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Lightness in Action: Elizabeth Streb + Gravity

Lightness in Action: Elizabeth Streb + Gravity LIGHTNESS IN ACTION Elizabeth Streb + Gravity Selby Wynn Schwartz n the months before his death, Italo Calvino, the Italian writer and explorer of the imaginary, was working on a series of essays, which he called Lezioni americane: American lessons (translations mine). The English title was Six Memos for the New Millennium, and in fact both are fitting: Calvino was investigating fast, shiny, forward-looking ideas like “Exactitude” and “Quickness.” The first and most intriguing essay in the book is called “Lightness.” At the center of the “Lightness” essay is a story about the poet Guido Cavalcanti, taken from Boccaccio’s Decameron. One afternoon, Boccaccio writes, the mercurial and enigmatic poet Cavalcanti is confronted by a roving band of Florentine youths, who taunt him for not joining in their revels. They surround him in a graveyard, their horses edging closer and pawing nastily, and then, quite suddenly, answering them with the quickest of wit and the lightest of leaps, Cavalcanti lays one hand on a nearby marble arch in the wall, vaults nimbly over it, and is gone. Calvino sees this leap, this poetic unexpectedness of movement, as the emblem of lightness itself; he says it shows how Cavalcanti manages http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art MIT Press

Lightness in Action: Elizabeth Streb + Gravity

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Publisher
MIT Press
Copyright
© 2012 Selby Wynn Schwartz
Subject
Feature
ISSN
1520-281X
eISSN
1537-9477
DOI
10.1162/PAJJ_a_00088
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

LIGHTNESS IN ACTION Elizabeth Streb + Gravity Selby Wynn Schwartz n the months before his death, Italo Calvino, the Italian writer and explorer of the imaginary, was working on a series of essays, which he called Lezioni americane: American lessons (translations mine). The English title was Six Memos for the New Millennium, and in fact both are fitting: Calvino was investigating fast, shiny, forward-looking ideas like “Exactitude” and “Quickness.” The first and most intriguing essay in the book is called “Lightness.” At the center of the “Lightness” essay is a story about the poet Guido Cavalcanti, taken from Boccaccio’s Decameron. One afternoon, Boccaccio writes, the mercurial and enigmatic poet Cavalcanti is confronted by a roving band of Florentine youths, who taunt him for not joining in their revels. They surround him in a graveyard, their horses edging closer and pawing nastily, and then, quite suddenly, answering them with the quickest of wit and the lightest of leaps, Cavalcanti lays one hand on a nearby marble arch in the wall, vaults nimbly over it, and is gone. Calvino sees this leap, this poetic unexpectedness of movement, as the emblem of lightness itself; he says it shows how Cavalcanti manages

Journal

PAJ: A Journal of Performance and ArtMIT Press

Published: May 1, 2012

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