NABOKV-L post 0017914, Fri, 13 Mar 2009 01:12:23 -0300

Re: THOUGHTS on Susan's note to Sergei
J. Twiggs: In an earlier message, I recommended Ian Hackings' book on fugue states. A few minutes later, I remembered that Hacking had also written a book on multiple personality, Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory (Princeton, 1995). When I tracked Freud down by means of the index, I found this: "Breuer and Freud famously asserted 'that the splitting of consciousness which is so striking in the classical cases under the form of double conscience [i.e., double consciousness] is present to a rudimentary degree in every hysteria, and that a tendency to such a dissociation, and with it the emergence of abnormal states of consciousness (which we shall bring together under the term of 'hypnoid') is the basic phenomenon of this neurosis.'" --Hacking, p. 150-151. The quotation is from Breuer and Freud (1893), in Freud, S.E. 2:12 (emphasis in original).

JM: In relation to your earlier message [A similar point, less kindly in tone than Sergei's message, was made by John Leonard when he spoke of "Nabokov's ice-blue disdain for the academic ninnyhammers who went snorting after his truffles."...I stubbornly resist all totalizing, only-I-have-the-key interpretations of Pale Fire.] I couldn't agree more with you, although we seem to diverge on other matters.
btw: Freud wouldn't have meant that abnormal states of consciousness (hypnoid states), double consciousness and hysteric dissociation are synonimous of "multiple personality".

Perhaps PF's Index too, is more informative about VN's satirical view of academic life than I'd been giving it credit for. It carries items that remind me of a predicament, similar to Borges', when confronted with the Chinese encyclopaedia Heavenly Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge:
"In its distant pages it is written that animals are divided into (a) those that belong to the Emperor, (b) embalmed ones, (c) those that are trained, (d) suckling pigs, (e) mermaids, (f) fabulous ones, (g) stray dogs, (h) those that are included in this classification, (i) those that tremble as if they were mad, (j) innumerable ones, (k) those drawn with a very fine camel's hair brush, (l) others, (m) those that have just broken a flower vase, and (n) those that resemble flies from a distance." from Other Inquisitions: 1937-1952, El idioma analítico de John Wilkins.
Or,as it is to be expected from any good dictionary or book-indexes, its entries are cross-referenced, referred to a specific item,to collection of literary facts, biographical information and bibliographies while, at the same time, this data never escape from the ivory-tower fiction in which they are enclosed.

A.S: [But can you see that madness is a kind of exile? CK] For Pushkin (and, one supposes, for Nabokov) madness was much more disastrous than exile:"The Lord forbid my going mad. No, [a beggar's] crook and bag are not as heavy"...( the first line's translation is by Nabokov)By the way, I like her (CK's) idea that Kinbote's crown jewels are Shade's index cards.
S.S: I like very much your )CK) question about "crown jewels". I think in Nabokov's case it would be rather certain memories[...] But I don't agree that the madness is like exile - I think in a way it is the opposite - the lucidity of suffering is absent. I remember, Gogol in his last years, getting mad, traveled to Palestine, and was once sitting in Nazareth under the rain thinking he is in Russia.
JM: Wonderful quote and informations: they trim down the generalizations ("madness", "exile").

S.K-B: Jansy/Jerry: is all this admirably painstaking geographical reconstruction rendered superfluous if we believe that Kinbote was "not around in the flesh" to spy on Shade?
JM: Should Shade and Kinbote be "one body; two distinct minds, one damned mind after the other"* this makes it even more fun to pursue, since we'll be able to visualize this (single) character's distortions or his two-minded consistency (Shade's poem states: "Maybe some quirk in space/ Has caused a fold or furrow to displace/ The fragile vista" and there are various indications about "north/south/east/west"in Shade's lines that may be taken independently of Kinbote's own description ). We are outlining descriptions to visualize a landscape. The inside of Shade's house, or Kinbote's Zembla also deserve consideration.

I'm still pursuing a Nabokovian reference to Freud-Bernheim's umbrella. I found an excerpt from an interview the National Educational Television network conducted with Vladimir Nabokov at his home in Switzerland (produced by Robert Hughes in 1966). Although VN mentions both Freud and umbrella, it still is not a proof of VN's familiarity with the story of Psychoanalysis through Bernheim and hypnosis.
Here it is:
Mr. Nabokov, would you tell us why it is that you detest Dr. Freud?
"I think he's crude, I think he's medieval, and I don't want an elderly gentleman from Vienna with an umbrella inflicting his dreams upon me. I don't have the dreams that he discusses in his books. I don't see umbrellas in my dreams. Or balloons."

There is a short-story by Thomas Mann, "Mario and the Magician", where Freud's insight is (indirectly?) developed.
Mario, a humble waiter ( I don't recollect the details), is hypnotized by a magician during one of his shows who suggests various things to Mario. The waiter performs them obediently. Nevertheless, when the magician demands a kiss from Mario,thereby touching something in the core of his being, the waiter is able to break the spell and wakes up to kill the hypnotist. I read two interpretations where the authors considered this story to be a wake up warning to the people who were passively accepting nazism.
Although Nabokov detested Freud and Thomas Mann's "Death in Venice" (and probably other works of his) I think he would sympathize with the basic idea.

*- In ADA there is a reference that may have a bearing on this two-in-one choice: "two chess games... on one board and in two any middle stage of their irrevocably converging development."

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