Apologies for the tardy blog post–it won’t happen again.
Anyways, I felt rather confused about Alejo Carpentier’s book The Kingdom of This World. In fact, I feel similar to how I felt after reading the Master and Margarita. Confused, unsure of what to do next… novels like these just seem to go way over my head. I much prefer straightforward texts like Rousseau and Kant.
While I mull over those thoughts in my head, I have been thinking about magical realism. I remember listening to an interview of Reza Aslan for one of his new books where he talked about the significance of ancient Middle Eastern parables/stories, stories like Genesis and such. He said that history as we see it today did not exist as a concept in the ancient Semitic mind. If you were to go up to an ancient Judaean, say, and ask “What actually happened?”, you’d be met with a blank stare.That’s because the goal of “history”, to them, it not to present fact, but to present truth.
For instance, if I said along those lines, “Joe is so kind he’d give up his jacket to the homeless”, I’m not actually saying he would do that, but rather I’m trying to demonstrate the truth that he is extremely kind and unselfish.
I think this might be a good way of analyzing the events in not only this book but the Master and Margarita as well. For instance, if Macandal did not actually transform into all those animals, then what truth does this indicate about him? If Behemoth isn’t actually a demon at all, then what does he mean? What does all this so-called “magic” actually say about reality? Quite a bit, probably. But unfortunately, I haven’t been able to figure it out yet.