Cosmicomics, As a Whole

Cosmicomics is separated into 12 short stories, all of which follow tales of the formation of the universe we know today. Each short story begins with a description of the scientific process that the story will be based on. Then Qfwfq starts off the narration, by describing that yes, of course he was there when this event happened.

What I love about this novel is twofold. For one, Calvino makes everything that would seem so disjunct, natural. The names in Cosmicomics are ridiculous, referring to mathematical formulas rather than names that anyone could have. Even Qfwfq are letters that are used in formulas, Captain Vhd Vhd, etc. Additionally, though Cosmicomics was originally in italian, the diction does not lack any beauty.

You can tell, from reading Cosmicomics just how much joy and beauty Italo Calvino must find in the world. Read the book!


Cosmicomics (3/3)

Reading a Calvino novel always goes so fast for me. His writing flows so smoothly that I can easily go from page to page and forget.. that this is the last installment of the book!

The Dinosaurs

By its end all the Dinosaurs were dead…

All except me,–Qfwfq corrected,–because, for a certain period, I was also a Dinosaur: about fifty million years, I’d say, and I don’t regret it; if you were a Dinosaur in those days, you were sure you were in the right, and you made everyone look up to you.

I feel you Qfwfq (me? I agree with myself?). Qfwfq, isn’t sure that he isn’t a Dinosaur anymore.

I always felt like a Dinosaur in the midst of enemies.

Oh Ofwfq, they call him ‘the Ugly One’ in this society, because he isn’t like the rest of them. Little do they know, he was a Dinosaur. After a fight in town, he becomes very well respected, though he consistently worries that people have discovered that he is a Dinosaur. They hear rumors that the Dinosaurs are coming back, so they elect Ofwfq to lead them.

Now I recognized the greatness of spirit that had made us choose to disappear rather than live in a world no longer suited to us.

Thoughts Ofwfq soon forgets his identity as a Dinosaur, and realizes that Dinosaurs only live on in the minds of the survivors. This tale was really beautiful, but also one of those that makes you wonder, “Hm.. is Calvino trying to say something else here?” Is he? I don’t know.


The Form of Space

I hoped I would be able sometimes to catch her eye, but as she fell, Ursula H’x was always intent on filing and polishing her nails running her comb through her long, smooth hair, and she never glanced toward me.

In this story Qfwfq is falling, forever it seems like. There is a slight sprinkle of math thrown in, which I appreciated.

Thoughts this is more of a running dialogue, which became a little bit convoluted. He weaves in beautiful imagery, the l, m, n, d, g (*if you read it you will see what I mean!), but it is not my favorite story.


The Light-Years

This short story relies on the scientific premise that looking through a telescope, at things very, very, very far away, we are really looking into the past (because of the speed the images took to get to our eyes). Qfwfq sees a sign that says “I saw you,” referring to an event 200 million years ago; he is worried.

In fact, when I thought how many years had already gone by since that I SAW YOU, I was convinced the bad impression must now have been erased by time and followed by a probably positive evaluation, or one, in any case, that corresponded more to reality.

Eventually, signs are popping up in many galaxies and Qfwfq gets desperate,

To each of these I SAW YOUs I answered with signs marked by contemptuous indifference, such as OH REALLY? HOW NICE or else FAT LOT I CARE, or else by an almost provocative mockery, such as TANT PIS or else LOOK! IT’S ME!, but still retaining my reserve.

Thoughts personally I think this is my favorite short story in the set. It is a tremendously funny tale, and the idea of universes conversing with each other through signs and telescopes is just so charming. Qfwfq waits for his good deeds to be seen, 100 million lightyears later, and it turns out some of the galaxies have missed it! He begins carrying around signs to tell people what to look at and what not to look at (a longer term plan, Qfwfq admits) and then realizes he should get correction signs and ignore correction signs. If you read one of these short stories, read this one!


