Monthly Archives: August 2008

BLINDNESS by Jose Saramago

In Portuguese, the title of Saramago’s book translates into something closer to “An Essay On Blindness,” as in, what would the effects on society be if everyone were to suddenly lose their sight? As you can imagine, pretty damn scary. I think one thing literature has taught us is that if something happens to everyone, everywhere, and at the same time, it’s going to be bad. You’d think everyone going blind would be the biggest s**tstorm of all time. Blindness doesn’t disappoint.

When people in a nameless country inexplicably lose their sight, the government is quick to throw them into quarantine. But as their numbers begin to grow and the fear of becoming infected spreads, things quickly spiral out of control. Locked in an abandoned mental hospital, a small group, led by a doctor and his wife – who can still see – must learn to navigate their way through a society that’s coming down around them.

Blindness was originally written in Portuguese, then published in English in 1997. For some reason, it always comes as a surprise that one language never translates exactly into another. Such is the case here, which leads to interesting results in the book’s prose. The not-quite-perfect English makes you feel as if the story is something you’re experiencing and not reading. The almost total lack of punctuation, the dialogue of one character flowing into that of another gives you the feeling that you’re the one who’s blind. I found the device clever here when I found it kind of annoying in other books (I’m looking at you No Country for Old Men).

As is often the case with books like these, there are plenty of “oh sh*t!” moments. You’ll find yourself putting the book down, imagining what life might be like if Julianne Moore were the only person in the world who could see. You’ll also be tempted to close your eyes and try performing the most rudimentary tasks – such as using the toilet – in the dark. Do not be fooled, the consequences are devastating and your wife will probably make me sleep on the couch for what I did to the carpet.

Saramago seems to be a keen student of human nature, and this is one of the most enjoyable parts of the book. You empathize with and understand the characters, because you see yourself in them. You’ll have a hard time not putting yourself in their position, and wondering exactly how delicate society’s balance between order and chaos truly is.

Buy the book at amazon.com.

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Leroi Moore: 1961-2008

Dave Matthews Band saxophonist Leroi Moore passed away yesterday due to complications from a June ATV accident. We’d like to take a moment to recognize a great musician and offer our condolences to his friends and family.

5 Things We Love About Movies With Guns – The Matrix

Walking out of this movie, all the way back in 1997, I thought it would be a real funny prank to drop-kick my brother in the nuts and yell, “I know kung-fu!” He was none too pleased, as are his as-yet unborn children (sorry bro). This week, we take a look at…

1. Trinity.

What is it about a woman in leather that gives me hot pants? Trinity had me hoping she’d take the red pill, as in THE MORNING AFTER! ZOMGROFL!!1! …uuuhhhh. I’m sorry.

2. The clothes.

Morpheus showed us that you could beat the hell out of whoever you came up against, and look good doing it. Well, at least you could look good. He got his ass pretty well handed to him.

3. Joe Pantoliano.

We all enjoyed watching this guy, who for some reason, looks a lot like Jackie Earle Haley. In the movie’s final cut, he meets his end after Marcus Chong shoots a lightning bolt into his chest. There was a scene that got scrapped, however, where Cypher kills Tony Soprano’s horse and Chrissy cuts his head off. Good stuff.

4. “I know kung-fu.”

The Matrix is like the ultimate bit-torrent engine. So what would your Matrix powers be? I’ve got mine narrowed down to Drunken Boxing, Robot Boxing, doing the robot, doing the dew and keeping it real. And my Matrix name is Sandra Day O’Connor.

5. The Almighty Power of HACK.

How do you hack a computer? What about a system as complex as the Matrix? We’re not completely sure, but we do know a few things. First, you need like ten computer screens. This way you can look at, like, all the symbols and stuff. Then you need like twenty keyboards so you can hack everything at once. And make sure your OS shows everything in weird symbols that don’t do anything when you type in commands. And make sure you have a good place to take cover when the Internet explodes.

That’s all for this week. Will I get my act together and keep these things more regular? Tune in next week to find out!