On the Passing of a Great Writer

At the time of writing this, I have read scores of tributes to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, all of them as tweets. In other words, I have read nothing so far in mature media, (an expression that identifies me as a culturally bewildered old fart).

Great writers will have their say in traditional media.
Thus far the twitterers. Now me.

I was intrigued as I read these tweets. They poured, a growing stream of tributes, pausing at intervals, I suppose, to gather electronic breath, then flowing again. The process seemed as alive, as dynamic, as the flowing of a swift rivulet that paused on reaching rocks, only to cascade over and around them and plunge downstream in a Gabriel Garcia Marquezswelling spate. I felt excited by the energy I witnessed. I felt I heard the whisperings of legion one-hundred-and-thirty-character authors, everyone of them sounding forty years younger, forty years more at home here than I. Their twittering grew and grew to a chorus.
The energy was mildly thrilling as it gathered strength. It could frighten me if (forget “if”; think ‘\’when!”) it becomes a mob. I remember, too well I remember the cries at Cronulla; the cries of the mob as Dreyfus is cashiered (“Death to the Jew!”).
But I digress. Or do I digress? Only if the medium is not the message.

And what did I hear, what sense as the tweeting reached crescendo?
I heard love. I heard grateful appreciation. Marquez became a beloved writer. And his writing was the antithesis of the tweet. Substantial, considered, it paced itself with the uneven gait of the human.

I was impressed by the way tweeters reached for language worthy. None found his writing “awesome”; no-one said Marquez was “amazing”. No-one buried him in dead language.
Instead they offered back beloved lines. I record the four most quoted in ascending order of popularity:

Fourth: The only regret I will have in dying is if it is not for love.

Third: Nothing in this world was more difficult than love.

Second: Nobody deserves your tears, but whoever deserves them will never make you cry.

First: What matters in life is not what happens to you but what your remember and how you remember it.

Of these the first three are switches planted onto the pages of Marquez’ writing that light up a remembered feeling, an emotion recognised by the grateful reader.
The lines on memory appear more elusive than allusive. Subtle, demanding a pause, requiring meditation, the memory quote speaks to all who are mortal of what might remain, of the immortal.

What is my own response to Garcia Marquez’ writing? People call it magic realism. I recognise something older. I hear the thrust of story in the bud, bursting into flower. I hear the pulsing of the “Thousand Nights and One Night”. I hear storytelling.


All the Little Birdies on Jay Bird Street

To tweet or not to tweet?

I am not new.

I am not on drugs,

I am not really, truly comfortable on Facebook (friendless, a face without a body, a name without a spirit);

I am not on Survivor.

I am scarcely sociable. I suspect I am constitutionally disabled from social media.

Given all that should I be ” on” twitter?

I am not new. I bought a mobile phone, I made a call and then wanted to hang up. I turned my phone off, powered off, as the purser says before takeoff.

I am not new. I bought a CD player, listened to the disc then asked my son to turn the record over.

I am not new. my face looks like a scrotum – pleasant enough, but wrinkled.

I am not new. Twitter is new. I tweeted last week (@howiegoldenberg, apparently), and made my cerebral, pedantic self incomprehensible. I am a creature of big words, old habits, clumsy fingers, ponderous expression and I do not know what a hash tag is.

I am not new. I have achieved absurdity well before twitter, and have retained that condition. Do indeed to tweet to make myself absurd? I am told I need to poll my readers and followers on the question. I am so unnew I won’t be able to track the responses.

Should I tweet? The prime minister of turkey has just vowed to close down twitter. An Australian MP just took himself off twitter because of hate mail. Someone, he said, tweeted in the name of Tony Abbott and displayed an image of a penisface.

Should I risk someone drawing me a scrotum face? Should I, with all this, tweet?