Friday June 18th, 2010

“Either we are blind, or we are mad.”

saramagoNobel Prize-winning novelist José Saramago has died at age 87. In response, The Paris Review posts its 1998 Art of Fiction interview with Saramago. I enjoyed this image, in particular:

Interviewer: What about your characters? Do your characters ever surprise you?

Saramago: I don’t believe in the notion that some characters have lives of their own and the author follows after them. The author has to be careful not to force the character to do something that would go against the logic of that character’s personality, but the character does not have independence. The character is trapped in the author’s hand, in my hand, but he is trapped in a way he does not know he is trapped. The characters are on strings, but the strings are loose; the characters enjoy the illusion of freedom, of independence, but they cannot go where I do not want them to go. When that happens, the author must pull on the string and say to them, I am in charge here.

In response to a question about perhaps his best-known work, Blindness, he said:

I am a pessimist, but not so much so that I would shoot myself in the head. The cruelty to which you refer is the everyday cruelty that occurs in all parts of the world, not just in the novel. And we at this very moment are enveloped in an epidemic of white blindness. Blindness is a metaphor for the blindness of human reason. This is a blindness that permits us, without any conflict, to send a craft to Mars to examine rock formations on that planet while at the same time allowing millions of human beings to starve on this planet. Either we are blind, or we are mad.