Umberto Eco (1932-2016) On Writing, Symbols, Interstices, Creativity, Stubborn Incuriosity, Theory And Story

“I think an author should write what the reader does not expect. The problem is not to ask what they need, but to change them…to produce the kind of reader you want for each story.”

“The more elusive and ambiguous a symbol is, the more it gains significance and power.” (Foucault’s Pendulum, page 420)

“I always say that I am able to use the interstices. There is a lot of space between atom and atom and electron and electron, and if we reduced the matter of the universe by eliminating all the space in between, the entire universe would be compressed into a ball. Our lives are full of interstices.”

“Critical creativity–criticizing what we are doing or inventing better ways of doing it–is the only mark of the intellectual function.”

“I like the notion of stubborn incuriosity. To cultivate a stubborn incuriosity, you have to limit yourself to certain areas of knowledge. You cannot be totally greedy. You have to oblige yourself not to learn everything. Or else you will learn nothing. Culture in this sense is about knowing how to forget.”

“When you are unable to construct a theory, you narrate a story.”

– Umberto Eco, The Art of Fiction No. 197″, The Paris Review

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