It was a book called La Casa de Los Espíritus — The House of The Spirits — that first introduced me to the fluid categorization named Magical Realism. I was 17 and in high school when the author Isabelle Allende first touched my lips and reverberated within my thoughts.
I read the English version first, my Spanish not yet at that kind of level. I read how Clara chose to be a woman not bound by physical or supernatural laws — how she chose her path in life and became the person she imagined herself to be. Her life was full of anger, betrayal, and love. She had a family that was legend for various whimsical occurrences — a sister who was part mermaid and ancestors who haunted her home. She was a self created woman and I aspired to be like her.
My life may not be like that of a book, but it was a book that inspired my imagination and made me understand that my choices can have great influence on me and others too.
In a 2012 interview for NPR, Junot Diáz spoke about his character Yunior and about mentoring the young — that our greatest resource is one that we most undervalue. And it is true. Value is powerful. Placing value toward something overlooked, something that surpasses boundaries that exclude and discriminate, is a form of power that establishes meaning and shapes influence. It is something that can be created and given. If you have been given the favor, the acknowledgment of being in a position of privilege — whether that be from the color of your skin, your education, or your gifts and natural skills — you have the opportunity to place, create, and give your value and shift attention to something, or someone, notable and inspirational. You have the opportunity to recognize and share collective and individual world views — to broaden perspectives and to aid in seeing the world through different lenses. By creating, placing, and giving value to someone or something, you give yourself the opportunity to reinterpreting traditional molds of authenticity and legitimacy; to create inclusion not by an effort to combine everything into a melting pot, but by accepting diversity in all of its shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities. You have the opportunity to dismantle boundaries that exclude and discriminate based on one’s sex, gender, sexuality, ethnicity/nationality, age, class, ability, or economic status.
Clara revealed to me that our choices and our imaginations have the power to influence who we are and who we are not. Our choices effect and affect us and, naturally, those around us. Juno Diáz showed me that much could be learned from ourselves and from those who differ if we only value things that have been undervalued.
After I finished La Casa de Los Espíritus, I understood then that what is called Magical Realism is only called Magical because it is on one side of the spectrum; what is called realism is from the other side. What is magical and what is real — the question is an opportunity for engagement, for conversation, and for community. This question is one that must be asked until our greatest resource no longer is the one that we most undervalue.
Here, The Black Lion Journal’s interdisciplinary focus is to learn about things unknown or unfamiliar; The Wire’s Dream is a creative expression of TBL Journal’s focus and learning curve. TBL Journal places value on you — who you are, where you come from, and what you love to do. I hope that you find this issue’s work as imaginative and inspirational as I have.
Christina Lydia • Founder, Administrator, & Creative Deviser