NABOKV-L post 0017577, Wed, 7 Jan 2009 14:00:53 -0200

Subject
[NABOKOV-L] [THOUGHTS II] Attractors,
form limits and jumps in nature?
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Dear List,

A past joint effort, in the List, to understand what was meant by an "inscrutable sculpture...catalogued as 'Pauline anide'," in Transparent Things, was without issue: Hugh and Armande share a femme-de-ménage, named Pauline, with a Belgian sculptor who lives in the flat above theirs.
Pauline usually leaves their apartment at night, after nine o' clock, but already, a little before ten, the Belgian artist starts to drag his "Pauline anide" on-going sculpture, from the center of his apartment to its nest in a corner.

I was reminded of this passage through our nymph-butterfly discussion after I selected a quote from ADA: "Nymphalis danaus Nab., orange-brown, with black-and-white foretips, mimicking, as its discoverer Professor Nabonidus of Babylon College, Nebraska..."
In relation to Professor Nabonidus' discovery, we find, in Victoria N. Alexander's NABOKOV AND INSECT MIMICRY ( http://www.dactyl.org/directors/vna/papers/InsectMimicry.pdf), data about Darwin's theories on natural selection. V.A noted that [...] The monarch and the viceroy resemblance arose, not due to function, but due to the laws of pattern formation. The viceroy-monarch pattern would appear even if selection were always random[...] Common forms in nature are known as "structural attractors." [...] Attractors are notable in environments where selection is inconstant or random, and forms are not being pushed and pulled according to fitness. Attractors account for the existence of order when the natural tendency in nature is to vary randomly. In his comparison of speciation to the bursting of a bubble, one could say that Nabokov described something like an attractor basin. He noted that species can vary to a definite limit before they jump to another altogether different form ("Father's Butterflies" 218).

The recurrence of the word "nidus" (nest) was the only verbal( and superficial - a note to SKB) element that served to connect an unseen "pauline" sculpture to a mimicry sample among butterflies.
In TT the couple is comparing "coincidences" related to a tourist guidebook which links two locations in the Savoie:Condom and Pussy, thereby introducing the theme of "reproduction" (its avoidance).
In ADA, the name "Nabonidus" almost (a second note to SKB) forms a variation of "danaus" (his 50 daughters, the Danaid brides, killed their 50 cousins during their wedding night and their punishment, by Artemis, forced them to perform a sterile task, ad infinitum).
From V.Alexander's article I deduced that Nabokov was intent on "reproductive fitness related to order in nature" in contrast to the laws of pattern formation in insect reproduction*.
Would there be a special pattern in common here, in TT and Ada, or a description of events related to a "survival of the fittest" and insect reproduction? What about this information on "a species can vary to a definite limit before they jump to another altogether different form" and an "attractor basin"?

Pupa, apparently (another information from Dr.Penalva) is related to "pupil" (a student, also... the iris)


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*- "If natural selection had only one pattern that it could select for fitness, for example a pattern that looked like the wing pattern of another insect, then the chance that natural selection would find it would be relatively low. [...] If we try to imagine how the viceroy might have come to resemble the monarch through natural selection, the story does not seem plausible. It did not seem plausible to Nabokov [...] In this story, the (proto)viceroy populations adapts toward a prespecified goal, the monarch population, that presumably remains stable, allowing the viceroy to catch up to it. As Nabokov argued in "Father's Butterflies," this is unlikely (225). The monarch population would also be undergoing random variation. As many of you know, Nabokov performed the viceroy-monarch taste test himself and found that both were bitter..." (V.Alexander, in op.cit)

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