NABOKV-L post 0017213, Thu, 23 Oct 2008 21:21:12 +0100

Re: THOUGHTS: Terra and Antiterra and ADA
Jansy: it¹s not THAT arcane or demanding of higher-maths. When VN writes ³an
infinity of sensation and thought within a finite existence,² his use of
³infinite² and ³finite² is entirely in accord with normal mathematical
usage. When he speaks of ³infinite² transitions in LEGAL games-of-chess*, he
is mathematically wrong. This fleeting deviation is worthy of attention
simply because we think of and revere VN as the skilled
chess-player/problemist endowed with a love of precise scientific language
that¹s rare in novelists.

Human Life spans are finite in the sense of having a limited temporal
duration. During that finite period, though, the ³number² of
sensations/thoughts experienced can plausibly be considered infinite.
There¹s no paradox here if you consider the massively-parallel analog nature
of our electro-chemical neural-synaptic networks within which sensations,
thoughts and memories enjoy their mysterious gymnastics.

* There are specific rules that prevent endless chess games, e.g., you can¹t
have repetitions such as 1 Nf3 Nc6 2 Ng1 Nb8 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 Ng1 Nb8 ... In
fact, it¹s even more complex than forbidding such sequences; if the same
position recurs thrice at any time during a game, a draw can be claimed.

PS: again, sans google, from fading memories of studying Egyptian
Hieroglyphs, each part of the Horus eye-symbol
represented a term in the sequence 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, ... Mysterioso ... Seems
they knew that if you extend this sequence and sum it Œto infiniity¹ you
get a total of ONE.

Stan Kelly-Bootle

On 11/10/2008 19:41, "jansymello" <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote:

> //snip
> S.K-Bootle:VN and his readers should not use the word ³infinite² without due
> care & attention. The gap between a finite set (however large) and even the
> smallest infinite set (aleph-0) is ... beyond belief We logicians read V as
> ³OR²; tipped over to ^ it becomes ³AND²; on its side we get > (greater than)
> and < (less than), where the direction of ³vanishing² (getting smaller) IS
> SELF-EVIDENT[...] And we still haven¹t plumbed the depths of Pythagorean
> numerology where V = 5, the number of regular Platonic polyhedra. These really
> are the comic-cosmic symmetrical building blocks of the whole spatial shebang.
> [...] If I recall correctly without a-googling, our A evolved via the
> Phoenician from the Egyptian hieroglyph for an ox¹s head which happened to
> have a name starting with an A sound.
> //snip
> Stan, I count myself among those who stop counting after number three and
> frantically move their fingers to signal infinities of "many- manies".
> Without agoogling I dare bring up your fellow R.L.Gregory's image of an
> "Horus-Eye" as the source for the representation of numbers and fractions.
> Egyptian-goddess Isis must have collected a de-finite set of scattred pieces
> of Osiris before the couple could produce Horus...
> Logicians are great inspirers of "thoughticons" ( V> < , no W ) to see... a
> world in a grain of sand? Now what about holding "Infinity in the palm of your
> hand?"
> Here is a sample of verbal transformations that testify to VN's pains
> concerning "an infinity of sensation and thought within a finite existence".
> In Strong Opinions Nabokov describes "a boy and a girl, standing on a bridge
> above the reflected sunset, and there are swallows skimming by, and the boy
> turns to the girl and says to her, "Tell me, will you always remember that
> swallow? - not any kind of swallow, not those swallows, there, but that
> particular swallow that skimmed by?" And she says, "Of course I will," and
> they both burst into tears."
> There is a less pungent variant in TRLSK - for it isV's trivial imagination,
> not SK's, who addresses Clare Bishop:" I would have said: 'Let us not talk of
> Sebastian. Let us talk of Paris. Do you know it well? Do you remember those
> pigeons? Tell me what you have been reading lately.... And what about films?
> Do you still lose your gloves, parcels?'."
> [ V had been present when SK and Clare saw a flock of smelly birds
> metamorphose into stone, wing and into a "fancily stylized" cold register:'Far
> too many pigeons,' she said, as we reached the kerb[...] The groan of a
> motor-lorry ...sent the birds wheeling across the sky[...]. They settled among
> the pearl-grey and black frieze of the Arc de Triomphe and when some of them
> fluttered off again it seemed as if bits of the carved entablature were turned
> into flaky life. A few years later I found that picture, 'that stone melting
> into wing', in Sebastian's third book.]

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors:,
Visit Zembla:
View Nabokv-L policies:
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:"

Manage subscription options: