NABOKV-L post 0019093, Fri, 15 Jan 2010 13:20:40 -0200

Re: [TOUGHT] TOoL: Asparagus,
aspirins and Proust - synesthesia through mnemonic feats]
Fran Assa [to JM :In TOoL there is a quick reference to "asparagus" when Flora's mother has to go out herself to get "aspirins" ...) Sorry, Jansy. But obviously phallic.
JM: So Freudian, like his cigar. But his cigar is not Magritte's pipe.

Eric Naiman [to F.Assa]: Not entirely. That "girly asparagus" is TT's equivalent to Despair's hermaphroditic "phallic tulips". The masculinity, in other words, is attenuated, which seems to have been an important part of VN's take on Proust. There is also a certain posterior, homoerotic charge in the example in PF (appropriate given the novel) -- mASterpiece, fairy tale,ASparagus dream, unconnected with any possible people in any historical France (un-con-nected, i.e. no women involved), sexual travestissement, coloSSAl fARCE (maybe we should even hear CUL-ossal). There is even a bit of posteriority in the example from ADA -- "Proust's After-effect"...Alexander Dolinin, I believe, writes about the importance of "aspirin" in KQKn -- my recollection is he hears Sirin there. And perhaps one can even hear Sirin's breathing.
JM: Wonderful observations, Eric, on "attenuated masculinity" and VN's "take on Proust," connecting PF,Despair, Ada - and bringing in, through Dolinin, the echo of a Sirin's breathing. My difficulty, as a "Freudian," derives from Nabokov's putative wordplay ("coloSSAl fARCE" or "Cul-ossal") which would be merely a conscious, deliberate and childish game on the author's part, a kind of hide-and-seek to manipulate those readers who, like VN, believes that Freud belongs to "a police state of sexual myth,"* to be able to disavow the workings of unconscious processes.
You seem to be one of the few to challenge this Nabokovian prejudice.

Freud, in his "New Introductory Letters," chapter on Dreams develops further what he wrote in Ch.VI of "The Interpretation of Dreams". He makes it quite clear that it is not the trite sexual symbolism that which matters in a dynamic interpretation of any "normal" dream, but the structural workings which are responsible for the transformation of unconscious material into the images of a dream, which he then applies to demonstrate the mechanisms lying behind a neurotic symptom formation.

* From my notes on Lolita: Freudians, Keep Out : "In Richard Rorty's view, the obsessive and strident animosity that Nabokov felt towards Freud was 'the resentment of a precursor who may already have written all one's best lines', which, of course is an exaggeration. Nabokov saw psychoanalysts as the accomplices of the 'police state of sexual myth', an image that served to heighten his hostility. He regarded the Freudian interpretation of dream symbolism as a product of a coarse and 'medieval mind.' The most devoted Nabokovians follow the lead of their master and keep away from Freud... In his biography of Gogol, the novelist remarked that 'The crudest curriculum vitae crows and flaps its wings in a style peculiar to the undersigner. I doubt whether you can even give your telephone number without giving something of yourself'. Nevertheless, he insistently affirmed that his life was not to be mistaken for his work. He saw his characters as gargoyles and caryatids expelled to the outside of the cathedrals: 'they are outside my inner self like the mournful monsters of a cathedral façade - demons placed there merely to show that they have been booted out.' ...In Lolita, however, his signature can be found beyond the voices of the author and the narrator (that so often intermingle)."

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