Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Italo Calvino's Mr. Palomar and cosmology
Cosmological perspectives of Italo Calvino's Mr. Palomar as expressed by Orfeu Bertolami.
The character Mr. Palomar, the alter-ego of the Italian author Italo Calvino, appeared for the first time in 1975 on the pages of the "Il Corriere della Sera", and then more or less regularly till its debut as a book in 1983. Through illuminating thoughts and reflections based on observations, for instance, of sea waves, Mr. Palomar discovers that they induce a peaceful and inspirational state of mind that prevents coronary and mental illnesses, and also holds the key to capturing the complexity of the world reducing it into its most elementary mechanisms. In this contribution I will survey some of Mr. Palomar’s thoughts while he observes the sky and speculate on others that he might have explored if he shared our contemporary knowledge of the cosmos. I will also discuss the thoughts of other authors on how, cosmological thinking affects the human condition.
Some new reflections on Mr. Palomar
Mr. Palomar [on line]
Here, Calvino, probably Italy's leading novelist before he died, focuses a probing eye on one man's attempt to name the parts of his universe, almost as though Mr Palomar were trying to define and explain his own existence. Where the Palomar telescope points out into space, Mr Palomar points in: walking the beach, visiting the zoo, strolling in his garden. Each brief chapter reads like an exploded haiku, with Mr Palomar reading an universe into the proverbial grain of sand.