a commonplace book
Those words, which probably no one else, at least not in that precise form, would ever have said before, had the good fortune not to have lost each other, they had someone to bring them together, and who knows, perhaps the world would be a slightly better place if we were able to gather up a few of the words that are out there wandering around alone.
The doctor’s wife, Seeing (2006, José Saramago)
A speech made to the superintendent near the end of the novel.
The speech revolves around a quote made by the superintendent of a book he can’t remember the name of; nevertheless, he claims the quotation guides his life and he repeats it later to someone else. The quote has become a meme of sorts, separated from all authority and expropriated seemingly from itself. The doctor’s wife asks what other words might be out there, wandering free of authority?
The novel itself is a political satire about the removal of authority and the autonomy of the capital city’s citizenry who has been abandoned by its suspicious government. As the city carries on its in mysterious conscientiousness, so too can we imagine the wandering words autonomously carrying on, doing whatever it is they’re doing, uncaring about our anxiety at their loss of authority…