- Italo Calvino - 'Invisible Cities' (1972)
VI, Cities and the sky. In Eudossia, that extends up and low, with meandering alleys, steps, narrow lanes, hovels, a carpet is kept in which you can contemplate the real shape of the city. At first nothing seems to resemble less Eudossia than the design of the carpet, ordered in symmetrical figures that repeat their patterns along straight and circular lines, woven of needleful of dazzling colors, which alternating wefts you can follow all along the warp. But if you stop to observe it with attention, you perceive that to every place of the carpet corresponds a place of the city and that all the things contained in the city are comprised in the design, arranged according to their true relationships, which escape to your eye distracted from the coming and going from the swarming from the awful crush. All the confusion in Eudossia, the bray of the mules, the spots of lamp-black, the smell of fish, is what appear in the partial perspective that you pick; but the carpet proves that there is a point from which the city shows its true proportions, the geometric outline implicit in its every minimal detail. Getting lost in Eudossia is easy: but when you concentrates staring the carpet you recognize the road that you were looking for in a crimson or indigo or amaranth thread that through a long round lets you enter in a purple fence that is your true point of arrival. Every inhabitant of Eudossia confronts to the immovable order of the carpet his own image of the city, an anguish, and everyone can find hidden between the arabesques an answer, the story of his life, the twists of his destiny. An oracle was consultated about the mysterious relationship between two such different objects as the carpet and the city. One of the two objects, - it was the response, - has the shape that the gods gave to the starry sky and to the orbits around which the worlds spin; the other one is an approximate glare, like every human work. The augurs since so long were sure that the harmonic design of the carpet was of divine nature; in this sense the oracle was interpreted, without giving place to controversies. But in the same way you can draw the opposite conclusion: that the real map of the universe is the city of Eudossia as it is, a spot that spreads without shape, with zigzag roads, houses collapsing above one another in the dust, fires, cries in the dark.