What distinguishes his work from the notebooks of so many would-be talented scribblers, constructors of universal systems, which pour continually into the wastepaper baskets of publishers and scholarly reviews? […]

More even than the vision of a society dedicated to festivals and processions, […] it was the cosmic prophecies: the aurora borealis that would become permanent and turn the whole world into a temperate zone; the sea that would acquire the flavor of lemonade; the moon that, long since murdered by the fetors of the earth, would be replaced by five smaller moons; and animals useful to man—the antilion, the antiwhale, the anticrocodile—that would take the place of fearsome beasts.

Was he a madman, then? Or a hoaxer who poked fun at his readers? Or a humorist appealing to a crafty reader? Or was it all a smokescreen to help him smuggle in the real content, the radical critique of society? Maybe none of these definitions is exact, and if he shares something with the thinkers of his time, and before and after, it is precisely the ambition to extend his argument to fields as far as possible from their point of departure.

– Italo Calvino, “On Fourier, II: The Controller of Desires,” The Uses of Literature: Essays (1980)


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