Wednesday, August 05, 2009

". . . to have searched for the sea without finding it [...] and to have found it all of a sudden without looking for it . . ." (12)

Firstly, my experience with GGM is very limited and my experience with CADS is zero. This is surprising, considering my love for magical realist fiction (which began in grad school because of Professor A. Gilson). However, I have only ever read "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" probably once in high school and once again in college. Secondly, I enjoy books that come with a family tree on the inside.

What stood out to me in the first 40 or so pages were the concepts of discovery and knowledge (and how one acquires it). For JAB, sometimes the collection of knowledge was contingent on calculations and "directional instruments" (10). Sometimes, discovery only came when JAB's naiveté of the surrounding geography frustrated him to act. Sometimes, physical travel was hindered by JAB's lack of confidence, and therefore stifling his attainment of knowledge. Discovery would come from visitors. From the past. Perhaps knowledge isn't only extracted from how far you can see, how far you can walk. Knowledge will come even if you aren't looking for it. Even on an island. Even for a man of science. A practical man. Any kind of person.

And, isn't there a distinction among knowledge, discovery and learning? Learning means retaining, growing. Discovery means experiencing. Knowledge could be anything...fleeting, temporary, unnoticed...

I also liked the concept of how the past can be found as something physical--a path leading to memories so overwhelming that the men had to flee. Yes, objects serve as a reminder, a trigger for the past. But what about visiting--physically--the past. Often, I think of the past as purely a mental exercise--and this is part of what I love about magical realism--but I suppose it doesn't have to be only emotional or mental. It can be physical. You can physically go there and want to leave.

1 comment:

Tim said...

This idea of the past as a physical place reminds me of that great paragraph near the end of Faulkner's "A Rose For Emily":

They held the funeral on the second day, with the town coming to look at Miss Emily beneath a mass of bought flowers, with the crayon face of her father musing profoundly above the bier and the ladies sibilant and macabre; and the very old men—some in their brushed Confederate uniforms—on the porch and the lawn, talking of Miss Emily as if she had been a contemporary of theirs, believing that they had danced with her and courted her perhaps, confusing time with its mathematical progression, as the old do, to whom all the past is not a diminishing road, but, instead, a huge meadow which no winter ever quite touches, divided from them now by the narrow bottleneck of the most recent decade of years.

It's a critical cliché, but Garcia Marquez is just shot through with Faulkner - and probably mostly the gothic fabulist Faulkner of "A Rose For Emily" (rather than, say, the high modernist fracturing of something like The Sound and the Fury).