Calvino and the Catacoustic: An ‘Echo-logical’ Reading Let us consider Calvino’s Invisible Cities as a sound that has produced a vast number of echoes in the over 50 years since its publication, from studiopluz’s architectural installations of lit glass (above) to Chris Cerrone’s Pulitzer-nominated opera of the novel. Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe referred to the way that thinkers and artists are often haunted by an earlier voice as an example of the “catacoustic,” the science of reflected sound — in this talk, Professor Rushing explores how we might think expand Lacoue-Labarthe’s idea of the catacoustic and elaborate a model of artistic and cultural influences that is both non-Oedipal and non-visual. Such a model offers another advantage, particularly suited to the political value of Calvino’s novel: reverberation always delineates a space, both its abstract architectural form as well as its concrete materiality, analogous to the distinction Adriana Cavarero — again, using Calvino — draws between speech and the voice, suggesting that the space opened up by Calvino is not merely political, but ecological, or even ‘echo-logical.’
Robert A. Rushing is Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he also holds affiliate appointments in Media and Cinema Studies and the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory. He is the author of Resisting Arrest: Detective Fiction and Popular Culture (Other Press, 2007) and Descended from Hercules: Biopolitics and the Muscled Male Body on Screen (Indiana University Press, 2016), which won the 2016 American Association for Italian Studies Best Book Prize (Film/Media). He is co-editor of two volumes on North American television: Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style, and the 1960s (Duke University Press, 2011) and Orphan Black: Performance, Gender, Biopolitics (Intellect, 2018). He has published widely on Italian cinema, especially popular genres, as well as literature from Ovid to Calvino.