Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025250, Thu, 3 Apr 2014 15:19:44 -0300

[2012 Sighting] "Dying for time" M. Hagglund
Martin Hägglund, Dying For Time: Proust, Woolf, Nabokov, Harvard University
Press, 2012, 198pp., $49.95 (hbk), ISBN 9780674066328.

Reviewed by Humberto Brito - (excerpts) “Martin Hägglund develops a
sustained attack on what he considers to be immortality fantasies. We might
equally describe it as an attack on the belief in redemption, as it reviles
the intelligibility of any "state of eternity", as well as all descriptions
of an individual human life as "a path to the salvation of eternity" (88).
This attack is based on the author's prefatory distinction between
immortality and survival [ ] Hägglund argues… that wanting to be immortal
is nothing but wanting to live on as a mortal. It is an expression of a
desire for survival, which originates in our attachment to our temporal
lives[ ]. In addition, since "immortality would not allow anything to live
on in time", the "desire to perpetuate a temporal being is incompatible with
a desire to be immortal." [ ]The key argument here concerns the
co-implication of chronophonia and chronophilia. The fear of time and death
does not stem from a metaphysical desire to transcend temporal life [ ] It
is because one is attached to a temporal being (chronophilia) that one fears
losing it (chronophobia)” [ ] “It is telling that Hägglund's guiding
intuition is that we can elucidate chronolibido in reference to how our
human experience of time was depicted, or rather magnified, by three
modernist writers (Proust, Woolf, and Nabokov). Strikingly, he takes their
pictures of temporal self-awareness as final word on the topic. Hägglund
offers a forceful, lucid, and rigorous account of how their work epitomizes
a "chronolibidinal aesthetics"[] In brief, Hägglund is interested in: how
Proust saw our sense of the past, how Woolf saw our sense of the present,
and how Nabokov's idea of writing is the quintessential figure of the notion
of chronolibidinal investment in survival. More specifically, Hägglund
focuses on Proust's treatment of involuntary memory, Woolf's treatment of
epiphanic "moments of being", and Nabokov's depiction of the activity of
writing.[ ]. In chapter 3, he offers an interpretation of Nabokov's
dramatization of the act of writing in Ada or Ardor in reference to what he
takes to be the negativity of time, in which writing is understood as a tool
to cope with the texture of time and the destructibility of memory.

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