NABOKV-L post 0020833, Tue, 5 Oct 2010 15:09:37 -0400

Re: THOUGHT: the whole codology

On Oct 5, 2010, at 1:20 PM, piers smith wrote:

> I would say that Nabokov was playing (emphasis on that word) with
> hermeneutics and the hermenauts (amongst whom Freud was captain), if
> that matters. What we should now ask is why codology matters so
> much, not so much to VN (though it does seem to matter a great deal
> to him) but to us.
> PS

Why do interpretations matter?
Is this mere argumentativeness?

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain,
By the false azure in the window pane
I was the smudge of ashen fluff, and I
Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky.

Arguably this passage has no sensible, literal meaning.
How can a smudge also be a shadow?
How can that smudge of ashen fluff be alive and fly?
Perhaps in our imaginations, but do you really think the passage is
intended to convey that?
So there is at least the assemblage of extended meanings that serve to
compose individual lines and passages, like the one just cited, into
larger, more coherent, sensible, units.
Most people, dedicated dadaist excepted perhaps, don't enjoy reading
Beyond that there arguably exists a greater sense of closure as more
details are explained and related to each other.
Essentially more meaning, possessing greater certainty, equates to
greater pleasure.

Frankly I find it a little odd, myself, to ask: Why does the meaning
of a passage or a work matter?

I agree that Nabokov was playing... with hermeneutics,
suggesting meanings that may later turn out to be false,
something that is the basis of a lot of storytelling, suspense and
detective genre especially,
but does such play render the search for meanings valueless to the
Probably a great deal of our sense of engagement along the lines of
conjecture is as innate and automatic as reading itself.
Try to stop yourself from reading to the end of this sentence for
It is a kind of wide belief that is, I think, constantly being
reinforced: that we inhabit a meaningful world.

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