Yesterday morning, I finished reading Blindness by José Saramago and since then, I've been wondering what it would be like if an apocalyptic event truly happened. Maybe it's a plague as it is in Blindness, or an uprising that collapses the capital (The Hunger Games), or an invasion by extra-terrestrial beings (Mars Attacks!), or a pending asteroid strike (The Last Policeman), or maybe it's the weather finally punishing us for our don't-care attitude around it, or a Third World War begins and never ends. Whichever it is, which of these dystopian worlds we are too familiar with, will get it right?
Some of these dystopian books, like The Hunger Games, are pure fun. Others are horrific to read; fun isn't a word used in the same line as the book. That's what reading Blindness was like. Some - The Walking Dead - toe the thin line between the two. There is enough seriousness in this show that we are horrified by a lot of what we see, but there is also a levity around it (zombies? Ha, no way!) that makes the show a lot of fun to watch. Still, any book or show that even half-seriously addresses the issue of a disorganized world pokes at the same themes - rise in criminal activity, every man for himself, deaths everywhere, lack of morals and ethics.
- The people supposed to keep the order were too afraid of the people they had quarantined. There is a lot of shooting and innocent deaths, as a result. Some leave you agape - you get the "I was just talking to this guy minutes ago" feeling.
- A number of criminals kept 200 people in fear and demanded that they send women to them every day for them to "have fun with". Women are sent. Nobody is able to do anything else except talk in circles. That "fun" leaves you feeling sick and nauseated.
- Dogs, not having owners anymore, have started hunting for their own food. Sometimes, that food is a human.
- How do you do anything at all when you are blind? You can't even be sure if a certain can contains food or poison.
- You can't even take care of your personal hygiene anymore or cook anything at all.
- You won't even know if you are about to fall off the edge of a bridge or walk into a carpet of hot coals.
- You won't be able to tell if you are walking straight or going in circles.
- Nobody returns back to the place they left in the morning to hunt for food. They don't even know how to find a place they cannot see.
- Every man for himself. Which means, murders are far too common. People just drop dead like hot potatoes.
It may be a sign of how much dystopian lit is all around us, but there is a part of me that feels that we may live in a dystopian world someday. There are many countries that are already being subject to varying degrees of dystopia - war-ravaged places that are always being abused by people who don't know how to handle power, countries that are completely or partially cut-off from the rest of the world, and countries where the people are always rebelling against the government. If we did get into one such world, will whatever we learned from all these amazing dystopian reads, movies, and TV shows be put to use? Or will we prove them all right - that deep within, all humans are capable of evil, it is just an organized world that keeps us all human?
Whenever I think that, I realize that we did just fine centuries ago, when there was no government to rule the masses. But we also didn't have masses then, we only had pockets of people scattered all across the world. Today, we are too many people and not enough resources. How will we fare in a dystopian world?
While I'm still thinking about Blindness, I'm also reading The Fever, which is appearing to be woefully inadequate in comparison. I'm not even comparing the two books; heck, they are not even in the same domain. But that's what beautiful literature does to you - everything after it pales in comparison. I also have a grand plan to finish about 12 books between now and the end of September (mostly review books that I let accumulate over the past few months).