Wednesday, 22 April 2009


Marcovaldo or The seasons in the city by Italo Calvino

In a sprawling metropolis where the temperature within and without is always a constant some pleasant degree centigrade where do the seasons go? Caught up in the 9 to 5 or whatever the present state of existence is categorized as, is the change in seasons only visible in the mall windows advertising the “this season” or the “end of whatever’ sale?

What happened to the Marcovaldo in us? One who as Calvino writes, “…would never miss a leaf yellowing on a branch, a feather trapped by a roof -tile; there was… no worm-hole in a plank, or a fig-leaf squashed on the sidewalk that Marcovaldo didn’t remark and ponder over, discovering the changes of season, the yearnings of the heart, and the woes of his existence.”

When did we become an overwhelmingly city dwelling species so detached from nature that even a speck of mud on our clean shiny shoes makes us recoil in disgust. Nature; every living being encompassed in that one word, the one thing that makes this pale blue dot unique in the entire galaxy. How did man become so disconnected from life?

Or do the Marcovaldos belong to another world? Stuck here where “The night lasted for twenty seconds, then came twenty seconds of GNAC. For twenty seconds you could see the blue sky…the gilded sickle of the waxing moon…and the stars…to the sprinkle of Milky Way…in great haste…because twenty seconds quickly ended…GNAC took over...part of the neon sign SPAAK COGNAC.” Always looking for that lost something only to realize they are the ones on the verge of losing it all.

The Marcovaldo of the book exists during the early 50’s and mid 60’s Italy when a very poor nation starts gaining illusions of economic prosperity. Time to conserve the remaining Marcovaldos before they become an extinct species in a world peddling delusions of wealth and well being.

(Afterthoughts on books: part 6)

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