Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0014056, Tue, 14 Nov 2006 14:49:30 +0000

Re: assorted comments on Ament, Pinsk and Freud
On 10/11/06 17:14, "jansymello" <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote:

> Matthew Roth brought up the word "ament", about which I had posted a comment
> in the past weeks, and linking it to "amentia".
> While still checking the correctness of my quote about Freud's joke on
> itineraries ( where he doesn't mention Pinsk or Minsk but Cracow and Lemberg -
> and from which the added "scouse-not" is absent*), I found the correlation
> Freud established between the famous:
> "Traduttore-Traditore", and another pair,
> "Amantes-Amentes" ( "Lovers-Fools") - both of them examples of
> "Modifikationswitz", as on page 49 in Freud's Der Witz und Seine Beziehung Zum
> Unbewussten der Humor, Psychologie Fischer, 1992. In the English Standard
> Edition,vol. VIII, 1905).
> Jansy
> * - The original joke reads: "Wenn du sagst, du fahrst nach Krakau, willst du
> doch, dass ich glauben soll, du fahrst nach Lemberg. Nun weiss ich aber, dass
> du wirklich fahrst nach Krakau. Also warum lügst du?", on page 130.PF,1992).
> Freud quotes it as an example of "sceptical humor", when the "truth" under
> attack comes not by questioning a person or an institution, but our own
> speculative abilities.
> VN's sceptical chuckle hides behind Kinbote's various apparent flights of
> fancy.
> A great part of Kinbote's style can be found as underlying the techniques
> outlined by Freud on his work on "Witzen".
> Jansy
> Jansy: I never doubted that Freud told the joke as you reported. Simply that I
> felt the added Œnot¹ increased the RQ (Risibility Quotient -- a rather
> subjective metric). Jokes are NOT cast in stone (that¹s a funny-false mixed
> metaphor, by the way!) -- and when you say Œoriginal joke¹ I hope you don¹t
> mean there are no earlier versions. We all know that Austrian witch-doctors
> have no sensayuma ‹ but they can often make us laugh (and/or cry laughing?)
> unintentionally ‹ as when they pick a pun to pieces ‹ pulling off the
> butterfly¹s wings or dissecting their willies [sic] to see how they NO longer
> work!
> As with VN¹s ŒRed Sox beat Yanks 5-4/ On Chapman¹s Homer¹: I reassert that the
> historical events (teams, scores, dates) can usefully be explored (I share
> your infinite Nabokovian curiosity!) BUT the essential giggle remains even if
> a Chapman never played a damned game against them damned Yankees. Or, to be
> more precise, there¹s a giggle for those with the minimum requisite knowledge
> ‹ that a home-run in baseball and the putative author of the Odyssey/Iliad
> accidentally share the same name; and there was this translator guy Chapman.
> It¹s delicious VN fun to note that Kinbote LACKS (or claims to lack) this
> minimum knowledge: his commentary on line 98 suggests that a printer¹s
> absentmindedness has led to the droll transposition of Keats¹ famous sonnet
> title into the account of a sports event.
> The reader can therefore add to this joke-appreciation minimum in diverse
> directions: Chapman¹s Homer inspired Keats, extending familiarity with that
> collocation to a wider (US) audience; that a Chapman DID join the Red Sox, at
> which point many a headline compositor would have gleefully set up the
> headline template (Red Sox beat [blank] on Chapman¹s Homer) in ANTICIPATION of
> the event celebrated in Aunt Maud¹s thumbtacked Star newspaper cutting.
> There¹s a Brit precedent which happens to link with our penis-euphemism
> exchanges (sorry SES ‹ you¹ve tried to limit this topic) although the slang
> may be unfamiliar to non-Brit listers: in Fritz Spiegl¹s anthology of
> newspaper infelicites (The Black on White Misprint Show) is the headline ŒJohn
> Thomas Record ‹ 5¹ 10² Œ Yes, as soon as a real John Thomas (also meaning
> Œpenis¹ -- don¹t ask why) took up the High Jump professionally, the papers
> were ready to exploit a name that must have plagued him since christening.
> Finally (before I exceed Carolyn¹s N-L quota): you could argue that the two
> participants in the Freud joke need to be of a certain mock-disputatious
> disposition, which is perhaps why all the versions I¹ve heard portray them as
> stereotypical Œmidrashic¹ Jews; and why the destinations are chosen
> accordingly; and why it comes over best in Yiddish.
> Stan Kelly-Bootle

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