Six Memos For The Next Millennium

A child's pleasure in listening to stories lies partly in waiting for things he expects to be repeated: situations, phrases, formulas. Just as in poems and songs the rhymes help to create the rhythm, so in prose narrative there are events that rhyme.

although science interests me just because of its efforts to escape from anthropomorphic knowledge, I am nonetheless convinced that our imagination cannot be anything but anthropomorphic.

Among Chuang-tzu's many skills, he was an expert draftsman. The king asked him to draw a crab. Chuang-tzu replied that he needed five years, a country house, and twelve servants. Five years later the drawing was still not begun. "I need another five years," said Chuang-tzu. The king granted them. At the end of these ten years, Chuang-tzu took up his brush and, in an instant, with a single stroke, he drew a crab, the most perfect crab ever seen. [Calvino retells this Chinese story]

Esiste una leggerezza della pensosità, così come tutti sappiamo che esiste una leggerezza della frivolezza; anzi, la leggerezza pensosa può far apparire la frivolezza come pesante e opaca.

For Leopardi, unhappy hedonist that he was, what is unknown is always more attractive than what is known; hope and imagination are the only consolations for the disappointments and sorrows of experience. Man therefore projects his desire into infinity and feels pleasure only when he is able to imagine that this pleasure has no end.

I am a Saturn who dreams of being a Mercury, and everything I write reflects these two impulses.

In an age when other fantastically speedy, widespread media are triumphing, and running the risk of flattening all communication onto a single homogeneous surface, the function of literature is communication between things that are different simply because they are different, not blunting but even sharpening the differences between them, following the true bent of written language.

In fact the problem Leopardi is facing is speculative and metaphysical, a problem in the history of philosophy from Parmenides to Descartes and Kant: the relationship between the idea of infinity as absolute space and absolute time, and our empirical knowledge of space and time.

I think that my first impulse arises from a hypersensitivity or allergy. It seems to me that language is always used in a random, approximate, careless manner, and this distresses me unbearably. Please don't think that my reaction is the result of intolerance towards my neighbor: the worst discomfort of all comes from hearing myself speak. That's why I try to talk as little as possible. If I prefer writing, it is because I can revise each sentence until I reach the point where - if not exactly satisfied with my words - I am able at least to eliminate those reasons for dissatisfaction that I can put a finger on. Literature - and I mean the literature that matches up to those requirements - is the promised land in which language becomes what it really ought to be.

It sometimes seems to me that a pestilence has struck the human race in its most distinctive faculty - that is, the use of words. It is a plague afflicting language, revealing itself as a loss of cognition and immediacy, an automatism that tends to level out all expression into the most generic, anonymous, and abstract formulas, to dilute meaning, to blunt the edge of expressiveness, extinguishing the sparks that shoots out from the collision of words and new circumstances.

I will start out this evening with an assertion: fantasy is a place where it rains.

La fantasia è una specie di macchina elettronica che tiene conto di tutte le combinazioni possibili e sceglie quelle che rispondono ad un fine, o che semplicemente sono le più interessanti, piacevoli, divertenti.

La fantasia è un posto dove ci piove dentro.

La letteratura vive solo se si pone degli obiettivi smisurati, anche al di là d’ogni possibilità di realizzazione. Solo se poeti e scrittori si proporranno impresse che nessun altro osa immaginare la letteratura continuerà ad avere una funzione. Da quando la scienza diffida dalle spiegazioni generali e dalle soluzioni che non siano settoriali e specialistiche, la grande sfida per la letteratura è saper tessere insieme i diversi saperi e i diversi codici in una visione plurima, sfaccettata del mondo.

La mia fiducia nel futuro della letteratura consiste nel sapere che ci sono cose che solo la letteratura può dare coi suoi mezzi specifici.

La mia operazione è stata il più delle volte una sottrazione di peso; ho cercato di togliere peso ora alle figure umane, ora ai corpi celesti, ora alle città; soprattutto ho cercato di togliere peso alla struttura del racconto e al linguaggio.

Ogni interpretazione impoverisce il mito e lo soffoca: coi miti non bisogna aver fretta; è meglio lasciarli depositare nella memoria, fermarsi a meditare su ogni dettaglio, ragionarci sopra senza uscire dal loro linguaggio di immagini. La lezione che possiamo trarre da un mito sta nella letteralità del racconto, non in ciò che vi aggiungiamo noi dal di fuori.

Ogni vita è un enciclopedia, una biblioteca, un campionario di stili, dove tutto può essere continuamente rimescolato e riordinato in tutti i modi possibili

One should be light like a bird and not like a feather.

Overambitious projects may be objectionable in many fields, but not in literature. Literature remains alive only if we set ourselves immeasurable goals, far beyond all hope of achievement.

Still all "realities" and "fantasies" can take on form only by means of writing, in which outwardness and innerness, the world and I, experience and fantasy appear composed of the same verbal material. The polymorphic visions of the eyes and the spirit are contained in uniform lines of small or capital letters, periods, commas, parentheses - pages of signs, packed as closely together as grains of sand, representing the many-colored spectacle of the world on a surface that is always the same and always different, like dunes shifted by the desert wind.

The proper use of language, for me personally, is one that enables us to approach things (present or absent) with discretion, attention, and caution, with respect for what things (present or absent) communicate without words.

The real protagonist of the story, however, is the magic ring, because it is the movements of the ring that determine those of the characters and because it is the ring that establishes the relationships between them. Around the magic object there forms a kind of force field that is in fact the territory of the story itself. We might say that the magic object is an outward and visible sign that reveals the connection between people or between events. . . We might even say that in a narrative any object is always magic.

The word connects the visible trace with the invisible thing, the absent thing, the thing that is desired or feared, like a frail emergency bridge flung over an abyss.

Tutte le “realtà” e le “fantasie” possono prendere forma solo attraverso la scrittura, nella quale esteriorità e interiorità, mondo e io, esperienza e fantasia appaiono composte della stessa materia verbale; le visioni polimorfe degli occhi e dell’anima si trovano contenute in righe uniformi di caratteri minuscoli o maiuscoli, di punti, di virgole, di parentesi; pagine di segni allineati fitti fitti come granelli di sabbia rappresentano lo spettacolo variopinto del mondo in una superficie sempre uguale e sempre diversa, come le dune spinte dal vento del deserto.

what matters is not the enclosure of the work within a harmonious figure, but the centrifugal force produced by it -- a plurality of language as a guarantee of a truth that is not merely partial.

Whenever humanity seems condemned to heaviness, I think I should fly like Perseus into a different space. I don’t mean escaping into dreams or the irrational. I mean that I have to change my approach, look at the world from a different perspective, with a different logic and with fresh methods of cognition and verification. (Terence sent me this quote the other day. A good battle cry, I believe... and one I wholeheartedly respect.)

Who are we, if not a combination of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined? Each life is an encyclopaedia, a library, an inventory of objects, a series of styles, and everything can be constantly reshuffled and reordered in every conceivable way.

Who are we, who is each one of us, if not a combination of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined? Each life is an encyclopedia, a library, an inventory of objects, a series of styles, and everything can be constantly shuffled and reordered in every way conceivable.