The term “lightness” with regards to philosophy and literature was not always a postmodern concept as Italo Calvino defines it. Lightness on. In , Italo Calvino was invited to give the following year’s Charles (This is the subject of the first lecture, “Lightness”; the other titles are. Lightness: Italo Calvino’s hope for the future of literature. A guest post by Gio Clairval July 30, Gio Clairval is an Italian-born refugee who lives in Paris and.

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You jettison all that is cumbersome.

Six Memos For The Next Millennium Quotes

In pages where his irony cannot conceal a genuine cosmic excitement, Cyrano extols valvino unity of all things, animate or inanimate, the combinatoria of elementary figures that determine the variety of living forms; and above all he conveys his sense of the precariousness of the processes behind them. It may be that Kafka only wanted to tell us that going out to look for a bit of coal on a cold wartime night changes the mere swinging of italk empty bucket into the quest of a knight-errant or the desert crossing of a caravan or a flight on a magic carpet.

I am speaking of the bodiless abstraction of the rationalism at which his satire is aimed and the material weight ktalo the body: Lightness is a force that propels. Margaret Atwood said that good writers work as if one hand is writing and the other hand is following lighntess an eraser, as if no one will ever read the words. O gentle, gracious moon, I remember now, it must be a year ago, on this same hill I came to see you; I was full of sorrow.

The other tries to give language the weight, density, and concreteness of things, bodies, and sensations. Notify me of new comments via email.

Use of language such as: Choosing the best word or sentence is not about being less verbose or the most flamboyant. Perhaps even Lucretius was moved by this need, perhaps even Ovid: Wikipedia articles with style issues from September All articles with style issues Articles that may contain original research from September All articles that may contain original research.

He is the poet of physical concreteness, viewed in its permanent and immutable substance, but the first thing he tells us is that emptiness is just as concrete as solid bodies. Gio Clairval on Lightness: This is good writing: Emily Dickinson, for instance, can supply as many as we might wish: In centuries and civilizations closer to us, in villages where the women bore most of the weight of a constructed life, witches flew by night on broomsticks or even on lighter vehicles such as ears of wheat or pieces of straw.


Six Memos For The Next Millennium Quotes by Italo Calvino

The appearances of the moon in his poetry do not take up many lines, but they are enough to shed the light of the moon on the whole poem, or else to project upon it the shadow of its absence.

Little wonder if, within an infinite quantity of matter that ceaselessly changes and stirs, the few animals, vegetables, and minerals we see should happen to be made; no more wonder than getting a royal pair in a hundred casts of the dice. To push this contrast perhaps too far, I might say that Dante gives solidity even to the most abstract intellectual speculation, whereas Cavalcanti dissolves the concreteness of tangible experience in lines of measured rhythm, syllable by syllable, as if thought were darting out of darkness in swift lightning flashes.

The iron machines still exist, but they obey the orders of weightless bits. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. I confess that I am tempted to construct my own Shakespeare, a Lucretian atomist, but I realize that this would be arbitrary. He died before leaving Italy.

When I get time whenever that is! Maybe I was only then becoming aware of the weight, the inertia, the opacity of the world—qualities that stick to writing from the start, unless one finds some way of evading them. This page was last edited on 15 Mayat Positions Aesthetics Formalism Institutionalism Aesthetic response.

Five years later the drawing was still not begun. Physicists have been wondering whether we are all maybe just shadows on a distant wall.

Perhaps only the liveliness and mobility of the intelligence escape this sentence—the very qualities with which this novel is written, and which belong to a world quite different from the one we live in. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Similarly to Greek philosopher Heraclitusfor Italo CalvinoLightness is the flexible; the weightless; the mobile; the connective; vectors as distinct from structures.

Lightness: Italo Calvino’s hope for the future of literature

Sartre said that writing, properly employed, can be a powerful means of liberating the reader from all kinds of alienation, and by this process, the writer also frees their own self and overcomes their own alienation. Then there is the thread of writing as a metaphor of the powder-fine substance of the world. There remains one thread, the one I first started to unwind: Something which does not forever recur has its brief existence, and, once it is complete, the universe goes on existing, utterly indifferent to the completed phenomenon.


The term “lightness” varies in usage but is differentiated from physical weight, such as “the lightness of balsa wood”. Lightness is a subtraction of weight rather than the pursuit of a pre-existing quality of lightness.

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.

Calvino picks and chooses from the whole range of human thought, though he often returns to Leopardi and to Shakespeare, about whom he is deftly illuminating.

It arouses awareness of what might superficially be overlooked; it draws our attention to the marginal, the forgotten. To find a more modern example of this we may turn to Henry James, opening any of his books at random: A writer can take on lightness in their work, using the most deft and nimble language to speak of things that are true now, but more importantly, true always. Faced with the precarious existence of tribal life—drought, sickness, evil influences—the shaman responded by ridding his body of weight and flying to another world, another level of perception, where he could find the strength to change the face of reality.

In Nietzschean terms, weight is life-affirming in that to live with positive intensity is to live in a way you’d be prepared to repeat.

The weightless gravity I have spoken of with regard to Cavalcanti reappears in the age of Cervantes and Shakespeare: Well, the boats begin to float.