Sunday, March 17, 2013

Visible Cities


Visible Cities 
-the immutable Italo Calvino in this month's Harper's Magazine.

Dear Mr. Ricci,
  Here is my CV.  I was born in 1923 under a sky in which in the radiant sun and melancholy Saturn were housed in a harmonious Libra.  I spent the first twenty-five years of my life in what was in those days still verdant San Remo, which contained cosmopolitan eccentrics amid the surly isolation of its rural, practical folk; I was marked for life by both these aspects of the place.  Then I moved to the industrious and rational Turin, where risk of going mad is no less than elsewhere (as Nietzche found out).  I arrived at a time when the streets opened out deserted and endless, so few were the cars; to shorten my journeys on foot I would cross the rectilinear streets on long obliques from one angle to the other—a procedure that today is not just impossible but unthinkable—and in this way I would advance marking out invisible hypotenuses between gray right-angled sides.  I got to know only barely other famous metropolises, on the Atlantic and Pacific, falling in love with all of them at first sight: I deluded myself into believing that I had understood and possessed some of them, while others remained forever ungraspable and foreign to me.   For many years I suffered geographic neurosis: I was unable to stay three consecutive days in one city or place.  In the end I chose definitive wife and dwelling in Paris, a city that is surrounded by forests and hornbeams and birches, where I walk with my daughter Abigail, and that in turn surrounds the Bibliotheque Nationale, where I go to consult rare books, using my Reader’s Ticket, and becoming more and more dissatisfied with the Best, I am already anticipating the incomparable joys of growing old.  That’s all.

                                                                                                Yours sincerely,
                                                                                                Calvino

>While I dream of a Paris sabbatical with the sublime sounds of French rock, the incomparable Noir Desir (“L’Europe”) singing sultry sounds in my ear.

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