Umberto Eco

Italian writer and semiotician Umberto Eco turned 82 this January (on the 5th). He is the author of the acclaimed novel The Name of the Rose (which was adapted by director Jean-Jacques Annaud into a well-known excellent film starring Sean Connery).


This outstanding essayist of modern literature is also bound to pinball in a way, of course. Perhaps it's not so surprising at all by now.

In his famous second novel, the exceedingly intellectual and ironic Foucault's Pendulum (1988) the author portrays through Belbo's eyes (a main character in the book) how he sees playing pinball (with some eroticism interwoven):
"You don't play pinball just with your hands, you play it with your groin
too. The pinball problem is not to stop the ball before it's swallowed by
the mouth at the bottom, or to kick it back to midfield like a halfback. The
problem is to make it stay up where the lighted targets are more numerous
and have it bounce from one to another, wandering, confused, delirious, but
still a free agent. And you achieve this not by jolting the ball but by
transmitting vibrations to the case, the frame, but gently, so the machine
won't catch on and say Tilt. You can do it only with the groin, or with a
play of the hips that makes the groin not so much bump, as slither, keeping
you on this side of an orgasm."

Elements of humor and playfulness are not missing from the story either, moreover pinball is mentioned at several places in the novel, so be sure to read the book (certainly not only because of pinball ;))!