Published in 1997 and now, 11 years later, read by me.
I had forgotten- for far too long- the great joy, and the discordant but necessary misery that is a part of that joy, that indeed makes that joy possible when words are crafted, sculpted by such an artist.
Saramago, 86, is Portuguese. I am 58, and American. An artist, like Saramago, makes us aware, if we allow him, of the diverting and dehumanizing veneer which such numbers and adjectives, in reality, are. He points us toward that within ourselves which enables us to see, and- if we are courageous enough- to observe. He peels away the layers of grey mythologies we are buried beneath so that we might remember the colors and tiny, very human events that gave rise to them. He invites us to smell human excrement so that we may remember, perhaps for the first time, the splendors of rain and tears.
Saramago writes with as few punctuational and structural barriers as are possible, thus allowing the reader to become part of the creative process. I attempt that now, too, by simply offering several of the quotations from Blindness which made me gasp, or linger, or begin to observe. To give you my synopsis of the story itself would only take away from what is waiting in dormancy within you now for the cleansing waters of Saramago’s words. Here:
..if, before any action, we were to begin by weighing up the consequences, thinking about them in earnest, first the immediate consequences, then the probable, then the possible, then the imaginable ones, we should never move beyond the first point where our first thought brought us to a halt. The good and evil resulting from our words and deeds go on apportioning themselves, one assumes in a reasonably uniform and balanced way, throughout all the days to follow, including those endless days, when we shall not be here to find out, to congratulate ourselves or ask for pardon, indeed there are those who claim that this is the much-talked-of immortality.. (pg.78)
..in my opinion we’re already dead, we’re blind because we’re dead, or if you would prefer me to put it another way, we’re dead because we’re blind, it comes to the same thing.. (pg.251)
Do you mean that we have more words than we need, I mean that we have too few feelings, Or that we have them but have ceased to use the words they express, And so we lose them.. (pg.292)
Don’t lose yourself, don’t let yourself be lost, he said, and these were unexpected, enigmatic words that didn’t seem to fit the occasion. (pg.294)
If I’m sincere today, what does it matter if I regret it tomorrow.. (pg.306)
Do you want me to tell you what I think, Yes, do, I don’t think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see. (pg. 326)
Get Blindness. See. Look. Observe.