Six memos for the next millenium

is an excellent book by Italo Calvino (isbn 0-099-73051-0). As usual I'm going to quote from a few pages:
Lightness for me goes with precision and determination, not with vagueness and the haphazard... (One should be light like a bird and not like a feather)...
... even correctness of style is a question of quick adjustment, of agility of both thought and expression.
... each value or virtue I chose as the subject for my lecture does not exclude its opposite.
Poetry is the great enemy of chance, in spite of also being a daughter of chance.
On folio 265 of the Codex Atlanticus, Leonardo begins to jot down evidence to prove a theory of the growth of the earth. After giving examples of buried cities swallowed up by the soil, he goes on to the marine fossils found in the mountains and in particular to certain bones that he supposes must have belonged to an antediluvian sea monster. At this moment his imagination must have been caught by a vision of the immense animal as it was swimming among the waves. At any rate, he turns the page upside down and tries to capture the image of the animal, three times attempting a sentence that will convey all the wonder of that evocation.
It is useless at every circle to invent a new form of metarepresentation.
What tends to emerge from the great novels of the twentieth century is the idea of an open encyclopedia, an adjective that certainly contradicts the noun encyclopedia, which etymologically implies an attempt to exhaust knowledge of the world by enclosing it in a circle.
There is a type of work that, in the attempt to contain everything possible, does not manage to take on a form, to create outlines for itself, and so remains incomplete by its very nature.
... the collection of objects of which only one specimen exists.
The classical author who wrote his tragedy observing a certain number of known rules is freer that the poet who writes down whatever comes into his head and is slave to other rules of which he knows nothing.

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