Sunday, December 5, 2010

The World is Round

I've spent a long time reading 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and I'm nowhere near done.  I blame this on the new glasses I got a little while ago.  I have to wear these things almost all the time, and by evening, when is which I do most of my reading, I just want to take them off.

So I've taken a bit of an unintentional hiatus from reading this book. 

I have no idea how the book will end, but the first part has been interesting.  It may very well land somewhere on my "Kafka" scale, an informal listing of books that are difficult for me to understand.   But maybe not.  My big fear with my "Kafka" scale is that I won't be smart enough to realize I don't understand.

My favorite part of the book so far is when Jose Arcadio Buendia discovered that the world is round.   Every year or so a group of gypsies passed through the very isolated village of Macondo, and basically put on a show, displaying earthly wonders (like ice) and other delights for a fee.  Sr. Buendia was very impressed by and recieved something of an philosphical education from one of the more mystical of these gypsies.  One year he bought some instruments from this gypsy (sorry, I cannot spell his name from memory) and began studying the sky.  After a year or so he came to the independent conclusion, without the aid of an education, books, knowledge of history, or space travel, that the world was round. 

This is humorous because he pretty much reinvented the wheel, putting in a tremendous amount of effort to learn something that had been part of the overall body of common knowledge for centuries.   Christopher Columbus was acting on the theory when he sailed west with the idea of finding a water route to the east, and I'm sure Columbus wasn't the first to conclude that the world was round. 

But it is also fascinating.  If we didn't have the body of knowledge, if we weren't literate, how many of us would realize or even give the shape of the world a second thought.  When you stand on this planet no matter where you are the ground is below your feet and the sky is above your head - it looks flat (and frankly I've always wondered about that, but only because I know the world is round).  To be uneducated and living in the middle of a large land mass and come to any other conclusion is remarkable.  There was something to Jose Arcadio Buendia.

I'm looking forward to finishing this book at some point.

1 comment:

Patti Anne said...

I believe that old gypsy is Melquiades. Something like that. He's sort of a Carlos Castanedas character. Part gypsy, part warlock.