Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001374, Sat, 26 Oct 1996 15:55:32 -0700

Clarity (fwd)
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 1996 12:47:11 -0800
From: Sirin@slip.net
To: NABOKV-L@UCSBVM.UCSB.EDU, Jessec@lucasarts.com

In response to DB Johnson's call for wider input, I am forwarding the
response of a friend of mine to my "extra is" post -- I hope all of this
general commentary is not too "amateur" or vague for all you scholars out
there (no sarcasm intended). I am trying not to be intimidated by the
inescapable feeling that the questions such as those considered below have
all been somehow already resolved in the minds of this list's
subscribers... And to my friend, to complete the circle of apology, please
forgive the foregoing apology; I truly enjoyed your response.

"VN wrote with such clarity of image that I assume as a person he was a
phenomenally acute perceiver. As the swami in HEAD says, "Where there is
clarity there is no choice." The world may appear so certainly to him
that even in the realm of internal emotion no confusion occurs. Humbert
certainly has his share of inner trauma, but what shocks the reader about
him is his lack of any qualms about calling a spade a spade, so to speak.

"I lust after a certain person, thus of course I pursue them. An obstacle
occurs, and I remove it": this clinicity of perception, the unwillingness
for even a second to self-charade, or to acknowledge that "guilt"--it
shocks. Guilt occurs when we allow ourselves to believe that we could be
other than we are: "I am ashamed that I lust, for it is
wrong"--no such equivocation in VN! It is thus, so it is thus. VN has
such authority in his proclamations, such accuracy of depiction that it
takes me a minute to even realize when I disagree with him. I do not say
he sees infallibly, just that he seems to perceive certainly. As you say.
This does close off much of human experience; the ambiguity of our selves
gives us much of our torture, but also makes the dawning of clarity