What is the Use

Of literature, with Italo Calvino.

Here is a testament of value for the moment: why this and why now? Only that which can embody a bottomless array of embedded contradictions can work to shape these sensibilities. The writer insists: here is a teacher of proportions, and of the place of love, of death, of sadness, irony, humor. The value is the practice of attributing value.

Here is a map for the labyrinth of the hour––not fixed, but continually born, to name the nameless, illuminate the cave walls, construct a home solid and complex enough to hold the disorder of the world.


Inspired by Italo Calvino’s The Uses of Literature.

Out of Sight

With Italo Calvino.

The cities were born a little at a time––not unlike poems, you said––of various inspirations. You had a habit of collecting odd strangers and mythical heroes, and notes on places that you had been, might be, would tend to imagine. What happened was not a book exactly, but a geography to move in. You mapped cities of memory, cities of desire, cities and signs. There were continuous cities and hidden cities. These cities were braided: cobweb cities across an abyss, a microscopic city, spreading. 

Watch that one, you said, and as it grew, it revealed concentric cities like tree rings. Sometimes, you said, you would come across a city that would write itself.

Into what? We wondered, and you said yes.


Inspired by Calvino’s Invisible Cities, in honor of his birthday.