Read De osynliga städerna by Italo Calvino Estrid Tenggren Online


Scenen är en orientalisk trädgård, doftande av sandelträ och magnolia. Venetianaren Marco Polo berättar för sin vän Kublai Khan, mongolernas härskare, om de många märkliga städerna i Kublais rike: Anastasia, vars mönster är ett nätverk av kanaler; Zora, där blicken löper längs gatorna som över skrivna sidor; Despina, gränsstaden mellan tvåöknar; Leonia, där avskrädeshögarnScenen är en orientalisk trädgård, doftande av sandelträ och magnolia. Venetianaren Marco Polo berättar för sin vän Kublai Khan, mongolernas härskare, om de många märkliga städerna i Kublais rike: Anastasia, vars mönster är ett nätverk av kanaler; Zora, där blicken löper längs gatorna som över skrivna sidor; Despina, gränsstaden mellan tvåöknar; Leonia, där avskrädeshögarna växer; Tecla, den underjordiska staden; Berenice, rättvisans stad - och många andra sagolika städer. Bilderna glider samman, konturerna löses upp. Är det kanske ytterst en enda stad Marco har berättat om, hans egen hemstad Venedig...

Title : De osynliga städerna
Author :
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ISBN : 9100435562
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 180 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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De osynliga städerna Reviews

  • Riku Sayuj
    2019-03-24 08:51

    Invisible Cities; Imagined LivesMarco Polo was a dreamer. He had great ambitions - wanting to be a traveller, a writer and a favored courtier. He wanted to live in the lap of luxury in his lifetime and in the best illustrated pages of history later. But he could only be a dreamer and never much more. Was it good enough? He never travelled anywhere and spent his life dreaming away in his Venice and is remembered to this day as the greatest explorer and travel writer of all time. How did that come about? It is a tale about the triumph of imagination over experience.In Venice, that city of water, a network of canals and a network of streets span and intersect each other. Marco Polo was traveling in a little boat in that Venice and thinking of the Marco Polo he was meant to be when his imagination began to soar. All the travelogues he wanted to write started coming to his mind. A whole book of descriptions, all made of poems that would describe the beauty of this city like those waves reflecting it in varied shapes among their ripples. He watched the people moving along the streets, each eye seeing the same city differently, dependent on the angle of observation, and speaking in a language of symbols and images that is more powerful than words can ever be. The river is the story, the river is the book, arranged in perfect sinusoidal waves of its own and choosing as its reader the greatest of all appreciators, the book catches the splendor of the city and reflects it for your patient eyes in a sort of primitive cubism, leaving it to you to make out all its meaning and all its poetry and to see ultimately yourself in that reflection of all the cities that imagination could possibly build.He started going on long voyages into his own mind, into the reflections of Venice, and into the reflections of those reflections. And then he wrote them down and he spoke of them and he sang of them. Men stopped to listen. They paid to hear him, first with time, then with gold, then with diamonds and great honors.The Venetian was soon summoned to the court of the great Kublai Khan, who was also a dreamer. He envisioned himself to be the greatest of rulers, his kingdom expanding and pouring over the whole vast world until all the world was under him. He knew that information was power and he wanted to know of every single city under him, and of every city that was to be under him. ‘On the day when I know all the cities,’ he thought, 'I shall be able to possess my empire, at last!’ He wanted Marco polo to be his eyes and ears and sent him off, with instructions to visit the most far flung and exotic provinces and to understand the soul of every city and to report back to him.Marco Polo bowed every time and with great aplomb set off for his great voyages. Next week he would be in his beloved Venice, dreaming up the world, a world more real than reality, with all the ingredients needed to construct a city - memories, desires, signs, skies, trade, eyes, sounds, shapes, names and the dead. He spoke of old cities with gods and demons in it, of cities yet to be, with airplanes and atomic bombs coloring their movements, and of cities that should have been, with happiness and sorrow apportioned in balance. What separates the dream’s reality from the dreamer’s reality? He pondered on this mystery with every city. Maybe all successful men dream our lives as it should be while rotting in some sewer and maybe all unhappy men dream their unhappiness in life while rotting in some palace? Maybe we can only continue our chosen destinies and everything else is a dream. It is only invisible cities we can construct. And we can reflect on them only through imagination, and fiction. He knew his cities were real.It took many years for the Great Khan to realize that Marco Polo wasn't describing cities so much as the human mind and experience. He realized that every city, whether imagined by Marco Polo or constructed by planned blueprints or grown from slow accretion are all dreams given shape by human hands, by human ambition, by a desire for a future that can be shaped. In fact, Marco Polo’s cities started to seem to him more real than any he knew to be real. He learned that if men and women began to live their ephemeral dreams, every phantom would become a city in which to begin a story of pursuits, pretenses, misunderstandings, clashes, oppressions, and the carousel of fantasies would stop.Khan now knew how to travel, to really travel. He could now accompany the great explorer in his prophetic journeys. He could describe cities to Marco Polo and he could listen to him, even as he filled in the details. They could sit together in the courtyard and be silent and still travel through the most exotic and most truthful of cities.Then came a day when Marco Polo had to inform the Khan, ‘Sire, now I have told you about all the cities I know.''There is still one of which you never speak.'Marco Polo bowed his head.'Venice,' the Khan said.Marco smiled. 'What else do you believe I have been talking to you about?'The emperor did not turn a hair. 'And yet I have never heard you mention that name.'And Polo said: 'Every time I describe a city I am saying something about Venice.''When I ask you about other cities, I want to hear about them. And about Venice, when I ask you about Venice.' Khan made an attempt at looking angry but he knew his friend could see through faces and all such masks.'To distinguish the other cities' qualities, I must speak of a first city that remains implicit. For me it is Venice. For those who pass it without entering, the city is one thing; it is another for those who are trapped by it and never leave. There is the city where you arrive for the first time; and there is another city which you leave never to return. Each deserves a different name; perhaps I have already spoken of Venice under other names; perhaps I have spoken only of Venice.’'You should then describe for me Venice - as it is, all of it, not omitting anything you remember of it.''Memory's images, once they are fixed in words, are erased,' Polo said. 'Perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once, if I speak of it. Or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little.’Kublai looked at Polo. He understood. To tell a story you have to start from what you know best. You have to put your soul in the story and then build the flesh, the hair, the face and the clothes around it. The more stories you tell, the more of your soul you invest and lay bare to the world. When do you start fearing that you are as invisible as the cities you create? Kublai continued to look sadly at his friend.Kublai asks Marco, 'When you return to the West, will you repeat to your people the same tales you tell me?''I speak and speak,' Marco says, 'but the listener retains only the words he is expecting. It is not the voice that commands the story: it is the ear.'Then Khan knew that the sadness he felt so pressingly as he tried to force the wine down was not for his dear friend but for himself, he now knew that as he was listening to all the stories that Marco Polo was describing to him, he was only hearing stories that he was telling himself. The cities were all real, but they were not reflections of Marco Polo’s soul, they were not reflecting his Venice. They were reflecting Kublai Khan’s own soul, his own empire, ambitions, desires and fears.Disclaimer: Marco Polo Really Did Go To China, MaybeEdit: I got a message from a goodreader asking me why I put up the whole story of the book without a spoiler warning... Please go ahead and read the review without any fear of spoilers, the connection with the plot of the book (if any) is very tenuous - this is an imagined plot/backstory for a book that deliberately lacks one.

  • Violet wells
    2019-03-02 06:11

    ...A five star review...I hate flying. The claustrophobia of it. So usually when I return to Italy after visiting London I catch the train to Paris and then the night train to Venice. That’s my little extravagance. I catch the night train to Venice and not Florence for one moment. The moment of walking out of the station of Santa Lucia and beholding the Grand Canal. I sit on the steps and let all the activity on the canal wash through me. I’m not sure why this moment means so much to me. It’s not a moment I can or even want to explain. I remember a line from a novel I read where a character gazing out at the Grand Canal says, “I keep wondering when all this will happen to me.” Perhaps that’s it, Venice articulates some deep desire we all have or evokes a memory of something that has never quite happened. Reading this for a second time is a bit like visiting Venice for a second time. A little bit of the magic fades but in compensation you notice lots of wonders you missed the first time. I read it in English this time. Now and again the writing seemed a bit clunky – “The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here.” That “if there is one” is a bit of an eyesore. But it’s no less clunky in Italian - L'inferno dei viventi non è qualcosa che sarà; se ce n'è uno – you can’t blame the translator for translating it word for word instead of trying to improve the fluency of Calvino’s prose. . This is probably the greatest book ever written about tourism, about the urge to escape the confines of where we live. Essentially Marco Polo is a tourist. And we all as tourists need an audience to show the images of our travels to. Kublai Khan is the audience, the vicarious tourist. He’s also a warlord, and by inference every warlord intent on conquering new territory is a tourist and every tourist is a warlord in embryo. We all want to conquer new lands. We’re all hungry for new discoveries, new exotic possessions. But we all eventually have to go home. Calvino is constantly making the point that every city is essentially what we bring to it. He’s brilliant at capturing the deep division of perspective between the tourist and long term inhabitant. Florentines are famous for never looking at the city’s monuments. It’s become how they distinguish themselves from the tourist. They turn a blind eye. They stare at their phones while walking across Piazza della Signoria. Venice has almost been turned into a romance theme park – it’s called upon to provide a standard collection of microwaved emotions as efficiently as an atm provides cash. One of the wonders of Venice now is the people who live there. You need them to understand something of the true nature of the city. To get behind the postcard façade. There are times when it’s much more rewarding to watch a man bump a barrow down the steps of a nondescript bridge than gaze blankly at the façade of San Marco. Sometimes it’s these kinds of details that bring a place alive for us. Calvino’s deployment of these telling details is probably this book’s most stellar achievement and what makes it such a joy to read. ...An alternative four star review... Calvino is one of the sacred cows of literature. He’s one of those writers who we’re tempted to pretend to like more than we really do, like Proust and Joyce, for fear of revealing some intellectual inadequacy. Interestingly for me, Virginia Woolf still isn’t one of these scared cows. When people don’t like Woolf they have more of a license to vent their scorn. It still hasn’t been officially recognised that Woolf is a great writer, by men at any rate. Often when there’s a list of the best novels ever written Woolf won’t feature at all, or if she does it’ll be her lesser but easier books like Mrs Dalloway or A Room of One's Own that makes the list. (To be fair her genius is recognised in Italy and France; it’s in the UK she tends to divide opinion.) So Invisible Cities vs The Waves. Invisible Cities is absolutely brilliant and inspired for the first fifty pages. But then it wanes a bit, gets a bit repetitive. Seems odd to say about a book of only 145 pages but might it have been better had it been a bit shorter? The contents page has the appearance of some mathematical formula, like a star map, so perhaps there’s some hidden genius in the design of this book. But if there is I didn’t get it and nor did anyone else judging by the few reviews I’ve read. It felt to me like the number of invisible cities we get was random and some were uninspired. If you took a single page out of The Waves it would collapse. You could take ten pages out of Invisible Cities without it being noticed. Also now and again Calvino is perhaps guilty of the kind of vacuous platitudes you’ll find strewn throughout the pages of The Alchemist. “Falsehood is never in words; it is in things.” That kind of thing. Looks great if you skim read it; becomes only a half-truth if you stop to think about it. So for me, The Waves wins over Invisible Cities in a heavyweight wrestling match. ...Back to tourism...Once upon a time the world was getting smaller. Now it’s getting bigger again as terrorism creates more and more no go areas. You could say terrorism is a war on tourism. It’s diminishing one of the biggest cultural phenomenon of our times. That’s probably the most significant change terrorism is making to the world. It’s making us think twice about travelling. I watched a heartbreaking report from Aleppo last night –a once magical town that none of us will ever see again. How long before it becomes one of Calvino’s Invisible Cities?

