Italo Calvino: 6 Memos for the Next Millenium

Vintage Classics paperback edition pub. 1996


p23 “In Newton’s theories, what most strikes the literary imagination is not the conditioning of everything and everyone by the inevitability of its own weight, but rather the  balance of forces that enables heavenly bodies to float in space.”

p26 “Galileo saw the alphabet as the model for all combinations of minimal units…”

== The duck’s eye of the Italian language to this Englishman is “Che fai?”


p51 JL Borges description.

p53 Mercury vs Saturn. Mercury represents syntony (= participation in the world around us)

p57 “Giacomo Leopardi maintained that the more vague and imprecise language is the more poetic it is.”

“…as far as I know Italian is the only language in which the word vago (vague) also means ‘lovely, attractive’. Starting out from the original meaning  of ‘wandering’, the word vago still carries an idea of movement and mutability, which in Italian is associated both with uncertainty and indefiniteness and with gracefulness and pleasure.”


p65 Barthes asked why there could not be a new science for every object.

p71 Analogy of the flame and the crystal. The crystal as the model of perfection, a “bridge between the mineral world and living matter.”  The flame as “constancy of external form in spite of relentless internal agitation”  Calvino introduces a third emblem, that of the city, nearby in the text, representing  the “tension between geometric rationality and the entanglements of human lives.”

p67 Reporting Paul Valery “…what is terrifying and inconceivable is not the infinite void, but existence.”

I ddin’t get on so well with Visibility and Multiplicity on this reading.

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