Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Italo Calvino on verbal and visual thinking

with 2 comments

In devising a story the first thing that comes to my mind is an image that for some reason strikes me as charged with meaning, even if I cannot formulate this meaning in discursive or conceptual terms. Around each image others come into being, forming a field of analogies, symmetries, confrontations. Into the organization of this material, which is no longer purely visual but also conceptual, there now enters my deliberate intent to give order and sense to the development of the story; or rather, what I do is try to establish which meanings might be compatible with the overall design I wish to give the story and which meanings are not compatible, always leaving a certain margin of possible alternatives. At the same time, the writing, the verbal product, acquires increasing importance. I would say that from the moment I start putting black on white, what really matters is the written word, first as a search for an equivalent of the visual image, then as a coherent development of the initial stylistic direction. Finally, the written word little by little comes to dominate the field. From now on it will be the writing that guides the story toward the most felicitous verbal expression, and the visual imagination has no choice but to tag along.

Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium

Written by nevalalee

July 16, 2011 at 7:37 am

2 Responses

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  1. Such a beautiful extract! Classic would be the word to describe it. Thanks for sharing :)


    July 17, 2011 at 2:19 am

  2. Glad you liked it! Calvino’s definitely one of the masters.


    July 17, 2011 at 11:08 am

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