Nicely done. It doesn’t take a Joycean (or a Joyce) to unpack that
wispishness: wisp+wimp+wish+wasp ( or simply the word wispo facto).. You
ask to get under the hood with Calvino’s “tantaliz[ing]” claim that “the
decisive moment of literary life will be that of reading” and ask “But what
does it mean? Let’s open the hood and take a look at it” Here it is,
Calvino’s 67 Chevy, in eight cylinders:

At this stage in the essay Calvino’s speculation about machine literature
satisfies his uneasiness about what we could call an author in ROM.
“Various aesthetic theories maintained that poetry was a matter of
inspiration descending from I know not what lofty place, or welling up from
I know not what great depths…” he says,”But in these theories there
always remained a void that no one knew how to fill, a zone of darkness
between cause and effect: how does one arrive at the written page? ”

This leads Calvino to the claim that “Writers… are already writing
machines, at least they are when all goes well…” and thence to an
assertion that “once we have dismantled and reassembled the process of
literary composition, the decisive moment of literary life will be that of
reading.” This prepares the way for a reconsideration of the storyteller’s
tasks from a reader’s perspective. Calvino suggests that fable (story)
gives way to myth (the unsayable) and it is the real person of the reader
(as writer) who actualizes it. “The work will continue to be born, to be
judged, to be destroyed or constantly renewed on contact with the eye of
the reader.”

Then in a remarkable paragraph he spatializes writing: “literature will
continue to be a ‘place’ of privilege within the human consciousness, a way
of exercising the potentialities contained in the system of signs belonging
to all societies at all times.” Having done so he is ready to dispose of
“the author: that anachronistic personage, the bearer of messages, the
director of consciences, the giver of lectures to cultural bodies. ”

And once disposed to herald the second coming:” …And so the author
vanishes-that spoiled child of ignorance- to give place to a more
thoughtful person, a person who will know that the author is a machine, and
who will know how this machine works.”

Still too wispy? Or do you see the fire Calvino ignites?

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