The Spiral

Ah, the last short story, it is bittersweet. This story describes mollusks,

It was a rich and free and contented condition, my condition at that time, quite the contrary of what you might think. I was a bachelor (our system or reproduction in those days didn’t require even temporary couplings), healthy, without too many ambitions.

Ah, the happy, healthy, bachelor mollusk, the dream! Qfwfq falls in love with a girl, who he later sees 500 million years later.

Thoughts I don’t find this story as engaging, but the descriptions of the colors and shapes of Qfwfq as a mollusk are beautiful in an unimaginable way, because, well, he is just a bachelor mollusk.

Cosmicomics (2/3)

I’m going to start this continuation with…

Without Colors

Is about the world before colors (shocker), and everything around them is gray, without much physical definition.

At first I believe she couldn’t distinguish me–as had happened to me, with her–from the rest of that sandy world; then she seemed to recognize in me the unknown presence that had pursued her and she was frightened. But in the end she became aware of our common substance and there was a half-timid, half-smiling palpitation in the look she gave me.

Though this is not my favorite story either, I did enjoy the scenes in which Qfwfq is looking for his lover, Ayl, but he cannot quite see where she is, nor her him, though they are in front of one another.

Thoughts the ending of Without Colors is quite good. Ayl finds beauty in the gray world, and cannot deal with the colors entering Earth. She retreats, and Qfwfq does not understand this. Calvino made even a gray stone wall seem beauty, as Qfwfq gazed upon it and found shapes.


Games Without Ends

Is a story about playing with hydrogen atoms, (a counter theory to the Big Bang Theory).

I made a quick calculation of the atoms played and I realized they were only a small part of those he had stolen and hid. was he piling up a store of hydrogen? What was he going to do with it? What did he have in mind? I suddenly had a suspicion: Pfqfp wanted to build a universe of his own, a brand-new universe.

Thoughts though this story starts off a little slow, (I was not that engaged in the beginning) it becomes quite charming as Qfwfq starts to make his own fake hydrogen atoms and stealing Pfwfp’s. They both make new galaxies and chase each other around,

And so after every Qfwfq there was a Pfwfp, and after every Pfwfp a Qfwfq, and every Pfwfp was chasing a Qfwfq, who was pursing him and vice versa.


The Aquatic Uncle

Qfwfq narrates the transition between aquatic life to terrestrial life,

There was no holding the young fish; they slapped their fins on the muddy banks to see if they would work as paws.

Though most of Qfwfq’s family goes on land, his great-uncle refused to leave the ocean. He repeatedly visits him, once with his soon-to-be-wife. Lil, decides that she wants to be a fish, despite being on land for so long. So, she runs off with his great-uncle. lol

Thoughts though I liked the idea of this one, it is not my favorite in execution.


How Much Shall We Bet?

‘You want to bet we’re heading for atoms today?’

And Dean (k)yK said: ‘Oh, cut it out. Atoms! Nothing of the sort, and I’ll bet anything you say.’

In each scene, a different part of history unfolds, and as Qfwfq names it, Dean (k)yK says, well thats not what its called! As a math person myself, I rather love this story,

‘Now a bismuth isotope is going to come out!’ I said hastily, watching the newborn elements crackle forth from the crucible of a ‘supernova’ star. ‘Let’s bet!’

Nothing of the sort: it was a polonium atom, in mint condition.

Thoughts as the universe starts to form Qfwfq makes all kinds of crazy bets, and by the end is wrong about most things. I love this story because it is pretty witty, and sort of a path to research. To make predictions in modern days, Qfwfq and Dean needed libraries of information, and Qfwfq laments the days he could just pick a point in a parabola and predict the future.

Definitely my favorite of the ones I have written about thus far!

Cosmicomics (1/3)

Writing about Cosmicomics, seems to me to be a bit overwhelming. It is a collection of short stories about the moon and the Earth, told from a Qfwfq! Qfwfq has witnessed all of the events, as an all-knowing being, recounting them for the reader.

