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Novelist Describes How We Forget Truth

In the novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Garcia Marquez, the author describes in his magical but realistic way a village suffering from an insomnia plague. As this plague continues, it gradually causes the loss of memory. To try and salvage memory, Marquez describes how a man named Jose developed an elaborate plan that involved labeling everything: "With an inked brush he marked everything with its name: table, chair, clock, door, wall, bed, pan. He went on to the corral and marked the animals and plants: cow, goat, pig, hen ... banana."

As their memory continued to fade Jose decided that he needed to be even more explicit. He posted a sign on a cow that read: "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 were living in a reality that was slipping away, momentarily captured by words but which would escape ... when they forgot the values of the written letters." Eventually the village put a placard at the entrance to town that said, "God exists," as that knowledge too was slipping.

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