  • Kalliope
    2019-03-10 07:02

    Heidi Whitman - Brain Terrain.I have not read Marco Polos’s Journeys, but I could imagine what he has written. Had I read it, I also would have had to imagine what he had written. Same verbs, different tenses.As I am sitting on a bench in front of a museum, waiting for a friend, a family of Italian tourists comes and sits next to me. They come from the land of Marco Polo, or maybe not, may be from the land of Italo Calvino since I do not know if they are Venetians. Italy was a projection of the Imagination in the nineteenth century. Marco Polo did not know it.They carry a guidebook of the city of Madrid, and are trying to make sense out of the book, a book written in their language, and also make sense out of the city, written in the language of cities. Universally understood. Cosmopolitan.It must be the monuments, the streets, the histories, the nourishment, the inhabitants, the parks, the related but different language that they want to understand. They use the text and the reproduced images as the key to comprehend the Urbis and the originals standing in front of them.MemoryAnd may be one of them, the father, remembers when he came here with his parents. He could be telling his children now about his Memories. But as they are listening, they are also discarding those Memories and forming their own: new future Memories of having visited the city with their parents. And they will tell their future children who will also forget. Remembering a Forgetting, like waves of the same sea.DesireTheir visit must have been prompted by some Desire to leave their everyday monotonous but comfortable life and look for excitement. Depending on their age they could participate in the bustling Madrid night life in which Desires wildly run. Age and Desire. Are all of them captives of their Desire-Spectrums? Would I desire to unlock their Desires?No. Only mine.SignsLooking around these Italians could observe that most Signs only signal the same as all the others. International sign language has become a non-sign language. They mean sameness.Thin CitiesAs Europeans they should not be surprised to see that this is not a Thin City. There are trees, there are street lamps, and there are some dreadful tall buildings. It is a city that could grow horizontally because it is on a barren plateau. And yet,… and yet, it has steep roads. And these do feel like pure verticals on a tired morning. The city is hilly and the sharp drop comes as a surprise as one arrives at the Palacio Real, where the Sabatini Gardens extend deep down. Francisco Sabatini, another Italian and architect and who has projected an invisible Italian quality to this city. As if Marco Polo had been here.Trading CitiesWith no seaport it had to become a port of projections and become a matrix for the dispatches to far-away ports. And it did so contrary to Marco Polo’s direction when his route was blocked by the Tartars. This landlocked city would determine the launching of the black Galleons and sail them off cruising the sea-routes to meet the successors of Kublai Kahn and Trade with them in that twin trading city, Ma-Nila-Ma-Drid. Coming and going. EyesThere is a building where there are many Eyes. They are all moving and roving around, looking at the walls, at the colours and flat shapes on the walls. And they continue looking and those walls with their images look back at them. The paintings have been looking at eyes for a longer time than these eyes have looked at anything. And there thrones a picture with which the imagination of a Venetian captured the Warrior on horseback looking over those eyes, looking without seeing them. Echoing the other Emperor when he had said to his Venetian: “describe to me your cities”, Emperor Charles V summoned Tiziano Vecellio and said to him “paint me your worlds, so that I can see them”.Tiziano painted Charles’ gaze into the horizon, into his world.NamesMatrix, or Matrice or Matriz or Magerit or Magra. The same city, different identities and varying names. Madrid in Spanish, Madrid in English, Madrid in German.And 马德里 in Mandarin, Ma-de-li, for the understanding of Kublai Kahn.The DeadThe monuments make the Dead more alive that the current alive. They remain and there are very many. But since I have a Now, I am interested in the fewer ones.The SkyIt is not true that Madrid has no sea. It just hangs over its inhabitants. The very intense blue of the Sky, so deep an azure because of the dry climate and the elevation of the city, makes one imagine oneself with wings which can be spread out to then set off with one’s soul and swim in the airy ocean.The Ultra-Mar.ContinuousNight and day, and Seasons. And clocks, many clocks. They seem to divide time, but they are phantasmagorias or devices that do the opposite from the magic emerging out of Phenakistoscopes and create the illusion of discrete, detached, distinct moments out of the unceasing Continuous.HiddenMost of the inhabitants are also tourists, like this Italian family. This is a city populated not just by passers in Life, but principally by outsiders who were not born here. Anonymous origins and undisclosed length of time for their open transit. Whether in hotels or temporary homes everybody’s lives remain invisible from each other. And their realities are not deciphered in the guide book of the Italians, just as Marco Polo did not succeed in deciphering his cities for the Great Kahn. They will remain invisible.Great ChanInvisible Cities forms part of the conclusion of Jonathan’s Spence’s The Chan's Great Continent: China in Western Minds. After reviewing the representation of China in Western minds, starting with Marco Polo, Spence tackles in the final chapter the three geniuses who understood what was at stake. Neither Kafka, nor Borges nor Calvino, had ever been to China. Yet, to the Sinologist Spence, they were the three bright minds who did not fall on the Orientalist trappings. And Calvino was the one to have identified best the trappings of the mind in representing the fascinating unknown.

  • Gaurav
    2019-02-26 05:02

    It's easy to describe what 'Invisible Cities' is not rather than what it is as it's really very difficult to ascertain which category it can be put into; it neither has a clear plot nor characters are developed as they normally are, it can't be called a novel or collection of stories, can't be put in any one genre since it surpasses so many; but still something extraordinary, something which can't be described in words, which can only be felt. The book has loose dialogues between emperor- Kublai Khan and a Venetian explorer-Marco Polo, Polo is ordered to explore the empire of the Khan and to tell parables with which to regale the ageing, and frequently impatient conqueror with descriptions of every city he has visited on his long peregrinations through Kingdom of Kublai Khan.The parables are surreal in nature and prose is very lyrical however I wonder how lyrical it would be in its original language. The book is divided into parables about fifty five imaginary cities which are categorized into eleven groups of memory, desire, sign, thin, trading, eyes, names, dead, sky, continuous and hidden.Different groups are associated with different themes, as Cities & Memory stories are philosophical thought experiments about nostalgia, history; discarding old Memories which are formed through word of mouth and forming their own.-"As this wave from memories flows in, the city soaks it up like a sponge and expands."-"The city which cannot be expunged from the mind is like an armature, a honeycomb in whose cells each of us can place the things he wants to remember...."At this point I feel It's not possible to review the book though I made a futile attempt; and the more I think about the book the more I feel I have to re-read it and then read it again.However there is one thing which I can surely say about 'Invisible Cities'that it's 'A lucid dream: one which can be experienced and can't be described'.

  • Paul Bryant
    2019-03-15 03:16

    Marco Polo : Now I shall tell you of the beautiful city of Nottingham where the buildings are made mostly of blue glass, onyx and sausagemeat. The men of the city trade in fur, spices and photographs of each other with their respective spouses. All the men have large phalluses, sometimes so large they must cut pieces out of the tops of their front doors before they can exit their houses in the morning. This is a city of dreamers and anthropophagi, of astronomers and chess players, all with the largest of phalluses. The women of the city are the most voluptuous and lively. They wear clothes. Many times I have observed them gambolling and performing handsprings for sheer joy of being in Nottingham. The dogs of Nottingham are all sly and well-read. They play canasta and billiards mostly, but also trade junk bonds and enjoy swapping photographs of the men of Nottingham with their respective spouses. But describing the cats of Nottingham will tax me to the very limit of my powers, O mighty Lord -Kublai Khan : One moment, Sr. Polo. You will see the sun is high. I must now bathe in Turkish Delight and oxtail soup. We will recommence in the cool of the evening.Marco Polo : I await your pleasure, my Lord.Kublai Khan to his chief fixer the Grand Weirdo of All The Kingdoms : Later this afternoon I wish you to tell Sr Marco I have died. Or tell me that he has died. One of the two.

  • Dolors
    2019-03-10 11:06

    Theories.One could easily declare that the protagonists of this book are the cities, which are different versions of the same city that doesn’t really exist, only maybe in the writer’s mind. Either Venice or Paris, Calvino’s cities are a trip through imagination to lives never had, doors never opened, people never met.Someone else might appoint the reader as the real protagonist of Calvino’s book for he becomes the traveler who visits these cities mentally, which are nothing else than representations of his current mood, his past experiences and his unverbalized longings. The cities change shape and adapt to the traveler’s desires, they blend together into that tenuous moment between sleep and waking, the split second when dreaming occurs.The interpretation of a third reader might allude to the allegoric meaning of the interludes between the extravagant descriptions of the cities where Marco Polo proves the deceitful nature of language to the Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan through silent gesticulation. The Venetian merchant smuggles moods, states of grace and elegies instead of material riches, maybe as a metaphor to show the Chinese ruler that conquering cities is like accumulating empty shells, a nothingness that lacks cohesion, for their true wealth is to be found in their people, not in the physical space they inhabit. How does one imprison souls?Free style.Truth is I am unable to tell you what this book is about. It’s certainly not about what I wrote above. But maybe it is. Every reader will discover its meaning in the surrealistic patterns of titles and alternating themes that give shape to an unrepeatable skyline, a personal print that will only fit the soul of each traveler.To me, Calvino’s cities represent the deadlock between dreams and reality and the way we connect them in our minds to dominate the pulse of time. Unsought memories carry the heavy load of past experiences, and that burden of nostalgia opens the door to unfulfilled desires that materialize into the tangible futures we will never own. How many lives can the keen observer recreate in his mind? How many times can we alter the past in mental recreation, bring the dead back to life by thinking of them? But remembering doesn’t come face forward, it ambushes you around sideways and oftentimes traps you in a deadly embrace, and the reflected image may replace the original thought. In the end, amidst a labyrinthine maze of canals, ancient Gods of locals and foreigners clinging to the threshold of upside down doors and black-and-white strings attaching relationships between the inhabitants of a spider-web city, I couldn’t resist the allure of Maurilia. This was the city where I could finally put my discombobulated mind at rest. The comfortable safety of its sepia postcards brought me back to the cozy evenings with granny when I had only to concentrate on the invisible map her bonny fingers scratched gently on my back after a tepid day at school. Calvino led me to here and now to type these words that make her precious presence more real than ever. I can even delineate the shape of the sound of her fluttering voice clearly in my head. Hello, Granny. Thank you, Calvino.

