In this review essay, I take on Roberto Calasso’s Unnamable Present and offer a critical framework to understand his thought after the publication of The Ruin of Kasch in 1983 and his vision of the world of our contemporary society. I argue that, by broadening Zygmunt Bauman’s “liquid modernity” concept, Calasso describes the political and ethical consequences of the loss of the sacred in our unnamed, ominous present. The result of this process is the historical creation of the Homo saecularis in the age of digital culture, whose cultural inconsistency is an expression of the current, unsettling political conditions of Western society, which Calasso directly puts in relation to the equally secular development of Islamism and Christianity.
Our Unnamable Present: On Roberto Calasso’s Weltanschauung
Alberto Comparini (PhD, Stanford University) is an assistant professor of comparative literature at the University of Trento, Italy. He works on twentieth-century literature by studying the relationship between literature and philosophy. He has published the books La poetica dei “Dialoghi con Leucò” di Cesare Pavese (2017), which was awarded the 2018 Pavese Prize for literary criticism, and Geocritica e poesia dell’esistenza (2018), as well as the edited volume Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Twentieth-Century Italian Literature (2018).
Alberto Comparini; Our Unnamable Present: On Roberto Calasso’s Weltanschauung. boundary 2 1 November 2020; 47 (4): 213–220. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-8677911
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