LITERATURE: 100 Years – On Solitude

The terms solitude or solitary have been coming at me fast and furious, no longer hinted at by Marquez, but given us with small examples:

"Taciturn, silent, insensible to the new breath of vitality that was shaking the house, Colonel Aureliano Buendia could understand only that the secret of a good old age is simply an honorable pact with soitude.  He would get up at five in the morning after a light sleep, have his eternal mug of bitter coffee in the kitchen, shut himself up all day in the workshop, and at four in the afternoon he would go along the porch dragging a tool, not even noticing the fire of the rose bushes or the brightness of the hour or the persistence of Amaranta, whose melancholy made the noise of a boiling pot, which was perfectly perceptible at dusk, and he would sit in the street door as long as the mosquitoes would allow him to.  Someone dared to disturb his solitude once.

"How are you, Colonel," he asked in passing.

"Right here," he answered.  "Waiting for my funeral procssion to pass."  (p. 216)

So we are getting the feeling of the solitude, the aloneness each member of this odd family feels and surrounds himself with as what, protection?  Or is it just a lack of social skill, a lack of understanding each other and thus, never developing a community with mankind, but standing outside of the touch-zone while walking daily within it for a lifetime.

One of Aureliano’s seventeen sons, Aureliano Triste, marked by the ash cross on his forehead as his brothers, decides to remain in Macondo.  In seeking a separate house for himself, he stumbles upon the rundown home of Rebeca and Jose Arcadio and finds Rebeca an old woman still alive but long since forgotten by all but Amaranta, who still holds a grudge over Pietro Crespi.  Rebeca chases away Aureliano Triste with a gun, and while the family feels she should be brought into their home to be taken care of, she is adamantly resistant:

"…but his good intentions were frustrated by the firm intransigence of Rebeca, who had needed many years of suffering and misery in order to attain the privileges of solitude and who was not disposed to renounce them in exchange for an old age disturbed by the false attractions of charity."  (p. 236)

This is one of the most telling incidents of solitude, and one I am beginning to well understand.  It is a state of mind well sought in a life filled with disappointments or traumatic and painful events that seem beyond our control, when one can no longer understand the workings of the mind and feels helpless to gain insight or benefit, yet is reluctant to accept.  There develops a need to disassociate, an acknowledgement that true understanding could indeed threaten whatever balance the mind has managed to create for itself.  It would just be too much; total loss of control appears inevitable.  This bubble that must be built is drawn, as a wand from soapy water, as first an invisible illusion, exclusion, inclusion of space.

I see the building of the house of solitude as then formed with a framework of chickenwire.

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