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[177] Seeing – Jose Saramago

seeing“Crudely elementary, but effective, the work of poisoning the public was continuing, two and two are four, and always will be four, if that’s what you did yesterday, then you must have done the same today and everyone who has the temerity to doubt that one thing inevitably leads to another is an enemy of legality and order.” [212]

Jose Saramago takes readers back to the surreal, unknown capital where four years ago everyone but one person was staggering around blind. Seeing is a stunning novel that links the current electoral crisis to the yet unexplained tragedy of blindness which, to this date, still haunts the capital’s inhabitants and embarrasses the government. On election day, when the torrential downpour finally tapers off minutes before time, thousands and thousands of people of all ages and social conditions who, without having reached any precious agreement as to their political and ideological differences, have decided at least to file into the polls and cast their votes.

The officials’ joy at the high turnout of election disappear as quickly and dramatically as the voters have exercised their civil duty. Almost like an anticlimax, the officials, confused and stupefied, find over eighty percent of the ballots blank. That voters have scrupulously fulfilled their duty, that they have chosen expression over abstention reveal distrust rather than apathy toward the government. As a state of seige is declared, the city is abandoned, surrounded by army, the rights of inhabitants suspended. To the cabinet, unincreased criminality rate and impenetrable silence of the public are tell-tale sign of some planned objective—an insurrection—because things are happening as if the population is obeying some plan of a central coordinator. The prime minister declares it a moral plague that people are being delinquent and subversive in not voting for the listed parties. This is really McCarthyism at its best. Democratic normality exists only with the pre-condition that one’s political view is in accord to that of the government.

When rumor has it that the ophthalmologist’s wife, the woman who kept her sight in the blindness plague four years ago, might be behind the blank ballot conspiracy, it’s clear that the government, manned by officials who care more about triumphing over a subversive action unparalleled elsewhere for credential than restoring social order, makes uses of absurdities to dull consciences and to destroy reason, and the outcome is both disturbing and detrimental. The second half of Seeing delves into the meat of Blindness in order to illuminate such absurdities and the dubious efficacy of a so-called democratic system. The unknown locale could very well be the USA or China. Be cautioned that Seeing contains spoiler of Blindness. The writing style is, as usual, elegant, enmeshing narrative with dialogues in long paragraphs. The voice is detached and to the point. 306 pages. [Read/Skim/Toss]

7 Responses

  1. I’m definitely going to have to squeeze this in this year. If so, I’ll be reading 4 Saramagos this year! 😀

  2. Isn’t this a fantastic book? I loved Blindness and thought that there could be no follow up. But I thought this just as good even though it made me cry a lot towards the end.

  3. iam working on both blindness and seeing. i like the correlation

  4. Correlation is subtle but important. 🙂

  5. Did anyone finish the book? I’m confused at the ending? Is there going to be another book?

  6. i was shocked in the end as well, but i liked it because it was realistic, any one who rebels against the ruler will be killed. but don’t take his message as being pessimistic. quite the contrary, as i said iam working on both blindness and seeing. as i have seen, seeing has a more optimistic message than blindness, the gloomy and tragic novel. the title is clear, we recover out sight if we know about the governmental corruption. anyway, Iam relying on many theoretical schools to discuss Saramago’s novels. it is a very hard dissertation 🙂 but iam optimistic

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