Monday, April 21, 2014

The Dreamer Unleashed (An Ode To Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

There aren’t many moments cemented more in literary memory than witnessing in my mind’s own cinema those white feathers falling from the arid sky over Jose Buendia’s funeral procession lumbering below down the dirt Labrynthian paths of Macondo, a ‘mirrored’ city just as mysterious and wrought with strife as the Buendia family's 100 years of struggle.
As a fourteen-year-old writer (yes, I was writing even at that tender age), I was haunted by the elder father Jose Buendia in One Hundred Years of Solitude bound to a monstrous tree, plauged by the phantasma of the man he had to kill to win the love of his wife--Ursula. She, the matriarch soothe-sayer, holding her grieving generations in her arms, becomes the progenitor of a literary legacy as none ever conceived in the history of writing. Yes, even in the annuls of the Dostoyevsky legion of saints and sinners, so rife with the open nerve honesty of an angst-ridden 1890's St. Petersburg, Fyodor, despite his genius, still left the lid on the oil paint box closed.
Mr. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, an immediately natural magician, painted entire families, cities, and regions with his brand of supernatural rules. I remember carrying the book through the halls of my vacant high school; the dull peach walls devoid of art, the classrooms rumbling with adolescent talk--emptiness everywhere. But there in the back corner desk, I smiled, like I carried a special secret. 
I did. Writing was more alive than it ever had been before.
All because of this very odd Colombian journalist, who was still in 1991, denied Visas to travel to America because of his close ties to Fidel Castro (they drank together). 80's covert war hungry America would have none of it.   
Least to say, staring at the blank page in my spiral bound journal, my mind raced with images, both real and not. I wrote a story of these elixirs transforming the imbibers into the animals they truly were (no doubt an earlier experiment in writing about drunks).
The rules had changed; the written world was flipped upside down. Anything was possible. I dove more into this land, reading Love in The time Of Cholera during a train ride across the Pyrenees Mountains in Spain ten years later, earmarking the corners of a page as we pulled into the train station in San Sebastian.
Innocent Erendira, spoke to me in a used bookstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2003. The 1972 soft pink cover of the strange woman, head in her own lap, surround by laurel leaves, attracted me from the isle. I knew of his major works, but like any treasure, the discovery of it on your own changes the read. Another secret acquired. 
Inside this collection of short fiction (actually titled: The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Erendira and Her Heartless Grandmother) lies Death Constant Beyond Love, hands down a favorite short piece—again filled with characters facing their mortality. Marquez, the lyrical acrobat, Death Constant Beyond Love in other hands would never grant atonement for the philandering politician Senator Onesimo Sanchez. Neither would the audience gives him any sympathy, as he laid beside his scandalous relationship partner Laura Farina, a ‘moss’ smelling peasant girl given by her father in exchange for proper citizenship in Sanchez’s regime.
Oddly romantic, when the Senator lays near the young girl, in a sad embrace wryly smiling, he tells her:
“We are both Ares. It is the sign of Solitude". You cannot feel anything but an unexpected romanticism.
The last line is the killer: "Six months and eleven days later he would die in that same position, debased and repudiated because of the public scandal with Laura Farina, and weeping with rage at dying without her." 
This is Marquez’s spear in the body of literature, less than inventing the widely embraced ‘magic realism’ style he is crowned, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s real talent is in making his characters, townships, and mythologies a stronger reality than our dull parade. Through brilliant colors, a total denial of physics, (as well as cynicism) and a keen gypsy understanding of the supernatural and cosmic world that surrounds us—in dreams or consciousness—made the literary universe more real than real.
Now 23 years later, I can think of no other living author who possesses this kind of insurgent shamanism in their work (save for Marquez’s Czech counter part, Milan Kundera, who is still scurrying around Parisian street at 85). The literary canon has undergone serious changes in the past 50 years, and still we wait for the new voices that will emerge and challenge this present status quo as much as Mr. Marquez had challenged his in his time.
As Samuel Johnson once wrote: “Men are generally idle, and ready to satisfy themselves, and intimidate the industry of others, by calling that impossible which is only difficult.”






  1. Matthew 'Massacre', I love ye for writing this. ~wOLfie~

  2. Nice testimony. I thought I read 100 years of Solitude but I guess I read something else with a similar title and will have to pick it up. Can't wait. So this is the king of magical realism. I knew that. But I don't like the wanna bees, like Pablo Coelho, or Don Miguel Ruiz, or that Celestine Prophecy Author, or Castaneda, or others who try to peddle their brand of story telling mixed with half-assed shamanism not caring who gets harmed. But I ask you: where will magical realism go next? Can you take it somewhere? I'm not impressed with Kundera personally. People need new stories. We have facts, we have new theories and theories which rebuke those theories. All science is now in doubt. There could be universes inside black holes. I postulated that a month ago, and sure enough an article just published arguing just that. Sure, there's a lot of new age jibberish, so much that there are new age "bull shit generators" and no one knows what to make sense of it. There are scary self proclamed new age luminaries. And hard core realities get ignored. People still are either terrified of the paranormal or psychedelic, or overdose and climb the walls in terror. People are terrified of the future we are creating. But stories are more spiritual than a code of ethics or a protocol of procedures, or a national anthem, or a list of scientific theories, or even a new political manifesto (usually). Good stories keep the artistic soul of humanity alive, along with musicians and actors and painters. They move us forward and keep us human and connected. I don't know if I can do such a thing. Maybe some day. I'd like to produce a masterpiece, put all my heart in to it. Craft it well, make it like heroin for the reader.

  3. otherwise, we are all relying on computer coders for our security, in an ever more totalitarian state. And nearly everyone chooses jobs that do a certain amount of harm to others, which is deemed allowable for some reason.