Magic realism?

Magic realism?

In Sri Lanka another version of the letter of resignation has been playing a major role in political change there. Ruling politicians for decades have been from the same family and their supporters and the economy has been in dire straits. People’s lives have been terrible, little food, little fuel, little medicine, little anything. Many people have taken to the streets in protest and demanded resignations and change. The president promised to resign, but would send his letter of resignation only on Wednesday or Thursday of this present week. This was to give him time to get out of the country and negotiate a stay elsewhere, so as to evade lawful arrest (as president he had given himself immunity) and either prosecution or a worse fate.
Magic realism is a feature of this, in the sense that everything kind of stopped around when this letter would be received, because only then could the politicians resign and those who were untainted replace them. It seems that the letter was received either at the end of Wednesday or on Thursday, and the resignation thereby accomplished. This really has involved ‘performativity’, with the letter doing the thing that it is about. But how extraordinary this is, for everyone could have resigned without it – even if the president decided not to, everyone else could. It is as though the letter of resignation, the letter, had magic properties.

Last updated: 15 July 2022


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