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Re: Nabokov shares with Chekhov a fanatical eye for detail ...

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Sandy/Jansy: I¹m both proud and ashamed that I knew the French slang for

³lap dog² when I was 10 years old, some years before I discovered the

literal meaning of ³lecheur con.²

The ³deep² significance of ³coincidences² continues to intrigue. Koestler

and Whitehead have clarified some of the mysteries of ³real-life²

coincidences using plausible probability estimates. E,g,, you are thinking

of someone, and then that someone phones you. Or you dream of someone who

has just dropped dead 4000 miles away. (Whitehead would point out the large

number of people you dream about who have not dropped dead!) Or that in a

group of 20, it¹s more likely than not that 2 share the same birthday! The

difficult thing for HomSaps to accept is that many of the things that happen

have very small, even zero prior probabilities. Don your logic hard-hats and

listen up: all impossible events have zero probability, but some zero

probability events do happen. We mathematicians have the useful term

³vanishingly small.² If I ask you to think of an integer, the prior

probability of your particular, actual choice is strictly zero, unless I say

³think of an integer between 1 and 10,000,000.²

You could argue that in fiction you are free to invent an event (what d¹you

make of that rhyme?!) of varying probabilities betweeen 0 and 1, but since

you have left the realm of actualities, it becomes difficult to estimate or

even define ³probability.² In the real world we can in principle estimate

the fraction of real outcomes to potential outcomes. In a novel, we can

ditch causal chains, and, as in VN¹s Invitation to a Beheading or Prospero¹s

Tempest, just make the pageant disappear. That¹s quite a coincidence, nein?

Stan Kelly-Bootle

On 29/09/2008 23:43, "jansymello" <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote:

> Sandy Klein sent excerpts from

> http://evidenceanecdotal.blogspot.com/2008/09/quaintly-circumstantial.html

> <http://evidenceanecdotal.blogspot.com/2008/09/quaintly-circumstantial.html>

> , under `Quaintly Circumstantial'

> In Are You There, Crocodile?: Inventing Anton Chekhov, Michael Pennington

> lovingly describes his visit to Melikhovo[...]thrilled to have stood on the

> steps where the dandyish-looking Chekhov was famously photographed holding

> Quinine, his dachshund: Bromide had a grandson named Box II (for unexplained

> reasons) that a few years later became the pet of Vladimir Nabokov. Box II

> ended his days in Prague with Nabokov¹s widowed mother. In Speak, Memory,

> Nabokov describes his dachshund in his final days as ³an émigré dog in a

> patched and ill-fitting coat.² Pennington picks up the Chekhov/Nabokov

> connection.[..]coincidences, however abhorrent in art, are reality¹s

> consolation prizes.

>

> Dachs must have been favourites among artists. Victor Hugo's grandson had a

> dachs, called "Lolita" and he once dressed her up to meet Picasso's dachs,

> "Lump", as a "bride". Here are the images and short text:

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³lap dog² when I was 10 years old, some years before I discovered the

literal meaning of ³lecheur con.²

The ³deep² significance of ³coincidences² continues to intrigue. Koestler

and Whitehead have clarified some of the mysteries of ³real-life²

coincidences using plausible probability estimates. E,g,, you are thinking

of someone, and then that someone phones you. Or you dream of someone who

has just dropped dead 4000 miles away. (Whitehead would point out the large

number of people you dream about who have not dropped dead!) Or that in a

group of 20, it¹s more likely than not that 2 share the same birthday! The

difficult thing for HomSaps to accept is that many of the things that happen

have very small, even zero prior probabilities. Don your logic hard-hats and

listen up: all impossible events have zero probability, but some zero

probability events do happen. We mathematicians have the useful term

³vanishingly small.² If I ask you to think of an integer, the prior

probability of your particular, actual choice is strictly zero, unless I say

³think of an integer between 1 and 10,000,000.²

You could argue that in fiction you are free to invent an event (what d¹you

make of that rhyme?!) of varying probabilities betweeen 0 and 1, but since

you have left the realm of actualities, it becomes difficult to estimate or

even define ³probability.² In the real world we can in principle estimate

the fraction of real outcomes to potential outcomes. In a novel, we can

ditch causal chains, and, as in VN¹s Invitation to a Beheading or Prospero¹s

Tempest, just make the pageant disappear. That¹s quite a coincidence, nein?

Stan Kelly-Bootle

On 29/09/2008 23:43, "jansymello" <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote:

> Sandy Klein sent excerpts from

> http://evidenceanecdotal.blogspot.com/2008/09/quaintly-circumstantial.html

> <http://evidenceanecdotal.blogspot.com/2008/09/quaintly-circumstantial.html>

> , under `Quaintly Circumstantial'

> In Are You There, Crocodile?: Inventing Anton Chekhov, Michael Pennington

> lovingly describes his visit to Melikhovo[...]thrilled to have stood on the

> steps where the dandyish-looking Chekhov was famously photographed holding

> Quinine, his dachshund: Bromide had a grandson named Box II (for unexplained

> reasons) that a few years later became the pet of Vladimir Nabokov. Box II

> ended his days in Prague with Nabokov¹s widowed mother. In Speak, Memory,

> Nabokov describes his dachshund in his final days as ³an émigré dog in a

> patched and ill-fitting coat.² Pennington picks up the Chekhov/Nabokov

> connection.[..]coincidences, however abhorrent in art, are reality¹s

> consolation prizes.

>

> Dachs must have been favourites among artists. Victor Hugo's grandson had a

> dachs, called "Lolita" and he once dressed her up to meet Picasso's dachs,

> "Lump", as a "bride". Here are the images and short text:

Search archive with Google:

http://www.google.com/advanced_search?q=site:listserv.ucsb.edu&HL=en

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu

Visit Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm

View Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm

Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:" http://www.nabokovonline.com

Manage subscription options: http://listserv.ucsb.edu/

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