Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024718, Sat, 26 Oct 2013 15:33:51 -0200

Re: sources for this?

Jansy Mello: Searching through parts of the L-Archives I came to Sarah Funke's "Mirages and Nightmares”: The Narrative Lessons of Lolita from Novel to Script to Screen (in a link posted again a few days ago). "Using chapter eight of his memoir, entitled "Lantern Slides," as the definitional example of Nabokov's favored narrative device-the verbal translation of visual memories – I will show that the power of language to recreate images in the reader's mind dominates Lolita, as well. However, the evolution of Speak, Memory from Conclusive Evidence to Other shores, to the proposed Speak, Mnemosyne, to the final Speak, Memory illustrates a shift in the perceived narrative role of both the concrete images used as mnemonic devices and the mental images of memory. The first suggest that a story can be derived from visual evidence; the second, that one is alternately inspired and dictated by verbally recreated visual memories. The narrative authority similarly shifts with the transfer of visual memories – and visual devices which often stand in for memories, even if false or faded [...] Cf. https://listserv.ucsb.edu/lsv-cgi-bin/wa?A3=ind0209&L=NABOKV-L&E=quoted-printable&P=836895&B=------%3D_NextPart_001_0001_01C

I don't think I fully grasped what she intends to demonstrate, concerning the verbal translation of visual memories, when she distinguishes the "concrete images used as mnemonic devices" and "the mental images of memory" and their "perceived narrative role." I understand that the "concrete images" refer to actual perceptions of objects and scenes or "visual evidences," but I've not the slightest inkling of how they work as "mnemonic devices" while the "mental images of memory" are involuntary.

Her ideas related to the process of writing and movie-making are exciting when one stops right at the beginning: for her, Nabokov's favorite narrative device uses "the power of language to recreate images in the reader's mind."( I wonder who the other authors who favor it are).

According to Freud a dreamer undergoes various kinds of regression during sleep: thoughts are disrupted and their distortions follow a pattern of "condensation and displacement," later considered to correspond to metaphors and metonimies as they occur in language (by the urge to unburden the mind from the excess of stimuli that disturb sleep), or their transformation into "symbols." However, the type of regression that interested me in relation to S.Funke's propositions is the transformation of verbal thoughts into images (thinking in images is considered by Freud to be more primitive than the verbal domain from which they'd be derived), after she distanced them from the dreams and pointed out their power over the reader's mind. Nevertheless, what is it that happens with Nabokov's ways of enchantment and that S.Funke's formulations encompass only in a very general way? How does Nabokov's writing specifically fit into this picture? How does VN's memory speak to ours?

In "Strong Opinions" Nabokov vehemently denies thinking in words. About "Lolita" being turned from novel into movie script, he affirms that it "is rather like making a series of sketches for a painting that has long ago been finished an framed."(p.6); "I don't think in any language. I think in images. I don't believe that people think in languages."(p.14); "Nobody will ever discover how clearly a bird visualizes, or if it visualizes at all, the future nest and the eggs in it. When I remember afterwards the force that made me jog down the correct names of things, or the inches and tints of things, even before I actually needed the information, I am inclined to assume that what I call, for want of a better term, inspiretion, had been already at work, mutely pointing at this or that, having me accumulate the known materials for an unknown structure (this must correspond to S.Funke's "mnemonic devices") [ ] There comes a moment when I am informed from within that the entire structure is finished. All I have to do now is take it down in pencil or pen.(p.31,32). He states that "the greatet happiness I experience in composing is when I feel I cannot understand [ ]how or why that image or structural move or exact formulation of phrase has just come to me",61 (this moust probably correspond to S.Funke's "mental images of memory")
Unfortunately VN's formidable and contradictory testimony of having to write down, in a rush, his finished mental images, is lost somewhere amidst the interviews - but they are familiar to all nablers, I'm sure .

I have been puzzling over the years about why Nabokov's characters and their cruel and perverse actions, when they move in the scenery of a story, affect me more like bogeymen or witches than as real life criminals (what they do is real life crime after all!) and about why, at the end of a book, it hovers in my memory as a lovely ethereal painting ("I would say that of all my books"Lolita" has left me with the most pleasurable afterglow - perhaps because it is the purest of all, the most abstract and carefully contrived"). This is certainly something that only VN can achieve in my mind, the extent of his effect and influence over me. But how does this come about? Perhaps part of the secret lies in what S.Funke has outlined (in other words: the dreamlike regression from words into images), when we accept that this is the true realm of childhood fairy tales when humanity's terrors and wonders gain a verbal, thinkable and emotionally bearable, structure.

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