Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023588, Wed, 16 Jan 2013 11:47:48 -0200

Re: Centaur in Ada
In a message dated 14/01/2013 23:39:15 GMT Standard Time, skylark1970@MAIL.RU writes: Since human brain resembles a walnut, this quote seems relevant: the human brain can become the best torture house of all those it has invented, established and used in millions of years, in millions of lands, on millions of howling creatures. (Ada, 1.3)
Anthony Stadlen comments: "Even the clear-thinking VN could apparently become confused. This is not the only occasion he wrote like this about "the brain". Did he realise that he was writing metaphorically, and that no "human brain" has ever invented, established, used or tortured anything or anybody, just as no pocket calculator has ever calculated, no typewriter has ever written, and no (non-human) computer has ever computed? Only people can do those things."

Jansy Mello: After I read A.Sklyarenko's Nabokov quote, I didn't question if he thought about the walnut resembling "brain" metaphorically or not. Until the early seventies the confusion between "mind" and "brain" was almost standard, as if the brain corresponded to the mind, or as if the mind could fit into the skull, or be situated anywhere in the body.* What it reminded me, on the contrary, was a famous line that I thought I had read in Hamlet (therefore, in the context of ADA and "Voltimand"). I tried to locate it with internet resources and I found out that I must have been mistaken, so I skipped the quote. It seems that the line was written by John Milton. "The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven."** (If I was in my twenties, I would have chosen to become a Milton scholar...He is a genius)


* - I can date it in the seventies because British psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion, in his lectures, always stressed this point, and I suppose he must have had a reason to insist on this differentiation.
** - **"The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.."
? John Milton, Paradise Lost

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu
Visit Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm
View Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:" http://www.nabokovonline.com

Manage subscription options: http://listserv.ucsb.edu/