NABOKV-L post 0024019, Tue, 23 Apr 2013 18:46:13 -0700

Thank you Jansy and Beth - what extraordinary performances. My reaction to the
'black swan' was "eat your heart out, Maya Plisetskaya" but of course that's
facetious. Too bad our tone deaf VN would not have appreciated Yo-Yo Ma's
ethereal performance of the brilliant St-Saens music.

On a lighter note, Ogden Nash, as many of you may or may not know, wrote his
usual doggerel to accompany the Carnival of the Animals. Never at a loss with
the less than human types (his poem to the dog is not to be missed) my favorite
couplet is :pianists are apelike and symian; not like normal men and womien.


From: Jansy <jansy@AETERN.US>
Sent: Tue, April 23, 2013 10:54:25 AM

Two recent youtube videos stimulated me to use them as illustrations for my
"birthday hommage" to Vladimir Nabokov. The first one was a particular
interpretation of "Swan Lake." After I sent the link to our ED, SES, she sent
me the second link**. My original idea had been to write about "Mademoiselle"
and the dying swan in that story. Or to explore Nabokov's interest in bodily
language and expression, as he demonstrates it by Mascodagama's ambition to
transform movement into language. (upside down metaphors and "performing
words"). However, a swan song is not an adequate theme to develop for a
birthday celebration. The second idea seemed to be more easily presented, but
it proved to be wrong because a sample of his sentences about his character's
movements in space awoke in me ***, unexpectedly, an intense discomfort which
I associated to a feeling of "the uncanny" #, similar to what audiences and
children exmperienced after Mascodagama flipped over to stand on his real
feet. Fortunately, after a lot of hesitancy, I discovered something that might
be worth sharing with the VN-L.

When people speak about "tongues of fire" they are making an analogy between
two distinct events, it's not a "personalization." When Nabokov writes about an
obsequious flamelet, it is ( "excuse me, said a polite flamelet holding open
the door he was vainly trying to close"). However, I soon realized that
Nabokov, in contrast to what we often find in Disney movies and
cartoons, doesn't attribute human feelings to living nature, only to inanimate
objects. It occurred to me that his work as a poet-scientist might have impeded
him to treat "real life" as an object that could be exploited by
a puppeteer's control as the one he exerted over his fictional characters ( his
"galley slaves"). I don't think that this facet of Nabokov's, in his respect
and awe towards life, has been sufficiently exposed. Now I was able to
understand what he meant when he chose to "serve a triumphant life sentence
between the covers of a book." (LS ix-x).

While musing about the day of Vladimir Nabokov's birth I can only wish that the
cycle of his life has been as triumphantly experienced as the one he condemned
his characters to live, although closer to heaven, to some unlabeled angels and
tagged butterflies, than to the destiny he chose for most of his fictional
creatures, caged by the covers of a book in lieu of living on, flying on, "in
the reflected sky." that arises when a reader opens his novel and,
finally, encounters the Author.



** - "And here's a link in return, mentioned in a recent New Yorker article on
avant-garde puppetry. It's devastastingly sad but very Nabokovian, I think, in
one sense: -

*** Cf. "Backwards, Upwards, Contrariwise, Downside Up:- Thinking in Different
Directions in Nabokov"
Susan Elizabeth Sweeney (read at Brian Boyd's Nabokov Upside Down conference,

# - Freud, The Uncanny (Part I) - People Accounts
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