Image credit: Lucio Fontana, Concetto spaziale – Attese, 1965.

We usually think of time (and processes) in linear terms: there is a beginning, a middle and an end to everything. Except, often we forego the last of these three elements: given the choice, we prefer to think of a never-ending progression, and we find it even more reassuring if things keep getting better and better, as time goes by (an attitude that sometimes leads to the unreasonable idolatry of the new). Needless to say, this is a cultural construct, a way of understanding time, our history and, more in general, storytelling that is in no way “objective,” “natural,” or more accurate than a dozen others.

In the short time allotted, I would like to introduce two different ways of looking at origins and beginnings, using the writings of two masters of the noir genre, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, and the exquisite musings of a true (if little-known) giant of the Age of Enlightenment, Jean Anthelme Brilliat-Savarin.

Gianluca Rizzo is the Paganucci Assistant Professor of Italian at Colby College. His research focuses on modern and contemporary macaronic writing, contemporary poetry, theater, and aesthetics. He published numerous articles, poems, and translations, both from English to Italian and vice-versa (in Or, Chicago Review, l’immaginazione, il Verri, Autografo, Studi Novecenteshi, L’Ulisse, etc.). Among his most recent volumes are Savage Words: Invectives as a Literary Genre (Agincourt Press, 2016), coedited with Massimo Ciavolella; Carlo Goldoni, Five Comedies (University of Toronto Press, 2016), coedited with Michael Hackett; and On the Fringe of the Neoavantgarde/Ai confini della neoavanguardia: Palermo 1963-Los Angeles 2013 (Agincourt Press 2017). Oèdipus recently printed his first collection of verse, entitled Il lavoro meccanico: Un’apocalisse in quattro tempi (2016).

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