NABOKV-L post 0022221, Sun, 4 Dec 2011 11:05:21 -0200

Re: Pale Fire, the poem, as myth
Gary Lipon: Thanks for the Duchamp citation as possible allusion. It is, I think, in itself, worth knowing. But the point I was making is that, for a variety reasons, it seems that Shade believes himself to be immortal. In fact he says so explicitly in the lines beginning: Other men die... The issue is: does he mean them; or is there an alternative, ironic interpretation. I don't see that the Duchamp quote provides such an alternative.Perhaps I'm overlooking something.

Jansy Mello: It's not a matter of overlooking things because whenever we make an interpretation we must choose one way of perceiving the world over the others. Freud said something that many others took up, about our inability to experience death while we are still living (Shade seems to be an exception), meaning that death can gain no mental representation outside the verbal tag. Duchamps lapidary dictum exposes this "alienation."
A palefiresque irony may be present in a couple of lines verses before Shade wrote what he recognizes as the syllogism. (lines 209-214): "What moment in the gradual decay/ Does resurrection choose? What year? What day?...A syllogism: other men die; but I am not another; therefore I'll not die. " Let's say (I know nothing about formal logic) that Shade's employ of syllogism had already started when he took for granted that resurrection is a real fact and deduced that something or someone exists and who chooses to determine it for humankind on a specified date. Mentioning later on another syllogism to guarantee his wishful thinking must be a chuckling authorial intervention (it is he, Nabokov, who has the power to resurrect him and even, as in your mythological reasoning, grant Shade a personal immortality). I didn't compare this reasoning with the familiar syllogism "All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, Socrates is mortal." but Nabokov could have been playing with that one, too?

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