One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wisdom and Knowledge Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
When he finished the book, in which many of the stories had no endings because there were pages missing, Aureliano Segundo set about deciphering the manuscripts. It was impossible. The letters looked like clothes hung out to dry on a line and they looked more like musical notation than writing. One hot noontime, while he was poring over the manuscripts, he sensed that he was not alone in the room. Against the light from the window, sitting with his hands on his knees, was Melquíades. He was under forty years of age. He was wearing the same old-fashioned vest and the hat that looked like a raven's wings, and across his pale temples there flowed the grease from his hair that had been melted by the heat, just as Aureliano and José Arcadio had seen him when they were children. Aureliano Segundo recognized him at once, because that hereditary memory had been transmitted from generation to generation and had come to him through the memory of his grandfather. (10.6)
Carl Jung, a Swiss psychologist from the early 20th century, developed a theory of the collective unconscious, which is basically a set of universal, inherited ideas and concepts. Here we've got that happening but on a smaller, genetically determined scale: the knowledge of Melquíades passed down from one generation of Buendías to the next. Why is it only the men that share in this collective memory?
Actually, Remedios the Beauty was not a creature of this world. Until she was well along in puberty Santa Sofía de la Piedad had to bathe and dress her, and […] it was necessary to keep an eye on her so that she would not paint little animals on the walls with a stick daubed in her own excrement. She reached twenty without knowing how to read or write, unable to use the silver at the table, wandering naked through the house because her nature rejected all manner of convention. […]
It seemed as if some penetrating lucidity permitted her to see the reality of things beyond any formalism. That at least was the point of view of Colonel Aureliano Buendía, for whom Remedios the Beauty was in no way mentally retarded, as was generally believed, but quite the opposite. "It's as if she's come back from twenty years of war," he would say. (10.33, 35)
What kind of knowledge does Remedios the Beauty lack? What kind does she have, according to the Colonel? What is it about his experience in the war that makes him think this?
At that moment the town was shaken by a whistle with a fearful echo and a loud, panting respiration. During the previous weeks they had seen the gangs who were laying ties and tracks and no one paid attention to them because they thought it was some new trick of the gypsies, coming back with whistles and tambourines and their age-old and discredited song and dance about the qualities of some concoction put together by journeyman geniuses of Jerusalem. But when they recovered from the noise of the whistles and the snorting, all the inhabitants ran out into the street and saw Aureliano Triste waving from the locomotive, and in a trance they saw the flower-bedecked train which was arriving for the first time eight months late. The innocent yellow train that was to bring so many ambiguities and certainties, so many pleasant and unpleasant moments, so many changes, calamities, and feelings of nostalgia to Macondo. (11.42)
This is a pretty technophobic book: generally it seems like the more technology Macondo gets, the worse off it becomes. Check out the difference between the Eden-like place we start with and all the horrible things the train brings with it: government interference, banana plantations, every Buendía that ever tries to get away from Macondo.