Tuesday, July 11, 2006

One Hundred Years of Solitude and my first air-journey

Sono a Perugia.

I am here in Perugia from June 29, 2006 onwards. This is the first time I am away from my country. I had many illusions about flying, and naturally had high esteem for it. I may not have many things to say about the beauty and antiquity of Italy, the country in which I am planning to stay for the next three months. Nor did I find anything exciting about the huge gathering at Centro di Perugia when Italy won the World Cup this year. There is nothing to say about them. The only experience I can recall about this trip is my air-journey. This experience, better than the experience I had visiting the museums and enjoying the recipes of Italy, represented the fundamental questions I had been facing for some time.

At the very instance I entered the flight, a whole repertoire of feelings rushed into my mind. I shall write about them now. The reason I have chosen this particular blog to write about them is that these feelings took shape from the world of "magical realism" created by Marquez, especially in his "One Hundred Years of Solitude". After my first air-journey I wrote in my diary: "Flying in an aircraft is a visual comedy." If one can capture the entire sequence of flying, even without any exaggeration, it can function as a comedy; a laughter embedded with our gaze at the primitive. An aeroplane cannot be compared to anything but to the "Pushpakavimanam" (Pushpaka aircraft) of Ravana in the Indian epic of Ramayana.

The comical nature of primitive magical acts was the primary thing that struck me during my air-journey. For me, to have flown six thousand kilometers in a few hours is more comical than real/magical. This might be the first time I have ever found it so difficult to differentiate between the three different concepts: the real, the magical and the comical.

Aircraft is primitive, despite our eagerness to highlight it as one of the biggest achievements of modern science and technology. Aircraft hardly has anything of its own, and what it has of its own is something to be laughed at. Two features - its wings and its round, pointed body - both of them are meant to overpower nature and geophysical forces. And the aircraft does this act of overpowering natural forces in a very primitive way. Think of a gigantic body moving (here, 'running' is the better word) at a great speed along the runway in order to get the momentum to fly. Nothing can be more innocent at the same time primordial. While flying, the wings were shivering like an incompletely conceptualized construction.

The reality that I have traveled five thousand or ten thousand miles in a few hours and the reality that I had been flying for sure, are both real as well as magical. While flying, what was real for me was nothing but an experience of being in the world of Melquiades, the gypsy with whom Jose Arcadia became friends so as to acquire some magical, quasi-scientific skills. The magical acts of Melquiades, especially when he brought along a magnet with him and when the iron utensils started moving, are in the same league of comedy as that of flying. But why do they appear comical to us?