Jose de Sousa Saramago: Poet of the Soul and Champion of Human Liberty

“Human vocabulary is still not capable, and probably never will be, of knowing, recognizing, and communicating everything that can be humanly experienced and felt.” – Jose de Sousa Saramago, Portuguese novelist, poet, playwright, journalist, co-founder of the National Defense of Culture, and recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature.

In addition to being an atheist and a libertarian communist, Jose Saramago possessed immense talent and a nimble mind, and so he inevitably came into conflict with the forces of censorship and repression, especially the Roman Catholic Church and its political lackeys. Discouraged and disgusted by reactionary zealots in his homeland, in 1992 Saramago went into exile on the Spanish island of Lanzarote, where he lived and wrote until his death in 2010.

Some quotes from Jose Saramago:

“A human being is a being who is constantly ‘under construction,’ but also, in a parallel fashion, always in a state of constant destruction.”
“(Following the events of 9/11) Americans have discovered the fragility of life, that ominous fragility that the rest of the world either already experienced or is experiencing now with terrible intensity.”
“Beginning with adolescence, my political formation was oriented in the ideological direction of Marxism. It was natural, being that my thinking was influenced by an atmosphere of active critical resistance.”
“I always ask two questions: How many countries have military bases in the United States? And in how many countries does the United States not have military bases?”
“I had no books at home. I started to frequent a public library in Lisbon. It was there, with no help except curiosity and the will to learn, that my taste for reading developed and was refined.
“I never appreciated ‘positive heroes’ in literature. They are almost always clichés, copies of copies, until the model is exhausted. I prefer perplexity, doubt, uncertainty, not just because it provides a more ‘productive’ literary raw material, but because that is the way we humans really are.”
“I presume that nobody will deny the positive aspects of the North American cultural world. These are well known to all. But these aspects do not make one forget the disastrous effects of the industrial and commercial process of ‘cultural lamination’ that the USA is perpetrating on the planet.”
“Inside us there is something that has no name, that something is what we are.”
“It is economic power that determines political power, and governments become the political functionaries of economic power.”
“People live with the illusion that we have a democratic system, but it’s only the outward form of one. In reality we live in a plutocracy, a government of the rich.”
“Society has to change, but the political powers we have at the moment are not enough to effect this change. The whole democratic system would have to be rethought.”
“The attitude of insolent haughtiness is characteristic of the relationships Americans form with what is alien to them, with others.”
“The problem is that the right doesn’t need any ideas to govern, but the left can’t govern without ideas.”
“The world is governed by institutions that are not democratic – the World Bank, the IMF, the WTO.”
“There are plenty of reasons not to put up with the world as it is.”
“We’re not short of movements proclaiming that a different world is possible, but unless we can coordinate them into an international movement, capitalism just laughs at all these little organizations.”
“What kind of world is this that can send machines to Mars and does nothing to stop the killing of a human being?”
“Words were not given to man in order to conceal his thoughts.”

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