NABOKV-L post 0018357, Fri, 29 May 2009 14:02:19 -0300

Re: THOUGHTS: Earthlights in PF? Also Therese Humbert
Tom Rymour: There are other forms of floating light besides St. Elmo's Fire. Earthlights, aka Anomalous Luminous Phenomena (ALP) seem to have a connection with highly faulted geology [...]I wove both these outings into my second novel "The X-Crystals". Some people say that ALPs are plasmoid.[...] Therese Humbert, the Bernie Madoff of the Belle Epoque. She had a huge strongbox, which reputedly contained a vast fortune. When it was finally opened[...] was found to contain a single fly button. My speculation is that VN heard about the scandal during his time in France and doubled the name to suit the duplicity of Dolly's debaucher.

JM: A good read, with Nabokov whiffs, "The X-Crystals". Brasília is held, by a group of mystics and logosophers, to be the stronghold of the future, because of mysterious electromagnetic qualities in its vicinity.
A recent production on Einstein and "string theory" made me realize that Nabokov must have moved away from modern "unification" theories (and a definite classification of living things), towards an ever mounting "differentiation" and "openness". A kind of "black-hole in reverse." I can only vaguely apprehend his intuitions (or wishful thinking), but he bothered to encourage Van Veen to split once more Einstein's "time-space", and expressed intriguing ideas about electro-magnetism and gravity*. Contrary to Swift's Sci-fi magnet in Gulliver's Travels, for example, and inspite of VN's play with "counterstones," I have the impression that his intent was serious.

What a delicious connection bt. HH and Therese Humbert's "fly button" as a reward for treasure hunting. It reminded me of an explanation, circulating in the internet these days, about Neil Armstrong's words, after the more famous ones when he set foot on the moon (ie: "Good luck, Mr.Gorsk!"). Private and public secrets and games...


* - The all important "lettrocalamity" in Ada: p.118. Lettrocalamity: a play on Ital. elettrocalamita, electromagnet... for the employment of magnetic power was prohibited in Anti-terra but "used on Terra as freely as water and air, as bibles and brooms."

In relation to space-time, avoiding the extensive developments by VV in Ch. 4, the issue of space-time arises in connection to mortality:"...problems of space and time, space versus time, time-twisted space, space as time, time as space - and space breaking away from time, in the final tragic triumph of human cogitation: I am because I die [...] and gravity, to art and revelation. "the rapture young Mascodagama derived from overcoming gravity was akin to that of artistic revelation."

Pale Fire: Shade's short poem "The Nature of Electricity," somehow relates electricity and hellish guilt: "The dead, the gentle dead - who knows? - / In tungsten filaments abide,...[...]And maybe Shakespeare floods a whole/Town with innumerable lights...[...]And when above the livid plain/ Forked lightning plays, therein may dwell/ The torments of a Tamerlane,/ The roar of tyrants torn in hell." (Kinbote cooly adds: "Science tells us, by the way, that the Earth would not merely fall apart, but vanish like a ghost, if Electricity were suddenly removed from the world.")

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