  • Cecily
    2019-02-22 07:51

    Image of new and old Shanghai, photographed by Greg Girard in 2000 (, chronologically equidistant between my two visits there. It is, and maybe always has been, a city of contrasting, unequal, parts and pairs, like many of the Invisible Cities.“Each man bears in his mind a city made only of differences.”ListenI’ve been eavesdropping on the mysterious, hypnotic conversations between a famous explorer from antiquity and the powerful emperor of a distant land: Marco Polo and Kublai Khan. Exotic places are conjured by gestures, emblems, and words. Then the tables turn, and the Khan describes the cities of his dreams and asks Polo if they exist.But is it the 55 cities bearing female names, or many aspects of a single city (Venice), or nearer a hundred cities (many of them have twins or doubles)? Submit to EnchantmentIt’s deliciously slippery collection of prose poems about places, grouped by words and numbers, repeated in different permutations that defy a single interpretation (though many have been applied, including sine waves). It suggests multiple routes of reading, much like some of the twisted and recursive paths through the cities themselves. There are Cities and Memory, Cities and Desire, Cities and Signs, Thin Cities, Trading Cities, Cities and Eyes, Cities and Names, Cities and the Dead, Cities and the Sky, Continuous Cities, and Hidden Cities.It purports to be about physical places, but as it explores “the invisible order that sustains cities”, there are twists and forks in time as well as geography: “the city toward which my journey tends is discontinuous in space and time”.I fear that if I try to constrain these kaleidoscopic and sometimes paradoxical visions to black and white marks on a screen, I will somehow kill the enchantment – for myself as well as for anyone reading. DoThese are places you must experience for yourself, walking the streets; crossing the canals; peering in windows; holding your nose at the stench; marvelling at the architecture; gazing at the underclad bathing beauties; exploring the exotic markets; puzzling at the frequent mentions of pipes, taps, gutters, and sewers; choking on smoke, and always seeking fresh revelations. As you wander, you can wonder how the cities are simultaneously similar and yet startlingly different: it’s never clear quite what real and what is not, what is cause and what is effect. Perhaps that’s part of the invisibility of the title.Whether this is travelling through China, Calvino, Venice or an atlas in a library, your journey will not be the same as mine, and nor will my subsequent ones. We will not be the same people, either. Meanwhile, in another city, another Cecily is writing a completely different review…Related Books• This was my second Calvino. Structurally, it can seem much simpler than If on a winter’s night a traveler, but it’s oddly harder to review. • A few months before this, I read and loved Andrew Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams. Having read Invisible Cities, I now realise how heavily influenced Lightman was: in content, structure, style… every way. Whether you class it as homage or borderline plagiarism is debatable, but it does not detract from my enjoyment at the time, and I think Lightman’s book is probably the more accessible of the two, even though it is primarily about physics/time, rather than geography.• Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion portrays a magical Venice of shifting routes that is beautifully reminiscent of Calvino.Quotes• “The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.”• “Anastasia awakens desires one at a time only to force you to stifle them, when you awaken in the heart of Anastasia one morning your desires waken all at once and surround you… You believe you are enjoying Anastasia wholly when you are only its slave.”• “You penetrate it along its streets thick with signboards jutting from the walls. The eye does not see things but images of things that mean other things.” • “Your gaze scans the streets as if they were written pages.”• “Does your journey take place only in the past?”• “Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had… Futures not achieved are only branches of the past: dead branches.”• “Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears.”• “The most fixed and calm lives… are spent without any repetition.”• “The exhalations that hang over the roofs of the metropolises, the opaque smoke that is not scattered, the hood of miasmata that weighs over the bituminous streets. Not the labile mist of memory nor the dry transparance, but the charring of burned lives that forms a scab on the city, the sponge swollen with vital matter that no longer flows, the jam of past, present, future that blocks existences calcified in the illusion of movement: this is what you would find at the end of your journey.”• “Traveling, you realize that differences are lost… Your atlas preserves the differences.”• “A voluptuous vibration constantly stirs Chloe, the most chaste of cities. If men and women began to live their ephemeral dreams, every phantom would become a person with whom to being a story… and the carousel of fantasies would stop.”

  • Seemita
    2019-02-28 06:57

    You landed in my world on a calm, dewy eveningAnd struck was I with a song I was about to sing;A song that lay hidden in the silhouettes of each letterThat protruded from the cover, all poised to embitter.But waited I, patiently, under the light of the mundane day;You see, Mr. Calvino, I had a knack of seeing your way.Fusing the curious with the depth, and peppering them with some humor too;All too often, you had served, a world that was both fictional and true.So, on a fine evening, when all your cities rose, at once, to a noisy chatter,I exited my world and entered yours, as it was now, an urgent matter.Welcome!, said Kublai Khan, The Imperious Chinese Emperor,Even as he kept his gaze fixed at one particular Conjurer.This particular Conjurer bore remote resemblance to the mighty Apollo;Ah! He had his name! ‘Step in.’, said the Venetian, Marco Polo.And so, with his highness Khan, I embarked on a tour of his empire,Ably recounted for us, through the dazzling eyes of his humble sire. While Isidora dyed me old even as my dreams kept fluttering in their youthful room,Anastasia set my desires and memories in a vicious cycle, not knowing who fuels whom;Zora pumped heavy sighs from the womb of forgotten cities,As Mauralia lulled me into a nostalgic film of small felicities.Said Marco Polo, all cities are same – same in desire and dementia, promise and insipidity, joy and remorse,“You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.”I paused to ponder, questioning him aloud about the revelations he just made,But he continued to lead me into more cities, bustling with myths, death and trade.He played with my biases at Baucis where people resided on clouds instead,He suspended my belief in Octavia where the entire city stood running on a net! Hopping Hypatia, Armilla, Beershaba and Leonia, when I stepped into Thekla,Marco Polo held back my hand, ‘Watch out, work is still on this messy land.’”Why the construction is still on? I asked a peddler scurrying by,“So that its destruction cannot begin.” was his curt reply.Walking gingerly in an air of puzzle, I witnessed Olinda and Procopia in a mild jostle,One seemed to hold many cities in her womb and the other kept multiplying her people.I stood there, letting the horses of my thoughts, to run amok these many cities,To gauge what lied beneath this expedition, this mind-boggling imaginative treatise.I opened my mouth to ask but Mr. Calvino, you appeared from nowhere,‘The tour is over!’ is all you said, not paying heed to my nasty stare.Here I am now, jumbling my geography and history, and a bit of memory as wellAnd filling mighty gaps that can serve as a decent rejoinder, I have this to tell - Essential is not the fact whether these cities can be discovered on a map;The essence lies, instead, in hunting for a common stamp.A common stamp that shall impart an identity free of colour and creed,Irrespective of our place of birth, shall bind us with the same deed.Deed bellowing swirls of compassion, industry and honesty sans any chagrin And a city of such deeds doesn’t lie outside but reigns unequivocally within.Trust Mr. Calvino to show you, how subliminal accounting of life appears,Follow Mr. Calvino to receive in your lap, sparkling wishes to last years.Beware of his trap though! Don’t fall for his genius all too much,Oh but this is futile warning, for there is no way to escape his touch.----The tour snippet is here! (view spoiler)[“The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many; accept the inferno and be such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.” (hide spoiler)]Because in my book, both are paragons of imagination.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Paquita Maria Sanchez
    2019-03-18 07:02

    This is the third book that I have attempted to write a response to this week, and failed. I think I am going through a very internal, sponge-like phase. To say that I haven't been going out much would be a ridiculous understatement. I hole up in my bed, finish a book, set it down and grab another almost instantly, comparing the smell of the old to that of the new, then dive straight in, surfacing only rarely for air. I haven't felt up to hammering down my feelings about these things that I have been absorbing (more accurately: "lapping up"). I want my thoughts to take a sort of anti-shape through the inaudible whispers of apparitions, and so need a book which tells me by taking me away. There is mention in one of these majestic prose poems of the fact that a thing can be seen much more clearly, its actual shape discerned, if you move a great distance from it...insinuating that close scrutiny and over-thinking can be horribly counterproductive when exploring the depths of oneself. These stories take you to space, to floating crags on a darkened sea, shifting your perceptions about life, identity, desire, denial, and death much like Calvino's cities tend to morph and bend and burst and reform. Depending on the placement of your feet at the period of your life which you read this, you may experience several very different books. This was what I needed right now, something which aids you, all at once, at both escaping and embracing the things knocking around your skull, hearing some harsh words in a voice hauntingly soothing and so easier to really hear and...does this make any sense? What? This review has been brought to you buy severe insomnia, and the benadryl it is too powerful for. *Also, there are simultaneously beautiful and horrifying scenes aplenty in this book, balanced in the same way that made me love reading Greek and Roman mythology as a child. If you are a sucker for that stuff like I am/was, give this little guy a try. There are a lot of fantastical creatures in Escher-like scenery behaving in ways as indiscernible as dreams. You don't have to be having some epic fit of self destruction and reconstruction to enjoy the damned thing, is what I mean to say. Monsters and unicorns and ghosts and shit are pretty awesome, too.

  • Alex
    2019-03-14 06:02

    I live in a city, and every day I ride the subway with people who live in different cities. Aggressively loud teenagers, exhausted laborers with grimy hands, sparkling skinny women in careful clothes, Michael Cera: I don't think they would recognize my city.But we find our city, and our city finds us, right? The Flamethrowers' artist Reno moves to a New York full of artists madly creating. Patrick Bateman is fake, and he lives in a fake New York. The Street's Lutie lives in a cruel New York, and she becomes cruel. The city invents us, and we invent the city. I play a game when I travel to other cities: what makes this city special? In Barcelona you think of Gaudi, but that's like identifying a guy by his hat. It can be useful, don't get me wrong, and he's wearing that hat for a reason, but underneath he is mostly the same organs. Is he nice? As a tourist, I see a lot of hats.Some cities are legitimately different. Worcester, Mass is legitimately shitty. Las Vegas really is your dangerously bipolar cousin. Cities are uniquely mutable, because they have to be. It takes all kinds of people to make a city, so it has to suit all kinds of people. When you ask someone to describe their city, you're asking them how they see the world, and how the world sees them. I saw a dude throw a chicken bone on the subway floor the other day: his world has been ugly to him, full of negative interactions and ugly things. It's all trash. (I didn't actually ask, I just projected a bunch of shit on him.)My New York is a utopia. Everyone has a weird hobby and a rescued pit bull, and there are wine tastings on every corner. I'm lucky.I've been reading Invisible Cities on the subway, a chapter each way, looking around me and thinking, "Do I see anyone who lives in this city? The city of threads? The city of mirrors?" I imagine they're looking back and thinking, "If that bald guy keeps staring at me I'm going to punch him." My dog rides the subway with me. I can't imagine what city he lives in.What's your city like? Seriously, I'm interested.

  • Dan Schwent
    2019-02-23 07:02

    Marco Polo and Kublai Khan talk of cities Marco has visited.Where to begin with this one? I thought the writing was beautiful. Calvino and his translator painted vivid pictures of various cities, each a seemingly magical realm with its own quirks. As Marco tells more and more stories, Kublai questions the nature of his empire.Unfortunately, very little actually happens. While they are very well written, the individual city tales read almost like entries in a poet's travel journal. There's not really an actual story unless you consider an ongoing conversation between two historical figures a plot.While I'm glad I read it and I thought the writing was masterful, I don't feel like gushing about this particular book. Three out of five stars.

  • Rakhi Dalal
    2019-03-18 05:03

    A city inhabiting one’s inside, its streets, lanes and by-lanes running in the veins and arteries, the hubbub of the city enlivening even the tiniest fraction of a being. The city; living, breathing, growing and leaving an impression in the very essence, even if it is never visited in one’s lifetime. And then - a multitude of such cities, standing under the auspices of their heritage, a witness to the chronicles of their golden times, cities with their halos; an invisible but inescapable allure. Cities; rising with dusk, their pulses throbbing to the rhythm of stars. Cadence of street lights; illuminating in its glow, the stones of the wall of a building standing silently and witnessing bare human emotions/acts – love, passion, deceit, despair, joy, pain, indifference but above all a discreteness embodying the city. Cities, with its uneven alleys where an old man sit outside the door of his house, the wrinkles on his face telling the story of his life, his eyes a testimony of submission in the face of the inevitable, and a young, beautiful woman, selling seasonal flowers by the side; unnerving a quiescent thought. The labyrinthine roads which never seem to end, taking one forward, on and on, with their flow, adding a clutter of houses by the side, a face sneaking from a window; seeming a gateway to the unknown. The outline of houses in the sea by which they stand; the shadows in clear water defying the ephemeral. Cities, with those parks and boulevards where a curious seeker seeks the traces of path trodden by great authors and thinkers; an eagerness to associate with that one idea, a particular thought, capable of creating a summer inside….. Let me seek those cities O my mind, cities invisible but living inside me….

