I was lying in bed in a warm night of August when I turned the last page of Marquez’s One hundred years of solitude. The end of the novel, as all its readers know, is the end of an entire world. Literally.
I found myself wondering about what arcane reason had kept me away from that book until the age of thirty-five. That was my first thought. Why not sooner? And for the first time I could see my thoughts in the past, during my high school time, growing magically different, softer, more apt to conceive the magic of life and death beyond the philosophical constraints of understanding, of the search for a meaning. I remembered my nights with Dostoyevsky and his devils, the exhausting conversations with Kirillov, Myskin, Stavrogin, Ivan and Aleosa Karamazov. I recalled the decadent and languid art of Dorian Grey and Des Esseintes and how they taught me to paradoxically despise any excess of wealth. I recollect the shadows, the smells, and the smoky rooms of Paris traversed by an unfathomable spleen. And right there, in the midst of my vision of the dying cities which set up the architecture of my imagination for so long, right there I wished I could find a place for Macondo.
I wished I had been less cautious in looking for the trap of the spleen in every corner of my existence; for the epiphany of a metaphysical syllogism in every word I spoke; for the meaningless death which surrounds every form of beauty. If I had Macondo in my mind, those same things would have happened at a much faster peace, without letting me the time to think, but only to breath, along with the pages, the streaming of the event, of the wonderful happening of a language capable of embracing the dark depths of life with the lightness of a leaf.
I felt like the last of them, of the Buendia, Aureliano Babilonia, when the sense of the end is approaching and suddenly he understands:
Aureliano was aware for the first time that his gift for languages, his encyclopedic knowledge, his rare faculty for remembering the details of remote deeds and places without having been there, were as useless as the box of genuine jewelry that his wife owned, which must have been worth as much as all the money that the last inhabitants of Macondo could have put together.
What good would memory and knowledge of languages do for both me Aureliano? His life was irremediably coming to an end. His acceptance of the fate of the entire world of Macondo enlightens him about the uselessness of any action. My reading was about to end as well, what would my knowledge of Macondo itself matter after that world was wiped away? Perhaps only the remote possibility to begin the journey again. And yet, to people condemned to one hundred years of solitude no second chance is given.
That is where I met Aureliano, where the two of us stooped in the same manner over the papyrus of an old gipsy who knew all from the start, and let us roam around aimless in the life of generations peaking at the ghostly remains of stories that seems to have never happened.
The knowledge of language gave Aureliano the uncanny privilege of reading his own end, the overarching epic that lead to his own extinction. Just in time to understand that everything was written, but that once everything is read, there is no time left to understand. It is time to go. Time to die. Time to become a story, a memory for someone else to tell.
His end was the beginning of my wonder. Perhaps if I had entered Macondo sooner in my life I would have understood that at the end, writing vanishes into an unattainable meaning, that in order to reach the end, where we all expect to find the hope as in a Pandora’s box, we must accept to not see our life happening anymore. The experience of reading is what is left to us. No understanding. No speculation over history, over the lives of characters faded away along the city of Macondo, lifted from the surface of the earth by a raging wind.
I would have been a better person if I had known Aureliano during the time of my frequentation with Kirillov. Reading would have been a bit more magical, and I would have really accepted the fate of my existence as Nietzsche would suggest: an eternal return of the same. Reading the death and return of life in the shapes of new and yet familiar figures, the appearance of a miracle in the midst of a swamp, of a hero in the square of a lonely town. Oh, that would have made life tolerable to me as aesthetic phenomenon! The semblance of the life of Macondo and its fading into the reading. The impossible return of the existence as we know it, but always anew, as a child story that even if read a thousand times still enchants as if it was recited for the first time. From a donkey, to a lion, and then finally to a child: José Arcadio – Cornel Aureliano – Aureliano.
I don’t know what this book is about. I will let those in need of interpretation enjoy a free play of the imagination. If there was any allegory, it was the allegory of an unreadable book. The paradoxical allegory of the impossibility of any allegory.