Friday, November 10, 2006

One hundred years of solitude

I have had a few exchanges with Cuppa at Brown Betty Brew about her reading of Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. (By the way, Cuppa is one of the people I first met when I started blogging. I decided then that blogging was way good stuff.) In a gutsy and splendidly admirable move, she has stated that she does not understand others reverence for the book. I attempted to read the book several times over many years, but never got far into it. If I had not read Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera while on vacation in Aruba, I doubt I would have ever finished One Hundred Years of Solitude. A voice inside me kept saying, “remember that night in Aruba when you finished Love in the Time of Cholera and walked out to the deserted beach and cried and cried, and not a little cry, but a cry even the gods, should they exist, could hear.” So, I eventually read One Hundred Years of Solitude and liked it a lot, but it was not up to scratch, in my eyes, with Love in the Time of Cholera.

One of my favorite poems is Wallace Stevens’ The Snow Man.

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

As a religious skeptic, I feel about this poem the way some people feel about their favorite Psalm. Maybe, that was not Stevens’ intent, but that is what he has done to me. I see the junipers shagged with ice and feel the coldness and the loneliness. I will never find the origin and essence of the nothingness that comes with it, yet I know it is there.

The writer does not exist once her book has reached others eyes and minds. Something like this seems to be true, and many others have said it better than I ever could. In fact, the writer does not exist while imagining and writing the work. The emotions, desires, and the way I see things today do not match those I felt yesterday while writing. I cobble things together in an attempt at consistency and narrative flow then hope I do not show up as scatter brained.

This solitude sits beside a vast sense of community.


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