Monday huh? Why not start this week with a great book.
Reading this book is a huge psychological challenge. Soon after the opening, you are placed in an extreme environment and feel suffocated same as the characters in the book. Also, the author's extreme query on human nature in this book forces readers to question themselves again and again.
Yes, this is the gravest theme and the coldest book among all the works of José Saramago. As the only Nobel Prize winner in Portugal, Saramago is known for his great anxiety for the human being. He is afraid that humankind may eventually be destroyed in the test of history by their wicked nature and vulnerability. Blindness is basically a concentrated reflection of his worries. This book was selected by the Nobel Academy as one of "The 100 Greatest Novels of All Time", considered a great work neck and neck with Orwell's 1984 and Kafka's Der Process (The Trial).
Saramago said that why he wrote such a ruthless work without hesitation. He was doing great, but the world is not. Blindness is nothing more than a microcosm of the world. Isn't this a similar attitude to what we say "letting others be benefited, too"? No wonder he is known as "one of the novelists with the highest spiritual pursuit in the world". After winning the Nobel Prize, Saramago said at a press conference that "The world is actually a mess."
A poor man lost his sight when waiting for the traffic light at the crossroads, unexpectedly. The symptom is not darkness, but thick white. The terrified authority named it "White Blindness". Somebody stole his car while pretending to help. However, the thief soon lost his sight, too. The poor guy's ophthalmologist went blind, and then the doctor's patients.
The blindness soon infected the entire city. The authority imprisoned the blind. The situation went extremely bad. In order to survive, they had to endure the harshest condition they could ever imagine. That was a world of feces and beasts, lack of food and clothing. Women become sex slaves. Led by the doctor's wife, the only one that was not blind but pretended to be blind, a group of blind people fled back to the city. When they see two women screaming in the heavy rain, letting the rain clean their body, they have to take a deep breath to maintain the basic respect for human nature. "What is the point of tears when the whole world is meaningless?"
Even so, Saramago, with strong humanistic spirit, still wrote a little bit about warmth and love, left a glimmer of human nature. All the efforts of the doctor's wife demonstrated what Saramago said "In a world of blindness, if we cannot live entirely like human beings, at least let us do everything in our power not to live entirely like animals." The doctor's wife said, "The responsibility of having my eyesight when others have lost theirs. I shall do whatever I can to help."
According to Saramago, what the novel is trying to say is that all of us have gone blind intellectually. A blind man without the will to see is the worst. Blind competition has taken our eyes away. The result is that man tramples on humanity code, making the world a hell on earth. What human being has lost is not the sight, but their reason.
Salamago's deep concern for the fate of humankind has not been well settled even today. We are still driven by desires to kill each other and blind ourselves for our desires. We are still far from what Salamago said in his book: if you can look, see; if you can see, notice.