Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0019288, Sun, 31 Jan 2010 10:25:21 EST

Re: THOUGHT Abstractist Bric-A-Brac (PF,the poem)

In a message dated 31/01/2010 14:36:52 GMT Standard Time,
glipon@INNERLEA.COM writes:

Now I shall speak of evil as none has
Spoken before. I loathe such things as jazz;
The white-hosed moron torturing a black
Bull, rayed with red

This has always struck me as quite bizarre. VN acknowledges in an interview
in "Strong Opinions" that he had lent some of his likes and dislikes to
Shade at this point, and recites it by heart, so we are entitled to ask of
him, not just of Shade, how can lumping these things together constitute
"speak[ing] of evil as none has/ Spoken before"? His dislike of bullfighting is
fair enough, part of his admirable dislike of cruelty of all kinds. But,
if Nabokov did not, as he claimed, understand music, of what interest is his
philistine loathing of jazz? And, acutely conscious as he was of the
Holocaust, Stalinism, and so on, how could he list "swimming pools" as part of
his purportedly unprecedented discourse on "evil"?

I believe Carolyn proposed that this shows that something strange is
happening to Shade at this point; specifically, a stroke. But it is Nabokov's
own endorsement of the list that is "the real thing strange".

It is reminiscent of, but arguably, prima facie, even more insensitive
than, Heidegger's notorious assertion that the mechanisation of agriculture
and the production of corpses in gas chambers are "exactly the same".

Anthony Stadlen

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