One Cipher More



In his Nobel lecture (1982), with all the gracious elegance and fearless depth that makes his voice so absolutely essential to our times, Gabriel García Márquez confronted the western literary class with the lethal hypocrisies of its own Latin projections. Knowing that the most fantastic tales belong not to fiction but to lived history, he began the lecture with a reminder that the celebrated magical aspect of Latin American realism actually descends from the early days of European perceptual invention:


Living inside the long and ongoing history of such fantastic mythic confabulations, how can real lives be made credible? Such is the nature of what García Márquez refers to as the “crux” of Latin American solitude, a crux that exacts a heavy price. For during those very same years when the “originality” (a word carefully chosen) of Latin American literature was endlessly lauded and emulated throughout Europe and North America, Latin American political autonomy was being brutally suppressed:


The scale of solitude replicates into the scales of violence, murder and exile, an exile most often sought inside the same “safe zones” in Europe and North America where the projectors of Latin fantasy and subjugation were kept well oiled, brightly burning. We cannot help but wonder how many well-trousered bums squirmed in their seats on that occasion, while García Márquez calmly provided a few statistical details:


As the great poet of mnemonic echo chambers and other haunted spaces, García Márquez was well aware of others – Mann, Neruda, Faulkner- who had stood at the Nobel lectern, “on a day like today,” —


In 1950, Faulkner (for whom García Márquez felt a special affinity) had spoken at his own Nobel banquet, in such a way that makes it seem as if he had been present to hear García Márquez in 1982, just moments before:


And so it has been, through the immortal and inexhaustible voice of Gabriel García Márquez, who wrote of himself in words that may well serve as an epitaph:  “ … this roving and nostalgic Colombian is but one cipher more, singled out by fortune.

One cipher more; one cipher in search of an opposite utopia; off the crux, free from the solitude. A roving cipher that becomes one with infinity.

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