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Old 03-28-2021, 01:43 PM   #11 (permalink)
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yay I was hoping that would actually summon you into the book club. I dunno about the timeline, there were suggestions of a few weeks?
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Old 03-28-2021, 03:17 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I plan on finishing it and posting some thoughts by Friday. It's a pretty quick read.
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Old 03-28-2021, 10:12 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Ok so I'm just starting out on this and already I can tell this is gonna be a headscratcher. Probably the reason why I didn't take to If on a winter's night...so lemme use this thread to try and understand it as I go along if I may:

Spoiler for a:
What does this mean:
From Cities and Memory 1:
But the special quality of this city for the man who arrives there on a September evening, when the days are growing shorter and the multicoloured lamps are lighted all at once at the doors of the food stalls and from a terrace a woman’s voice cries ooh!, is that he feels envy towards those who now believe they have once before lived an evening identical to this and who think they were happy, that time.

I thought maybe a different translation would help but it reads equally confusing in serbo-croatian. Anyone who comes to that city feels envy towards anyone who is melancholy? Regardless of which city they are in? Is that it? Anyone who comes to Diomira doesn't feel melancholy and is envious of those people, in other cities I presume, who do?

Also, why does he switch from a third person to first person in the opening chapter. Stylistic choice, to fuck with our heads, no reason?

More, from Cities and Desire 2: The city appears to you as a whole where no desire is lost and of which you are a part, and since it enjoys everything you do not enjoy, you can do nothing but inhabit this desire and be content....your labour which gives form to desire takes from desire its form, and you believe you are enjoying Anastasia wholly when you are only its slave.

Btw, the serbo-croatian version translates "since it enjoys everything you do not enjoy" as "since it has everything you don't have". Which is different. The Italian original could swing both ways I guess "essa gode tutto quello che tu non godi"?

Please to explain. Much thank you.


Hmm? I expect many more of these questions in the coming days. Thank goodness this is a short book.
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Old 03-29-2021, 02:02 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Those first two are among the more vague ones. Just let it wash over you, I'm still processing these but yeah, I think the first one has to do with envy of positive (and probably self-deceiving) melancholia and the second can be viewed as being about capitalism I think: you're trapped in a network of desires where basically the total amount of desire is conserved and you work to satisfy your own desires creating objects of desire for others (or even creating desire for fulfillment in yourself?)
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Old 03-29-2021, 03:39 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Could be a good tactic, letting it wash over me. Thanks for the help...
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Old 03-29-2021, 09:01 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I agree to let it wash over you. Some segments later on might be informing my answers below which isn't a huge spoiler really, but I'll throw the tags on them anyways.

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Originally Posted by adidasss View Post
Spoiler for a:
What does this mean:
From Cities and Memory 1:
But the special quality of this city for the man who arrives there on a September evening, when the days are growing shorter and the multicoloured lamps are lighted all at once at the doors of the food stalls and from a terrace a woman’s voice cries ooh!, is that he feels envy towards those who now believe they have once before lived an evening identical to this and who think they were happy, that time.

I thought maybe a different translation would help but it reads equally confusing in serbo-croatian. Anyone who comes to that city feels envy towards anyone who is melancholy? Regardless of which city they are in? Is that it? Anyone who comes to Diomira doesn't feel melancholy and is envious of those people, in other cities I presume, who do?
Spoiler for a:
Maybe this will be clearer as the book progresses, but the cities represent modes of perception, states of mind, emotions, paradigms, etc., so being "in" one of the cities means that you're undergoing the experiences Calvino is describing.

Diomira could be broken down into dio (god) and mira (aim, sight), so my view is that Diomira finds its physical form in godly/heavenly sights that provoke the response that Calvino's describing. The traveler actually strikes me as the melancholic one and this is influenced by their memory. They've seen so many fantastic sights that they've grown bored of anything similarly fantastic and retroactively perceive that they've always been bored by these sights. The traveler is envious of those who retain a nostalgia for when these beautiful sights, now commonplace to them, were novel.

The multicoloured lights can be expected to come on at a certain time, implying routine, and we assume that the woman surprised by the lights is either unafflicted by either shade of memory and is living in the present, or that she's experiencing it for the first time. I think that's Calvino's way of saying that memory and comparison robs us of the present: the melancholic are slave to the mundanity they paint onto the world while the nostalgic chase a high that they don't realize isn't much higher than what's right in front of them.


Quote:
Spoiler for a:
Also, why does he switch from a third person to first person in the opening chapter. Stylistic choice, to fuck with our heads, no reason?
Spoiler for a:
I'm not 100% sure, but I think that it is a shift to Kublai Khan's interior. He continually seeks connection between these cities to justify his empire's existence, but at the same time recognizes that it's unjustified, corrupt, and crumbling. Since Kublai Khan uses the first person singular, I think that his use of "we" is on one level an attempt for Khan to distance himself from his own actions and offload the responsibility onto those around him. On another level, I think that this is Calvino introducing the idea that he's not discussing ideas exclusive to royals, but rather the human experience which involves us, the readers. That though most lack physical empires, what we understand, perceive, and feel is an empire in itself that we may never understand.

