NABOKV-L post 0017721, Fri, 20 Feb 2009 13:43:02 -0300

[NABOKOV-L] [THOUGHTS] magic number one and then two...( a
Correction: I was wrong about VN's insertion of a verb in the sentence , re-quoted by SKB and AS in a mathematical context (Cf. SKB: "Recalling VN's statement quoted recently ...that ONE is the only real number, and everything else comes from addition..". and AS: "Another VN (Von Neumann) derived all the natural numbers (1,2,3,...) from zero by set theory.") and my question: "Didn't VN's quote include a verb in his sentence about ONE? It makes all the difference."
The original phrase derives from Sebastian Knight's novel, quoted by RLSK's narrator from "Lost Property".

It is Sebastian Knight who begins with " if I say 'two' I have started to count," before he mentions ONE:

'All things belong to the same order of things, for such is the oneness of human perception, the oneness of individuality, the oneness of matter, whatever matter may be, the only real number is one, the rest are mere repetition,' (Lost Property, page 83).[...] 'I cannot help feeling there is something essentially wrong about love. [...] For if I say "two" I have started to count and there is no end to it. There is only one real number: One. And love, apparently, is the best exponent of this singularity.'

I suppose that Sebastian lies in a Zero position to refer to ONE. I don't know how to represent the narrator's place, but I fear he didn't escape his half-brother's narcissistic trap. His closing lines are: "...try as I may, I cannot get out of my part: Sebastian's mask clings to my face [...]. I am Sebastian, or Sebastian is I, or perhaps we both are someone whom neither of us knows."
And yet, by referring to "someone whom neither of us knows", he must have started to count two, at least.

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