Not only am I a few days late for this (how have I not noticed it before?) but I intend to cheat from the very first word (the 6th actually). It is for Linda’s SOC prompt (Though not the current one, it would seem) in which we are challenged to write something (anything) based on the sixth, seventh and eight words of a random document. I walked into my little library and closed my eyes before randomly selecting a book and opening it at page 1. That’s when I cheated.
May I skip a word? The seventh, eighth and ninth words in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez are ‘THE FIRING SQUAD’.
The book, if you haven’t read it, has very little to do with capital punishment. I think it has something to do with a community living in isolation whose understanding of a shared reality is different to those of us who don’t live in such isolation and have, therefore, a different shared reality and a different understanding. But not a more valid one.
It’s probably best to quote the whole sentence. “Many years later, as he faced THE FIRING SQUAD, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice,” it says, and I think that gives you a good idea of what is to come. Though the book does not have a lot to say about ice, either.
But today we need to focus on words seven, eight and nine.. THE FIRING SQUAD. Those three words, I think, say some fairly horrible things about humanity. I think they describe humanity’s inability to deal with itself. Humanity has come up with some fairly reasonable ideas about how to deal with itself over the years. But I don’t think THE FIRING SQUAD is one of them.
The ‘death penalty’ is, after all, a nonsensical term. I remember reading of a man who was strapped to the electric chair. He had done something very horrible, no doubt. The authorities asked him if he had any final words to share with the world before they flicked the switch. “Well,” he is reported as having said, “this certainly should teach me a lesson.”
I suddenly remember an essay by Henry Miller. ‘Murder the Murderer’, it is called. Mr Miller doesn’t think THE FIRING SQUAD is much of an idea, either. So I am in good company.
During One Hundred Years of Solitude we discover that Colonel Aureliano Buendia is just as confused about life as the rest of us although, in the end, he sees “a century of daily episodes, in such a way that they coexisted in one instant”. I don’t really know what that line has to do with anything or if it gives us any insight into life or, indeed, into death. I mention it because I notice today that I underlined each word about One Hundred years ago, the first time I read them.