeras)

Photo Credits: (images found on MEXFILES)

1 Zocalo. Photo by Eduardo Garrido/Reuters

2. Quinceñeras in front of flag: Photo by Alma Rodríguez/El Universal

3. At Museo Franz Meyer: Photo by Dieu Nalio Chery / AP

4.On the bus: Photo by Alma Rodríguez/El Universal


Filed under Commentary

4 responses to “Magical Realism

  1. Very good, Joanna and Mexpost. (I was struggling a bit with the application of the artistic genre “magic realism” to these discussions, but now understand your usages better.)

    BUT, Joanna–I wish you could give the same message that you give your students to the mannequins in the clothing stores! It always discourages me to look at them, for they so do NOT reflect Mexico! In fact, I get a bit PO’d when forced to wander around these malls and see these imported figures. I wonder: what message is being sent?

    • The message of authenticity is not universally embraced at all, but I think if our leaders stood up for us, national pride would surface and it would be “cool” to be Latino… then we’d see more realistic reflections of this in the malls

  2. Thank you for your link, and have to say it was the sort of news I’d much rather write about than what politician X said about politician Y, or the latest atrocity from one or another band of government, foreign corporate or self-employed delinquents. I’m normally not a sentimentalist (as you well know!) but how can one not tear up thinking of the girl in the purple dress in the front row of the photo with the umbrellas? A Quinceaña won’t fix the world, nor even these young women’s lives, but who is to say they are broken? The “magic” is in recognizing that beauty and grace exist even in our imperfect world. .

    • Richard… you old softie… I agree 100%. Who is to say their lives are broken. Sometimes (actually almost all the time) what people most need in order to feel successful is someone who tells them they are special. We could extend this to countries as well. For the most part, Mexicans have no idea how incredibly rich and wonderful their country is. I tell my students all the time, “You don’t need to be a copy of anyone else, you are absolutely wonderful as you are.”

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