NABOKV-L post 0020596, Thu, 26 Aug 2010 09:36:07 -0400

Re: from Ron Rosenbaum re: Botkin Hosital insanity wing
On Aug 25, 2010, at 5:20 PM, Ron Rosenbaum wrote:

> ...I should point out... the... relevance of the existence of a
> large Moscow Hospital known as Botkin or Botkinskaya Hospital,which
> had a wing for the insane and which was in operation before <Pale
> Fire> was published...

I think this is an interesting find, and am glad to receive it, for it
adds to the richness of the semantic web. But besides relevance there
is also significance, and, as has been noted, Nabokov himself called
Botkin a Russian and a madman, (even though the index terms him an
American scholar of Russian descent,) and so is unlikely to change
anyone's reading that much. But still a great find.

> Perhas[sic] it means nothing but it seems to have more direct
> relevance than Allen Ginsberg and Lenin.

Indeed, I asked about Ginsberg in an off-hand kind of way. The mind
likes to fill in gaps, according to the Gestaltists. For instance:
What was the young minister doing just before exiting the vestry?
Readers' minds will attach faces, bodies, even voices to characters it
finds in a book. Apparently I attached Ginsberg's face and frame to
Kinbote, burly and bearded. I looked at some pictures of Ginsberg on
Google Images, and concluded tentatively, i.e., did not prove, that
Ginsberg probably wasn't bearded at the time Pale Fire was composed.
I had hoped for some more conclusive evidence from someone more
knowledgeable about the beats than I. You're right though, it
possesses little relevance, and is unlikely to change anybody's
reading. Yet if there existed some more objective basis for this
association it too might add an additional degree of depth to the
semantic web, as Botkin Hospital does.
The thing is though that little curiosities like this have some
potential to lead to things of greater significance when meditated
over by the collective mind.

> Interesting Botkin, hospital mental ward in Moscow--aa[sic]
> inspiration of Kinbote/Botkin names? More perusasive to me than
> scrabble games.

I dislike addressing my comments too directly at specific list
members, rather than at their own words and thoughts which are
obviously fair game. And ascribing thoughts and emotions to others
ought ot be avoided at almost all costs. And yet I can't help but note
a tone of impatience in your posts, in general. Sometimes I like to
think of words and writing as to moves on a chess board, and wonder
why there should be any emotion displayed at all. If one makes a good
move its best to stifle any tendency to stand up and dance and spike a
metaphorical football. The best emotional display, it seems to me, is
to applaud an opponent when he makes a good move, and hope to learn
from it.

You, seem to desire more explicit affirmation of Botkin's authorship,
among other things. I for one here do give it. How could I not? But
significant problems still linger.

Namely that Botkin is a marginal character, by word count, who mainly
exists as an entry in the index. He more or less matches Hodge in
terms of slimness of lexical space. They seem to contradict each
other, as does Botkin also seem to contradict the various hints at
transformation that Roth & DeRewal have described in their essay,
Shade’s Duplicate Selves. NOJ / НОЖ: Nabokov Online Journal, Vol.
III / 2009.

I empathize with your desire for assent, for I myself desire a greater
response, really of any kind, to my conjecture on the meaning of Hodge
and the book's enigmatic epigram: that Shade shall not be shot. I
though simply hope that with some time some vantage point may be
ascended to from which these incongruities become comprehensible.

In fact I have such a vantage place in mind, but sadly lack the time
to map it out right now.

Hurriedly yours,

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