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Posts Tagged ‘José Saramago’

4. “Blindness,” José Saramago

December 3, 2010 Leave a comment

José Saragamo’s Blindness begins at an amber light. In a traffic-congested road in an unnamed city in an unnamed country, an unnamed man sits in his car, staring at a traffic light that goes from amber to red– and then suddenly to white. The man, who never so much as wore glasses in his life, has gone suddenly and inexplicably blind. It’s not a normal blindness, that of darkness or lack of light, but a ghostly white blindness unlike any anyone has seen before. It spreads, slowly at first: from the first blind man to the man who offers to help him home only to steal his car, to the first blind man’s wife, to a police officer who finds the thief screaming, to a taxi driver who transports the first blind man and his wife to the ophthalmologist’s office, to the patients of the ophthalmologist, to the ophthalmologist– but not to his wife. As one by one, everyone connected to this white blindness becomes blind themselves, the governance of the city decides that they must quarantine the blind and infected in an old mental hospital guarded by the army until the cause of their malady can be determined. Quickly, the situation begins to spiral out of control as the internees rapidly lose not only their sight but their humanity.

I just wrote a paper about how this book sucks, so I kind of don’t feel like doing it again, but here’s my thesis paragraph:

I shall examine how this novel constructs blindness metaphorically, exploring the links Saramago draws between physical and moral blindness, sight and humanity. I shall then explore the problems with employing disabilities as metaphors, and how this common trend speaks to the ways in which disability haunts our culture. In doing so, I hope to tease out the ableism upon which stories such as these are predicated, in the belief that doing so is the necessary first step to expelling these traits.

Add to that some Foucault/Heterotopia and you have a surprisingly-decent paper.

Page count: 352
Page total: 1,341

Weekly update

November 19, 2010 Leave a comment

-“Blindness,” José Saramago.
-“Seeing,” José Saramago. I might not be in the mood for these books.
-“The Man in the Ice,” Konrad Spindler. This is going back whenever I fish it out from under my night table
-“Who Fears Death,” Nnedi Okorafor. Not much progress made.
-“The Last Nazi,” Stan Pottinger. Haven’t even opened it. Probably also going back
-“Playing in the Dark,” Toni Morrison

-“Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights,” Kenji Yoshino. I’m really enjoying this.
-“In a Dark, Dark Room,” Alvin Schwartz
-“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” Alvin Schwartz
-“Even More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” Alvin Schwartz. These books scared the shit out of me when I was eight. They are pretty disappointing now. Stephen Gammell’s illustrations continue to introduce feces to my undergarments.
-“Alligators in the Sewer and 222 Other Urban Legends,” Thomas J. Craughwell
-“Urban Legends: A Collection of International Tall Tales and Terrors,” Edited by Gillian Bennet and Paul Smith
-“The Encyclopedia of Urban Legends,” Jan Harold Brunvand. Considering writing about “The Hook”
-“Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures,” Vincent Lam. Haven’t opened it yet.

Weekly update

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Books currently on my bed bedside table:
-“Blindness,” Jose Saramago. A candidate for a paper for my class on ghosts in US literature (see some other things we have been reading in the assigned reading tag)
-“The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist-Fight in Heaven,” Sherman Alexie. So close to done, and it was only due (also for that class) two days ago!
-“The Man in the Ice,” Konrad Spindler. If I don’t finish this soon, I’m not going to finish it. It’s an interesting story, but it moves very slowly, with attention paid to the wrong parts.
-“Who Fears Death,” Nnedi Okorafor. Another candidate for that paper, another re-read.
-“Thirteen Reasons Why,” Jay Asher. I’m pretty sure that a large amount of the time, I was angry at the right parts.
-“The Last Nazi,” Stan Pottinger. Part of my continued lack of understanding that I do not like crime novels.
-“FU, Penguin,” Matthew Gasteier. This one barely counts as it is a) actually on my bedside table and b) has been there for months, at least. I have read it, but it’s one of those occasional books that I never put on here because it doesn’t meet some ineffable standard of real bookishness.

54. “Blindness,” José Saramago

August 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Really interesting, but very problematic– frequently sexist and blindness exists only as a metaphor for the worst side of human nature. People who experience this white blindness quickly become animals, shitting their beds, hording food, lashing out violently. In fact, the author has them referring to one another as animals: when one character asks the other his name, he responds “what use would names be to us, no dog recognizes another dog” by name (52). So throughout the story, people are referred to by a descriptor. Predictably, the married women are referred to as [whoever’s] wife, and not as autonomous beings. Even the doctor’s wife, whom I will refer to as the woman who could see, is nothing more than her husband’s job.

Liat Ben-Moshe breaks down the problematic theme of blindness in “Disability Studies Quarterly.” I also came across a blog that asks What Sorts of People Should There Be? that comments on a few of the advertising techniques employed by the movie promoters.

Stylistically, Saramago does not use punctuation marks to set off dialog, nor does he use carriage returns. Paragraphs are often quite long. This makes the book difficult to put down, because there are very few natural pauses. I don’t mean difficult in a bad way, nor in an entirely positive way. It took some getting used to each time I returned to it, but once I figured it out, it kept me reading. It also augments the confusion of not yet having learnt how to navigate blind in a seeing world, as the speech sees to overlap and sometimes it is hard to sort out who is saying what.

I did find the book engrossing– while reading I experienced the odd blurring between life and reading and kept forgetting that neither my friend nor I were blind. In my defense, for a lot of the time that I was reading, he was sleeping half-sitting up in the same room, there but not seeing. Also in my defense, I am ridiculous and apparently don’t understand the difference between having your eyes shut and being physically unable to see.

Page count: 352
Page total: 22,864