Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026121, Wed, 15 Apr 2015 20:18:14 -0300

the Tender Interval and the chinks between words
"As he read them, did he read them not only as words but as chinks between
words, as one should do when reading poetry? [.] if a collection opens with
a poem about "A Lost Ball", it must close with "The Found Ball'." The Gift,
Penguin ed, p.33

. "when working on his Texture of Time, Van found in that phenomenon
additional proof of real time's being connected with the interval between
events, not with their 'passage,' not with their blending, not with their
shading the gap wherein the pure and impenetrable texture of time
transpires." Ada,2, ch1.

"Maybe the only thing that hints at a sense of Time is rhythm; not the
recurrent beats of the rhythm but the gap between two such beats, the gray
gap between black beats: the Tender Interval. The regular throb itself
merely brings back the miserable idea of measurement, but in between,
something like true Time lurks [.] We have suggested earlier that the dim
intervals between the dark beats have the feel of the texture of Time. The
same, more vaguely, applies to the impressions received from perceiving the
gaps of unremembered or 'neutral' time between vivid events. I happen to
remember in terms of color (grayish blue, purple, reddish gray) my three
farewell lectures - public lectures - on Mr Bergson's Time at a great
university a few months ago. I recall less clearly, and indeed am able to
suppress in my mind completely, the six-day intervals between blue and
purple and between purple and gray [.] that dim continuum cannot be as
sensually groped for, tasted, harkened to, as Veen's Hollow between rhythmic
beats; but it shares with it one remarkable indicium: the immobility of
perceptual Time. Synesthesia, to which I am inordinately prone, proves to be
of great help in this type of task - a task now approaching its crucial
stage, the flowering of the Present." Ada,4.

While I was reading passages from "The Gift" ( in the past I underlined the
ironical use of "honesty/dishonesty" in its first and third paragraphs*), I
couldn't help being surprised by the evolution of VN's intuition related to
the "chinks between words" (set in close association to an indication of
Proust's Recherche by the "Lost/Found" ball and the interval of life/Time in
between), passing through the imaginary reunion of the lost/found fragments
from a decorated faience vase in Speak,Memory which spanned various
generations, and what the author later developed in Ada. One's search for
those dispersed images and thoughts are also part of the same process,
expanding the universe V.Nabokov was coping with in his search after past
and present, clear or dim "registers" (unfortunately I cannot count with the
help of synesthetic "terms of color" as is the case with Van Veen's "gaps".)

British psychoanalyst W.R.Bion published an essay with the title "Caesura,"
selecting the term in accordance to Freud's employ of it in "Inhibitions,
Symptoms and Anxiety," 1926: "There is much more continuity between
intra-uterine life than the impressive caesura of the act of birth would
have us believe". Not only did Bion intend to lay stress on the relationship
between physical and psychological birth but also to the artificial
interruptions in what he considered to be a continuous flow of verses, and
most of all, of events that are falsely separated by the "caesura of time
and space", or of fragmentary emotional states and thoughts. This same
term, "caesura", is applicable to some of the conjectures Van Veen expounded
in Ada, ch.4 in relation to "intervals", with the additional contribution of
Henri Bergson's philosophy about "Time" - although VV examined the gap
itself, not the continuity that the existence of such a gap would keep away
from consciousness. Bion, however, also considered the importance of these
gaps by taking into account the invisible psychical exchanges between two
people, and the particular "field" (pertaining to the dimension of
"transference-countertransference" love and hate) operating in that
interval. For Bion in a psychoanalytic session it is important that
attention is directed to what occurs in this interval, not what occurs with
the psychoanalyst or with his patient seen in isolation. I think that one
may extend this perceptual practice to understand what similes and analogies
engender in speech and in literature. I mean, instead of placing together
two pieces that have something in common to propose a simple addition or
getting lost by the indicated similarities (and the aesthetic thrill they
may provide), one may also focus the items which were left out from the
visible similitudes in order to find something new that lurks in the overall
relationship. At least, this is how I feel that Nabokov's "analogies"
affect me: they don't explain away the obvious: they indicate a discovery on
the making.


* "(a foreign critic once remarked that.it is only Russian authors who, in
keeping with the honesty peculiar to our literature, omit the final digit)."

"The van's forehead bore a star-shaped ventilator. Running along its
entire side was the name of the moving company in yard-high blue letters,
each of which (including a square dot) was shaded laterally with black pain:
a dishonest attempt to climb into the next dimension."(11) "she is morally
transplanted to a special world where she grows intoxicated from the wine of
honesty, from the sweetness if mutual favors, and replies to the salesman's
incarnadine smile with a smile of radiant rapture." (13)

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