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Calvino is in the City

Within the framework of the joint initiative with the Enrico Fermi Research Center, the Sony Computer Science Laboratories in Rome proudly presented “Calvino is in the City, Dialogues between Literature and Science”, an event that took place on the 6th of February at Sony CSL – Rome premises and dedicated to Italo Calvino, the author of the “Invisible Cities,” one of his most well known masterpieces, which is highly celebrated and remarkably relevant for an era where the debate on the future of cities becomes more pressing.

 

Calvino’s combinatorial kaleidoscope lends itself well to glimpsing a myriad of possible worlds and aligns perfectly with the need of science to identify new futures and solutions. Notably, one of the foundational themes of the joint CREF-SONY initiative is that of the adjacent possible-the exploration of a space, often ineffable, found at the interface between what François Jacob defined as the “actual” and the “possible.”

This interface exists between our past or present experience and what we might experience in the near future, as individuals or as communities/species. This theme is further explored in various directions, including that of cities and, particularly, how to make them more sustainable, livable, and equitable.

 

The event begun with the reading of excerpts from the book, followed by an initial commentary with a scientific flavor. Subsequently, other guests shared their perspectives, opening the discussion and going deeper into Calvino’s narrative, vision, insights, and transversality. The event became a genuine and multi-voiced dialogue, where syntaxes intertwine and listen to each other.

In addition to Vittorio Loreto, Director of Sony CSL – Rome and Physics of Complex Systems lecturer at La Sapienza University in Rome, there were contributions from Laura Guglielmi, journalist and writer, also an expert on Calvino and author of the book “Calvino and Sanremo”; Andrea Prencipe, Rector of LUISS Guido Carli University and author of the books “The Cybernetic Viscount” and “The Rampant Innovator,” accompanied in the narration by Manuela Cherubini, a director, actress, and expert in scientific narratives.

The public showed a genuine interest towards the topics and they were very involved in asking questions and sharing their comments with the speakers. Also a very young child wanted to participate in the debate asking if  the speakers thought that conceiving a city “which is imperfect in most of its aspects” could be possible as well. The question of the young Ginevra produced a considerable amount of other perspectives; maybe we should address some of them in the next dialogue.