NABOKV-L post 0002437, Mon, 6 Oct 1997 10:40:51 -0700

*Dark Ice* Notes lines 524-843 [Notes #6] (fwd)

Line 524
Quoins ratcheted. The chase of the lake locked up.

Quoins are the metal mechanisms that,
when inserted and turned with a key, lock
up blocks of handset type in a chase, a
rectangular steel frame that sits on the

Lines 539-540

Can materialists live by bread alone?

Line 562
an ikon makes a handy pot-lid

See the following passage from the
famous 1847 letter of Vissarion
Gregorievich Belinski (1811-1848) to
Nicholas Vassilievich Gogol (1809-1852),
the possession of a copy of which in
Russia at that time was punishable by
hard labor in Siberia:

Isn't the priest in Russia the
representative to all Russians of
gluttony, miserliness, servility,
shamelessness? And apparently
you don't know all this? Strange!
According to you the Russian
folk is the most religious in the
world--which is a lie! The basis
of religion is piety, reverence,
fear of God. But the Russian
utters the name of God even as
he scratches himself...he says of
a holy image: If it works, pray
before it; if it don't work, use it
for a pot cover.

(Translation by Bernard Gilbert Guerney.)

Line 567

Any lonely room--especially a
companionless bedroom furnished
with an alonebed. More especially,
late. Lying awake, I thought of many
solitary configurations: the parked
cars, locked on the street outside.
Frost forming on the still bell atop
a tower nearby--some time ago I had
heard it toll a solitary hour: *one*.
Dark blurs of furniture.
Though in exile only for a night
or two, I couldn't adapt to a borrowed
room. A radio played in and out of
hearing, tinnily, from someone's car
or house far down the block. A
window framed a section of lawn
and street: no tracks crossed the thin
layer of snow.
The distant bell was still. Still. Had
I imagined it? (Once I had dreamed
of not being able to sleep, and
awakened exhausted.) I missed
hearing city traffic pass like surf,
floating sleep. No radio. I listened
to the sharpened tick of the clock.
(See lines 317-326)

Line 570
Cayuga or Ladoga?

Cayuga Lake, named for one of the
five Nations of the Iroquois, is the
longest of the Finger Lakes in upstate
New York; Cornell University is on its
shore. Cayuga is 38 miles long and a
mile to 3.5 miles wide. Lake Ladoga,
the largest lake in Europe (7,000
square miles), lies northeast of
Petersburg. Both lakes freeze.

Line 578

If languages are "organic systems
produced by the conscious and
unconscious use of many people over
long periods of time," and not "like
philosophical systems, mere
constructions"--then evolutionary
concepts apply better than reductionist
linguistics. According to a murky Xerox
(the precise attribution has slanted off
at the bottom, after first irrupting in a
gray glow) "No organic system excludes
the arbitrary, the sport, the chance
mutation; in fact, it is upon precisely
those things that evolution depends."
(See note to line 960.)

Line 617

The glowing, blurring light seen
around the edges of backlit things.
A faulty streetlight shivered down
the block (otherwise dark except
the light that came from snow).
The clock turned out to be a
bathroom faucet, dripping wet
seconds onto the pitted rim of a
I could not get comfortable. The
sheets were rough with starch. The
pain in my neck was equally hard to
place and to avoid, the counterpane
at once too heavy and too thin, and
the pillows had mastered adversarial
geometry. Petty things, caught in the
lights of some inescapable mental state,
can loom to the size of Abstractions
and wail along the walls. Drip. Drip.

Line 623
a painting

See note to line 221.

Line 631

From *loris,* a nocturnal primate that
lives in trees in tropical Asia; possibly
from an old Dutch word meaning clown.

Line 644

Russian, a team of three horses--carriage
usually included.

Line 674

Home to a large population of exiled
Russians in the 1920s and 30s,
including noted émigré author
Vladimir Sirin.

Line 675

Said of a glistening hiss.

Line 697

Flat surface atop an earthen dam; this,
evidently, is a "man-made" lake.

Line 698
a house

On Highland Road. See note to line

Line 699-705

See note to line 736, and *Pale Fire*.

Line 708

See line 267.

Line 724

Liquid Crystal Display. See note to line
37. My own watch (actually analog;
stopped) glowed on the bedside table:
pale greenish numerals and hands like
dismantled calipers. I exhaled. In the
next room, the liquid clock dripped on.

Line 727
night takes lawn

Or yawn. (Excuse me.) Your move:
**ASCII readers: a chessboard with
a finished (and famous) game is
pictured here**

Line 736
highland road

Vladimir and Véra Nabokov sublet 623
Highland Road in Cayuga Heights,
New York in August, 1951; after many
moves, they again occupied a house on
Highland Road, number 880, in
February 1957. According to Brian Boyd
in his *Vladimir Nabokov: The American
Years*, the latter house contributed
many details toNabokov's *Pale Fire*.
At 880 Highland Road, V. Nabokov
worked hard on his translation of
Eugene Onegin. A year later, the
Nabokovs moved to 404 Highland
Road, their last American address.
There, having completed his
translation, with its voluminous
notes (partially reflected in the
[introduction, poem, commentary,
index] format of the novel),
Vladimir Nabokov worked on
*Pale Fire*.

Line 742

See note to line 22.

Line 746

See note to line 22.

Line 756

See note to line 22.

Line 843

See note to line 22. Our guide has
several ways of "manifesting" and
pointing things out, but speaks only
in anagrams of his own name. As
Richard Feynman has noted,
"While partial reflection by a single
surface is a deep mystery...partial
reflection by two or more surfaces
is absolutely mind-boggling. ...This
phenomenon of colors produced by
the partial reflection of white light
by two surfaces is called *iridescence*."