Friday, February 19, 2016

Umberto Eco (1932 - 2016)

Guido Buzzelli, Umberto Eco, 1989.

Another reference point to The Crib died tonight: Umberto Eco, the author of Apocalittici e Integrati (apocalyptic and integrated intellectuals; Apocalypse Postponed is not a translation of Apocalittici e Integrati, it's a reprint of various essays about mass culture previously published in a variety of sources).
The title of Apocalittici e Integrati refers to two possible points of view about mass culture: those who see it as a sign of decadence and those who have no problems with it. Eco said that the title was the publisher's invention to boost sales with a hint of polemic. Looking at the Table of Contents such polemic is nowhere to be found, really... If I remember correctly the book contains semiotic analysis of Peanuts, Steve Canyon, Li'l Abner, but what I found really fascinating was the chapter "La sttrutura del cativo gusto" (the structure of bad taste) in which Eco defines kitsch as the "prefabricazione e imposizione dell'effetto" ("the pre-fabrication and imposition of an effect," translation by Anna Cancogni in The Open Work, 1989, 182). Indeed, when a comic uses manichean stereotypes arranged in what I could call the revenge swirl, a formula that, from Batman to Tarantino gave millions to the Lords of Kitsch, said comic is manipulative and in bad taste.

Thanks for everything, professor Eco!

Umberto Eco, Apocalittici e Integrati, Bompiani, 1964.

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