Wednesday, July 19, 2006

magical realism and Christianity

I had this sudden epiphany while listening to Sufjan Stevens' album "Illinois" today. He has a song on the album called "The Seer's Tower" (yes, it's a pun) and I realized with a sudden jolt that really he is writing a poem of magical realism, but using Christian symbology.

Of course, traditional magical realism will bring in Christian symbology (i.e. angels washing up in the backyard and so on). But I think I realized that what sometimes misses for me in Christian fiction is that the spiritual aspect of things seems so jarring and disconnected from the physical world. One of the strengths of magical realism is pulling magic into everyday life, making it an expected part of the world order.

Anyway, it got me to wondering if there's a way to pull off a sort of Christian Magical Realism, where the spiritual world would be more than co-existant with the physical, it would be the same world. I think this could work quite nicely. I might experiment with it a bit.


  1. I'm sorry I missed going to the movie with all of you for your birthday. But I'm very glad you're enjoying the Sufjan. The music is admittedly weird, but he's pretty rad anyway and pretty darned smart, too.

    And I think you're on to something with the whole making Christian spirituality work with magical realism deal. Definitely pursue it.

    It's a good thing you have a job that allows you to spend the 90% of your time that remains (after the 10% spent making inappropriate comments in front of large crowds of people and encouraging the NW kids at the table in the back to color away the hours) blogging, writing, and playing with your kids. You are the master.

  2. Read 'The Place of the Lion' by Charles Williams. Or any novel by Charles Williams, if you are looking for Christian Magic Realism.

  3. I have, as a matter of fact, read "Place of the Lion" and enjoyed it quite a bit. I guess I would put it more in the "fantasy" category, as the characters respond to the fantastic happenings as, well, fantastic, rather than an expected part of their reality. I think I liked, too, how you could see the presentation of the Platonic Ideal Lion and how it probably influenced Lewis in his creation of Aslan.

    Of course, Gene Wolfe would describe magical realism as "fantasy written by someone from south america" so I guess that the definition is not solid enough to make such distinctions.

    I would like, however, to say how pleased I am to dig up a comment from Dave! Wonderful! It's like a moment in magical realism all by itself!

    As for you, Alexis, I will just say that I spend more than 10% of my time "working", it just happens to be less interesting in general than the rest of my life. And, yes, my job is primarily making inappropriate comments and encouraging young people to color. But somebody has to do it.