Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mr Palomar - Italo Calvino

Palomar observatory of San Diego is one of the oldest and popular. The Palomar of Italo Calvino, is turning his telescope into the nature, to its small and insignificant wonders and gives profound thoughts and knowledge to himself and to the readers. Meditating over the natures of universe, Palomar tries to define his own life and existence. Indexed into 3 parts, into 3 thematic groups. The initial part looks the the visual experience, the second on the cultural and anthropological elements and the third to a much higher plane of cosmic, or spiritual dimensions of his life.

Looking at the waves at the shore , the mating tortoises in the garden, the collection of grass and weed in the lawns, observing the the sky, to the stars and planets , visiting the zoo , his keen observation and reflections are beyond compare. The typical reaction of a common man on the sight of naked bosom of a sun bather, one side wanting to be near the sight and the correct side wanting to move away from the place ( glance or move away confusion), causing a minor irritation to the person at the receiving end was fun to read.

Italo Calvino is a brilliant and intelligent writer. That shows in his writing and observation. Towards the end ,especially the chapters "Learning to be dead',"The world looks at the world", and "on being angry with the young" shows some of the original thinking and insights.
"Being dead is less easy than it might seem. First of all, you must not confuse being dead with not being, a condition that occupies the vast expanse of time before birth, apparently symmetrical with the other, equally vast expanse that follows death. In fact before death we are part of the infinite possibilities that may or may not be fulfilled;whereas, once dead, we cannot fulfil ourselves either in the past or in the future.." ( from Learning to be dead)

"The real distance between two generations is created by the elements they have in common, that requires the cyclical repetition of the same experiences, as in the behaviour of animal species, handed down through biological heredity" ( on being angry with the young)

"The giraffe seems a mechanism constructed by putting together pieces from heterogeneous machines, though it functions perfectly all the same. He became aware of the a complicated harmony that commands that unharmonious trampling, an inner proportion that links the most glaring anatomical disproportions, a natural grace that emerges from those ungraceful movements... ... Why is he so interested in Giraffes ? Perhaps because the world around him moves in an unharmonious way, and he hops always to find some pattern in it."

Calvino is able to generate great insights from trivial matters of our common life. While the subject is monotonous and only one character through out the book, at no point the book is dragging or put down. These does not flaunt hyper-intellectual aura thus making them incomprehensible to the reader, not withstanding a small touch of philosophical connection. This book demand multiple read, may be a chapter a day and contemplate.
Mr Palomar ( 1983 )

Italo Calvino ( translated from Italian by William Weaver in 1985)

Vintage Books

117 Pages
Other Reads : NY Times, Wiki

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