Blur

What is real? There is no such thing as objective reality which exists outside of our own observations. Full stop. What we think of as real is nothing more than a macroscopic blurring, a gross averaging of phenomena which allows us to create a tenuous agreement with other people of what constitutes reality. Realism in literature was an attempt at describing an objective reality, without intentionally introducing the fantastic. Writers attempted to strip away the overly dramatic, the hyperbolic, and to capture in detail what is really out there in the world.

In contrast, Magical Realism sprouted from the seeds of realization that, upon close scrutiny, reality collapses like a house of cards. Some people experience the passage of time slowly when they experience pain, and equally fleeting when they feel joy. Other people like Cabernet Sauvignon, while to some it tastes like vinegar.  Even the immutable image in a photograph can seem beautiful to one observer, and horrid to another. One might argue that the pixels making up the photo are the same for everyone, so isn’t that objective? But the pixels are meaningless until we back out far enough, until they blur together to form an image. And then the image is meaningless outside of the context of the observer. It is the same with writing. The words I’m typing right now have no objective meaning. The reader gives them meaning based on his or her own age, education, cultural background, and myriad other factors.

Magical Realism recognizes the futility of plain old Realism, and mixes the fantastic with the mundane, without calling attention to it. The extraordinary is given no special rank or privilege; angels and cats, dogs and dragons, they are all on equal footing. In Latin American literature, this genre of writing was used to great metaphorical effect. The authors of Central and South America arose from cultures that already recognized and embraced the blurring of the so-called natural world with the supernatural. A climate of political and cultural upheaval proved to be fertile grounds for this type of literature.

While Magical Realism as a literary movement may have peaked in the early 1960’s, the genre left an indelible effect on writing and film. How do the works of modern authors and filmmakers such as Guillermo del Toro compare with the works of earlier writers such as Pablo Neruda?

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Published by mokeymark

I'm a part-time soldier, full-time engineer, published author of non-fiction stories, husband, father, grandfather, rescuer of dogs, and quasi-intellectual. I'm also currently on military deployment to the middle-east.

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7 Comments

  1. “What is real? There is no such thing as objective reality which exists outside of our own observations.”

    mokeymark,
    Do other people exist objectively out side of your own observations?

    Like

    1. Hello ontologicalrealist,
      Yes, I believe that other people exist outside of my own observations. But the experience of knowing someone is subjective. I’ve been told I’m horribly ugly, and I’ve been told that I’m very handsome. I find both observations to be extreme. But I have no way of knowing what people see when they look at me. At the macro, “blurred” level, we all more or less agree on most observations, but they are usually more subjective than we care to admit.

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  2. “But the experience of knowing someone is subjective.”
    I agree.

    ” At the macro, “blurred” level, we all more or less agree on most observations, but they are usually more subjective than we care to admit.”
    I agree.

    “Yes, I believe that other people exist outside of my own observations.”
    Then it is not true that “There is no such thing as objective reality which exists outside of our own observations.”
    Do you agree?

    Like

    1. Ha! Sorry, I’ve been kind of busy, and I wanted to take the time to give more than a glib response!

      Okay, in my opinion, people make very successful agreements on generalizations about reality. I stand by my personal opinion that objective reality does not exist outside of our observations. Sure, at the macroscopic “blurred” level, things DO exist. I agree with Einstein’s sentiment when he said, “Do you really believe that the moon isn’t there when nobody looks?” Yes, the moon is still there. People exist, things exist. But the nature of existence is more subjective, more glossed over, than most people care to admit. After all, generalizations work almost all the time, at the scales people notice. But even macroscopic objects such as molecules can become “entangled” and exist in multiple states simultaneously. https://phys.org/news/2018-04-entanglement-near-macroscopic.html

      It’s kind of amazing to me that people agree as well as they do on the world around them, considering that our senses are just multiple layers of abstraction and filters. For example, light enters the eye through the aqueous humor, then the lens, then the vitreous humor, around tiny veins, to impinge on the cells of the retina, where it is converted into some pretty low-definition nerve impulses. Our occipital lobe takes in the data, edits out all the errors, fills in the gap of the fovea, corrects for phase shift of different wavelengths of light, interpolates those results, and does a myriad of other post-processing tasks to create a final image. Is the result, what we “see”, objective reality? If so, that sets the bar extremely low.

      What do you think?

      Like

  3. Thanks mokeymark for your reply.
    I will comment on your reply in a few days.
    For now I just want to say that I like your attitude as expressed in your saying:-
    “and I wanted to take the time to give more than a glib response!”

    Like

  4. You wrote, ” Is the result, what we “see”, objective reality? If so, that sets the bar extremely low.”

    I am sure that the result, what we “see” is not objective reality.

    Earlier you wrote, “Yes, I believe that other people exist outside of my own observations.”
    And you also wrote,“There is no such thing as objective reality which exists outside of our own observations.”

    So these other people who you say exist outside of your observations, are these people objective reality or not?
    Please read my comment very carefully before replying.

    Like

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