Thoughts on Italo Calvino’s The Complete Cosmicomics: an Italian Phantasm

Being an Italian-American aesthete, and a nontheistic neo-pagan, I feel it critically, spiritually important to my Italian blood for me to examine the writings of Italian writers, including the writings of the illustrious Italo Calvino.

Now, despite the modernist shadows and the postmodernist blight, both distastefully innate to most of Italo Calvino’s work, his ‘Complete Cosmicomics’—in my eye, a collection of sci-fi–fantasy, demi-futurist, quasi-metafictional, quasi-metanarrative stories—does carry a singular presence of which I feel has aesthetic and ethnic significance..

These stories speak to me about what I view as an integral aspect of the current Italian-blooded identity, more so of those who oppose globalism and the Risorgimento (and its ruinous consequences): that bittersweet macédoine of homesickness, heritage, nostalgia, nerve, longing, loneliness, displacement, disorientation, marginalization, melancholy, abandonment, and ancestry; even though the stories in Calvino’s collection are not about Italia, and I honestly don’t think Calvino intended these stories, so materialist and so strange, to be in any way about the Italian spirit (an imprecise sociopolitical concept). What I feel is important here is the daimon sensed through the stories, which resonates with me and with my concept of what it is like to be of humble, yet hardworking, long-standing Italian ethnicity; and this voice conjures up a resemblance to what feels like a very Italian experience.

The stories in The Complete Cosmicomics (2015) that embody that phantasm the most, the stories which I consider to be the only ones in the book worth reading, are the following: “Without Colours,” “The Dinosaurs,” “The Count of Monte Cristo,” and “The Other Eurydice.” Those are the ones which respect myth, folklore, romance, tradition, and the past the most. They don’t get overly swamped by mathematics, science, and Postmodernist coldness like the other stories do, allowing emotions to spark and for Beauty to enter with elegance. They have a stronger attachment to Romanticism and to the Metaphysical.

Then again, perhaps that spirit only rises out of the pages for those secretly wishing for something greater, for reclamation, for recompense.

People of Italian blood should no longer wait for politicians nor Abrahamic leaders nor the non–Italian-blooded to hand us back our fatherlands, to hand us some deserved recognition, our freedom.

Hark! Saturn calls to the worthy. We who are truly Italian (wherever we are), both as one blood and as a Vesuvian wave of diverse Italic tribes, we must rise aloft, as sophisticated artists and noble cavalieri, who will cut down and strike away, with scythe and scepter, the yokes of Americanization, globalization, commercial imperialism, Communism, Socialism, woke guilt, and Hollywood, which have mangled our motherland and our manifold hearts.

Matthew Pungitore’s story “Belial Regnum Ignis Fatuus” is in Aegeon Science Fiction Illustrated: Issue 4 (2022). He is the author of The Report of Mr. Charles Aalmers and other stories and “The Tale of Marius the Avenging Imp” (DMR Books, Samhain Sorceries, 2022). Matthews self-published books are available on his BookBaby author page:

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