  • Foad
    2019-03-07 06:18

    من و شيرازخوب يادم است كه وقتى چهارده پانزده ساله بودم، در خيالاتم شيراز را شهرى تصور مى كردم با ساختمان هاى قديمى، با ايوان هاى كاشيكارى شده، و مخصوصاً با درخت هايى در هر خيابان كه در بهار گلبرگ هايشان با هر باد مى ريزد ميان خيابان و فرش راه عابران مى شود (بعدها اين صحنه را در باغ هاى بادام قزوين تجربه كردم). تصورى كه فكر مى كنم غربى ها تا پنجاه سال پيش از شرق داشتند. و خوب يادم است كه وقتى در همان سال ها به شيراز سفر كردم، چقدر سرخورده شدم از خيابان هاى معمولى، با ساختمان هاى معمولى، با درخت هاى معمولى. اين جا چراغ راهنماست كه هزارتايش را در هر شهرى ديده ام، اين جا ديوارها را پر كرده اند از پوسترهاى انتخاباتى همان طور كه در شهر خودمان هم مى كنند، اين جا شهردارى ميدان را حصار فلزى كشيده و كارهاى ساختمانى مى كند، با ماسه و سيمان و ماشين هاى ساختمان، انگار نه انگار كه اين خيابان و اين ميدان و اين شهر هفتصد سال قبل در كنار شاه شجاع و سعد بن ابوبكر زنگى و ساقى سيمين بر، موضوع غزل هاى حافظ و سعدى بوده.آن زمان با خودم فكر كردم: ببين چطور مدرن سازى دست و پا شكسته شرقى، مانند آن زاغ و كبك معروف، هر چه شرقى بوده را از دست داده و در مقابل حتى شبيه به غرب هم نشده. و نوستالژى سال هاى دوردست به جانم افتاد، و تا مدت ها رهايم نكرد. فكر مى كردم مشكل از مدرن سازى است، وگرنه شيراز ماقبل مدرن سازى حتماً شهرى از جنس رؤيا و اثير بوده. و از يك تصور اشتباه به يك تصور اشتباه ديگر افتادم.لازم بود مدت ها بگذرد و راجع به شكل و شمايل سال هاى دوردست ايران كمى بخوانم تا متوجه شوم يك شهر همان احساسى نيست كه از شنيدن نامش به ما دست مى دهد. يك شهر آن ايده اى نيست كه با حذف آجرها و آسفالت ها و كيسه هاى سيمان شهردارى و چراغ هاى راهنما، باقى مى ماند. اين ايده، اين احساس، جايش در ذهن ماست، به شهر معنى مى دهد، اما شهر اين معنى نيست. اشتباه است اگر فكر كنيم زمانى در قديم بوده كه شهر فقط و فقط از جنس ايده و رؤيا بوده، بدون هيچ پوستر انتخاباتى اى، يا چراغ راهنمايى، يا ماشين هاى ساختمانى اى. شهر يك كل نيست، شهر هيچ چيز نيست، تنها چيزى كه وجود دارد خانه ها و خيابان ها و آدم ها هستند.كمى هم راجع به كتابكتاب بى نظير است. مثل يك رؤياى مكتوب است. ماركوپولو در قصر قوبلاى خان در چين، ماجراى شهرهاى غريبى كه ديده است را بازگو مى كند. كتاب مجموعه ايست از اين گزارش هاى كوتاه راجع به شهرهاى مختلف. هر شهر يك ايده جادويى يا فلسفى-مانند دارد، گاهى راجع به معمارى شهر، گاهى راجع به رسوم شهر، و... ايده هايى كه هم آدم را به فكر مى برد، و هم به ذوق مى آورد.نقاشى بيشتر شهرهاى كتاب روى اينترنت هست. سر هر شهر فورى مى رفتم سرچ مى كردم و نقاشى ها را تماشا مى كردم و اين لذت كتاب را مضاعف مى كرد. این وسط یک نقاش خوب هم کشف کردم، به اسم ژرار ترینیاک*، که دو تا از نقاشی هایش را بالا گذاشتم.* Gerard Trignac

  • Madeleine
    2019-02-27 04:57

    Italo Calvino is a veritable drug. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, and don't trust them if they do.Ever since the rapturous reading experience that is If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, I have been hooked on the man's words. As it is with most blossoming relationships, I'm a little wary of coming on too strong or getting too close too quickly and chipping away at the charming veneer of novelty in the throes of my overeager enthusiasm before we've gotten comfortable with each other, but this is the third book of his I've read in a year (exactly a year, actually) and I am just as giddily smitten with Invisible Cities as I was with my aforementioned introduction to Calvino's works and also Cosmicomics. Invisible Cities clocks in at a seemingly stingy 165 pages, with many pages only half-filled and a number of them left conspicuously blank. But since this is a Calvino novel, his beautiful, beautiful words are only a fraction of the payoff: The ideas, the images, the quiet messages, the prophetic warnings disguised as storytelling, the dreamlike quality licking at the edges of every sentence and even the apparent silences of seemingly unused spaces carry more weight than they would if they were crafted by any other writer's hand. And there is not a sentence that does no warrant savoring with a second or third read in this entire book.This novel is what happens when two historical figures -- in this case, an elderly but spirited Kublai Khan and the younger traveler Marco Polo -- whose lone commonality is being alive at the same time try to communicate without sharing a language. Polo conveys the cities (or is it just one city's many faces?) he has seen to the emperor through gestures, objects and other nonverbal cues. Like Cosmicomics, it is a map comprising the essences of things; like If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, the reader becomes part of the narrative as he is welcome to draw his own conclusions just as much as Khan is. I think I've made it pretty clear in previous reviews that I love duality and the play between opposing forces in my reading materials of choice, probably to the point that I find them in places they don't really live. Invisible Cities has 'em by the fistfuls, though. The palpably dynamic tension between the visible and in-, happiness and misery, the imagined and the real, the living and the dead, the storyteller and his audience, the roaring inferno and the heavenly plains, the finite work of creation and infinite motion of ruin, the image and its mirrored reflection was a delight unto itself, but the additional step of blurring the lines between each extreme with every achingly gorgeous stop on the raconteur's journey through recollection and the listener's odyssey of imagination was exactly the kind of extra mile I expect Calvino to traverse with gusto. There is an inversion of expectations that gives each push-and-pull pairing of opposites some of the hazy magic that is so particular to Calvino's works. It's not entirely surprising to read about cities where the living envy the cities of their dead to the point of emulation and confusion as to which populous is really alive, or whose people are more at peace with the certainty of obliteration than their earthbound counterparts because their metropolis is built upon a spider-web network of ropes and they are all too aware that their precarious balance could fail at any moment (is there anyone more alive than those who are reminded of death on a daily basis?). But there is a pleasant surprise when the design of a carpet and the layout of a city are echoes of each other; oracles who are consulted about the mystical connection between two unlikely entities only offer the ambiguous insight that "[o]ne of the two objects…. has the form the gods gave the starry sky and the orbits in which the worlds revolve; the other is an approximate reflection, like every human creation." While there are common threads and themes woven throughout Polo's narratives, no two cities (or no two faces of the city) are examined in the same way. The cities' signs, desires, dead, names, skies and other shared traits may be explored but never to the same effect. And sometimes seemingly unrelated characteristics make similar points: A city would have no history without its dead, just as its living have no motivation for progress without acknowledging the mistakes upon which a history was built, just as the dead have a peace that the living won't know without forging ahead in life. There is a sense of concentricity that unites each urban observation, which, along with the interspersed exchanges between emperor and explorer, help move the novel toward its oft-hinted-at augury of urgency that reaches its climax as the stories reach their conclusion, as relevant as it was centuries ago when Marco Polo and Kublai Khan were supposedly having their animated discourse in a garden, as when Invisible Cities was published four decades ago, as when I finished it this morning: The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, and make them endure, give them space.

  • J.G. Keely
    2019-03-17 05:52

    In writing, pretension is the act of pulling your hamstring while lifting your pen. It is that sudden, clear, and unfortunate. It should also be avoidable, but anyone gifted with a grain of brilliance is tempted to extend it as far as they can, like Donne's speck of dust stretched the length of the universe, one is left wondering whether it was more ludicrous or thought-provoking.Calvino's 'Invisible Cities' is a series of descriptions of mythical, impossible cities told by Marco Polo to Kublai Khan. Each short description is like one of Donne's metaphysical poems: presenting a philosophical argument or idea and then turning it on its head. As an Italian, Calvino drew his inspiration from the same source as Donne: Francesco Petrarch.Petrarch is the innovator of the modern sonnet, the modern love poem, and 'confessional' poetry. However, before you all wish him dead(er), his 'love' and 'confessions' were only the cover for his philosophical explorations. Like Sidney, Shakespeare, Wyatt, and the Victorian poets (Keats, Browning, Byron), the surface of the poem is not the whole story.Also like Petrarch, Calvino's short pieces all work together to create a grander story, using repetition and developing symbols to create webs of meaning from one story to any other. Both Petrarch and Calvino take a narrow view for their collections, one Love and the other Cities, but Petrarch does more with his.Calvino's repetition is sometimes interesting and meaningful, but often, it seems like he's still trying to hash out his ideas. Some of the cities are remarkable and poignant, but others somewhat scattered and redundant.The frame story of Polo and Kublai also vacillates in profundity. At it's best, it questions the nature of human relationships, interaction, understanding, and language barriers. At other times it descends into New Age metaphysics and solipsism: endlessly wondrous, endlessly pointless, and perfect for capturing the imagination of the first-year philosophy major.These moments of overextension are balanced by some truly thought-provoking and delightful observations and questions about the nature of the world and the senses. The book is truly dreamlike, in that one dream may alter the way you look at life, while the next one will be about bass fishing with Julie Newmar in your underwear; fun perhaps, but not lasting.Calvino has a great talent, and a remarkable mind, but it's clear that he was bent on transgressing and ignoring boundaries, and hence often crosses the limits of his own skill. This uninhibited exploration is truly something every author and artists should aspire to, but the false leaps should be left behind in editing.As redundancy and vagueness builds up, we can see the areas of difficulty and obsession for Calvino, for these always end with a shrug instead of the final thrust that carries us over his more salient points. While in these cases he might have made the journey itself the important part, he tends to concentrate on the ends, even when he proves incapable of reaching them.Walking the same roads again and again looking for something and failing to find it is not the mark of the fantastical fabulist, but of the minute realist. Calvino's story is never small and personal, even when detailed and nostalgic, it is hyperbolic and magical.When he dances around some vague point, he is not Ariosto, presenting the limits of mankind: Calvino gives us his own limits. The descriptions are far-flung and often set the mind reeling with humor or more poignant observation. That he sometimes overextends himself is not such a crime, when occasionally, he does reach those heights.It's true to say that this book is not any one thing, that it defies description and draws from many sources and traditions, but neither do these varying and disparate influences coalesce into some wholly new vision. The closer he comes to any climax or conclusion, the more he grows uncertain.I'm not suggesting that such a climax is necessary--indeed, in a loosely-structured work like this, where the most effective aspect is the comparison and contradiction between each individual piece, shoehorning in such a convenient conclusion wouldn't really work--neither Petrarch nor Borges needed one. In their great collections, one could start almost anywhere, and end almost anywhere, without having lost the thread of their thoughts.What frustrates about Calvino is that he's constantly pushing towards conclusion, and harping on it despite the fact that such a conclusion is not even necessary--indeed, a work like this achieves its effect by the questions it asks, not the answers that it tries to give. So, Calvino ends up giving us numerous empty answers when simple silence would have been far more provocative.Is it ever really meaningful to end by stating 'maybe it is this way, maybe it is that way, maybe nothing exists at all'? What do we gain by saying this that we would not have by simply leaving it unsaid? The author who imagines stating that his own ignorance is profound is simply exercising the vanity of false humility.Better to let the observations and moments of wit speak for themselves. If the reader is not reminded of his own short-sightedness by these, then telling him he is short-sighted certainly won't help.I must say that these moments of falling flat could have been a subtlety of William Weaver's translation, but since such an issue is beyond my meager means to fully explore, I felt it better to tender my review to the book I read, rather than to the book that might exist out there, somewhere.

