Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001322, Wed, 18 Sep 1996 09:50:49 -0700

Re: Nabokov?Freud?Jung (fwd)
From: Sirin@slip.net (Oliver Broudy)

>And I think VN was also prescient: he knew that ultimately Freud would be,
>if not discredited, relegated to a position as a kind of well-meaning but
>overzealous meddler. VN was unconvinced that Freud's theories would
>ultimately benefit either mankind or art, and time has proved him right:
>they have benefited neither.

I am afraid I must object to this recent remark by one VN mailing list
member. While I do not much like the idea of quibbling among ranks, I
think that the triumphant tone alone of this remark demands some response.
First of all, Freud's decreasing importance in the field of psychology
should in no way determine his overall value any more than, say, the
outdated designs of 15th century shipwrights should be scoffed at by the
builders of nuclear subs. And VN was no more prescient, in this sense,
than I would be in predicting that clunky, 40 pound computer monitors will
eventually be replaced (one hopes) by affordable flatscreens. Make no
mistake: I, too, friends, find Freud rather "meddlesome" and "crude", but
I still believe he played an extraordinarily important role in establishing
the mind as a legitimate not to mention fascinating object of study.

I would also like to suggest (vis-a-vis "overzealous meddler"s) that we
here on this list are ourselves widely subject to zealousness, as the
prevalence of this quality is, to some degree at least, a function of the
charisma of that to which it refers, in this case, the potent character of
VN. With regards to Freud, in particular, I would stress that VN's dislike
for the "Viennese quack" was of a competative sort, which means that it was
entirely biased. And any writer here that does not take this into account
is, in opinion, not only writing irresponsibly, but also being "clubby", a
quality that (as if it mattered) VN of course frowned upon. I am somewhat
amazed to have to point out -- to the writer of the above remark, at any
rate -- that VN's psychology is not the only psychology, and that in fact
there are many others, and that many of them are actually quite

I ask all of you to forgive this unsolicited lecture, but I have been
brooding on the subject of VN fandom for awhile, and believe that it
involves serious pitfalls. I am thinking, most recently, of the literal
interpretations of VN's thoughts on music. I am also thinking of Brian
Walter's recent remarks, which I have found to be somewhat devalued by what
seems to be an overly protective attitude with regards to VN.