Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Final Memos

Bwwwaaahhhhaaaaa! Did you think you would escape from the remaining Calvino lectures? Think again! In case you were lucky enough to escape the first two posts about Italo Calvino's lectures Six Memos for the Next Millennium, you can read about lightness and quickness here and exactitude here. Now for visibility and multiplicity. Visibility. By visibility Calvino means visual imagination for both the author and the reader. The author must first be able to create visual images with words. From those words the reader must be able to translate them into an image. Seems pretty straightforward. But Calvino worries about prefabricated images supplied by the culture or any other kind of tradition. He asks, "What will be the future of the individual imagination in what is usually called the 'civilization of the image'? Will the power of evoking images of things that are not there continue to develop in a human race increasingly inundated by a flood of prefabricated images?" Clavino is afraid that we may reach a point where we are unable to create images of places we have never seen whether those places be future worlds or past civilizations. Will what we create and can imagine be circumscribed by the images our world is awash in? Calvino sees two paths that we can take. The first is to "recycle used images in a new context that changes their meaning." The second is to "wipe the slate clean and start from scratch." Personally, I don't think that we will lose the ability to create fresh images. I can see that it will become more difficult. I find his first path more interesting than starting from scratch. At least with the first option there is (possibly) a frame of reference for the image(s) that can be used when recycling even if the original meaning or context of the image is overturned. In the second path there is no common reference point and it seems it would be very difficult to establish any sort of significant meaning. Still, it is a thought provoking idea. Multiplicity. Calvino has an idea of the contemporary novel as an encyclopedia, "as a method of knowledge, and above all as a network of connections between the events, the people, and the things of the world." Calvino suggests that if literature is going to remain alive, we must set ourselves immeasurable goals. He believes, "Since science has begun to distrust general explanations and solutions that are not sectorial and specialized, the grand challenge for literature is to be capable of weaving together the various branches of knowledge, the various "codes," into manifold and multifaceted vision of the world." Multiplicity is about exploring possibility, a vision of plurality instead of something singular. To those who object to this idea, Calvino asks, "Who are we, who is each one of us, if not a combinatoria 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 conceivable way." I think that kind of says it all. There you have it. I will no longer pester you with Calvino lectures. I must now go search for something else filled with juicy ideas. But as your reward for reading this far, "love" poems by Marlene Dietrich have been found.