Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Cosmicomics takes unique to new levels

The best description of that I’ve read of Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics is ‘You really just got to read them yourself’

But that’s not helpful for discussing them so here goes. Cosmicomics is a series of short stories that start with a scientific theory and then build a domestic story around it. They take giant concepts and make them small and personal. It doesn’t necessarily make them easier to understand but it just might make them easier to relate. 

Qfwfq is the narrator of most of the stories. He may be the ultimate example of the ‘been everywhere man’ in literature, having been there for the Big Bang and observed the development of the universe since then. He can also be petty, small minded, and jealous. He helps make the universe small :D

Some of the different theories that are used completely contradict each other. Qfwfq’s personal time line contradicts itself to the point of making absolutely no sense whatsoever.  The stories are also filled with ludicrous anachronisms. And, yet, the stories aren’t slapdash or sloppy. They finely balance the cosmic with the human with gentle absurdity with a constant tone. There is some definite brilliance going on here

I first came across the book sometime in either middle school or high school. Read the first few stories and couldn’t make heads or tails of then. They stuck with me but I just didn’t know what to make of them. But after reading Calvino’s Invisible Cities, I knew I had to revisit the book. I’m glad that I did, even though I’m still not sure what Calvino is trying to do.

And I found out in rereading Cosmicomics that Calvino kept writing this stuff and someone kindly published the lot in The Complete Cosmicomics. I am definitely reading that, probably bemused the whole time.

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