Back in July of 2012, I wrote the entry below for Voxxi, expressing my sadness at the idea of Gabriel García Marquez’s announced silence. At the time it was a question of whether he would be able to write again. But I think I was getting used to the idea of his death, his definite silence. Today, death came and took the Nobel laureate away; I realize that his body may not be here anymore, but his voice will always be. Nobody will be able to silence him. Thank you, Gabo. You truly changed the world and made it a better place. May you continue to inspire us por siempre jamás.
(I painted the portrait of Gabo while visiting Spain last June, as part of my daily oil pastel series)
Chronicle of a Foretold Silence
Isaac Hernández, July 15, 2012
When I heard that Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 85, might suffer from dementia and that he possibly wouldn’t be writing ever again, I thought, “Not our Gabo!”
He would definitely continue writing, he would be the one that could write from the inside of dementia, to let us all know what this world is like. Is it like magic realism? And is it more magic than real? Where does one go? Is it a happy place, or is it like José Arcadio Buendía’s expedition into the jungle in One Hundred Years of Solitude, when ‘el mundo se volvió triste para siempre?’ Does the world turn sad forever for the one becoming senile? Do the oldest memories in a paradise of humidity and silence become overwhelming?
I must admit that when I read Gabo’s 2004 novel, “Memorias de mis Putas Tristes” (Memories of My Melancholy Whores), I had a strange sad feeling that this could very well be Gabriel’s last book. Even the tagline on the cover, “the first novel from Garcia Marquez in ten years,” had a premonitory feeling.
With “Memorias”, it felt as if I was inside the very wrinkles of the sabio triste, and that this 90-year old fictitious character is no other than Gabo himself saying goodbye: “A principios de Julio sentí la distancia real de la muerte.”
When Gabriel’s brother, Jaime, said that the Nobel laureate “has problems with his memory,” and that he may never write again, the sadness sank in. It seems just like yesterday that we lost Ray Bradbury and Carlos Fuentes. The announced silence of the Colombian writer weighs in. The words of his last novel ring true: “At the beginning of July I felt the real distance of death once again.”
Gabo’s dementia hits many people very close. Is it because his silence could translate into losing our own imagination, the one that he fed for so many years with his beautiful words? Yes, we can always revisit Macondo and celebrate his life by reading his novels again, revisiting past memories. But who’s going to write new ones? Who’s going to write to the Coronel? And who’s going to write about him? Who will tell us of his stillborn adventures?
Jaime Garcia Marquez doesn’t think that his brother will be able to finish the second and third volumes of his autobiography, Vivir Para Contarla (Living to Tell the Tale), but he adds, “I hope I’m wrong.” There’s one more book that Gabo was writing, Nos Vemos en Agosto (See you in August). Did he get to complete it? Jaime’s declarations bring more questions than answers.
I also hope he’s wrong, and that he can continue to tell stories, even when trapped in the “ciudad de los espejos (o los espejismos)”. It must be really sad to live and not to be able to tell the tale when your passion is to write.
In the meantime, I’m reading Cien Años de Soledad once again, realizing that Gabo has already written about senility, just like he was living it under his skin, as early as the first chapter, speaking of José Arcadio Buendía:
“Algo ocurrió entonces en su interior algo misterioso y definitivo que lo desarraigó de su tiempo actual y lo llevó a la deriba por una region inexplorada de los recuerdos”.
“Something happened inside then something mysterious and definitive that uprooted them from their current time and took him to the unexplored region by a roll-over of memories.”
Nos vemos en agosto.