Seminars by Paolo Bartoloni in Melbourne, 2-8 Sept 2014

2 Sept. Swinburne University: Svevo’s “ordigni”: writing, technology and modern life in La coscienza di Zeno. (Contact Sabina Sestigiani for details)

3 Sept. RISM/IIC: Italo Svevo and James Joyce: affinities and differences. (6.30 pm, Italian Cultural Institute, 233 Domain Rd, S.Yarra)

4 Sept. Monash University: Meaningful Places and Meaningful Lives. (Contact Rita Wilson or Leah Gerber for details)

8 Sept. Melbourne University: Transcultural expression and the threshold between commercial tourism and cognitive experience. (Contact John Hajek for details)

For abstracts of the papers, click on ‘Continue reading’

Svevo’s “ordigni”: writing, technology and modern life in La coscienza di Zeno (Swinburne)

As Giovanni Palmieri has noted, in Svevo’s lexicon “ordegno/ordigno” means tool, and it acquires, therefore, a practical purpose in the process of making. In Svevo “ordigno” is employed towards the working of an idea, a plot, a hypothesis. Moreover, it becomes the necessary passage for an approximation to conscience, which in Svevo stands both for consciousness and knowledge. Writing itself is an “ordigno” that Svevo places in the hands of his fictitious “golem” Zeno, the leading character of Zeno’s Conscience (La coscienza di Zeno, 1923), to write the autobiography of his life, which in turn becomes, unbeknown to the character but known to the author, a critique of the moral illness of the bourgeoisie on the eve of the First World War, a metanarrative reflection on writing fiction, and a staggering prediction of the failures of modernity and attendant future unsustainability, climate changes and global conflicts. The talk will focus on writing as a cognitive tool, on the relation between author and character in La coscienza di Zeno, and on Svevo’s critique of a world on the verge of self-annihilation.

Italo Svevo and James Joyce: affinities and differences (RISM/IIC)

It is one hundred years since Zeno Cosini, the narrator and protagonist of Italo Svevo’s modernist masterpiece Zeno’s Conscience, started writing his autobiographical confession. He did it in 1914 in preparation for a psychoanalytic treatment, that is five years before Svevo commenced work on the novel. The complex structure and temporality of Svevo’s Zeno’s Conscience, and the intermingling of story time, narrative time and the time of the actual writing, struck James Joyce as emblems of Svevo’s novelty and originality. What Joyce did not notice as he first read the novel, is that Svevo, not unlike Joyce himself, constructed a narrative in which knowledge and conscience are the result of a situated cognition, that is the relation that the subject entertains with the material world. Together with the cigarette, the thing par excellence of Zeno’s Conscience, writing and the body themselves turn into things and objects that are employed to probe and pierce the bourgeois conventions and traditions of a changing and transforming Europe. This talk will focus on the friendship between Joyce and Svevo, and their literary affinities as well as differences by looking at the “things” that make Zeno’s Conscience.

Meaningful Places and Meaningful Lives (Monash)

Starting from a discussion of Sigmund Freud’s definition of happiness as the connection between human and world (Civilization and its Discontents), this talk will present a reconsideration of the relation between subject and object by mobilizing an interdisciplinary approach, including philosophy, cultural studies, geography, sociology and literary studies. The hypothesis is that places that are marked by a mutual relation between individuals and things, and in which, therefore, the attention and care practices by individuals is directly related to, determined, and generated by the things and objects therein, are meaningful. As opposed to Speculative Realism and Object-Oriented-Ontology, which argue for a recognition of the singularity or suchness of objects outside of and beyond the representative impulse, I claim that a new post-Kantian understanding of correlationism is essential to make sense of new forms of expression and knowledge, such as transcultural expression.

Transcultural expression and the threshold between commercial tourism and cognitive experience (Melbourne)

Transnationalism has been defined as the ability to sustain “contacts and travels across national borders” (Ahmed, 2003); and the transnational agent, not without analogy to the cosmopolitan one, is understood as the “mediator of different traditions” (Held, 2002). These two insights into the transnational link movement in space to cultural intervention, and allude to the inevitable symbolic engagement with place, which in the case of the transnational agent translates into a transcultural process of imagination and production. In this talk I wish to focus my attention on the production of transcultural urban realities, whose identity is intriguingly poised on the edge of opportunism and cultural innovation; I’m referring to the Italian Forum in Sydney, and the Sicilian Fashion Village in Agira, near Catania. These two places make a strong investment in the concept of a globalized world in which the specificity and uniqueness of the local gain relevance in the context of their celebration but also in their capacity to be shared by the global multitude of the culturally curios and consumption oriented. One of the many issues stemming from this discussion is to contrast and compare the will towards seduction and profit and the search for a new cognitive space predicated on original modes of production.

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