  • Megha
    2019-03-18 04:12

    If on a winter's night a traveller were to set out to traverse the garden of forking paths, she could perhaps follow the moon in its flight to catch the sleepwalkers caught in a midsummer night's dream. She could walk east of Eden to see midnight's children appear, only to lose themselves into a frolic of their own. She could turn at a bend in the river to come upon the savage detectives figuring out the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime. She could walk up to the tree of smoke and find the man without qualities waiting for Godot to arrive and hand out copies of a user's manual to life, not realizing that he jests with them indefinitely.She could walk through the tunnel only to find no light at its end. The chirping of the obscene bird of the night could draw her attention to one of the 2666 wells lined with the yellow wallpaper. She could look into it to find herself gazing at the abyss of human illusion and hearing the satanic verses. She could look up to find notes from underground strewn all around. To escape the heart of darkness she could travel south of the border, west of the sun to the land where the sun also rises.She could walk up the magic mountain to take in the breaking dawn and hear the wind sing. Before this moment stretches itself into one hundred years of solitude, she could consult the cloud atlas and find her way to the snow country. She could walk past the glass castle where the pale king sits on the iron throne. She could take a stroll on the cannery row to watch the crowd hypnotized by the enchantress of Florence. As the spell breaks they could each retire to a room of their own where a portrait of the artist adorns the wall and Foucault's pendulum swings to keep time. The window could be looking out to the lighthouse located on the treasure island. Beyond which lies the opposing shore where the setting sun is giving way to the hour of the star. She could be travelling to the end of the gravity's rainbow as the sound of silence wakes her up and interrupts the dream story. In the faint glow of the city lights peeking in through the window, her gaze could fall upon the stacks of the people of paper carrying within themselves the remembrance of the things past and the shape of things to come. Each containing within itself invisible cities - one or many - with ephemeral paths waiting to be traversed. you could wander through them in thought, become lost, stop and enjoy the cool air, or run off.If on a winter's night a traveller..._______________________________Cloned CitiesIt is not the voice that commands the story, it is the ear.Marco Polo takes us on a wondrous journey through the invisible cities that live in his imagination. We pass each of his tales through the refractive prism of our own perception. We create tenuous threads connecting the city to all that we are and all that we have been. We build a whole another invisible city, sculpted in the image of that of Polo’s. Every time a reader sits down to hear Polo’s tales, skewed clones of each city are born and thus the invisible cities proliferate.

  • Garima
    2019-03-04 05:16

    Since my copy of if on a winter's night a traveler is on its way, I thought of equipping myself with writings of Italo Calvino. In the meanwhile I laid my hands upon Invisible Cities. It’s one of the few books to which I have given 5 stars making it clearly evident as to how much I loved it. This work of Calvino is an unadulterated imagination booksonified. It can best be described as the figment of everybody’s imagination. I hope I can safely say for everyone that once in our lives we have imagined a particular world, a particular life where the existence is on our terms and conditions. We are the sole architect of that world where everything is perfect, imperfect, unreal or simply invisible and only we are allowed to see it or live in it. While reading this book, the memories of my childhood surfaced where I used to imagine a place where everything is made up of chocolates, (well..ok!! I imagine it today also), a little later, I used to imagine of getting a whole new wardrobe every day. At present I imagine of reading Ulysses in one day, Gravity’s Rainbow another day, assimilating every aspect these books offer to their readers. What else!! Yes…writing an International Bestseller novel in a matter of days, winning Booker Prize and getting a chance to meet my all favorite authors and discussing their books. And this one I particularly like...Being the sole survivor when the world ends and starting a whole new civilization the way I want it, where procreation is not the only option of creating a life for human beings (No, I am not a sadist but yes, this book hit me hard in the head). So I hope you got the gist. Imagination is like a ship without a shore and the only option it has is to keep on moving. Keep Reading :)

  • Mohsin Maqbool
    2019-02-28 09:11

    THERE are books that you read and forget. And then there are books that you read and they get etched in your mind forever; Italo Calvino’s ‘Invisible Cities’ is one such book.image: Marco Polo the magnificent. Marco Polo visits the imperial palace of Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan and describes to him all the beautiful cities of the world that he has visited. But can these magnificent cities really exist? Are they just a figment of Mr Polo’s imagination? Or is he just describing Venice while stretching his creative powers to the fullest?image: There is something special -- extraordinarily special -- about Venice. You know Mr Calvino is writing about Venice when he says: “In Esmeralda, city of water, a network of canals and a network of streets span and intersect each other. To go from one place to another you have always the choice between land and boat: and since the shortest distance between two points in Esmeralda is not a straight line but a zigzag that ramifies in tortuous optional routes, the ways that open to each passerby are never two, but many, and they increase further for those who alternate a stretch by boat with one on dry land. And so Esmeralda's inhabitants are spared the boredom of following the same streets every day.”image: A gondola ride for those in a romantic mood. And if you can recite a sonnet by Shakespeare, your day is made -- and maybe night too! However, you can definitely make out that it can’t be Venice when he writes: “In Ersilia, to establish the relationships that sustain the city's life, the inhabitants stretch strings from the corners of the houses, white or black or gray or black-and-white according to whether they mark a relationship of blood, of trade, authority, agency. When the strings become so numerous that you can no longer pass among them, the inhabitants leave: the houses are dismantled; only the strings and their supports remain. From a mountainside, camping with their household goods, Ersilia's refugees look at the labyrinth of taut strings and poles that rise in the plain. That is the city of Ersilia still, and they are nothing.” Each chapter starts with a meaningful dialogue between the Chinese emperor and the Italian traveller. Each ends with an extremely clever exchange of words between the two. If Emperor Kublai Khan is wise, then Marco Polo is worldly-wise and street-smart being so well-travelled. The following is an excerpt from the book to help you get an idea:“Marco Polo describes a bridge, stone by stone. ‘But which is the stone that supports the bridge?’ Kublai Khan asks. ‘The bridge is not supported by one stone or another,’ Marco answers, ‘but by the line of the arch that form.’ Kublai Khan remains silent, reflecting. Then he adds: ‘Why do you speak to me of the stones? It is only the arch that matters to me.’ Polo answers: ‘Without stones there is no arch.’” The book is so surrealistic that you often feel that you are dreaming. However, the book is not all visions and dreams. It also mentions real cities from our world. It talks about the environment and how man in his greed to grab more and more land is destroying natural habitats and the grazing ground of cattle and other animals. But Mr Calvino does it in such a way so as not to make you feel bored or disinterested even for a second while going through its contents. The short 150-page book has an extremely unusual cover. It has seven chapters each of which has several sections. The sections could be dealing with ‘Cities and memory, ‘Cities and desire’, ‘Cities and signs’, ‘Thin cities’, etc. You neither have any heroes or villains in the fictitious book nor do you have a plot. Yet the book is as exciting as one can be.image: Italo Calvino photographed at work on his desk. This is the first tome that I have read of Mr Calvino’s and I am feeling absolutely impatient to grab another one. What a tale has the Cuban-born writer woven! As much credit goes to William Weaver for his superb translation. You will enjoy his alliterations to the hilt. Mr Weaver was honoured with the National Book Award Finalist for Translation in 1975. Let me say this before I end my review. This is one book that I am most willing to read again and again as the prose of the book reads like poetry. And beautiful poetry is meant to be read over and over again. If you don’t read this tome, then you will be truly missing something. So please get hold of ‘Invisible Cities’ at the first opportunity you get.image: Film poster of "Marco Polo the Magnificent".image: Sixties star Horst Buchholz. One last piece of information: I have seen only one film made on the travels of Marco Polo called "Marco Polo the Magnificent" (1965) in which he embarks on a journey with some relatives, taking him all the way to China. It shows less of his travels and more of his adventures in the land of Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan.The film starred handsome German actor Horst Buchholz as Marco Polo and Anthony Quinn as Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan.

  • Anuradha
    2019-02-25 08:49

    "What are men to rocks and mountains?" - Jane AustenOr should I say, "What are men to cities and structures?"I finish Invisible Cities as my parents plan their trip to Europe. As someone who loves going to new places and travelling, there is a sense of irony that I feel as I review this. As a 21 year old student with neither the money nor the means to embark on a journey myself, I find myself wandering about the cities that Marco Polo describes to the great Kublai Khan. Invisible Cities is a fairy tale; albeit a fairy tale for adults. Calvino, who was surely high as a kite when he wrote this, describes in this tiny, yet profoundly powerful book, eleven kinds of "cities". Cities, they maybe, but they are the cities that we imagine. These are fantastical cities we lose ourselves in all day, everyday. These cities are not cities at all; they are the thoughts we think, the stories we imagine, and the people we think we perceive. Invisible Cities is an ethereal masterpiece that transports us to a world that we would like to see ourselves in, but would perhaps be disappointed to set foot in. It is that single moment of thought right before reality and dreams morph into one another. After all, the descriptions of cities Marco Polo visited had this virtue: you could wander through them in thought, become lost, stop and enjoy the cool air, or run off.To the people who say that all these cities sound the same, I give you the Great Khan's reasoning: "Kublai Khan had noticed that Marco Polo's cities resembled one another, as if the passage from one to another involved not a journey but a change of elements. Now, from each city Marco described to him, the Great Khan's mind set out on its own, and after dismantling the city piece by piece, he reconstructed it in other ways, substituting components, shifting them, inverting them.:I don't think I can do justice to the masterpiece that is Invisible Cities by writing about it myself; I am unworthy. I have, instead collected quotes by some of the world's best writers, quotes that sum up what each of these cities were to me. Memory"He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past." - George OrwellDesire"The world is little, people are little, human life is little. There is only one big thing — desire. - Willa CatherSigns"Signs may be but the sympathies of nature with man." - Charlotte BronteThin Cities"Walkers are 'practitioners of the city,' for the city is made to be walked. A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities. Just as language limits what can be said, architecture limits where one can walk, but the walker invents other ways to go." - Rebecca SolnitTrading Cities"Where there is commerce there is peace." - Jeffrey TuckerEyes"The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter - often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter - in the eye." - Charlotte BronteNames"We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society." - Alan W. WattsDead"The life of the dead is set in the memory of the living. - Marcus Tullius CiceroSky"The sky is everywhere, it begins at your feet." - Jandy NelsonContinuous Cities"You can checkout anytime you like, but you can never leave." - The EaglesHidden Cities"If you stay here, you become lost. And no one can find you. I like lost." - Ally KondieAt the aftermath of my surreal reading experience, I realised that every city is one of memory and of desire, of signs and of eyes. Every city is a thin city, every city is a trading city. Every city belongs to the dead; every city rules the skies, and every city is hidden. Every city is defined by its name, and every city is continuous. Every city is all of these cities; it is what we make it to be, it is how we perceive it. Like Venice. ""There is still one of which you never speak." Marco Polo bowed his head. "Venice," the Khan said. Marco smiled. "What else do you believe I have been talking to you about?" The emperor did not turn a hair. "And yet I have never heard you mention that name." And Polo said: "Every time I describe a city I am saying something about Venice." "When I ask you about other cities, I want to hear about them. And about Venice, when I ask you about Venice.""To distinguish the other cities' qualities, I must speak of a first city that remains implicit. For me it is Venice.""It has neither name nor place. I shall repeat the reason why I was describing it to you: from the number of imaginable cities we must exclude those whose elements are assembled without a connecting thread, an inner rule, a perspective, a discourse. With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else."

