NABOKV-L post 0018578, Mon, 14 Sep 2009 14:38:27 -0300

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Re: QUERY: Ouspensky
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JM: How interesting! Two clashing views, involving VN, have reached the List almost at the same time ! On one side, a defense of Zen-Budism, of non-discursive thought and of the need to break away from the past and from our biological inheritance. On the other, "Literary Darwinism" and its "cognitive map" (J.Carroll).

Just as in Somov's instance about a "cup", also the name "Nabokov" might acquire a multiplicity of different individual "meanings" and subjective interpretations. I wonder if Somov's vision would then side with New Criticism and Postmodern developments - at least, as it they have been criticized by E.O.Wilson, one of the original proponents of "Literary Darwinism": cf. Consilience, "The Arts and Their Interpretation"?

Edward O. Wilson opposes postmodernist critics who hold that "truth is relative and personal..there is no privileged point, no lodestard, to guide literary intelligence. And given that science is just another way of looking at the world, there is no scientifically constructible map of human nature... There is only unlimited opportunity for the reader to invent interpretations and commentaries out of the world he himself constructs". The New Critics insist "on drawing out the full meaning of the text, without much concern for the personal history of the author" and the posmodernists argue for the need to "search for what the text does not control, and explain the entirety as a social construction on the part of the author" and for "turning away from the idea of a universal human nature. "
Wilson holds that "interpretation is the logical channel of consilient explanation between science and the arts... for science needs the intuition and metaphorical power of the arts, and the arts need the fresh blood of science".
Following his wake, various "Literary Darwinists" maintain that, before one interprets art, one needs to consider the "world outside the text" to reach the basic natural fundaments of man and art. They hold that fiction develops human capacity to antecipate events and deal with new challenges (Michelle Suglyama) and that art, in its origin, serves to enhance social bonds and to stimulate creativity (B.Boyd).

How should we then read Nabokov? Following his words in TT or his caveats related to Freud (a staunch Darwinist and determinist)?
In his comments about the intimate relationship bt. art and science? Is there a teleology that can be associated to Nabokov's overt intentions about his art?
Is Nabokov's art "a side-product of evolution" and does it also function as an instrument for sexual seduction (Geoffrey Miller)?

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Fran Assa: Has anyone out there done some research on any influence Ouspensky's writings might have had on Nabokov?
EDNote:Alexandrov, in N's Otherworld, and in his article in his Garland Companion to VN, and Dieter Zimmer, in "Mimicry in Nabokov and in Nature" (in Grayson, McMillin, Meyer, Nabokov's World, V. 1 (The Shape of Nabokov's World). I also touch very lightly on the subject in my new The Quill and the Scalpel: Nabokov's Art and the Worlds of Science (Ohio State UP).
Claudio Soares: Brian Boyd, maior biógrafo de Vladimir Nabokov, apresentará palestra "Machado de Assis & Nabokov", dia 17/09/2009, às 17h30, na ABL. ...oportunidade de se iniciar um belo e interessantíssimo diálogo entre as obras de dois grandes autores, suas diferenças e similaridades, a partir de uma perspectiva evolucionária. Cf. Boyd: On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction (Belknap/Harvard,2009); Evolutionary Approaches to Literature: A Reader in Art and Science (with Joseph Carroll eJonathan Gottschall). Pontolit 2.0 (Pontolit) on Twitter
Sandy P. Klein on Nabokov's advice to novices in "TransparentThings" http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindful-living/2009/09/the-thin-ice-of-presence/The in Thin Ice of Presence By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D. September 11, 2009, where the author describes the process of discovery related to naming a cup until " what used to be a cup now has acquired some additional meanings, by virtue free-association" His thesis is that "meaning is an association...a process of filling in the blanks of the mind. with words. that trigger otherwords. As we grow and acquire language, we, inessence, acquire a baggage of associations that weighs us down as we try to skate the thin ice of presence."
For him "Nabokov...whose own style is so ingeniously laden with association-rich detail, here, both de-constructs his own style and defines Zen: 'A thin veneer of immediate reality is spreadover natural and artificial matter, and whoever wishes to remain in the now,with the now, on the now, should please not break its tensionfilm'....Nabokov's advice is straight from Buddhism: to stay in the moment,we must somehow avoid weighing down "what is" with our pre-conceived notionsof "what it means."...Meaning is an artifact of the Past, not the actual fact of the Present... Language constructs perception: first, the word, then, the perceived reality...But in reality, we are all imprisoned in our "so-called" realities of habitual interpretation. Buddhism, particularly, Zen Buddhism, offers away out of this prison: non-discursive thought."
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