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

  • Paolo Granata University of Bologna
Keywords: imagination, media ecology, memes, technology, Italo Calvino, literature, postmodernism, digital world, lightness, exactitude, quickness, visibility, multiplicity, consistency


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.


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Author Biography

Paolo Granata, University of Bologna
Department of Arts


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How to Cite
Granata, P. (2014). Ecologies of the Imagination: Italo Calvino’s Six ‘Memes’ for the Digital World. Between, 4(8).
Between Literature and Digital Culture: Intersections and Contaminations