  • Nandakishore Varma
    2019-03-08 08:05

    Oh,the city, city... the endless sea...Fun and games on top, mud and filth beneath -A beauty who smiles on the surface; The mistress who wouldn't let you go...So wrote one of our poets.You live in the city: and slowly, the city starts living in you. It takes on a life of its own in your mind. Once the city gets to you, it won't let you go. (I speak from personal experience. I spent twelve eventful years of my life in Cochin, and I carry that city with me, even here in the Middle East.)Italo Calvino has immortalised the city in this slim volume of fantastical tales, told by Marco Polo to Kubilai Khan. Stories which may be distorted memories, fanciful imaginings or outright lies (Polo was not exactly truthful). There is no story as such. Vignettes of imaginary cities are listed, one after the other, in haphazard fashion, interspersed with conversations between the Khan and Polo. The pieces are absurd and surreal - one feels that if this book would have been illustrated, only Salvador Dali could have been entrusted with the task.There are eleven "themes", of a sort:1. Cities and Memory2. Cities and Desire3. Cities and Signs4. Thin Cities5. Trading Cities6. Cities and Eyes7. Cities and Names8. Cities and the Dead9. Cities and the Sky10. Continuous Cities11. Hidden Cities...And five sketches under each, so there is a sort of mathematical precision. The themes are all jumbled together with no semblance of order. (After finishing the book, I made a discovery - one can cover the descriptions of the cities theme-wise, instead of sequentially, and get a totally different take on the book.)Each of these vignettes can be analysed in depth, and dissected using Freudian psychoanalysis or Jungian metaphysics: but I will not attempt to do so. It would be spoiling the beauty of the narrative. Each reader can find his or her own meaning in these cities - and most likely, it would be the city buried deep in their psyche which would be talking to them.So my friends, my only request to you is to come and visit these cities. You won't be disappointed.

  • Carmo
    2019-03-23 10:12

    Fui forasteira cega através destas 55 cidades só visíveis com os olhos da mente. São cidades deslumbrantes e inacreditáveis num mundo de fantasia que tanto me fez lembrar os cenários labirínticos de Jorge L. Borges.Os livros não se leem todos da mesma maneira; As Cidades Invisíveis são para ler de mente aberta e vazia, deixando que as imagens se apossem de nós livremente, e a nossa imaginação as consolide. Porém, estas cidades, os seus habitantes, as suas práticas, por mais absurdas e improváveis que possam parecer, são igualmente um conjunto de símbolos reflexivos que nos encaminham pela viajem e experiência históricas da humanidade nas relações com os outros e com o seu espaço, em qualquer lugar e tempo.

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2019-03-17 10:14

    350. Le citta invisibili‬‬ = Invisible Cities, Italo CalvinoInvisible Cities (Italian: Le città invisibili) is a novel by Italian writer Italo Calvino. It was published in Italy in 1972 by Giulio Einaudi Editore. The book explores imagination and the imaginable through the descriptions of cities by an explorer, Marco Polo. The book is framed as a conversation between the aging and busy emperor Kublai Khan, who constantly has merchants coming to describe the state of his expanding and vast empire, and Polo. The majority of the book consists of brief prose poems describing 55 fictitious cities that are narrated by Polo, many of which can be read as parables or meditations on culture, language, time, memory, death, or the general nature of human experience. Over the nine chapters, Marco describes a total of fifty-five cities, all women's names. The cities are divided into eleven thematic groups of five each: Cities & Memory; Cities & Desire; Cities & Signs; Thin Cities; Trading Cities; Cities & Eyes; Cities & Names; Cities & the Dead; Cities & the Sky; Continuous Cities; Hidden Cities.عنوانها: شهرهای نامرئی؛ شهرهای بی نشان؛ شهرهای ناپیدا؛ نویسنده: ایتالو کالوینو؛ انتشاراتیها: (باغ نو / پاپیروس)؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: هفتم ماه اکتبر سال 2003 میلادیعنوان: شهرهای نامرئی؛ نویسنده: ایتالو کالوینو؛ مترجم: ترانه یلدا؛ تهران، پاپیروس، 1368؛ در 152 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، باغ نو، 1381؛ در 152 ص؛ شابک: 9647425163؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان ایتالیائی - داستان مارکوپولو و قوبیلای قاآن در قرن 14 معنوان: شهرهای ناپیدا؛ نویسنده: ایتالو کالوینو؛ مترجم: بهمن رییسی؛ تهران، کتاب خورشید، 1388؛ در 206 ص؛ شابک: 9789647081733؛ چاپ دوم 1389؛ چاپ سوم 1392؛ عنوان: شهرهای بی نشان؛ نویسنده: ایتالو کالوینو؛ مترجم: فرزام پروا؛ تهران، نگاه، 1391؛ در 152 ص؛ شابک: 9789643517960؛ رمان «شهرهای نامرئی» اثر ایتالو کالوینو، نویسنده ایتالیایی، توسط مترجم دیگری نیز به فارسی ترجمه شده و ایشان نام «شهرهای ناپیدا» را به روی اثر خود گذاشته، ترجمه بهمن رییسی از کتاب در 216 صفحه منتشر شده. ترجمه پیشین این کتاب توسط ترانه یلدا انجام شده که این ترجمه نخست در سال 1368 هجری خورشیدی از سوی نشر پاپیروس و سپس در سال 1981 هجری خورشیدی از سوی نشر «باغ نو» منتشر شده است. کالوینو این اثر را در سال 1972 میلادی تالیف کرده است و منتقدان آن را در حوزه ادبیات علمی‌تخیلی دسته‌ بندی کرده‌ اند. و داستان: قوبیلای خان ، خان مغول فرستاده هایی دارد که از سفرهایشان برایش میگویند و مارکو تاجر ونیزی، قاصد مورد علاقه اوست. مارکو از شهرهای مختلف امپراطوری برایش میگوید شهرهای افسانه ای، (برخی نوشته اند شهرهای دور از حقیقت اما امروز به لطف تلگرام بسیاری از این شهرها را دیده ایم)، شهری که در روی فضای دو پرتگاه ساخته شده، شهری که به جای هوا، خاک در آن جریان دارد، شهری که بنا بر شرایط روحی آنرا به شکل متفاوتی میبینید، شهری که دو قسمت است قسمت ثابت و قسمتی که هر سال آن را جا به جا میکنند، شهری که هر سال مردمش شغل و همسر خود را عوض میکنند، شهری که یک شهر مشابه در زیر زمین دارد و مردگان را به آنجا انتقال میدهند در صحنه ای فراخور حالشان... ا. شربیانی

  • Algernon
    2019-02-28 04:08

    After sunset, on the terraces of the palace, Marco Polo expounded to the sovereign the results of his missions. As a rule the Great Khan concluded his day savoring these tales with half-closed eyes until his first yawn was the signal for the suite of pages to light the flames that guided the monarch to the Pavilion of August Slumber.But this time Kublai seemed unwilling to give in to the weariness."Tell me another city!" he insisted. With Marco Polo cast in the role of Scheherezade and Kublai Khan as Harun Al Rashid, we embark on an enchanted journey through 1001 cities, seeking to capture their unique essence, their secret identity, their pasts and their futures. The great khan is approaching the end of a glorious career, his wars of conquest finished and his dominion extending to the outer margins of the known world. Now he turns his attention inward in an effort to discover what exactly is his empire composed of. For this purpose, he sends his ambassador Marco Polo to all the corners of the realm, to see and to report back on the geography, the arhitecture, the people, the customs and the history of all the cities he passes through. Based on these stories, Kublai Khan dreams of building the perfect city, the sublimation of all the diversity into a sparkling, diamond like structure that would endure for all ages and will form his legacy for future generations.Marco Polo is in his element here, the born explorer who follows his own siren song to find out what lies beyond the horizon, what precious treasure are hidden behind high city walls, still chasing the dream that sent him away for long years from his beloved Venice. Elsewhere is a negative mirror. The traveler recognizes the little that is his, discovering the much he has not had and will never have. Why call theminvisiblesince we spend the whole book discussing the visible? Because Italo Calvino entices us to look beyond appearances, beyond the obvious and the trivial if we want to find the secret that makes each city unique and unforgetable. Each of the visited cities is named with a woman's name, a poet's trick that suggests odalisques dancing seductively behind seven diaphanous veils, needing to be caught by surprise, teased or charmed into finally revealing their inner beauty. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else. Are the cities described in the book real or fantastic? A figment of Marco Polo's imagination that he feeds piecemeal to Kublai Khan as payment for his sojourn at the court? Or are they actual locations that can still be discovered today by the adventure bound tourist? Readers who are already familiar with Italo Calvino know that the poet loves dissimulation of his purposes, puzzles and daring metaphors, so they would patiently wait for the last veil to be lifted, for the final revelation to be brought to light, for the name of the ultimate city to be uttered.Until then, the casual reader can only relax and enjoy the apparently random postcard like prose poems that link stone with emotion, people with stars, the dead with the living. The atlas of the world that is patiently gathered in these pages is etched with sugestive names, symbolic gestures, sights, smells, songs, desires, dreams, memories, cautionary warnings, "moods, states of grace, elegies" When a man rides a long time through wild regions he feels the desire for a city. Finally he comes to Isidora, a city where buildings have spiral staircases encrusted with spiral seashells, where perfect telescopes and violins are made, where the foreigner hesitating between two women always encounters a third, where cockfights degenerate into bloody brawls between the bettors. Cities as bastions against wilderness, civilization versus barbarism, art versus plain existence, the eternal versus the transient, structure and order versus chaos - each and every postcard contains within itself dualities of meaning where every affirmation is countered by a negation, every highlight serves to point at the shadows : the city of the dead reflecting the map of the city above, the city on the ground mirroring the dance of the constellations in the night sky. What line separates the inside from the outside, the rumble of wheels from the howl of the wolves? Read on to learn how one city is like a "butterfly emerging from a beggared chrysalis", another is growing in concentric circles like tree trunks which each year add one more ring, how the city where you arrive for the first time is different from the one you leave never to return, even if they bear the same name. Yet another city is described like a game of chess, or compared to an hourglass which is not turned over, with the unborn citizens waiting patiently their turn in the upper bulb, while the dead are settling at the bottom like geological strata. One city would inspire opposite phantasmes in the eye of the beholder: one sailor gazes upon its's domes and sees camel caravans setting off, while the bedouin glimpses tall white towers like sails departing for far off lands. Each city receives its form from the desert it opposes; and so the camel driver and the sailor see Despina, a border city between two deserts. Calvino is not interested in the cold data of statistics and economic trends, angle of arcades or width of boulevards, dates of revolutions or names of famous leaders. He is after the effect of the city on the psyche of its inhabitants, the subjective translation of desire into the language of stone. A description of Zaira as it is today should contain all Zaira's past. The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls. You might be tempted to think that Marco Polo is only spinning tales of long abandoned cities from the past, but I would argue against the theory. Even when talking about histories and ruins and the march of generations, the message is both timeless and timely. The same words would describe any of the cities we are living in today. I found clear references to globalization, corporate monoculture, suburban sprawls, alienation, consumerism and many other woes of the 21st century. Read for yourself and see if you recognize the landscape: In Chloe, a great city, the people who move through the streets are all strangers. At each encounter, they imagine a thousand things about one another: meetings which could take place between them, conversations, surprises, caresses, bites. But no one greets anyone; eyes lock for a second, then dart away, seeking other eyes, never stopping. Ultimately, every city described in the novel is indeed just another faucet of that gemstone Kublai was wishing for - the eternal, universal, 'invisible' heart of the word 'city' as a simbol of civilization.  Every time I describe a city I am saying something about Venice.exclaims at one point Marco Polo. This civilization he sees as heading for dissolution, just like the short-lived empire of Kublai Khan, attacked not so much from without as from its own internal weaknesses, a failure of imagination that favors conformity and safety over change and diversity. Yes, the empire is sick, and, what is worse, it is trying to become accustomed to its sores. This is the aim of my explorations: examining the traces of happiness still to be glimpsed, I gauge its short supply. If you want to know how much darkness there is around you, you must sharpen your eyes, peering at the faint lights in the distance. I will put my conclusion in spoiler tags, because it is too beautiful and elegant to be left out, but also too relevant as the solution to the puzzle to be revealed in advance.(view spoiler)[ In a final dialogue between Kublai Khan and Marco Polo, they dwell on the subject of fictional cities in literature, utopian and dystopian, and on the unavoidable death and destruction waiting for them at the end of the road. The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.(hide spoiler)]

