NABOKV-L post 0016651, Thu, 3 Jul 2008 10:48:26 -0700

Re: THOUGHTS: Consistency, ID, Religion
J.A. re: It's definitely true that you cannot say exactly what Nabokov's spirtual views are; I said before that Nabokov had what I thought seemed an "Easterny" version of Intelligent Design, not the churchy kind, which he hated. I know Nabokov believed in surprises and not a planned out future; on the other hand he believed that he "remembered" his future works which he described as existing in a kind of Platonic ideal state (that damned Plato keeps creeping in) which he transcribed into the "real" world (I threw in those quotes just for Nabokov). I would say that often, maybe not always, Nabokov uses literature as a model for Intelligent Design and in books, no matter how "surprising" they may seem to the characters and the reader, the end of course is already waiting for us to get there, Lolita always gets away from Humbert, the narrator of The Vane Sisters never reads the message encoded in his prose; Pnin always slips from the narrator's grasp, etc. They comprise
worlds planned from begining to end that only seem to be surprises but turn out to have a design and "coherence" that emphasizes their madeness, and whose totality can only be appreciated outside the rectangular world of the book (Nabokov was wrong about the spherical shape of life). Nabokov's playful view of God's handiwork. He said it over and over again. Somewhere in this notion I think one may resolve the inconsistency of his criticsim of "implausibility" and his veiw that there was nothing "realistic" to fiction. My own view is that this design stuff is interesting only as it relates to understanding the author's work, as for the universe of my life, Designers no matter how univocal or democratic are the real fairytales.

Nabokv-L <nabokv-l@UTK.EDU> wrote: [EDNote: In some forthcoming work, probably soonest in a chapter to appear in Will Norman and Duncan White's Transitional Nabokov volume, I argue that a version of Intelligent Design was a certain kind of metaphor for Nabokov, but that one can't actually determine his belief in it as a metaphysical doctrine. As for "democracy of ghosts"-- this is the believe that the narrator ascribes to Pnin. I'm away from home and can't Pnin-point the location just now. Amazingly, this formulation echoes precisely a passage in Kant's Dreams of a Spirit-Seer (again can't be precise, but it's toward the end; apologies if someone else has made this discovery). Deliberately? Who knows? Kant's text is marvelously ambivalent and even playful. ~SB]

Date: Wed, 2 Jul 2008 09:53:46 -0700
From: vanveen13@SBCGLOBAL.NET
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] THOUGHTS: artists don't have to be consistent...or do

JA: I completely disagree with you that if a reader can't see the coherence then they're necessarily the ones with the problem, who should just look even deeper until the contradictions are resolved.
LH: Of course in any work of art there may be inconsistencies and incoherences; an artist is neither a god nor a prophet and readers don't have to be worshippers; but we'd better probe the depths of a text before pronouncing it inconsistent; that's all I meant.

JA: there's no way you can argue that he didn't believe in Intelligent Design,
LH: Intelligent Design implies one and unique god, one and unique source of consciousness; moreover, it also implies that everything has been planned in advance and that, as a consequence, the Future already exists. Now, VN didn't believe in a pre-determined future, he believed in surprises! He wrote or said I don't remember where that he prefered a democracy of spirits to an autocratic god (something like that... does someone have the exact quotation?)
Vasilyi Shishkov writes, in the eponymous story: "But religion is boring and alien to me and relates no more than a chimera to what is to me the reality of the spirit." (collected stories, penguin, p499)
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