Five Books

Francesco Pedraglio is one of the artists who will inaugurate the museum’s RETROFUTURE section this fall/winter season 2020 — 2021.


On the occasion, the artist shares five book recommendations by quoting key passages in their respective original languages.

Witold Gombrowicz, Cosmos

I don’t know how to tell this . . . this story . . . because I’m telling it ex post. The arrow, for instance . . . The arrow, for instance . . . The arrow, at that time, at supper, was no more important than Leon’s chess, or the newspaper, or tea, everything—equally important, everything—was contributing to a given moment, a kind of consonance, the buzzing of a swarm. But today, ex post, I know it was the arrow that was the most important, so in telling this I move it to the forefront, from a myriad of undifferentiated facts I extract the configuration of the future. But how can one describe something except ex post? Can nothing be ever truly expressed, rendered in its anonymous becoming, can no one ever render the babbling of the nascent moment, how is it that, born out of chaos, we can never encounter it again, no sooner do we look than order … and form … are born under our very eyes? No matter. Never mind.


Giorgio Manganelli, Centuria

Un signore che non aveva ucciso nessuno venne condannato a morte per omicidio […]
Il signore vestito di scuro, dalla camminata attenta e pensosa, sa di essere inseguito […]
Il signore vestito in maniera un poco antiquata ma non inelegante sta percorrendo gli ultimi metri che lo separano dalla sua casa […]
Generalmente i signori che vengono a questa fermata ad attendere il treno, muoiono nell’attesa […]
Il signore col cappotto e il collo di pelliccia, accuratamente sbarbato, usci di casa esattamente alle nove meno dodici, giacche alle nove e trenta aveva un appuntamento con la donna che aveva deciso di chiedere in moglie […]
Il signore vestito di lino, con scarpe a mocassino e calze corte, guarda l’orologio […]
La persona che abita lì, al terzo piano, non esiste […]
Quel signore vestito correttamente di grigio, occhialuto, un poco accademico, che sta attraversando la strada – per essere esatti, sta attraversando un autobus fermo al semaforo – è un’allucinazione […]
In questa città, ciascuno possiede qualcosa che è indispensabile ad un altro, e di cui il detentore non sa che fare, o che ignora addirittura d’avere […]


Renata Adler, Speedboat

A large rat crossed my path last night ion Fifty-seventh Street. It came out for under a wooden fence at a vacant lot near Bendel’s, paused for traffic, and then streaked across to the uptown sidewalk, sat awhile in the dark, and vanished. It was my second rat this week. The first was in a Greek restaurant where there are lap-hight sills under all windows. The rat ran along the sills, straight towards, then past me.

“See that?” Will said, sipping from his beer glass.

“Large mouse” I said. “Even nice hotels have small mice now, in the bars and lobbies”. I had last seen Will in Oakland; before that, in Louisiana. He does law. Then something, perhaps a startled sense of my own peripheral vision, registered on my left, coming towards my face fast. My fork clattered.

“You were all right, there” Will said, grinning, “until you lost your cool.”

The second rat, of course, may have been the first rat farther uptown, in which case I am either being followed or the rat keeps the same rounds and hours I do. I think sanity, however, si the most profound moral option of our time. Two rats, then. Cabdrivers can’t even hear directions through those new partitions, which don’t seem to me really bulletproof, although, of course, I’ve never checked it. Soundproof. […]


Kate Briggs, This Little Art

The desire to write comes (is the feeling you get from) certain readings: the kind of reading that agitates you into making a trace of itself. Or to put it another way, and reaching a little further for an answer to his outrageous, unanswerable question, Barthes arrives at the following claim: ‘to write is to want to re-write, he says. And then: ‘Every beautiful work, or even every work to make an impression, every impressive work functions as a desired work, but I would say, and it’s here that it starts to get interesting, that every work I read as desirable, even as I’m desiring it, I experience it as incomplete and somehow lost because I didn’t do it myself, and I have to in some way retrieve it by re-doing it; in this way, to write is to want to rewrite: I want to add myself actively to that which is beautiful and that lack, as we might put it with an old verb: that I require.


Roberto Calasso, Il Cacciatore Celeste

Homo sapiens ha avuto bisogno di un;incubazione di oltre cinquantamila anni per arrivare all’agricoltura, alla domesticazione, alla sedentarietà. Accanto a lui, per circa trentamila anni (l’ultimo ritrovamento neanderthaliano, a oggi, risale a 28000 anni fa, a Gibilterra) continuava a vivere un parente stretto nella filogenesi, Homo neanderthalensis. Sapiens lo vide sparire. O lo fece sparire. In tutti e due i casi, la storia dei suoi rapporti con Neanderthal è l’immane, non scritto romanzo nero che sta dietro a tutti i romanzi.