You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a Winter's Night a Traveller. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. …Tell the others right away, "No, I don't want to watch TV!… I'm reading! I don't want to be disturbed!
If the ancients had been able to see it as I see it now, Mr. Palomar thinks, they would have thought they had projected their gaze into the heaven of Plato's ideas, or in the immaterial space of the postulates of Euclid; but instead, thanks to some misdirection or other, this sight has been granted to me, who fear it is too beautiful to be true, too gratifying to my imaginary universe to belong to the real world. But perhaps it is this same distrust of our senses that prevents us from feeling comfortable in the universe. Perhaps the first rule I must impose on myself is this: stick to what I see.
What Romantic terminology called genius or talent or inspiration is nothing other than finding the right road empirically, following one's nose, taking shortcuts.
Every morning I tell myself, 'Today has to be productive' - and then something happens that prevents me from writing.
…Marco’s answers and objections took their place in a discourse already proceeding on its own, in the Great Khan’s head. That is to say, between the two of them it did not matter whether questions and solutions were uttered aloud or whether each of the two went on pondering in silence. In fact, they were silent, their eyes half-closed, reclining on cushions, swaying in hammocks, smoking long amber pipes.Marco Polo imagined answering (or Kublai Khan imagined his answer) that the more one was lost in unfamiliar quarters of distant cities, the more one understood the other cities he had crossed to arrive there…
A human being becomes human not through the casual convergence of certain biological conditions, but through an act of will and love on the part of other people. If this is not the case, then humanity becomes — as it is already to a large extent — no more than a rabbit-warren. But this is no longer a “free-range” warren but a “battery” one, in the conditions of artificiality in which it lives, with artificial light and chemical feed.
Traveling, you realize that differences are lost: each city takes to resembling all cities, places exchange their form, order, distances, a shapeless dust cloud invades the continents.
As Raimbaut dragged a dead man along he thought, ‘Ohcorpse, I have come rushing here only to be dragged along by theheels like you. What is this frenzy that drives me, this mania forbattle and for love, when seen from the place where your staringeyes gaze and your flung-back head knocks over stones? It’s thatI think of, oh corpse, it’s that you make me think of: but does anythingchange? Nothing. No other days exist but these of oursbefore the tomb, both for us the living and for you the dead. Mayit be granted me not to waste them, not to waste anything of whatI am, of what I could be: to do deeds helpful to the Frankish cause:to embrace, to be embraced by, proud Bradamante. I hope youspent your days no worse, oh corpse. Anyway to you the dice have already shown their numbers. For me they are still whirling in thebox. And I love my own disquiet, corpse, not your peace.
Don't be amazed if you see my eyes always wandering. In fact, this is my way of reading, and it is only in this way that reading proves fruitful to me. If a book truly interests me, I cannot follow it for more than a few lines before my mind, having seized on a thought that the text suggests to it, or a feeling, or a question, or an image, goes off on a tangent and springs from thought to thought, from image to image, in an itinerary of reasonings and fantasies that I feel the need to pursue to the end, moving away from the book until I have lost sight of it. The stimulus of reading is indispensable to me, and of meaty reading, even if, of every book, I manage to read no more than a few pages. But those few pages already enclose for me whole universes, which I can never exhaust.
Man is simply the best chance we know of that matter has had of providing itself with information about itself.