Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025562, Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:41:00 -0300

FW: [NABOKV-L] [IDLE THOUGHTS] past present future in TT & BS:

Idling away: Contrary to the sample extracted from Borges and “The Garden of Forking Paths”* with a place for choice (the future), V.Nabokov seems to adhere to his theory about the non-existence of the latter, as in his words at the start of “Transparent Things”: “Perhaps if the future existed, concretely and individually, as something that could be discerned by a better brain, the past would not be so seductive: its demands would be balanced by those of the future. Persons might then straddle the middle stretch of the seesaw when considering this or that object. It might be fun./ But the future has no such reality (as the pictured past and the perceived present possess); the future is but a figure of speech, a specter of thought.” ** Overlapping realities, a limited space (as in a chess board) and human mind-games, in ADA, introduce a novelty related to “forks” and to the future (i.e., “their irrevocably converging development”), with no space for the past (“identical openings”):

“There were those who maintained that the discrepancies and ‘false overlappings’ between the two worlds were too numerous, and too deeply woven into the skein of successive events, not to taint with trite fancy the theory of essential sameness; and there were those who retorted that the dissimilarities only confirmed the live organic reality pertaining to the other world; that a perfect likeness would rather suggest a specular, and hence speculatory, phenomenon; and that two chess games with identical openings and identical end moves might ramify in an infinite number of variations, on one board and in two brains, at any middle stage of their irrevocably converging development.” …………………………………………………………………….

* - Apud Corry Shores (2014):… ‘the garden of forking paths’ was the chaotic novel [. . . ] forking in time, not in space. [. . . ] In all fictional works, each time a man is confronted withseveral alternatives, he chooses one and eliminates the others; in the fiction of Ts’ui Pên, he chooses – simultaneously – all of them. He creates, in this way, diverse futures, diverse times which themselves also proliferate and fork.(Borges 1962: 26) Thus: all possible outcomes occur; each one is the point of departure for other forkings. ** - The “future is but a figure of speech,a specter of thought” is brought up again in V.Nabokov’s Foreword to “Bend Sinister”. Although death is the only realization about the future of which man can be certain, VN demonstrates in his fiction, that death is contingent: “Krug, in a sudden moonburst of madness, understands that he is in good hands: nothing on earth really matters, there is nothing to fear, and death is but a question of style, a mere literary device, a musical resolution.”

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