PATRICIA TOBIN


The Autumn of the Signifier:
The Deconstructionist Moment
of García Márquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude arrived as a boon to the North American heart. So captivated were we with our first introduction to an exotic world, wider and wackier than our own, that we did not inquire of the genie out of the bottle whether the superabundance was due to the innocence of Latin American consciousness or the sophistication of Latin American art. Much of our elation was due to the imperturbability with which Gabriel García Márquez fashioned a fictional universe unfettered by the laws which, the new structuralism had taught us, governed our language, thought, behavior, disciplines, and institutions—the rules of identity and opposition, hierarchy, cause and effect, substitution and combination. And just as people were becoming thoroughly sick of daddies, Jacques Lacan had disclosed, as the origin and stabilizer of all representation, the Biggest Daddy of them all: the Phallus—Signifier of signifiers, Authorizer of the Word, Law, Truth, and the Symbolic order. How giddy we felt, then, as we witnessed the dynastic rut and romp of seven generations of Buendías, with not a Symbolic patriarch among them, but riddled with incestuous, alchemic, bastardly, celibate and pig-tailed sons escaping the system and exceeding the Father! We cheered for the lawless mesh of "mágico realismo" and "lo real maravilloso," laughing our heartiest at the wholesale erasure of the boundaries that sustained our own precise categories of difference. It is the moment in which the laughter bursts from Michel Foucault, in his preface to The Order of Things, as he sees Western logic shattered by the unthinkable classifications of Borges's Chinese ency-

____________________
From The Latin American Literary Review no. 25 ( January—June 1985). © 1985 by The Latin American Literary Review.

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