What makes up a city is not so much its physical structure but the impression it imparts upon its visitors, the way its inhabitants move within, something unseen that hums between the cracks.
Contemplating these essential landscapes, Kublai reflected on the invisible order that sustains cities, on the rules that decreed how they rise, take shape and prosper, adapting themselves to the seasons, and then how they sadden and fall in ruins. At times he thought he was on the verge of discovering a coherent, harmonious system underlying the infinite deformities and discords, but no model could stand up to comparison with the game of chess. Perhaps, instead of racking one's brain to suggest with the ivory pieces' scant help visions which were anyway destined to oblivion, it would suffice to play a game according to the rules, and to consider each successive state of the board as one of the countless forms that the system of forms assembles and destroys.
"The Calvino Effect" in my life:
- In grade 7 I produced a series of reports ("future scenarios")with conceptual cover art — a city, always the same city, but retold. I was not yet familiar with the work of Calvino, but it's evident my mind was already open to him.
- My discovery of Calvino via a radio reading of If on a Winter's Night a Traveller (I was maybe 15) opened up for me a new path through life.
- An attempted visit, failed, to the town of Malbork.
- My cat, Calvino.