Wednesday, July 22, 2015

"Invisible Cities" as Inspiration

This is my challenge: I intend to answer a call for entry that requires me to make a work inspired by a snippet of text, whether from a poem, a song, an adage, whatever. My friend Lauma has been inspired by Italo Calvino's book, Invisible Cities, a collection of prose poems, and she suggested that I have a look at it for a suitable quote.

Gore Vidal wrote, "Of all tasks, describing the contents of a book is the most difficult and in the case of a marvelous invention like Invisible Cities, perfectly irrelevant."

Building on paradox and metaphor and vivid word-paintings, the book transports the reader. I'm looking for something with enough ambiguity to intrigue the viewer, no more than a sentence or two.  I have quoted a few possibilities from Calvino's text below that might fit well with my current theme of cityscapes.

Water Tower #7

"The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps...."

Camden Town #2

"[The city's] secret lies in the way your gaze runs over patterns following one another as in a musical score where not one can be altered or displaced."

Berkhamsted #2

"Elsewhere is a negative mirror. The traveler recognizes the little that is his, discovering the much he has not had and will never have."


"For those who pass it without entering, the city is one thing; it is another for those who are trapped by it and never leave. There is the city where you arrive for the first time; and there is another city which you leave never to return. Each deserves a different name...."

Brooklyn #5

"Traveling, you realize that differences are lost: each city takes to resembling all cities, places exchange their form, order, distances, a shapeless dust cloud invades the continents."

Port Clyde

"Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspective deceitful, and everything conceals something else."
If you know of a suitable snippet of text, something poetic and evocative yet pithy on the subject of the City, please let me know.


Dianne Robinson said...

I like the quotes and the way you have juxtaposed them with your pictures.

Maggi said...

I do like the quotes that you have used. So many would lend themselves to the work that you do.

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