NABOKV-L post 0017186, Tue, 14 Oct 2008 10:17:47 +0100

Re: Delvig law
JM: I always took ŒThe Big Maybe¹ to refer to ŒLife after Death¹ rather than
Death itself, which shares with Taxes (and convoluted readings of Pale Fire)
the highest degree of inevitability known to us poor mortals.
As you point out: there¹s no IF in Death. But the great ŒHereinafter¹
mystery surely persists as the dominant theme in human ruminations, and is
said to be the root cause of all religions (e.g., very early signs of burial
rituals). Timor mortis conturbat me! Honest atheists are never free from
this fear of suddenly ³ceasing to be,² yet try to rationalize/dilute the
³timor² via the type of ³immortality² offered by our childrens¹ childrens¹
children, and, for artists like VN/Shade, leaving behind hopefully
imperishable word/monuments. Even for devout Zemblan Catholics like Kinbote,
or Danish/Elizabethan Christians like Hamlet**, the Afterlife can be truly
terrifying: the alternatives are everlasting bliss or everlasting torment.
(Limbo seems to be out of Papal favour!) Eternal extreme physical rendition
(Hell-Fire or Hell-Ice!) really sucks compared with everlasting nothingness!
And who can ever be absolutely sure of Salvation until oops, too late.
There¹s that chilling Scottish conversation:

New arrival at Hell: ³But, Laird, I didna ken!² (Lord, I didn¹t know)
Jahweh: ³Weel, ye ken the noo!² (Well, you know now)

I also love Fitzgerald¹s version of Omar Khayyam¹s

Oh Thou who didst with Pitfall and with Gin
Beset the Road I was to wander in,
Thou wilt not with Predestination round
Enmesh me, and impute my Fall to Sin?

** Peut-etre ou ne pas peut-etre, c¹est pas la question (s k-hamlet)


On 14/10/2008 02:20, "jansymello" <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote:

> //snip
> Btw: Re-reading the message with Kinbote's indignant words concerning Shade's
> play with "Le Grand Peut-Être"("execrable pun, deliberately placed in this
> epigraphic position to stress lack of respect for Death.") I realized that the
> "Great Maybe", which I always interpreted as "God", seems to mean "Death" to
> Kinbote ( it makes no sense to understand his meaning as: "there is no IF
> concerning death", because he is a Zemblan Catholic and the soul flies on to
> heaven, or dumps in hell)

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