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José Saramago

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🦋 The Old and the Young

I'll try my hand at translating another entry from Saramago's blog. (I am working from the Spanish translation.) Today he is writing about skepticism.

Some people say that skepticism is an infirmity of old age, an ailment of recent times, a sclerosis of the will. I don't dare to say this diagnosis is completely wrong, but I will say that it would be too comfortable to try to escape all difficulties through this door, as if the actual state of the world were a simple consequence of the old being old... The dreams of the young have never succeeded, at least until now, in making the world any better, and the rejuvenated bile of the old has never been enough to make it worse. Clearly the world -- poor world -- is not to blame for the evils afflicting it. That which we call the state of the world is the state of the unlucky humanity that we are, inevitably composed of old people who were young, young people who will be old, others who are not young and are not yet old. Whose fault? I hear it said that everyone bears the blame, that nobody can be presumed innocent, but I find that these sort of declarations, which appear to distribute justice evenly, are no more than spurious recurring mutations of the so-called original sin, which serve only to dilute and obscure, in an imaginary collective guilt, the responsibilities of the authentically culpable. The state, not of the world, but of life.

I write this on a day in which there have arrived in Spain and in Italy hundreds of men, women and children in the fragile vessels which are used to reach the imagined paradise of a wealthy Europe. On the island of Hierro, in the Canaries, for example, there arrived such a boat, carrying inside it a dead child, and some castaways who declared that during the journey, twenty shipmates died and were cast into the sea in martyrdom... So do not speak to me of skepticism, please.

Saramago links to Sara Prestianni's web site (in French) documenting migrants' stories, and to the NoBorders gallery on Flickr.

posted evening of Tuesday, November 11th, 2008
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Pretty accurate! But the last sentence should be "So don't tell me of skepticism, please"

posted evening of November 13th, 2008 by Jorge López

Thanks, Jorge! I will correct it.

posted evening of November 13th, 2008 by Jeremy


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