NABOKV-L post 0017340, Mon, 17 Nov 2008 18:36:04 +0000

Re: Response to blog entry about VN on surface tension
Sergei: the English idiom is ³skating on thin ice.² It applies not only
literally, as in Hazel Shade¹s fate, but to all kinds of ³risk-takings.²
Thus, idioms being the source of much humour, one might say that, unlike
Jesus, when St Peter ventured out of his boat onto Lake Galilee, he was
³skating on thin ice.²
Cheers ‹ CTaN

On 17/11/2008 15:54, "NABOKV-L" <NABOKV-L@HOLYCROSS.EDU> wrote:

> I don't understand here why Matt Harris speaks all the time
> about "thin ice" while in fact it is obvious reference to
> walking on water in Bible. It is well known that tension
> film exists on ordinary water and small insects "running
> on water" do use this tension film.
> Best to all -
> Sergei Soloviev
> tml
>> FRATER / OPACITYThe Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov once dismissed
> his
>> reviewers for mistakenly assuming that 'seeing through things' was his
>> professional function, as if the prescribed role of the novelist was
> to
>> probe hidden meanings or to delve into the historicity of his subject.
> For
>> Nabokov (at least, for this incarnation of Nabokov ­ he had many
> faces)
>> someone approaching a work of art with these intentions is distracted,
>> even hazardously distracted, from its real and immediate significance.
> ³A
>> thin veneer of immediate reality,² he writes in Transparent Things, ³Š
> is
>> spread over natural and artificial things, and whoever wishes to
> remain in
>> the now, with the now, on the now should please not break its tension
>> film. Otherwise the inexperienced miracle worker will find himself no
>> longer walking on water but descending upright among staring fish.²
> His
>> point is, I guess, that if you stop and stare at any one spot for too
>> long, you¹ll crack the surface of the ice and fall through. Things
> pretty
>> much are what they are, and when you start reading into them too much
> they
>> lose their immediate meaning. Or to put it another way, someone who
>> over-analyses can be in as precarious a position as a complete
> dim-wit. I
>> mean, I might be able to read all sorts of brilliant things into a dog
>> turd on the pavement, but if I step in it my foot¹s still going to
> stink.
>> Sometimes it¹s better to look once and keep moving on, sliding over
> the
>> surface, than it is to stop and plunge right into something. At least
> if
>> you want to stay dry and keep your feet clean. Anyway, I think
> Nabokov¹s
>> principle is a good thing to keep in mind when looking at art
> sometimes,
>> especially if it¹s the kind of work that an artist like Richard Frater
>> makes. Frater¹s objects are a lot like a sheet of ice in some ways -
>> they¹re pretty Œthin¹. And I don¹t mean Œthin¹ in a pejorative sense;
> I
>> don¹t think they lack conceptual substance. I mean they¹re transparent
> ­
>> they work in the opposite direction to the sorts of art that Nabokov's
>> reviewers expected. Looking back over Frater¹s recent work this is
> pretty
>> obvious: a fridge made of paper, several empty aluminium frames,
> various
>> curls of hose-pipingŠand you don¹t get much thinner (or more
> transparent)
>> than his brick incident which had all of it¹s materials removed. These
>> works don¹t ask you to spend too much time studying their detail. They
>> don¹t have a lot. And when they do they tend to frame something beyond
> the
>> work itself. Empty space. Gallery space. Snow. Water. For the most
> part,
>> you're more likely to start looking past the pieces into the area
>> surrounding them. To stop and look too closely at the works, as though
>> they might be laden with all manner of political and cultural ideas,
> might
>> tempt you away from their immediate significance, the materiality of
> their
>> present. They¹re purely incidental. I kind of agree with something Sam
>> Rountree Williams said about Frater¹s work. Talking about one of his
> rug
>> pieces, R.W. wrote that the work ³is both useless and
> non-informational,
>> and must be thought of as much more than an aesthetic phenomenon: it
> is
>> question of the work¹s role within a greater immanent system.² Well, I
>> don¹t know much about immanent systems or aesthetic phenomena, but I
> do
>> agree that if you look at Frater¹s work for information and utility
> (as
>> Nabokov¹s reviewers did his novels) you¹re probably looking for the
> wrong
>> things. You might be about to drop through the ic> glide through the works,
>> appreciate their dimensions, take in the
> gesture
>> as a whole. Matt Harris, November 2008.

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