Seeing (book)

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Seeing (Portuguese: Ensaio sobre a Lucidez, lit. Essay on Lucidity) is a novel by the Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese author José Saramago. The book was published in Portuguese in 2004 and then in English in 2006. Seeing. is the sequel to one of Saramago's most famous works, Blindness.

The book is a criticism of the political institutions of Western democracies. The methods used to make people to accept the system again include false flag bombs planted by the secret police

Plot summary

The Guardian wrote of it[1]:

Seeing is set in the same unnamed country featured in Blindness. The story begins with a parliamentary election, in which the majority (83%) of the populace cast blank ballots. The story focuses on the struggles of the government and its various nameless members as they try to simultaneously understand and destroy the amorphous non-movement of blank-voters.

The novel describes the dismay of bureaucrats, the excitement of journalists, the hysteria of the government, and the mild non-response of the citizens, who, when asked how they voted, refuse to say, reminding the questioner that the question is illegal.

The minister of defense announces that what the country is facing is terrorism. Other ministers oppose him but he gets what he wants - a state of emergency, then the exodus of the government, by night, from the capital city, which is declared to be under siege. A bomb is exploded (by terrorists, of course, as the media report), killing quite a few people.

An attempted evacuation of the 17% of voters who marked their ballots ends in failure, as the government forgets to tell the troops blocking all the roads to let the refugees through. The so-called terrorists in the city, still mild and peaceable, help the refugees carry back upstairs all they tried to take with them - the tea service, the silver platter, the painting, grandpa ...

A superintendent of police is sent into the city to find the woman who did not go blind when everyone else did four years ago, sought as the link between the "plague of white blindness and the plague of blank ballots".

After starting to doubt the system himself, the book again takes a darker turn.