Down the Magic Dirt Road

MAGIC DIRT: the idea that geographical location will automatically transform the behavior of an individual or group of people.

This concept comes to us from Theodore Beale who writes under the name of  Vox Day. I’m reading a book of his that’s titled SJWs Always Double Down: Anticipating the Thought Police.

SJW stands for Social Justice Warrior, those ham-fisted, left-wing fanatics who enforce Political Correctness in the timorous world of white people.

But SJWs are not the focus today. Magic Dirt is. I happened upon this phrase and concept of Beale’s this week and, coincidentally, as if by magic, I had been thinking about something very similar lately.

Beale was born in Boston and now, apparently, lives in northern Italy upon his Magic Dirt. I was born in Atlanta and now, totally, live in the high mountains of Middle Mexico upon my Magic Dirt. We apparently both noticed the phenomenon, but he’s the one who stuck a name on it, not me.

Both Beale and I moved from American dirt to Latino dirt. I think that’s important. I believe that one who moves from American dirt to, say, Canadian or Australian dirt would likely not notice a great difference in dirt quality, its odor, consistency and color.

But does one change markedly on moving to another nation? I think it depends. I have, but I’m not sure to what extent, but it’s noticeable to me.

Let’s focus on moving to Mexico. There are no adjoining nations on earth that are so different, so if you really want a change, just fly over the Rio Bravo. I have long described Mexican life as akin to living in Alice’s Wonderland.

Cats with big smiles and no bodies that live in trees.

I’m sure the degree of change, the effect of the Magic Dirt, depends on how you live here and how often you go back where you came from. It also depends on if you know the language. It depends on the people you hang out with. If you marry into a Mexican family, that’s about as tight as a foreigner can get.

You’ve slipped through a barely open door. If you’re not in the Mexican family, you’re an eternal outsider, an intruder. You do get the smiles.

A Mexican’s face is a mask, and so is his smile.

— Octavio Paz.

If one heads back over the northern border regularly. If you are married to another foreigner. If you do not speak Spanish. These and other elements will affect the effect of the Magic Dirt upon your mind, heart and soul.

How do you know the Magic Dirt is below your fingernails?

One good indication is that the wackiness — often sheer lunacy — of Mexican life ceases to annoy you, or at least to a far lesser degree.

If you wake up due to the 6 a.m. explosions on the nearby plaza but go directly and easily back to sleep, that’s Magic Dirt. If people explain an issue by citing something totally illogical, and you nod or shrug, that’s Magic Dirt.

Walking daily over Magic Dirt can be unsettling, or it can start to feel normal. It depends on the individual, one supposes. And time.

11 thoughts on “Down the Magic Dirt Road

  1. Felipe,

    For multiple reasons Kelly and I haven’t experienced the magic dirt yet. We know it exists but it isn’t within our reach. One, we haven’t been here long enough yet. Two, we live in a gringo enclave. And three, we are still struggling to learn enough of the language to be more than polite when passing people on the street. I believe all in time are not insurmountable.

    Today is the the first Sunday of Advent. The theme today is Hope. Happy holidays to you, mi amigo.



    1. Troy: You two are too fresh off the turnip truck to experience the magic dirt just yet, of course. Perhaps in time. But your unavoidably conversing in English every day will be perhaps an insurmountable problem. Your living in a Gringo enclave is a resolvable problem, but before moving elsewhere learning some basic Spanish would be advisable, though difficult (See previous point).

      The first Sunday of Advent? Not being a Christian or even moderately versed in such things, I did not know that. But I welcome it, being a supporter of all things Christian, Jewish and Israeli. As for Hope, I am in favor. And Happy Holidays — and Christmas specifically when it grows nearer — to you two too.


  2. Hope! Yes! Of course. It’s always there when goals are unfulfilled. Just keep trying, and heed some “magic dirt” people advice. It’s generally very good.


    1. Leigh: As I noted, the concept of Magic Dirt is Vox Day’s, and I came across it while reading some background on the guy. I was only familiar with his odd pseudonym. This all got under way due to my reading a book of his (still reading it) in which he was taking SJWs to severe task. While that always puts a grin on my mug, I noted that it was not the focus of the post, but I did mention it in passing. It was at least marginally pertinent, I think.

      But please note that I do not rant, ever, in spite of being falsely accused of it in the past. I occasionally do polemics. There is a difference. People get confused. I addressed the issue here way back in 2012. Here’s a link:


  3. “… explain an issue by citing something totally illogical.”

    OMG, that is a perfect description of what our 50-year-old son does. How can you respond to something like this?


    1. Beverly: You have a Mexican son? I don’t think so. Well, I imagine some Gringos have the same unfortunate habit, ¿no?

      How do you respond to it? If you’re walking in the Magic Dirt, you shrug and nod!

      Don’t know why your comment was sent to the moderation pile. I didn’t do it. Bad magic happens.


  4. Well, even though now well-removed from Mexico, some of the “magic dirt” has stuck to me anyway. Having learned and spoken Spanish a lot has forever changed my use of English. I now use “occasion” as a verb. At least occasionally. And I’ll often talk about “messaging” someone rather than “texting” him on my phone. And of course my perspective on the world is also totally changed by my Mexican experiences.

    Of course all this is still fairly mild. But when I return, I’d expect this “magic dirt” to keep on working its magic, both for good and ill.


    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where the dirt is different, but less so.

    Liked by 1 person

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