While searching about articles related to “timelessness” (the crystalized smiling landscape in CCL) I found Laci Mattinson’s “Nabokov’s Aesthetic Bergsoninsm: An Intuitive, Reperceptualized Time (Winnipeg, vol 46 n.1), from where I extracted the following lines:

"Nabokov suggests that to inhabit those timeless moments one must ... read not with the eye but the ear, to listen when memory speaks. The eye, says Van, can only determine space. And, certainly, a text is a space, but one that is temporally layered. If decalcomania for Nabokov is intended to replicate not the visual image (the exact location or space, for which Van critiques Marcel) but the sensation, perhaps the image must first be heard." 

The author indicates ADA (and PF), in connection to space and time:

“Space is related to our senses of sight, touch, and muscular effort; Time is vaguely connected with hearing (still, a deaf man would perceive the ‘passage’ of time incomparably better than a blind limbless man would the idea of ‘passage’). ‘Space is a swarming in the eyes, and Time a singing in the ears,’ says John Shade, a modem poet, as quoted by an invented philosopher (‘Martin Gardiner’) in The Ambidextrous Universe, page 165. Space flutters to the ground, but Time remains between thinker and thumb, when Monsieur Bergson uses his scissors.” (Ada,part IV).

Although much of my work related to timelessness in CCL remains inconclusive, I thought that still another connection could be fruitfully brought up to the VN-L. I had read this passage a great many times before, but only now did a question reach my attention. In “Strong Opinions” Nabokov once described his synesthesia as “colored hearing” and yet, most of his developments were related to vision, not to sound. Considering the importance of sound and “listening” to him, as we find in his other works, it’s curious that the first impression he caused, during that early interview (1962), privileges sight.

Here is the quote:  “Color. I think I was born a painter [  ] However, the sense of color, the love of color, I’ve had all my life: and also I have this rather freakish gift of seeing letters in color. It is called color hearing.”  “V is a kind of pale, transparent pink: I think it’s called, technically, quartz pink: this is one of the closest colors that I can connect with the V. And the N, on the other hand, is a greyish-yellowish oatmeal color…”  About his son Dmitri “one letter which he sees as purple, or perhaps mauve, is pink to me and blue to my wife. This is the letter M. So the combination of pink and blue makes lilac in his case. Which is as if genes were painting in aquarelle.”

Why did Nabokov mention that his freakish gift is called “color hearing”?

In today’s VN-L post there was David Khouri’s investigation about Victor’s paternity, in “Pnin” with many citations about painting and color. It made me think, in relation to VN’s “color hearing,” that his answer to one interviewer about the pronunciation of “Pnin,” might add the sound dimension that we might forget about when reacting to VN’s lavish brushes. (Interveiw R.Hughes, 1965) “ the “p” is sounded, that’s all. But since the “p” is mute in English words starting with “pn”, one is prone to insert a supporting “uh” sound – “Puh-nin” – which is wrong…” I couldn’t find a similar discussion about Pnin/Pnoo (and a passing mention to a round manikin advert for Michelin tires) in “PF” (I’m almost certain there is one)


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