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Ensaio Sobre A Cegueira
(José Saramago)

definition of a modern city could be that of a gathering of people in a more or
less vast place, densely populated and with few or no traces of nature in it.
Instead of being a place of comfort to people, it is a place of distress with
little regard for the human condition. Think of almost any western city and
you?ll get the idea of what I?m talking about. Don?t name it. Just think of it,
a city outside of any know route, unknown and unmapped.

blindness as a metaphor. In its strictest sense, blindness is a handicap that
sharpens the other senses. As a metaphor, it is a condition that takes you from
knowing to whom you talk to, who you interact with. Like the saying goes, ?away
from sight, away from the heart?.

almost five hundred years apart, just like Thomas More built his, José
Saramago, based on these two premises, builds a modern world utopia.
Except that the later is a dystopia. It is set in a city while the first
is on a island.

Utopia, as a literary genre, as it can be considered, is based on a simple
construction. A character - the narrator of the story -, is given by God the
grace of visiting a land outside the world of mortals. It goes with saying that
the basis upon which this fiction lies is the jewish-catholic tradition, of resurrection
after death and eternal life under the protective wing of God. According to the
genre, this could be visited by some elected individuals, that would come back
to give account of what they had seen, re-assuring the common mortals that that
promised world was there and by keeping their faiths high they would be
accepted into it as they were told.

is an atheist. For him, this concept of eternal life and resurrection is
unconceivable. It is from this point that he starts tearing down the literary
tradition, building up his plot. Where as the church has no place for women, he
puts one to witness this world apart.

That is
where the blindness gets into the city. Like in the renaissance tradition, the
utopic society was organized without power hierarchy. If any existed, it was
based on age (as in ?The City of the Sun?, by Tommaso Campanella).
Theoretically, blindness creates a platform of equity between men, if regarded
rationally. No faces seen, just voices, sounds from the presence of someone still
unknown, not recognisable or without the ability to tell one person from the
other, individuality becomes an abstraction, something as tangible as an
imaginary world. Emotionally, apart from being blind, people retain all the
traces of humanity in them and that
same humanity holds in itself, more than the struggle for survival of
the fittest, the urge to obtain power, no matter how, to defeat his fellow men.

The book
proofs, with the deconstruction of utopia, more than that of the literary
genre, that humanity cannot control itself. It is a disenchanted look upon the
human condition, but not, as one might expect, a testimony of hopelessness.
Just like those of the renaissance, this book is a look forward to what waits
us all, not as sign of hope in the future to control the present, but a warning
about the present in order to be hopeful on the future.

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