Stan Kelly-Bootle:

"Not the original Laura"!  Good one!  Having the neighbor of Laura Buxton find the balloon instead of Laura herself is just the sort of thing that a good novelist would do to make the insane coincidence a little more believable.  It's just like the misprint Shade admired so much. 

Dawkinsís Blind Watchmaker. He makes some sound observations on mimicry. How it helps hunter as well as hunted. How we can only guess what advantages mimicry affords (we donít get to see the prey through the predatorsí eyes, especially under diverse lighting conditions. Even a small, occasional advantage can improve survival.)

Yes, I'm sure resemblances would afford many advantages, and natural selection is surely a factor in helping "mimics" proliferate and be stabilized in a population. But this is not the same thing as natural selection actually creating the resemblance. There is a very good book on the creation/gradualism question by Robert G B Reid called Biological Emergences: Evolution by Natural Experiment.  

Jansy's comment  "I suppose Nabokov ... selected humor when he, as an author, played God... "  I have to agree! 

Very best,
Tori


On Aug 6, 2011, at 8:55 PM, Nabokv-L wrote:


Subject:
Re: [NABOKV-L] [NABOKOV-L] An armless painter and coincidences
From:
Stan Kelly-Bootle <stan@bootle.biz>
Date:
Sun, 7 Aug 2011 01:19:20 +0100
To:
Vladimir Nabokov Forum <NABOKV-L@listserv.ucsb.edu>

Ten days passed and a farmer in Milton Lilbourne, Wiltshire pulled a balloon out of the hedge that separated his fields from his neighbour's house.

He noticed the name of Laura Buxton. As this was the name of his neighbour's daughter he handed over the balloon straight away, thinking it must belong to her. But this was a different Laura Buxton, though she was also ten years old, but she lived 140 miles away from the girl who had released the balloon. [from early reports of the incident]

Tori: Bravo! A point to note that affects the probability calculations: the second Laura* did not find the balloon!
Mystics will not be bothered that itís marginally more likely that a finder knows a Laura Buxton rather than is LB.

* I almost wrote Ďnot the original Lauraí to add a Nabokovian touch to the coincincidence.

I must add, briefly, that I donít expect to learn mathematics, science, history, politics, economics or philosophy from Nabokovís fiction. VNís allusions to such are of passing interest, but I have more up-to-date, more dedicated, better-informed sources.
A possible analogy: I read Genesis and Pale Fire with the same spine-tingling impact.

PS: Youíll probably know (better than I do) the latest edition of Dawkinsís Blind Watchmaker. He makes some sound observations on mimicry. How it helps hunter as well as hunted. How we can only guess what advantages mimicry affords (we donít get to see the prey through the predatorsí eyes, especially under diverse lighting conditions. Even a small, occasional advantage can improve survival.)
 
Stan Kelly-Bootle, MAA, AMS
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