Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0020987, Fri, 19 Nov 2010 14:19:33 -0200

[Nabokov-L] Spirals in a marble: evolutions ,revelations and
Stan Kelly-Bootle(off-list): A real AGONY is the GULF between REAL mathematics and the layperson's (e.g.,VN and BB) dabbling with mathematical WORDS.
Maths co-opts everyday words like PROOF, EXIST, REAL, COMPLEX, SPACE, DIMENSION, SYMMETRY, CURVE, ADD, RING, FIELD, SET, NUMBER, INFINITY, SPIRAL*, GROUP, ... and refines their USAGE in directions that really require some years of serious immersion to appreciate. This is NOT elitism. Mathematics is NOT the answer to ALL problems. In fact, it's a RARE domain that can PROVE its own LIMITATIONS! Furthermore, the greatest mathematicians DISAGREE, often violently, over its foundations and its connections with 'REALITY'.

JM: I think I understand your point about "spirals" (if turning outwards, inwards, downwards or ascending** as in Hopkins' use of the word "rung").
It all depends on who is riding them like those angels who ascend and descend Jacob's ladder. There's no garanteed evolutionary growth, and the same applies to "revolution."

In ADA I find Nabokov rallying against Blavatsky and the gnostics, when he uses the term "revolution" without considering any definite "outward/inward" direction: "...statistics shows that the Great, and to some Intolerable, Revelation caused more insanity in the world than even an over-preoccupation with religion had in medieval times.Revelation can be more perilous than Revolution. Sick minds identified the notion of a Terra planet with that of another world and this 'Other World' got confused not only with the 'Next World' but with the Real World in us and beyond us. Our enchanters, our demons, are noble iridescent creatures with translucent talons and mightily beating wings; but in the eighteen-sixties the New Believers urged one to imagine a sphere where our splendid friends had been utterly degraded, had become nothing but vicious monsters, disgusting devils, with the black scrota of carnivora and the fangs of serpents, revilers and tormentors of female souls; while on the opposite side of the cosmic lane a rainbow mist of angelic spirits, inhabitants of sweet Terra, restored all the stalest but still potent myths of old creeds, with rearrangement for melodeon of all the cacophonies of all the divinities and divines ever spawned in the marshes of this our sufficient world."
(I remember that someone in the N-List once related Nabokv and the Gnostics, perhaps through Baudelaire.).

Anyway, later on Van adds "...Nothing prevents mankind as such from having no future at all - if for example our genus evolves by imperceptible (this is the ramp of my argument) degrees a novo-sapiens species or another subgenus altogether, which will enjoy other varieties of being and dreaming, beyond man's notion of Time. Man, in that sense, will never die, because there may never be a taxonomical point in his evolutionary progress that could be determined as the last stage of man in the cline turning him into Neohomo, or some horrible, throbbing slime..."
No spirals, rings, no bumpy ladders here, but the equally suggestive choice of "ramps" and "clines, repetition or the moment in which a circle... "ceases to be vicious" (SM, 275).***

* You can write parametric equations f(x, y, t) = 0 for curves that START out at ?infinity? and come spiralling ?down? to the origin (maybe never quite getting there ...) Spirals that meet the vague VN- Hegel ?model? happen to start at the origin and ?wondrously? spiral outwards! (SKB)

** - "the rainbow spiral in a glass marble" (SM, 152, ch.7) [JM]
*** - Found an interesting reference about helixes, spirals and VN's third arch by using search-tools: Nabokov's art of memory and European modernism - John Burt Foster - 1993 - Literary Criticism books.google.com.br/books?isbn=0691069719... [JM]

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