McOndo is no more and no less than a sensibility, a certain way of looking at life, or, better yet, of understanding Latin America (make that America, for it is clear that the United States is getting more Latin American every day). In the beginning, it was a literary sensibility, but now, I suppose, it encompasses much more. McOndo is a global, mixed, diverse, urban, 21st-century Latin America, bursting on TV and apparent in music, art, fashion, film, and journalism, hectic and unmanageable. Latin America is quite literary, yes, almost a work of fiction, but it's not a folk tale. It is a volatile place where the 19th century mingles with the 21st. More than magical, this place is weird. Magical realism reduces a much too complex situation and just makes it cute.In the same way that we find the Philippines weird, in the magical realism sort of way. I don't know if it's just the shared Spanish colonial past, but there must be something there. The article further talks about the seeming globalization of culture and now the magical realism becomes diluted and turned into an urban nihilist global McOndo village. In a way this comes as a generational reaction to the Latin American lit gods --Borges, Garcia Marquez. Where Latino literature was defined as "magical realist" and thus the other writers that came after are either forced to copy that tradition or die, the McOndo generation has the tendency of sounding like rich, bored, American kids:
Latin America is not cute.
But one great thing came out of this McOndo mess: The name became a sort of brand, transcending its origins and becoming much more than a literary anthology. Perhaps it never should have been a book at all, but a special magazine issue, or a documentary, or a Web site. Of all the art forms, the one that was somewhat behind in capturing the region's zeitgeist was literature, because the shadow cast upon the newer generations by authors such as Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Mario Vargas Llosa, and, yes, Gabriel García Márquez, was far too powerful. Either you copied them (as was the case with the legions of paint-by-number magical realists), or you just stood there staring, shaking, wondering.Anyhow, I was wondering if we have the same reaction in our side of the world. We need to have our own roots, and at the same time retain the cultural ethnicity. Or else we drift afloat. More thoughts on this later.
Meanwhile, here is a Salon article about the so-called browning of America. The Fuguet article from Foreign Policy is here. And off tangentially, here's a site I found while googling for the gear mag article. Go check out AtomKinder.