the end of the world

“One morning around ten o’clock an immense fist appeared in the sky above the city. Then it slowly unclenched and remained this way, immobile, like an enormous canopy of ruin. It looked like rock, but it was not rock; it looked like flesh but it wasn’t; it even seemed made of cloud, but cloud it was not. It was God, and the end of the world. A murmuring, which here became a moan, there a shout, spread through the districts of the city, until it grew into a single voice, united and terrible, rising shrilly like a trumpet.”

(Dino Buzzati, “The End if the World,” trans. Lawrence Venuti, p. 7 in Restless Nights.)

artificial intelligence, italian style

“ ‘Excuse me,’ said Olga, interrupting her. She turned to her husband. ‘Does she speak too? The machine, I mean.’

‘Not in the normal sense, no. It doesn’t know languages. We’ve been firm about that. It would have been fatal if we’d taught it a language. Speech is the greatest enemy of mental clarity. Through wanting to express his thoughts in words at all costs, man has got himself into such a mess that—’ ”

(Dino Buzzati, Larger Than Life (1960), trans. Henry Reed, p. 72)