one hundred essays I don't have time to write*

*Please consider these essays as starting points. Consider them starting points for someone else to finish.

69. Calvino and lightness

Italo Calvino has a wonderful essay on lightness, in which he honors lightness as an aesthetic choice and a difficulty, rather than as something to be easily dismissed. You cannot, after all, get something airborne on a mere whim, no--it requires careful patience and some physics to get a plane in the air. When I worked on the translation of Three Sisters in this volume, I was thrilled to learn that Chekhov has Olga saying quite literally, “I can now remember with some lightness.” And so I translated that line quite literally. A suspicion of lightness has many actors play Chekhovian characters as people who are remembering with some heaviness.
A suspicion that lightness is not deeply serious (but instead, whimsical, that hateful world, see essay number 15) pervades aesthetic discourse. I think that lightness is a philosophical choice to temper reality with strangeness and to temper the intellect with emotion and to temper emotion with humor. Lightness is a philosophical victory over heaviness. A reckoning with the humble and the small and the invisible.

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