The Distance of the Moon, The tale is about a time when the Earth and the moon were much closer together, so that a group of people would visit the moon to extract a milky substance. The narrator gets stuck on the moon with Captain Vhd Vhd’s wife. He loves her, but she loves his deaf cousin.

She had finally realized that my cousin loved only the Moon, and the only thing she wanted now was to become the Moon, to be assimilated into the object of that extra human love

When the cousin comes to see the moon, the narrator runs down, but the woman, because of her love, stays on the moon forever.

Thoughts I have a special weakness for this tale, because I always found it a mixture of wonderfully charming and a tale of unique love. For example, these quotes

The man at the top of the ladder, as the boat approached the Moon, would become scared and start shouting: ‘Stop! Stop! I’m going to bang my head!’

He is going to bang his head on the Moon, obviously!!


At Daybreak

If Rwzfs was playing, it meant he had found something new: in fact, afterwards, exaggerating as usual, they said he had found a pebble

This short story is about the universe forming, as a family living on the nebula feel the changes, the matter coming together. As the universe forms, the members of the family evolve, per say, but of course Rwzfs gets stuck as a nickel and marries the first algae (lol).

Thoughts This story is perhaps even more charming, and mind boggling. Imagine your grandmother just carrying around a piece of the universe and calling it a cushion. I’d hate it too!


A Sign in Space

Discusses the two hundred million years it takes to make a complete revolution of the Galaxy. This story is not my favorite, it is a little bit less descriptively pleasing. Qfwfq makes a sign in space, the first sign ever, and attempts to find it again as they are rotating. He can no longer recognize his sign and lives out some galactic years in sorrow.


All at One Point

Talks about a point in time where everything was concentrated in one point, all of matter,

There was also a cleaning woman–“maintenance staff” she was called –only one, for the whole universe, since there was so little room. To tell the truth, she had nothing to do all day long, not even dusting–inside one point not even a grain of dust can enter–so she spent all her time gossiping and complaining.

Thoughts this is one of my favorite short stories in the collection. Qfwfq describes a community existing at one point, which even he finds confusing. In this community, one of the families is known as an ‘immigrant group,’ which he remarks as funny, because there is only one point,

‘When we go back there,’ he said to me, in a whisper, ‘the thing we have to make sure of is, this time, certain people remain out… You know who I mean: those Z’zus…’

The Distance of the Moon: Thursday, May 14th.

“Don’t you want to know what happens next? Don’t you want to hang out in that universe for a little while, if only to poke around and see what you can see? Go ahead and try it out. Nobody is watching”
Ah the joy of reading Calvino, a beautifully inspirational author.

I’m going to take a quick break from the Agatha Christie and dive into my favorite, Cosmicomics!

Jackson Tandy

Writers are too serious. I’m certainly guilty of this. Especially when we are young and impressionable, we think that we have something important to say. We think we are going to change the world.

Lately I’ve been appreciating the value of good entertainment. Life is hard enough. People don’t necessarily need to be reminded of pain and suffering during their Books and TV Shows and Movies.

Entertainment is important. If you want to change the world, make somebody laugh. Ease their mind for a while. Life is serious enough.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Why, when I have the freedom to circumnavigate the world in a hot air balloon, or turn myself invisible and walk unimpeded into the White House, or play hockey on the moon with a team of Blue Wizards – why would I want to write about my desk job, on a Monday morning, when I’m late for…

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What I’m Reading Now

Between analyzing The House of the Spirits I actually still read! What am I reading now? So I have a terrible habit of reading multiple books at the same time, maybe its more fun, or maybe I am just indecisive about books.

Currently I am reading:

Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino, one of my all time favorite novels. Calvino is a master, and I worship him.

(I have the copy on the left)

And I am reading Murder on the Links, by Agatha Christie. If you have not encountered Agatha Christie before, do it. She is hilarious and has a great style for keeping her readers enraptured but not bored. The book covers are positively fantastic: