Ecologies of the Imagination: Italo Calvino’s Six ‘Memes’ for the Digital World

Paolo Granata


In 1984 Italo Calvino was officially invited by the Harvard University to deliver the celebrated Charles Eliot Norton Poetry Lectures. That invitation gave Calvino an opportunity to define six proposals, or six memos, as indicated in the original manuscript's subtitle, illustrated as six qualities, or specificities, six values to be passed on to the new millennium that was about to start. He only managed to write five out of the six lectures before death surprised him prematurely.

The spirit of the Six Memos, their rich interweaving of references, speculations and quotations, the fascinating rhetorical insights they offer, are nothing but the evocation of characters and assonances that clearly express, with a clear-headed and mature awareness, the sense of the challenge declared by Postmodernism, which is clearly recognizable in the features of the so-called digital world.

Indeed, these six 'memes', and the brilliant insights they offer, are surprising as they seem to anticipate the current scene of the media ecology, precisely defined by the characters of Lightness, Exactitude, Quickness, Visibility, Multiplicity, and Consistency.


imagination; media ecology; memes; technology; Italo Calvino; literature; postmodernism; digital world; lightness; exactitude; quickness; visibility; multiplicity; consistency

Full Text:



Appadurai, Arjun, Modernity at large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Minneapolis, Minnesota University Press 1997; trad. it. Modernità in polvere, Roma, Meltemi, 2001.

Barenghi, Mario, Italo Calvino, le linee e i margini, Bologna, il Mulino, 2007.

Belpoliti, Marco, L’occhio di Calvino, Torino, Einaudi, 2006.

Calvino, Italo, Six Memos for the Next Millennium, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 1988.

Ceserani, Remo, Raccontare il postmoderno, Torino, Bollati Boringhieri, 1997.

Ferraris, Maurizio, Dove sei? Ontologia del telefonino, Milano, Bompiani, 2005.

Grundtvig Birgitte – McLaughlin Martin – Petersen Lene Waage (eds.), Image, Eye and Art in Calvino: Writing Visibility, Legenda, London, 2007.

Lucchini, Alessandro (ed.), Content management. Progettare, produrre e gestire i contenuti per il Web, Milano, Apogeo, 2002.

Lughi, Giulio, La cultura dei nuovi media. Teorie, strumenti, immaginario, Milano, Guerini e Associati, 2006.

Markey, Constance, Italo Calvino: A Journey Toward Postmodernism, University Press of Florida, Gainesville, 1999.

Modena, Letizia, Italo Calvino's Architecture of Lightness: The Utopian Imagination in An Age, New York, Routledge, 2011.

Musarra-Schrøder, Ulla, Il labirinto e la rete. Percorsi moderni e postmoderni nell'opera di Italo Calvino, Roma, Bulzoni, 1996.

Nelson, Ted H., Literary machines: the report on, and of, Project Xanadu, Swarthmore, 1981.

Perniola, Mario, Contro la comunicazione, Torino, Einaudi, 2004.

Piacentini, Adriano, Tra il cristallo e la fiamma. Le Lezioni americane di Italo Calvino, Firenze, Atheneum, 2002.

Pilz, Kerstin, Mapping Complexity: Literature and Science in the Works of Italo Calvino, Leicester, Troubador, 2005.



Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM

Between Journal is published by the University of Cagliari - Maintenance for this OJS installation is provided by UniCA  Open Journals, hosted by Sistema Bibliotecario di Ateneo.

Between Journal is published with the funding of the Bank of Sardinia Foundation.

ISSN 2039-6597

CC-By lockssDOAJ seal SPARC Europe