THE SIXTH DAY And Other Tales by Primo Levi

THE SIXTH DAY And Other Tales

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Some of these short sci-fi and speculatively metaphorical pieces were published by Levi under the pseudonym Damiano Malabaila--and they do not so much contravene or lessen his acknowledged works as seem of much more rigid conventionality. One series has to do with a company's development of different machines that quantify and mechanize the most sought-after wishes: a machine that can copy anything, even people; a machine that can measure beauty; a machine that is capable of recording every sensation, mental and physical. The alchemical whimsy here--for you understand implicitly how ironic Levi is being, how he is twitting his own scientific background for its wistful dreams--is a force in Levi's more occasional, light writings, but it's something he kept carefully ghetto-ized. Of note here is a piece called ""Psychophant,"" in which a Ouija-board-like contraption can dimensionalize the actual shape, color, and texture of one's soul. Levi ends the story by describing what his soul came up as: a cylinder the size of a paint can in which was ""a needle, a seashell, a malachite ring, various used tickets from streetcars, trains, steamers, and airplanes, a compass, a dead cricket and a live one, and a small ember, which, however, died out almost immediately.

Pub Date: June 21st, 1990
Publisher: Summit/Simon & Schuster