Robert A. Rushing - Calvino & the Catacoustic: an ‘Echo-Logical’ Reading

Image
Rushing Talk Image
February 4, 2020
4:00PM - 5:30PM
Location
Smith Lab 1005

Date Range
Add to Calendar 2020-02-04 16:00:00 2020-02-04 17:30:00 Robert A. Rushing - Calvino & the Catacoustic: an ‘Echo-Logical’ Reading

Prof. Robert A. Rushing, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Calvino’s 1972 novel Invisible Cities is a literary success by any standard, still in print and widely taught almost 50 years after its initial publication. Except for a few imitations and parodies, however, its influence has been more widely felt outside literature than in it. It remains a touchstone in architecture and urban planning, but it has also inspired a dizzying array of art in every imaginable medium. In this talk, I want to focus particularly on Calvino and sound, beginning with Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe’s idea of the “catacoustic” (the ‘science of echoes’) which models artistic influence on the echo rather than the mirror. I want to suggest, however, that the echo also offers us a way of thinking about both politics and the environment. Echoes always delineate a space, both its abstract architectural form as well as its concrete materiality, analogous to the distinction that Cavarero draws between speech and the voice — a distinction built on her reading of Calvino. I argue that the space opened up by Calvino’s Invisible Cities is not merely political (it is, in fact, political and biopolitical to its core), but also ecological (we might say ‘echo-logical’) in its broader concerns with the space that surrounds the city, and indeed, with the space that surrounds all life.

Smith Lab 1005 Department of French and Italian frit@osu.edu America/New_York public
Description

Prof. Robert A. Rushing, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Calvino’s 1972 novel Invisible Cities is a literary success by any standard, still in print and widely taught almost 50 years after its initial publication. Except for a few imitations and parodies, however, its influence has been more widely felt outside literature than in it. It remains a touchstone in architecture and urban planning, but it has also inspired a dizzying array of art in every imaginable medium. In this talk, I want to focus particularly on Calvino and sound, beginning with Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe’s idea of the “catacoustic” (the ‘science of echoes’) which models artistic influence on the echo rather than the mirror. I want to suggest, however, that the echo also offers us a way of thinking about both politics and the environment. Echoes always delineate a space, both its abstract architectural form as well as its concrete materiality, analogous to the distinction that Cavarero draws between speech and the voice — a distinction built on her reading of Calvino. I argue that the space opened up by Calvino’s Invisible Cities is not merely political (it is, in fact, political and biopolitical to its core), but also ecological (we might say ‘echo-logical’) in its broader concerns with the space that surrounds the city, and indeed, with the space that surrounds all life.