NABOKV-L post 0018186, Fri, 17 Apr 2009 15:40:57 -0300

THOUGHTS: Gunshots & MPD, Suspicious Supernaturalism
MR: I am curious how others comprehend the poltergeist events in Kinbote's note to line 230, supposedly related to him (in astonishing detail) by Jane Provost[...]It seems to me that we have a few choices to make [...]1. We can accept that it all happened as reported. In this case, we have to accept a fictional world in which there exist real poltergeists ... that John & Sybil witnessed these events 2. We can (along with Kinbote, I think) believe that John & Sybil were tricked by Hazel...3. We can believe that Kinbote made the whole thing up. But why? Any other options? I most often find myself voting for a combination of 2 & 3.

JM: Matt mentioned Jane Provost acting as Shade's secretary. Kinbote described her as a young girl and we must remember that she was linked to Hazel's death (after mentioning his book on Pope, Shade adds: " Jane Dean, my typist, offered her one day/ To meet Pete Dean, a cousin"). There is a famous poltergeist case in Europe that involves a young secretary*.
Why is it difficult to suppose that VN ambiguously inserted "real poltergeists" in his fictional world? These events are well documented...
And yet, VN not only placed together "Provost and "Dean", but set both names close to "Pope", perhaps shifting the emphasis from the academic area into the religious. I once studied a book written by Bishop Pike (it was before he turned into "The Other Side"** and researched poltergeist phenomena.) Pike was very much in the media at the time VN was writing Pale Fire.

Although wikipedia information doesn't include it, I heard that Bishop Pike, like Kinbote, had his name sometimes associated to homosexuality.
Nabokov would not have been the only novelist to mention Pike *** (should the poltergeist episodes, Pope/Provost/Dean and "secretaries", Kinbote's religious problems be in any way connected to him)

* (internet) "Perhaps one of the best known cases of poltergeist activity took place in a lawyer's office in Rosenheim, Germany...After investigation by electricians,
engineers, police officers, journalists, and finally some experienced poltergeist investigators (all in all, nearly forty first-hand witnesses were involved in the case), it was discovered that the activity seemed to center around an eighteen-year-old secretary employed at the office named Annemarie....Parapsychologists maintain that the poltergeist agent (though not always an adolescent) is somehow producing the phenomena unconsciously through psychokinesis (PK), thus the use of the term recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis, or RSPK phenomena. Basically poltergeist phenomena are "external manifestations of repressed anger and hostility," typically from adolescents. The poltergeist effects help the agent to release the feelings of stress, and often once the stress factor is removed, the phenomena

** - In 1966, Pike's son Jim took his life in a New York city hotel room [...]. Shortly after his son's death Pike began to experience poltergeist phenomena. Books seemed to vanish and reappear... Half of the clothes in a closet were found disarranged and heaped up [...]Pike led a public (and for the church, embarrassing) pursuit of various spiritualist and clairvoyant methods of contacting his deceased son in order to reconcile. In September 1967, Pike participated in a televised séance with his dead son through the medium, Arthur Ford, who served at the time as a Disciples of Christ minister. Pike detailed these experiences in his book The Other Side.
Additional data: His theology was profoundly challenging to the Church, as Pike wrote questioning a number of widely regarded
theological stances, including the virginity of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and the doctrine of Hell and the Trinity. He famously called for "fewer beliefs, more belief." [...] he was ultimately censured for this in 1966 by his brother bishops, and resigned his position shortly thereafter.In his personal life, Pike was a chain-smoker, an alcoholic, craved attention, and was likely addicted in some way to romance and relationships.His charismatic personality drew many people to him,
including his secretary, with whom he developed a romantic relationship that cost him his marriage to his second wife in 1969.

*** - James Pike was a loose inspiration for the character of Timothy Archer in Philip K. Dick's book, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. Pike and Philip
K.Dick were friends and Pike officiated at Dick's wedding to Nancy Hackett in 1966. Joan Didion wrote about Pike and the building of the Grace Cathedral in her collection of essays, The White Album (1979). E. L. Doctorow includes Pike as a fictionlised character in his novel, City of God.

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