I might return to this question when I finish the book.


Quote:
Spoiler for a:
More, from Cities and Desire 2: The city appears to you as a whole where no desire is lost and of which you are a part, and since it enjoys everything you do not enjoy, you can do nothing but inhabit this desire and be content....your labour which gives form to desire takes from desire its form, and you believe you are enjoying Anastasia wholly when you are only its slave.

Btw, the serbo-croatian version translates "since it enjoys everything you do not enjoy" as "since it has everything you don't have". Which is different. The Italian original could swing both ways I guess "essa gode tutto quello che tu non godi"?
Spoiler for a:
Interesting. I could see it carrying over if you view the enjoyment of a fulfilled desire as a possession. Do you think it comes down to that translator or is there something in Serbo-Croatian that influenced the difference? The English version is very nimble and has a lot of assonance (one of my favourite aspects of the book), so maybe the Serbo-Croatian word for enjoy didn't work in that context or something?
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Old 03-29-2021, 10:13 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frownland View Post
Spoiler for a:
Maybe this will be clearer as the book progresses, but the cities represent modes of perception, states of mind, emotions, paradigms, etc., so being "in" one of the cities means that you're undergoing the experiences Calvino is describing.

Diomira could be broken down into dio (god) and mira (aim, sight), so my view is that Diomira finds its physical form in godly/heavenly sights that provoke the response that Calvino's describing. The traveler actually strikes me as the melancholic one and this is influenced by their memory. They've seen so many fantastic sights that they've grown bored of anything similarly fantastic and retroactively perceive that they've always been bored by these sights. The traveler is envious of those who retain a nostalgia for when these beautiful sights, now commonplace to them, were novel.

The multicoloured lights can be expected to come on at a certain time, implying routine, and we assume that the woman surprised by the lights is either unafflicted by either shade of memory and is living in the present, or that she's experiencing it for the first time. I think that's Calvino's way of saying that memory and comparison robs us of the present: the melancholic are slave to the mundanity they paint onto the world while the nostalgic chase a high that they don't realize isn't much higher than what's right in front of them.
Spoiler for ok the spoilering is a good idea:
That's interesting. I think your explanation is neat (I agree nostalgia is a more appropriate word than melancholia) except the text states 'envy towards those who now believe they have once before lived an evening identical to this (...)' implying that in the Diomira state of mind you don't.
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Old 03-29-2021, 10:38 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marie Monday View Post
Spoiler for ok the spoilering is a good idea:
That's interesting. I think your explanation is neat (I agree nostalgia is a more appropriate word than melancholia) except the text states 'envy towards those who now believe they have once before lived an evening identical to this (...)' implying that in the Diomira state of mind you don't.
Spoiler for probably going to drop these once more people join in on the convo:
Good point, that does change my thinking about the nostalgic person being unable to achieve the heights of their past. Maybe the envy comes immediately after the experience. The traveler knows that others who experienced virtually the same thing that they did will recall the night with nostalgia, while it will fade into just another happening in a city for the traveler. The other person's reaction and the ensuing envy the traveler experiences becomes more important in recalling the city than the beautiful sight he shared with its inhabitants.

I could also see some reflexive angles there, with Calvino describing how people will receive his book. Some readers will come away with a significant experience of one of the cities he describes while for others the specificities fade as it becomes a part of an indistinct empire that the book builds. A bit out there but I wouldn't put it past him.
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Old 03-29-2021, 12:42 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Spoiler for even more spoilers, some on chapter 6:

That's pretty ingeneous, you may be right. Like you suggest the details can probably be interpreted in multiple ways that are valid, but I agree that the main thing is that neither the traveller and those of whom they're envious are really looking: they're either occupied with that nostalgic moment when they were happy or going 'if only I had such a feeling attached to this that would make it a nostalgic memory' (so in both cases with memory) instead of just going 'ooh'.

by the way, it's actually one of my favourite sentences in the book as far as I recall; I love the long running clause in the middle that's almost beyond grammar

This city is a bit similar to Phyllis, (cities and eyes 4) actually, except I think that there what keeps people from enjoying (even seeing) is not memory but daily preoccupations, and taking things for what they stand for instead of literally taking them in. Which is what is strating to happen to me on the walks I take in my local park so I felt that
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Old 03-31-2021, 04:48 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I'm about 30% in but I'm bailing. I'm not connecting to this on any level and it would be pointless to continue just for the sake of a discussion, which would have to go to dissertation level on every chapter and ain't nobody got time for that. This is for people who like to spend time pondering what the meaning of particular sentences is. My brain doesn't work that way. It enjoys direct, clear, simple prose. Best of luck to you!
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