One Hundred Years of Solitude
Memory and the Past Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point. (1.1)
Macondo begins as a prelapsarian neo-Eden. It's as if the human memory slate has been completely wiped clean. ("Prelapsarian" means a time before the fall of mankind, as described in the Bible's Book of Genesis. You know, the whole eating the forbidden fruit situation.)
When his father told him about his alarm at having forgotten even the most impressive happenings of his childhood, Aureliano explained his method to him […] with an inked brush he marked everything with its name: table, chair, clock, door, wall, bed, pan. He went to the corral and marked the animals and plants: cow, goat, pig, hen, cassava, caladium, banana. Little by little, studying the infinite possibilities of a loss of memory, he realized that the day might come when things would be recognized by their inscriptions but that no one would remember their use. Then he was more explicit. The sign that he hung on the neck of the cow was an exemplary proof of the way in which the inhabitants of Macondo were prepared to fight against loss of memory: "This is the cow. She must be milked every morning so that she will produce milk, and the milk must be boiled in order to be mixed with coffee to make coffee and milk." Thus they went on living in a reality that was slipping away, momentarily captured by words, but which would escape irremediably when they forgot the values of the written letters. (3.14)
This is a very disturbing inversion of the way Macondo is at the beginning of the novel, when things have no names and have to be pointed at. Then, the state of namelessness was filled with hope, newness, and optimism. Now it's just a horror. What do these two nameless situations say about each other?
When the war was over, while Colonel Aureliano Buendía was sneaking about through the narrow trails of permanent subversion, General Moncada was named magistrate of Macondo. He wore civilian clothes, replaced the soldiers with unarmed policemen, enforced the amnesty laws, and helped a few families of Liberals who had been killed in the war. He succeeded in having Macondo raised to the status of a municipality and he was therefore its first mayor, and he created an atmosphere of confidence that made people think of the war as an absurd nightmare of the past. (8.8)
In One Hundred Years of Solitude, we frequently see memory and history given the status of fiction, and vice versa (i.e. legend and myth given the status of fact). Is this tendency being used by the state as propaganda here? Is this how horrible things are psychologically processed in Macondo?