NABOKV-L post 0016605, Sun, 29 Jun 2008 16:09:40 -0700

Subject
Re: THOUGHTS: Nabokov, Plato, and extratextual characters
Date
Body
1. The quotation: "Let us begin, as he did, by defining the concept of species. By "species"
he intends the original of a being, nonexistent in our reality but unique
and definite in concept, that recurs ad infinitum in the mirror of nature,
creating countless reflections; each one of them perceived by our
intelligence, reflected in that selfsame glass and acquiring its reality
solely within it, as a living individual of the given species" Is from a continuation of The Gift Nabokov started but never completed which was translated into English and put in a beautiful book that excerpted Nabokov's letters, poems, novels and stories, on the subject of Butterflies, called, appropriately, Nabokov's Butterflies. The "he" in that quotation is Fyodor's dead father, I believe. 2. I've been slightly misunderstood on the handwalking issue. I brought up the handwalking because only by noting the incident in Nabokov's first novel and the one forty plus years later, do we find ourselves defining it and giving it a cosmologic, or ideal meaning, by a desire to rationalize the recurrence; to me this is a peculiar flaw of reasoning akin to that Platonic butterfly, in which a perceptual construct of an ideal specimen has somehow gotten precedence over concrete e.g.'s, from which the shadow one was created, and then the origin of the perceptual frame-work weirdly
forgotten--surely that's just a fact of taxonomic development. And Nabokov himself once argued in an interview that details of one book were specific to that book and could not be taken as interchangable with one another (i.e. Colette of Speak Memory is not Dolores Haze is not Emmy the jailer's daughter in Invitation to a Beheading etc.), and I suspect he would not have wanted the echoes (which I don't deny) made to stand in relief to the narratives and interlinked to form phantom cross-ouvric meanings, which turn the stories of the novels into abstract props for some otherworldly project.

Hochard's quote: "This is approximately what I meant when I linked Natasha to Zina and to
Clare on the one hand, and Baron Wolfe to Fyodor on the other hand.
Together they form extra textual characters (Natasha/Zina/Clare - Baron
Wolfe/Fyodor) hovering over the different stories and lending more meaning
to the specific characters in each story." I was being ironic about the handwalking comparison, which I a couple critics in the past had, I thought, pointlessly connected. I merely wanted to use an example from Ada to demonstrate my point that ideal butterfly specimens are created by memory's use of language to perceive things. I don't wish to argue Natasha anymore. As for the quote from Transparent Things and Hochard's re: "Human life can be compared to a person dancing in a
variety of forms around his own self: thus the vegetable of our first
picture book encircled a boy in his dream - green cucumber, blue eggplant
[...]their spinning ronde going faster and faster and gradually forming a
transparent ring of banded colours around a dead person or planet." The
nucleus (concept) is dead, there is no ultimate "reality". The funny thing is the dead planet or person of this quote winds up, I think, seeming more concrete than transparent ring of banded colors, rather like those colored panes from the veranda of Speak, memory through which N. liked to look as a child. Surely the concept of death and the irrecoverable is the point here. Memory and perception are the colored panes through which one can recall ultimate reality, but because it is lost to our fingertips the transparent colors are all we've got.



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