NABOKV-L post 0026062, Sat, 7 Mar 2015 12:36:06 -0300

ENC: [NABOKV-L] Hurtling through Time and memory: a query.
Posting dated 19.02.2015: "I've been puzzling over the narrator's
assertions, in TT, that "the future is but a figure of speech, a specter of
thought," by contrasting them with V.Nabokov's ideas on how to witness or
engender a set of "future recollections" while isolating them from the
processes of creating literary "future recollections." [ ] In a later
chapter in TT it becomes clear that this "rejected" future refers to the
order of causality and to prosaic reality: "Direct interference in a
person's life does not enter our scope of activity, nor, on the other,
tralatitiously speaking, hand, is his destiny a chain of predeterminate
links: some 'future' events may be linked to others, O.K., but all are
chimeric, and every cause-and-effect sequence is always a hit-and-miss
affair, even if the lunette has actually closed around your neck, and the
cretinous crowd holds its breath." (V.Nabokov Transparent Things,1972, Ch.
24.). Following Roy Johnson: "His answer to eternal decay is to make just
such an exact record of even ordinary everyday trifles in order that the
sense of life they represent should be available to those who live on after
us: 'here lies the sense of literary creation: to portray ordinary objects
as they will be reflected in the kindly mirrors of future times'." (p.94 "In her article "Time,
Photography, and Optical Technology in Nabokov's Speak, Memory" Tetyana
Lyaskovets discusses how Vladimir Nabokov narrates time in his autobiography
by invoking photography and optical instruments. Photography and optical
technology function in Speak, Memory as metaphors and probe the limits of
chronological time. Nabokov portrays time as personal and reversible time
that collapses the past and the present and allows one to glimpse the
future. Because this temporal collapse is not possible physically but, as
Nabokov believes, can be achieved through one's will, he engages optical
technologies which provide a spatial form for his project to re-enter his
past. Cf. also: "In Lance (1952),
a short story about time and space travel, Vladimir Nabokov wrote, "the
future is but the obsolete in reverse," suggesting that the impulse to
hurtle into the future is always, already, shadowed by its own imminent
obsolescence, highlighting our complicated relationship with preservation
and the passage of time."

Jansy Mello: This space belongs to a "Forum" but I seldom find myself
engaged in a debate with Nablers on VN's assertions about his experiences in
life and as a writer, about his style, games, specious words. However, I
can always go back to a particular theme and construe a dialogue between
Nabokov and himself at different times. Here, "hurtling through time and
memory", after quoting him in TT in which time becomes "a specter of
thought" or in his other writings about "future recollections" and skipping
various rich old postings (untitled and undated by google-search services,
therefore left out from this one) related to "Intelligent Design,"* I chose
a paragraph from "The Art of Literature and Common Sense" in which Vn
expands about "literary time" in contrast with our living immersion in it.
He begins his lecture:" Now and then, in the course of events, when the flow
of time turns into a muddy torrent and history floods our cellars." to
observe that "he must be a pretty foolish and shortsighted author who
renounces the treasures of observation, humor, and pity which may be
professionally obtained through a closer contact with his fellow men" (note
his reference to "professionally obtained") and to expound on how "to kill
the monstrous cross between an elephant and a horse. -
commonsense."(371-71). His tone gets as lyrical as Job's trust in God when
he considers the success of his private hunt: "the irrational belief in the
goodness of man (to which those farcial and fraudulent characters called
Facts are so solemnly opposed) becomes something much more than the wobbly
basis of idealistic philosophies. It becomes a solid and iridescent truth."
(373) or as Cocteau's "la vie est un chute horizontale" when he concludes
that "we are all crashing to our death from the top story of our birth to
the flat stones of the churchyard" although we can still employ "our
capacity to wonder at trifles - no matter the imminent peril - these asides
of the spirit, these footnotes in the volume of life" because these are the
"highest forms of consciousness".** VN even slips from Gnosticism into an
Augustinian mood when he states that "" 'badness' is a stranger in our inner
world; it eludes our grasp; 'badness' is in fact the lack of something
rather than a noxious presence" (374-75).mingling concrete realities and
abstracts concepts to make his point.
And I've been straying from mine! It starts with "The passage from the
dissociative stage to the associative one is thus marked by a kind of
spiritual thrill which in English is very loosely termed inspiration" (377)
and he'll distinguish its meanings through the Russian words vorstog and
vdokhnovenie (378). "The initial stage may disclose as many aspects as
there are temperaments and talents; it may be the accumulated series of
several practically unconscious shocks or it may be an inspired combination
of several abstract ideas without a definite physical background. But in one
way or another the process may still be reduced to the most natural form of
creative thrill - a sudden live image constructed in a flash out of
dissimilar units which are apprehended all at once in a stellar explosion of
the mind."(379)and ends with: "Time and sequence cannot exist in the
author's mind because no time element and no space element had ruled the
initial vision"(379) (ideas expressed also in two interviews printed in
Strong Opinions)
The quote I was looking for, however, is this one, only: "The inspiration of
genius adds a third ingredient; it is the past, the present and the future
(your book) that come together in a sudden flash; thus the entire cicle of
time is perceived, which is another way of saying that time ceases to exist.
It is a combined sensation of having the whole universe entering you and of
yourself wholly dissolving in the universe surrounding you. It is the prison
wall of the ego suddenly crumbling away with the nonego rushing in from the
outside to save the prisoner - who is already dancing in the open."

* What about "intelligent design" or "platonism" in confrontation to VN's
'teachings' about how "Man at a certain stage of his development invented
arithmetic for the purely practical purpose of obtaining some kind of human
order in a world which he knew to be ruled by gods whom he could not prevent
from playing havoc with his sums whenever they felt so inclined. He accepted
the inevitable indeterminism which they now and then introduced, called it
magic, and calmly proceeded to count the skins he had bartered by chalking
bars on the wall of his cave. The gods might intrude, but he at least was
resolved to follow a system that he had invented for the express purpose of
following it." (374)

**How do these observations relate to his PF writings in C.Kinbote's
footnote about footnotes? Cf. Lines 939-940: Man's life, etc. If I
correctly understand the sense of this succinct observation, our poet
suggests here that human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure
unfinished masterpiece.( John Shade: Man's life as commentary to abstruse/
Unfinished poem. Note for further use."

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