José Saramago - memorial of a genius

jose saramago

José Saramago died in June 18th, 2010. We don't know if he had or not an appointment with God in Heaven, Hell or at the "disqualified Purgatory"; but we're definitely sure they both had to come to terms with the past. As a confirmed atheist, José Saramago has God as one of the fetish-subjects of his works. He liked to talk to Him, dissertating about his terrestrial representations with a brilliant interpretative perspicuity, filled with acridity most of the times, attracting controversy and excommunication from many sides.

Perhaps, Saramago is now at his unconscious emptiness. It's an emptiness fulfilled, as always happen with someone literary famous who perishes, on a crescendo made of a limited interest in time, and also happens with the abrupt interest by the work of the perished one which rebirths at the collective conscience, on an escape from the present and from quotidian life made by educated and incautious human beings while reading Saramago's works. He lies now at the darkness of his own absence, present on a beating life pulse of others with the significance he used to structure his letters. Those are the pieces we use to play the life's game in verb -- inevitably notwithstanding at the cleverness of the Saramago's intellectual capital exposition and literary art construction. Maybe one day we find him talking to Blimunda Seven-Moons at a metaphysical "Baltazar and Blimunda" (1982) -- this last one now really conscious of life fuss and interstices -- and at "Death With Interruptions" (2005).

We slightly know something about Saramago at his youth. A temporal hiatus remains from the first publication of the young writer -- a long time after sleepy nights shared on the bed of his grandparents Jerónimo and Josefa and the pigs, during the lean times of a Ribatejo's Azinhaga (a place where people were constantly knocked to the floor by oppressive and crushing forces) which petrified him as a statue on a garden bench --, and a profitable and epic literary revolution, 30 years later.

jose saramago

As a young man, Saramago wasn't an academician or won literary awards. Saramago wasn't even unanimously beloved, consensual or -- as sometimes happens at the spectacle or cultural areas -- flattered. Dividing the opinions of the Portuguese society, Saramago was an anti-hero for part of the common sense and for great part of the political mediocrity. Saramago wasn't at the Camões Award competition, the most important literary award of Portuguese language, because he wasn't allowed to take part of it. The strings of the literary manipulation and the lords of the religious and political puppets didn't allow him to do it. Humanizing the mythical Jesus Christ, in "The Gospel According Jesus Christ" (1991), was the subterfuge of those tried to fall into oblivion the man that put Portugal (on the map) and Spain, the Saramago's iberianism, sailing through the ocean at "The Stone Raft" (1986) -- countries drifting on the berthing unification of a more and more distant and paradoxically bigger Europe. Portugal is a secular state. The separation of powers between church and state is constitutionally defined and approved by far. And the dissection of Jesus Christ, the unfolding of the myth from god-man into human-(all too)human, provided a passionate discussion on the Portuguese parliament if such Saramago was sufficiently Portuguese to represent a nation so historically and hysterically connected to a god (motherland, family) that certainly this Portuguese-born man didn't believe that much. Not Portuguese enough, but worldwide known enough -- Saramago won the Literature Nobel Prize in 1998 and, thanks to Divine Providence, the Camões Award in 1995. He didn't take shelter into the country which didn't accept his ideas and novels which are a fusion of a tepid reality and a transpired fiction, covering gaps of uncertain realities with the vomits of pitiful times. Nor even the psychological exile sounded as a reason for taking shelter. Not today. Saramago chose his Iberia as a memory resort, far from the men who rejected him, near those who are "the greatest victims of the Occidental capitalism". His destiny was Lanzarote, few miles away the African coast. Canary lost Island, Spain, wide. It was a dry hazard, a black piece of earth he chose for living and loving. We are sure that if Iberia was put apart from the rest of the Europe, Lanzarote would stand still, watching its tectonic hallucination passing through... In Lanzarote was born a contagious epidemic which collapses society, an spontaneous blindness that would reveal the most extreme factor which composes the human being -- from bestiality to rationality, from violation to love. And still this grievous experience for the author and the reader called "Blindness" (1995) is a "long-lasting torture" which shows that us human beings "aren't that good". The tears came from the same eyes that lived the vision of the world darkness during the screening of the adaptation of that novel to cinema, beside the Brazilian movie director Fernando Meirelles.

We can essentially delight with approximately 30 years of works of Saramago, made of a "non-grammatical" literature, that reduces most part of some kind of portugality, his long language proudly composed for grammar rules, to a new and unique style that transforms hermetic conventions, like punctuation, paragraphs and phrasal extension, into a concatenated literature, a thought reading, a non-stop reading... until Saramago wants to stop it. It demystifies the deep and hidden dive into the novel, alerting and anticipating thoughts and doubts of the reader, fulfilling the relationship of the both with truth and higher domination. Some say it's incorrect or elitist -- but it's a way of deconstruct hundreds of years made for conventions and agreements portrayed in tenths of years of novels, poems and theatrical plays, tales and chronicles, trips, diaries and memories and "The Biggest Flower In The World" (2001) is the only Saramago children's book. It's the language constantly changing, isn't it, New Portuguese Agreement Spelling? So, Saramago's writing must be a cut, a flash, a ray of change into this transformation process.

Saramago was and will always be important to the Portuguese and World Literature as Fernando Pessoa and Carlos Drummond de Andrade was. That's the man who didn't mince his words' sense at his speech, in opposition to the measure of the interpretative length of his writing. He was a sympathetic man when furious, a self-proclaimed "pessimist by reason, optimist by will". Saramago says his thoughts and his thoughts echo in non-polite and naked words, based on the solid foundations of his truth. No fear. He assumed himself as a communist -- period. He assumed himself as non-orthodox -- period. We're supposed to think that this must be freedom of expression. It's something that still seems to fail on the convictions of some erudite through all those years of fighting.

His funeral reunited sympathizers, friends, lovers of literature, curious people and the highly politicized class. However, it was noticed on some undisturbed way (as something irrelevant) the absence of that one who, by the time that a gospel put some fire on a Parliament was the Prime-Minister, the current President of Portuguese Republic Mr. Professor Doctor Aníbal Cavaco Silva. As a politically correct man, as always and as he is supposed to be, he didn't abstain from -- with a boring and simulate sad expression -- reading a communicate written by some of his assessors. And it was a trivial writing by who was called by Saramago as "master of triviality". I'm supposed to think he felt it was a loss for his country, but not that much.

José Saramago died in June 18th, 2010. He doesn't belong to the sky for which the smoke of his body inflammation went, but to the ground, a place where his ashes have some rest. If Saramago gets closer to the stars, he will be on his Passarola, telling tales about Blimunda Seven-Moons and Balthazar Seven-Suns, "The Tale of the Unknown Island" (1997). He left "The Possible Poems" (1966) and all the linked letters from "This World and The Other" (1971).

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