synesthesia. (to Dmitri and List)
After I posted the message about VN's colored
words, and the excluded "reds", I
realized something which I afterwards recollected has also been noted with
a small delay by Boyd. In a preface, with the
title "Nabokov's Blues - and His Drab-Shoelace Brown, and His
Weathered-Wood Black," (Holabird's "Alphabet in Color") Boyd wrote: "
Notice - I just have - that Violet and Oranger form the beginning and end of
Ada's acrostic spelling of the spectrum: vibgyor."
( I found that simply because I had wanted to compare "vibgyor" with Nabokov's own "muddy
rainbow" in his private language: "kzspygv"[ excerpt from Speak Memory
in Holabird's book).].
Now I have something else I want to
share related to translation, TOoL's in
Boyd noted that "Part of Nabokov's passion for
precision was his passion for color." and yet, in TOoL, colors were not
presented with the same verbal attention for hue and radiance as in
VN's other novels ( Gennady Barabtarlo records 238 uses of color terms in
"Pnin", as mentioned by B.Boyd) -- although the effect was similarly
striking, since he managed even then to "make one's memory speak in the
language of rainbows".
Later, from a quote from Van Veen's annotations
about "chromesthesia," I read: " I was forced to assume that the man's
fingertips could convey to his brain "a tactile transcription of the prismatic
specter"... added to Boyd's information about a man who'd "acquired a kind
of synesthesia (tactile stimuli on his hand evoked a sensation of 'movement,
expansion, or jumping'.)"
This set me on a curious path of associations in
connection to "translation."
When reading Nabokov in English I often
get sensations that could be likened to the blind man who felt
"movement, expansion, jumping" through tactile stimuli, but added to the
Surprise: Nabokov makes me hallucinate
his synesthetic feelings, independently of the content of his
sentences! ( I'm sure that what I feel doesn't correspond to
anything "real" to be found in VN, for my distorting projections
intervene) As I see it now, a faithful
translation that merely substitutes words from one language into another
often fails to provoke in me the same rich
synesthetic "hallucinations." (whatever they are) My "stingle in the
spine" ( or is it a "tingle in the pine"?) which happens
with VN's original could occur in a translation, but it is frequently
absent. Perhaps this is what Nabokov felt
through Pushkin ( a literary synesthesia)? Is this is why he was so dedicated in
his translation of EO, because he charged himself to maintain certain
mysterious messages that had been conveyed to him by a specific pattern, still
Translators who don't love VN for his
sinesthesia, can they rightfully honor this kind of "animistic" power that
inhabits his words, or paragraphs, or sentences, or pages?
Dmitri Nabokov:[ Who will come to rescue our Laura?]
Thanks, Jansy -- will you? Or at least keep making suggestions?
JM: When Darkbloom explains the "vibgyors" (prismatic
pulsations) we find that the rainbow-color sequence,
that starts with "violet", always seems to stop
short before the "red" appears, in sunsets, writing inks and even
in a conjuror's act. Is there any particular reason why?