José Saramago: “We Feel Our Way Along the Road”

Photographers Unknown, In One Word, Brief

“We have an odd relationship with words. We learn a few when we are small, throughout our lives we collect others through education, conversation, our contact with books, and yet, in comparison, there are only a tiny number about whose meaning, sense, and denotation we would have absolutely no doubts, if one day, we were to ask ourselves seriously what they meant. Thus we affirm and deny, thus we convince and are convinced, thus we argue, deduce, and conclude, wandering fearlessly over the surface of concepts about which we only have the vaguest of ideas, and, despite the false air of confidence that we generally affect as we feel our way along the road in verbal darkness, we manage, more or less, to understand each other and even, sometimes, to find each other.” 

—José Saramago, The Double

Born in November of 1922 in Azinhaga, Portugal, José de Souse Saramago was a writer, translator, and the recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1924 at the age of two, his family moved to the capital city of Lisbon. where he first attended primary school and later five years of technical school with studies in mechanics. Having no money to buy books, Saramago borrowed books from friends, including Portuguese language textbooks, and regularly frequented the local Lisbon public libraries. 

After obtaining a position as an administrative civil servant in the Social Welfare Service, Saramago married Ilda Reis in 1944. In 1947, the birth year of their only child Violante, he published his first book, a novel entitled “The Land of Sin”, which was commercially unsuccessful and later disowned by him. Saramago attempted writing two more novels; but eventually abandoned the works when he felt they were not worthwhile. For nineteen years, until 1966, he was absent from the Portuguese literary scene. At the end of the 1950s, José Saramago started working at Estúdios Cor, a publisher company, as production manager, a position which introduced him to some of the most important Portuguese writers.

José Saramago published his first poetry book in 1966, “Os Poemas Possíveis”. Four years later in 1970, his second book of poems entitled “Probably Joy” was published. This was followed by two collections of his written newspaper articles: “From This World and the Other” in 1971 and “The Traveler’s Baggage” in 1973,  Saramago published in 1974 his second novel “The Opinions the DL Had”, which told the story of the existing dictatorship of Portugal just before its toppling in April of that year. 

Saramago became deputy director of the morning newspaper “Diário de Nóticias” from April to November of 1975, at which time he was fired for political reasons after the coup of November 25th. Several books marked this period in Saramago’s life: “The Year of 1993”, a long poem that was published in 1975; a personal and philosophical book entitled “Manual of Painting and Calligraphy published in 1977;  and “The Notes”, a 1976 collection of political newspaper articles from “Diários de Nóticies”.

In the beginning of 1976, Saramago settled in the country village of Lavre in the Alentejo Province for a period of study, observation, and note-taking that would lead to the 1980 novel, “Risen from the Ground”, which follows the fortunes of a poor landless family living through major international events. In 1978, he published a collection of short stories, “Quasi Object”, which was followed by two plays in 1979: “The Night” and “What Shall I Do with This Book?”. The decade of the 1980s marked the publishing of four novels: a 1982 historical novel set during the reign of King John V of Portugal, entitled “Baltazar and Blimunda”; the 1984 “The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis”; the 1986 “The Stone Raft”, in which the Iberian Peninsula breaks free from the continent and floats away; and “The History of the Siege of Lisbon” published in 1989. 

José Saramago’s  1991 fictional account of a flawed, humanized Christ, “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ”, was censored by the Portuguese government, who vetoed its presentation for the European Literary Prize under the pretext that the book was offensive to Catholics. As a result of this censorship, Saramago and his new wife, Spanish journalist Pilar del Rio, left Portugal and relocated their residence to the Canary Island of Lanzarote. In 1991, Saramago  wrote the play “In Nomeine Dei”, which would be the basis for the opera libretto to “Divara”. In 1993, he began writing his multi-volume diary “Cadernos de Lanzarote (Lanzarote Diaries)”. While he worked on his diary, two more novels followed: the 1995 “Blindness” and the 1997 “All the Names”.

Saramago’s novels often are based in fantastic scenarios; sections of continents breaking off, country-wide blindness; and a country in which suddenly death no longer exists. He addressed serious matters with empathy for the human condition; a recurring theme in his work dealt with a person’s need for an individual identity and established meaning to their life. Saramago’s experimental writing style often featured long sentences, sometimes extended to page length. He used periods sparingly, opting for a loose flow of clauses joined with commas. The paragraphs in Saramago’s works could extend for pages with dialogue unmarked by quotation marks; each character’s spoken words only distinguished by an initial capital letter.

A supporter of Iberian Federalism, José Saramago was selected by the Swedish Academy as the 1998 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature. He was also the recipient of the 2004 America Award for lifetime achievement. José Saramoga passed away in June of 2010 at his residence on the Spanish island, Lanzarote.

Fabric Bending Property

Photographer Unknown, (Fabric Bending Property)

Bending Property

The fabric bending property is apparently a function of the bending property of its constituent yarns. Two parameters can be used to measure this property, i.e. B and 2HB. B is bending rigidity, a measure of a fabric ability to resist to a bending deformation. In other words, it reflects the difficulty with which a fabric can be deformed by bending. This parameter is particularly critical in the tailoring of lightweight fabrics. The higher the bending rigidity, the higher the fabric ability to resist when it is bent by an external force, i.e. during fabric manipulation in spreading and sewing. Apart from for the bending rigidity of the constituent yarns and fibers, the mobility of the warp/weft within the fabric also comes into play in this aspect. In addition, the effect of density and fabric thickness are also very profound for this property. 2HB represents the hysteresis of the bending moment. It is a measure of recovery from bending deformations. A lower value of 2HB is supposed to be better.

–Živa Zupin and Krste Dimitrovski, “Mechanical Properties of Fabrics from Cotton and Biodegradable Yarns Bamboo, SPF, PLA in Weft”