Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025265, Mon, 7 Apr 2014 01:08:14 -0300

RES: [NABOKV-L] [ADA annotations] Proust
Brian Boyd: The first's just an oversight, Jansy, prompted by VN's wily
habits of distraction (this doesn't look anything like the famous Proustian
moment), and the second pair form an excellent subtle link I hadn't seen. I
encourage others to add to AdaOnline. When this project began I envisaged it
as partly collaborative, and solicited finds. Although many have made
suggestions, there could be many more, I'm sure.

Jansy Mello: I was toiling with VN's "wily habits of distraction" (indeed!)
today. The Proustian theme came to me indirectly, thanks to your lines in
AY, about Van's silent desire and Ada's crumbling tower, and their enmeshed
past steeped in actual reminiscences*: they led me to Van's initiation in
Ada's games, trees and hammocks (ch8) and 'philosophy' (ch12 where "memory
met imagination halfway in the hammock of his boyhood's dawns"), and they
also helped me understand more fully VN's words about Joyce ("too much
verbal body to thoughts").

I'd been wondering, as usual, about VN's "thinking in images," seen by
S.Freud as a "regressive mode in dreams." Many dedicated VN readers take his
description of dreams in a novel at the level of their manifest content and
conscious logic but leave out the peculiar processes of "displacement" and
"condensation" that envelop and disperse words when they are functioning as
images (by their sound, color, texture and multiple referents). After all
VN's writings are peculiarly oneiric and, therefore, atemporal**, whereas
his reported dreams actually are not very dreamy. Your remarks about this
process, although they depart from a vertex that is different from mine, are
very elucidating: "Thought was for him [Nabokov] also multisensory, and at
its best, multilevel. As cognitive psychologists would now say, using a
computing analogy foreign to Nabokov, consciousness is parallel (indeed,
"massively parallel"), rather than serial, and therefore cannot translate
readily into the emphatically serial mode that a single channel of purely
verbal stream of consciousness can provide." Cf. Brian Boyd's American
Scholar <http://theamericanscholar.org/the-psychologist/#.Uk7LbtL_mSo>


* - I'm deliberately skipping a connection now because I'm planning to
return to this matter later on. Sorry.

** - I cannot help but quote Van in relation to dreams, memory and time:
"Thus the term 'one century' does not correspond in any sense to the hundred
feet of steel bridge between modern and model towns, and that is what we
wished to prove and have now proven // The Past, then, is a constant
accumulation of images. It can be easily contemplated and listened to,
tested and tasted at random, so that it ceases to mean the orderly
alternation of linked events that it does in the large theoretical sense.[
] Such images tell us nothing about the texture of time into which they are
woven - except, perhaps, in one matter which happens to be hard to settle.
Does the coloration of a recollected object (or anything else about its
visual effect) differ from date to date? Could I tell by its tint if it
comes earlier or later, lower or higher, in the stratigraphy of my past? Is
there any mental uranium whose dream-delta decay might be used to measure
the age of a recollection?"

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