Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025577, Sat, 2 Aug 2014 11:02:50 -0300

filling in some missing quotes in a wider puzzle

From V.N's opening chapter in "Speak,Memory":
"The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our
existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness."

ADA, part I
(a) " Demon, (.besides many dusty pots of colored grease, happened to be
stored) proceeded to possess her between two scenes (Chapter Three and Four
of the martyred novel);"

(b)"His heart missed a beat [ ], so struck was he by the wonder of that
brief abyss of absolute reality between two bogus fulgurations of fabricated

(c) "When speaking of space we can imagine a live speck in the limitless
oneness of space; but there is no analogy in such a concept with our brief
life in time, because however brief [ ], our awareness of being is not a
dot in eternity, but a slit, a fissure, a chasm running along the entire
breadth of metaphysical time, bisecting it and shining - no matter how
narrowly - between the back panel and fore panel."

I always wondered if VN's crack of light was vertical (as in the slit in the
door that separated his little boy's room and Mademoiselle's) or horizontal
(like early dawn).
In "Ada" the reference to this fissure describes a "chasm" that separates
metaphysical time into two dark panels (cf. item c.) but a comparison is
problematic: VN's "brief crack of light" separates two abysses, but Van
Veen's light shines out from one abyss that is bracketed by two ( theatrical
or "real life"?) panels.
And, accepting that "metaphysical time" is unrelated to space, conceiving
this "crack" as being vertical or horizontal makes no cosmic difference.

Still trying to fit in bits and pieces, I mean Demon's and Marina's first
encounter where he is part of the audience while she represents the false
reality reproduced in the stage, I came to another line by Van (Part 4):

(d) "In "real" life we are creatures of chance in an absolute void - unless
we be artists ourselves, naturally; but in a good play I feel authored, I
feel passed by the board of censors, I feel secure, with only a breathing
blackness before me (instead of our Fourth-Wall Time), I feel cuddled in the
embrace of puzzled Will (he thought I was you) or in that of the much more
normal Anton Pavlovich, who was always passionately fond of long dark hair.'

In my interpretation, Van is describing how it befalls the artist in
ourselves to save us from an emotional chaos, by the production of patterned
works of art that connect his sensorial apprehension of the world to the
rationally unsolvable mysteries of life and death. He is distinguishing,
also, the patterns discerned by "poets" and those that are catalogued by the
scientists and, most certainly, ignoring the religious dogmas that explain
the universe, following Henri Bergson's proposals. I had isolated this quote
because of its reference to the theatrical world and Demon's "missed heart
beat" that witnessed the transition that made Marina pass from the stage
into the fictional reality outside of the events in the play and away from
its metamorphic actors.

Just for the sake of arriving at a partial "closure", another related quote:

That's Dr. Sutton's light. That's the Great Bear.

120 A thousand years ago five
minutes were

Equal to forty ounces of
fine sand.

Outstare the stars.
Infinite foretime and

Infinite aftertime: above
your head

They close like giant
wings, and you are dead.

( I let Dr.Sutton's light remain in the quote related to "death," from Canto
I, because the same shall reappear in Shade's last verses,985/86, in Canto
Four where it is connected to a somewhat imprecise utilitarian time-count,
unlike the metaphysical one from verses 120/1) .

But it's not bedtime yet.
The sun attains

Old Dr. Sutton's last two

The man must be - what?
Eighty? Eighty-two?

Was twice my age the year
I married you.

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