Paul Klee’s Dream City and Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities

Paul Klee, Dream City

Paul Klee, Dream City

 

“… At times all I need is a brief glimpse, an opening in the midst of an incongruous landscape, a glint of lights in the fog, the dialogue of two passers-by meeting in the crowd, and I think that, setting out from there, I will put together, piece by piece, the perfect city, made of fragments mixed with the rest, of instants separated by intervals, of signals one sends out, not knowing who receives them.  If I tell you that the city toward which my journey tends is discontinuous in space and time, now scattered, now more condensed, you must not believe the search for it can stop. …” (p. 147)

And Polo said: “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 everyday, 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.” (p. 148)

From Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino, Vintage Books, London, 1997

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