  • Pradnya K.
    2019-03-16 08:00

    I live in a city. It's not small, neither big but it's always happening. It's sheltered with huge green trees and the city looks like an emerald. When seasons change, the city changes its colors. It then resembles to red rubies or molten gold. I wish it'd be lapis lazuli once in a year. My city is strange in a way. It's a city I've always dreamt of since childhood when I just knew it by name. Accidentally I stumbled into it and never left. But I feel it hypnotized me, pulled me towards it and never allowed me to leave. I settled in here and except few loved ones I pulled everything I have, in here. My city somehow shows me glimpses of other cities.There's one city I recall vividly, the city of words. The reason it's called so being it always forces me to read. It makes me read; read the slogans on hoardings, the names on banners, the advertisements and signboards of doctors, or a cornered fish merchant. It makes me read a thrown away piece of newspaper sprayed on the table, wrinkled or a calendar of gone by years. It makes me read again and again the old book or a mail sent by old friend who is long forgotten or a scribbled poem in the moment of ecstasy. I know those books, mails, poems by heart now but the city has its powers and it'd force me re-read it anyhow. The last time I went there I kept on reading the signboards of roads, lane numbers and the areas, I only know names of. I wonder where that road will lead, how it will end, will I find a mother waiting for her children at houses there or a restless lovers seeking rendezvous. There's another city I know. It makes me read too but not the words. I read situations there coz nobody there talks to each other. I try decipher the public bus driver when he puts brakes to his vehicle recklessly, halts in the way, drumming fingers on the hood of idling engine. They seem reflection of each other, the idle man and the engine. He darts his eyes around and before he catches me, I look the other ways. I see ladies shopping at the hawkers stall, bargaining and leaving with empty baskets. People stop abruptly in between the road, jamming the lanes and nobody seems to mind it. Every shopkeeper puts prices to his goods as he wishes. The children wander about in front of running vehicles and thugs but nobody cares. I do not like this city but I'm compelled to make trips there, frequently.When I return from that city I don't like things around. So I go to another city which is velvety dark. It's like a black hole, an empty well. Its called city of hidden because it hides everyone inside so even if people are around you don't see them. The voices, even muffled ones, are absorbed by air and you don't hear them. The breeze refuses to carry the scent of sweat trickling on eyebrows of exhausted laborer or a lingering perfume of a posh lady. You feel peace there and instantly the city connects with you. Maybe because the city creates an aura of your mood and isolates you in your own wish. You are encased in what you want, which is desolate and bereft.But there's one city in which I don't live neither do I go to. The city, rather, stays inside me. There's no reading inside this city. Everything is so intrinsic that I don't need to read or listen to it. There is clamor so great that it reveals everything. Naturally its opposition of the city of hidden. There's chaos in air, in sky, in woods and I find it too complex to comprehend. It changes its color before I see it. It shifts its hoarding before I know what was hanging there earlier. It stops abruptly before I realize the stealthy eyes of someone speaking to me. My strange city, where I live, which I dreamt of since childhood travels too and shows me these glimpses but yet it binds me to itself, making me take shelter in its dark green shadows in harsh summer.

  • Lisa
    2019-03-15 08:51

    Cities and EyesThere is a world that lies atop a mound of green, where the treetops are tinged with rust and people fly by on bicycles and shoes with wheels. The saunterers wander off the criss-crossed madness of paths and cut up and down hills, across grassy plains, diving into the forested fringes. We are on Mount Royal, the fabled dead volcano visited by schoolchildren on geography trips and tourists searching for a grander view of the city below. The air is crisp up here. Each inch of space is planned, manicured, protected, but the city folk walk about in a daze of wilderness, returning in their minds to the heart of Nature with a capital N. Men in red uniforms clop past on horses, clocking time back another hundred years. Laughter is easy on this smallest of mountains. But as the sun sets, so falls a hush, because no one lives here and all but the most resourceful must climb back down to civilization.Taking a path eastward, down stairs and past picnic tables, breathing in the mild perfume of Mary Jane, we arrive in the heart of the Plateau, the land of balconies and colourful spiralled staircases, each avenue an architectural delight. Chairs scrape on terraces and people in gypsy pants stop to look over the potted herbs and organic produce. From afar you can hear the cries "Gentrification!" and "Ici on parle français!" but people carry on babbling in whatever language they so choose and spending, spending, spending. Here the parks are filled with strollers and a depanneur is never more than a minute away. Spirits and prices soar, and people walk with a skip in their step, humming a tune that keeps them from looking down at their erstwhile neighbours who can no longer climb the stairs to their apartment.To meet them, we must hold our breath and sink deeper into this underground city. The sun never shines in this commercial belly of the beast. Through tunnels and past shop windows, you can walk the length of downtown without ever feeling the frosty lick of the whipping winter wind. Camped out in dank passageways are huddled shapes, facing the wall, sleeping or waking in this nightmare world. Women walk past quickly and do not recognize their old schoolmate, disfigured by a perfect storm of circumstance. The denizens of this metro station arrive early for work, Tim Hortons cups empty and at the ready, waiting for a drop from the streams of lucre rushing hurriedly past. I look at this city with so many sets of eyes and know that for every image that I capture, there are three million more being imagined every moment. My heart lies in all these places but I cannot show them to you, because I am too busy swimming in the lake of my mind.

  • Bradley
    2019-02-24 05:04

    I think this short fiction is quite beautifully drawn, a dialogue between Marco Polo and Kublai Kahn that consists mostly of one enormous travelogue consisting of cities, their differences, and eventually, only their consistencies and made-made up features.There's nothing much more to it except cities and brief descriptions of each, from ancient all the way to modern cities and even cities magical and purely imaginary. On a few occasions, there's a philosophical discussion about what is perceived in reality and what is expected, of ennui and excitement, of grief and happiness, but in the end, it's all just cities.It's enjoyable for what it is. It's almost purely description in conversation. Very little plot or character development, but we do get a little.Even so, not bad, not bad.

  • Geoff
    2019-02-26 03:49

    All the spaces we inhabit are in some way our dreams. All the spaces we pass through are composed by our subjective perceptions for us as much as they are composed of the objective material that works on those perceptions. All spaces hold and reflect something of ourselves, our histories. I sit in my carefully arranged room composing this piece on Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities; I am seated in a comfortable chair, it is arranged below a window that lets in copious light in the mornings and afternoons, to better aid my reading and my writing, it is within leg’s reach of my bed, on which I rest my legs, and my laptop sits comfortably on my thighs, and being that my room is a converted attic with walls painted white and few decorations, I enjoy, in pauses between spans of typing, watching the late afternoon light play on the white walls with its brightness and shadows over the angular lines that used to delineate where the roof rose; the ceiling slopes at strong angles, there is a skylight above my bed that I generally keep covered, that during storms resounds with a soothing percussive patter. The only decoration on my walls is a block print of a human heart. It hangs adjacent to the west facing window, which catches light later than the windows behind me, which are south-easterly. Books run along my walls and rest in stacks beside my bed, a record player and stereo are directly to my left, on a kind of shelf, and records and books cascade here and there. This is my space, I have lived in it for years, I have made it mine, it is an outward projection of my interior; I have attempted to make the walls show their stark angles more strikingly by not cluttering them with decoration; I have placed my clothes carefully away and set my possessions in a pleasant order so that there are fewer obstructions to my thinking and motion; my bed is positioned so the south-easterly morning light does not interfere with my sleeping; the lamp is within arm’s reach of the bed; the only picture on my wall is of a heart. This room is as much my interior as my exterior, it suits all of my physical and psychic needs, the form it has taken is a reflection of some pattern determined within my being, almost without my being aware of it. Our exteriors, the things we inhabit and therefore influence and change by our thoughts, efforts, ambitions, are changed in accordance with interior demands, interior desires, interior longings, hopes, etc. It is the same for streets, cities, countries. The interior lives of the inhabitants of these places create the exteriors that they then exist within, shop in, shuffle about, fight, make love, laugh and die in. The physical world is a creation of the conscious and unconscious intentions of the human imagination, an agglomeration of all human hopes, drives, desires, made into a material reality.So everything imaginable is realizable; and whether it is realizable in concrete, in steel, in glass, in brick, in flesh, or whether it is only realizable in images, words, pictures, pixels, is of little difference. A perfectly constructed sentence, a perfectly rendered painting, a perfectly filmed scene, a perfect cascade of musical tones- they are manifest realizations of ideas. All is possible that one can imagine if one can speak it, draw it, compose it. The limitations of the architect, the city-planner, the foreman can be realized by the artist, the writer, the photographer. The human imagination is infinite, and every iteration, every form, is in some way achievable.Calvino’s Invisible Cities is a document of these ideas; it is a proof, in perfectly constructed, astoundingly deep and evocative sentences, that whatever we dream can be and will be fulfilled. That just two souls, sitting in a garden, outside of time and within it, their lips fixed to pipe stems, watching smoke trails’ shifting patterns ascend the sky and exchanging mere words, can invent a universe; and that the universe of the living which is the source and inspiration for their visions can be rendered into symbols that can then supersede, magnify, illuminate, and reorder that living world into something that speaks to and connects very deeply with the hidden currents and vibrations of what it is to be a thinking, desiring, dreaming human being. This is a profound book, one of those rare works where nothing seems missing or superfluous, where every sentence locks into a kind of crystalline totality, an affirmation of the vital importance and sovereignty of works of the imagination.”The catalogue of forms is endless: until every shape has found its city, new cities will continue to be born. When the forms exhaust their variety and come apart, the end of cities begins.”-pg. 139”Elsewhere is a negative mirror. The traveler recognizes the little that is his, discovering the much he has not had and will never have.”-pg. 29”’I have also thought of a model city from which I deduce all the others,’ Marco answered. ‘It is a city made only of exceptions, exclusions, incongruities, contradictions. If such a city is the most improbable, by reducing the number of abnormal elements, we increase the probability that the city really exists. So I have only to subtract exceptions from my model, and in whatever direction I proceed, I will arrive at one of the cities which, always as an exception, exist. But I cannot force my operations beyond a certain limit: I would achieve cities too probable to be real.’”-pg. 69"The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension; seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space."-pg. 165

