I’m continuing the previous entry…
I’m missing reading sci-fi, so thank goodness for Calvino…
The guy is half-engineer (in the good way, not the ‘wannabe a fascist’ way), and his love of all types of literature is what makes this series of talks so interesting to read.
It’s funny that I semi-dissed DeLillo in the first entry, because Calvino here reminds me of at least a line from White Noise, the one in which the main character’s dad talks about merging with the lightness of the universe, the stuff of atoms and lightness. I’m fairly certain that in White Noise that line is meant to be sarcastic, since it’s written in the backdrop of a constant atomic bomb holocaust and the character isn’t necessarily one of the heroes (although I think that DeLillo likes him), and I shouldn’t really care, because DeLillo and Calvino are in the same territory here.
I’m confident about that connection because Calvino uses Lucretius, who I thought no one read before about 1995 (or more accurately between 500 A.D. and 1995). He finds examples of lightness everywhere, and he never dismisses heaviness (or “weight, density, and concreteness” (14)) in his argument, but he believes that lightness is a key to facing the new millennium, and I’ll be damned if that doesn’t sound good, even as I listen to the Dropkick Murphys.
One more thing – throughout this series of lectures/talks/discussions/fireside chats he explores a wide range of literature, and he sets that range up here as he goes from folk songs to Shakespeare to physicists/natural historians (Lucretius) to finishing with Kafka. His next-to-last sentence is perhaps his most beautiful – “Thus, astride our bucket [reference to the Kafka story], we shall face the new millennium, without hoping to find anything more in it than what we ourselves are able to bring to it.” (29)