Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025653, Sat, 30 Aug 2014 10:59:01 -0300

[Translation] Plexed Artistry

Trying to translate the words “plexed artistry” to the Portuguese, I decided to emphasize its more common meaning as applied to the visual arts: “plastic art”, considering the sense of flexibility and plasticity associated to them. I was unhappy with it because I felt I needed an “auditory counterpart” for the visual/spacial one to render the implicit indication of the “atemporal.” *

However, in one of my readings, the word “complex” was explained in connection to Leibniz and Deleuze where its plastic quality was specified as “consisting of folds”.

“ Yes! It sufficed that I in life could find / Some kind of link-and-bobolink, some kind / Of correlated pattern in the game, / Plexed artistry, and something of the same / Pleasure in it as they who played it found. // It did not matter who they were.” (PF)

There’s Henri Bergson in the horizon and also Vladimir Nabokov: “I confess I do not believe in time. I like to fold my magic carpet, after use, in such a way as to superimpose one part of the pattern upon another. Let visitors trip.” (SM) and there’s John Shade, again: “Maybe some quirk in space/ Has caused a fold or furrow to displace / The fragile vista, the frame house between / Goldsworth and Wordsmith on its square of green.”

I haven’t yet checked “plex” in dictionaries. In the past I used to wonder about the folds suggested in “manifold” and, less obviously, in “multiple” and enjoy my recollection of particular lines in Cocteau’s Oedipus tragedy (La Machine Infernale): Anubis, il montre la robe de Sphinx. Regardez les plis de cette étoffe. Pressez-les les uns contre les autres. Et maintenant, si vous traversez cette masse d'une épingle, si vous enlevez l'épingle, si vous lissez l'étoffe jusqu'à faire disparaître toute trace des anciens plis, pensez-vous qu'un nigaud de campagne puisse croire que les innombrables trous qui se répètent de distance en distance résultent d'un seul coup d'épingle ? LE SPHINX Certes non. ANUBIS Le temps des hommes est de l'éternité pliée. Pour nous, il n'existe pas. De sa naissance à sa mort la vie d'Œdipe s'étale, sous mes yeux, plate, avec sa suite d'épisodes. Jean Cocteau, La Machine Infernale, 1932. http://www.goulaide.fr/fichiers/418.pdf] <http://www.goulaide.fr/fichiers/418.pdf%5d*> **The intrincate pattern relating all my literary sensations and words to VN’s “doublings and furrows” had failed me concerning VN’s used of “plexed artistry”.

I can still look into what other PF translators achieved.

French: “un art plexiforme” (Girard/Coindreau)

German: “Kunstreichen Plexus” (Zimmer)

Portuguese (Portugal) “Uma espécie a servir de ligação” (Telma Costa) (omitted?)

Portuguese(Brazil) “algum padrão...no intrincado...” (Dauster/Duarte) (omitted?)

In my eyes “Plexed artistry” epitomizes in nuce (a knackerl of them) VN’s consistent referrals to “time/space” and “atemporality”. And yet… I wonder if dictionaries will be sufficient to bring up an approximate rendition for those two particular words in any other language (unfortunately I haven’t the Russian). Intuition is needed, here!


*- Please note the fold (ADA/PF/Shade): “"Space is a swarming in the eyes, and Time a singing in the ears," says John Shade, a modern poet, as quoted by an invented philosopher ("Martin Gardiner" [ <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sic> sic]) in The Ambidextrous Universe, page 165

**- A crude translation: Anubis, showing the Sphynx her own robes: “Look at the folds in this fabric. Press them together and then, after you traverse them with a needle and extract it again, if you expand the fabric until you make disappear any trace of the former folds, would you think that any wandering tramp could believe that those countless holes which repeat themselves regularly in different places are the result of one single strike with a needle? The Sphynx: Of course not. Anubis: The time of mankind is an eternity in folds. It doesn’t exist for us. From birth to his death Oedipus’s life expands, under my eyes, as a flat surface marked by its successive episodes.” Cocteau.


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