  • Ian
    2019-03-08 05:53

    Hidden Cities * 6You once asked me to describe Venice, and I told you that, every time I described a city, I was saying something about Venice. That was only partly true. In a way, I told you everything I knew about Venice, and nothing.The truth is that when we first met, I barely knew Venice, its buildings, its canals, its gardens, its squares, its people. Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. Let me explain why. Do you know how old I was when I first left Venice with my father and uncle? Six! I returned nine years later, and departed again for China within two years. In all, I had just eight years to picture my city. The truth is, I know your city and this garden better than I know my home, if that is what it is.It’s true, I was saying something about Venice. I was defining what it was not. If I could describe cities that were exceptions, exclusions, incongruities, contradictions, then I hoped that what would remain would be the rule, the essence, and perhaps that essence would be Venice. If I could describe everything that was impossible, improbable, even too probable, then what would be left would be real, and what was real would be Venice, at least for me.This was my desire. I had no memory to speak of. There was nothing to be nostalgic about. I did not have words. I didn’t have things. I had only images of things. Admittedly, they were childish images in my mind. Besides, they were not many. They were mainly images of our family home: our garden, our kitchen, my bedroom. Little more. I was afraid that, if I put these images into words, I would lose them. I reserved words for everything else. I kept them for things that needed signs. My images of Venice didn’t need signs. They were emblems in their own right.I hoped these images of when I was six or 17 would form a kernel around which my dreams of Venice would grow. As I experienced other cities, as I dreamed of invisible cities, what I learned would not supplant these images. It would grow around them and protect and preserve them. My images would be both contained and concealed. They would be emblems within emblems.In this way, I hoped that my images would not languish, that they would not disintegrate, that they would not disappear. I hoped that I would not forget them. Most of all, though, I was trying to preserve objects, things. Not words, phrases, metaphors. In the absence of words, I couldn’t utilise language, and if I couldn’t utilise language, I couldn’t communicate with you. For you to know Venice, you would have to see it for yourself, and I knew there was little prospect of your leaving your Court.There was a time when I thought you might wish to visit Venice. If I made it seem alluring, you might desire it. If I made it seem powerful, you might fear it, so much so that you would have to wrestle its power from it. I was relieved when you said, “I have neither desires nor fears.”I preserved Venice from and for you without words. I hoped not to deceive you in doing so. There is no language without deceit. Conversely, there is no deceit without language.Words work by way of distinctions. Words distinguish things from each other. I was trying to describe many cities for your edification. To distinguish these cities’ qualities, it’s true, I had to speak of a first city that would remain implicit. I told you that city was Venice. It had to remain implicit, because I lacked the knowledge or the will or the ability to make it explicit. Instead, I invented cities like Esmeralda and Phyllis that contained canals and boats and barges, so that you could imagine your own Venice.The irony is that you think of Venice more than I do. As fond of it as I am, I try to think of it as little as possible. If I dwelled on it, I’d worry that it would turn into words, and if it turned into words, then, as I’ve said, it might vanish.I wish that Venice didn’t even have a name. It would be so much easier to think of it as pure form, like a philosopher, as absolute truth, beauty, perfection, as the essence of a city, as not just the city of my youth, but the essence of every city.Venice doesn’t need words. I don’t need words for Venice. If I needed anything, I would need only images. And images of Venice await my return.Giardino Giusti

  • [P]
    2019-03-23 10:17

    You: What is Invisible Cities?[P]: A short Borgesian novel by Italo Calvino in which the traveller Marco Polo describes a series of [mostly fantastical] cities for the Mongolian emperor Kublai Khan.You: What’s it all about?[P]: I just told you.You: No, you gave me a synopsis. What’s it really about? What was this Calvino guy trying to say?[P]: Ah, shit.You: You don’t know?[P]: I’m not sure. It’s hard to explain. Marcel Proust once wrote, “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”You: Is that relevant?[P]: Yes, of course.You: How so?[P]: Ah, shit.You: How many times have you read the book?[P]: TwiceYou: And you still can’t say anything meaningful about it?[P]: Well, one man’s meaningful is another man’s rambling incoherent bullshit. I’m wary of rambling.You: It has never worried you before.[P]: That’s a good point.You: So proceed.[P]: Well, the reader is told in one of the linking narrative sections that the two men don’t speak the same language, that they actually communicate via signs and objects. One imagines that as a consequence of speaking different languages, and the subsequent miscommunication between them, that both have a different conception/understanding of the cities being ‘described.’ The cities of Kublai Khan’s mind, then, could be the invisible [non-existent] cities of the title, as he, unlike Polo, has never seen them but only ‘heard’ of them from someone else. Yet while this idea of an elaborate Chinese whispers appeals to me, I am not certain that there is enough evidence to support a claim that it was Calvino’s intention to explore it. Indeed, that something, like a city, can exist in two different forms in the imaginations of two different men, that it can change in appearance as it passes from the mind of one person to the mind of another, throws up interesting questions about the nature and reliability of knowledge, and also, if one ignores for a moment the claim that the two men are communicating via signs etc, touches on the merits and otherwise of oral storytelling. Yet, it is Polo’s descriptions that are fantastical, we are not privy to Kublai’s interpretations. To give weight to the idea that this is really a book about communication, about building images in one’s mind, there would need to be some sense that Polo’s descriptions are at odds with his listener’s understanding of what he is told, and there isn’t.You: So you’ve told me what you don’t think the book is about?[P]: Yes.You: Are you always like this?[P]: No, but…You: If someone asks you for directions to the supermarket do you tell them how to get to the library?[P]: No, but Invisible Cities suggests many interpretations.You: Does it? On the reverse of the novel itself there is a quote by Paul Bailey who claims that it is a paean to Venice, that the descriptions of seemingly distinct places are actually descriptions of that one city.[P]: I’m aware of that. But doesn’t that indicate that knowledge of Venice would be necessary in order to understand or fully appreciate Calvino’s work?.You: I guess so.[P]: I just don’t quite buy that, as it seems extraordinarily cheeky of a writer to expect his readership to hop on a plane to Italy in order to be able to make sense of his book.You: You’re not much of a traveller, then?[P]: I…well…the thing is, whenever I go anywhere I find that the place was more romantic, more beautiful, more special in my mind, in anticipation, than it is in reality. I am always disappointed whenever I go anywhere.You: Life must be a real bitch for you. [P]: Yes, but I think that might be what Calvino was getting at. My favourite interpretation of Invisible Cities would be that Kublai Khan knows that Polo is not telling the truth when he recounts his tales of marvellous places, but prefers these wonderful imaginative cities to the actual cities over which he rules, that like Don Quixote this magical world is more appealing to him than the real thing.You: So there you are, you do know what the book is about.[P]: No. Because I am not totally convinced of this interpretation either. Indeed, the thought that struck me with the most vehemence whilst reading it was that this is a novel about understanding the essence of cities, rather than their purely physical appearance. I wrote something about myself…You: Ah, shit.[P]: Is that objectionable to you?You: [Sighing deeply] No, no. Go on then, what did you write…[almost indistinctly} about yourself?[P]: I wrote…To understand my home city I have to understand another, to see it I have to see another, for it is that other city that gives this one, my home, existence; it is that other city that brought me here, that made here possible. That other city is London. When I try to see London, I see:A photobooth in Paddington station, that might not exist anymore, that might never have existed in Paddington station, for maybe it was in Marylebone station. Or Kings Cross. But for me it is there in Paddington station, forever.A girl in a red coat, fairytale-like, emerging out of the crowd on Camden High Street; opposite, across the road, is a megastore, the name of which is obscured; behind me is Camden tube station.The girl: Jemmia, two weeks before she tried to kill herself for the first time. Or three weeks. Or maybe even four. And who is to say her coat was red? And yet I see it with the same kind of certainty and assurance as if the image of her in it is tattooed on my arm.My London is an imaginary London, it exists only within me. I trace it not with my feet or my hands or my eyes, but ghost-like through my memories. And yet this dream of London has a pull and an influence on me stronger than the four walls that will keep me tonight or the street I’ll tread tomorrow.It is times like this that you start to realise that your whole life is a dream, an unmanageable and complex web of dreams and imaginings.You: Y'know, that’s not half as bad as I feared.[P]: Thanks, I guess.You: But still you’re mostly just stalling for time.[P]: Maybe. Thing is, we could do this forever and I will still probably be unable to adequately describe, sum up, or understand Invisible Cities. In fact, it occurs to me now all I have done is to essentially outline a series of Invisible Novels. At the very least, I hope one of them inspires you to read to Calvino’s.You: I’ll get back to you on that.

  • Bram
    2019-03-02 06:53

    Given the subject matter—um, descriptions of cities—I wasn’t expecting this book to affect me on such a personal, visceral level. But during the final city description and again in Marco Polo’s closing dialogue with Kublai Khan, I got serious chills. And to put that in perspective, I was finishing it outside (90+ degrees) George Bush Intercontinental Houston, or whatever the hell that airport’s called. Now this effect may have been compounded by the fact that I was also listening to the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack. Despite the inarguable greatness of Basil Poledouris’ score, however, I have no doubt that it was this book that ultimately moved me to an epidermal state that has no business budding on a summer day in Texas. It’s that good—a philosophical gem and a gratifying guide for the adventurous mind and wonder-full spirit. It took two or three city descriptions for me to realize that Marco Polo wasn't describing cities so much as the human mind and experience. Rather than take away from the beautiful physicality of the descriptions, however, this gives the book a limitless pleasure and depth. How to describe it? It's like a children's book for adults. There's this magical other-world, other-time feel that's complex and meaningful and gorgeous. Think about a fairy tale with its shiny storyline, ex facie, that's also serving up something edifying and subtextual. Invisible Cities is the grown-up version. And the descriptions are often just curious and strange enough that you can come away with multiple meanings, in part determined by your current mental/emotional state. Sometimes I was too puzzled or infatuated with the physical description to divine much of anything coherent, but this serves to make the inevitable reread that much more appealing. As Calvino via Polo tells us, it is not the voice that commands the story: it is the ear. Amen.