Monthly Archives: September 2012

nabokov n his musical ear.

today i am one; tomorrow i shall splinter again.  and thus everything in the world decants and modulates.  that day i was on the crest of a wave.  i knew that all my surroundings were notes of one and the same harmony, knew-secretly-the source and the inevitable resolution of the sounds assembled for an instant, and the new chord that would be engendered by each of the dispersing notes.  my soul’s musical ear knew and comprehended everything.

from Sounds p.22

In ‘A Busy Man’ p.295, Grafitski suffers from paranoia, with all of its familiar connection making games, yet he does not even click into the ‘extention agreed’ significance of his neighbor’s telegram?  And by the end of the story it’s stressed the chance nature of all of this, though i can’t help feeling that nabokov himself was driven by these nervous pangs, judging by the content (and quality) of his writing.

the potato elf is cruel in its perfect picture of high hopes dashed, an affair of honor of panic and humiliation.  he really seems to have the portrait of these feelings down.  i wonder what the hell happened to him.

‘the insolent christmas tree was afire with every hue from the rainbow,’ metasentence his writer character finally writes  (the passenger all meta as well)

and i know that my brain is doomed, that the terror i experienced once, the helpless fear of existing, will sometime overtake me again, and that then there will be no salvation. p. 178  end of terror, which felt so familiar, he speaks of looking at oneself in a mirror after writing for awhile and not recognizing oneself, a feeling i’ve had so often and i wonder why this obviously happens to others as well.  is it just that successful cutting out of one’s ego that makes the image unfamiliar and eerie?  or do we move to some truth where this image in front of me is indeed only a superficial shell.

a nursery tale, frau monde as the devil granting wishes to the boy who fantasizes all day (oh, i’ve met her too, but she was a He..)  n why does the devil gravitate toward these lil child fantasizers anyway?

in a guide to berlin, he glimpses somebody’s future recollection.

from a letter that never reached russia:  listen:  i am ideally happy.  my happiness is a kind of challenge.  as i wander along the streets and the squares and the paths by the canal, absently sensing the lips of dampness through my worn soles, i carry proudly my ineffable happiness.  the centuries will roll by, and schoolboys will yawn over the history of our upheavals; everything will pass, by my happiness, dear, my happiness will remain, in the moist reflection of a streetlamp, in the cautious bend of stone steps that descend into the canal’s black waters, in the smiles of a dancing couple, in everything with which god so generously surrounds human loneliness.   p. 140  though this is not the best example of it (gods is more powerful), this to me seems to be his recurring theme, that queer happiness amidst all the mess

in christmas, p. 136, on the verge of deciding to kill himself, inevitably, on christmas eve (and nabokov certainly writes a lot about snow and christmas and death and suicide) a moth breaks out of its cocoon at that instant (of that decision):  and then those thick black wings, with a glazy eyespot on each and a purplish bloom dusting their hooked foretips, took a full breath under the impulse of tender, ravishing, almost human happiness.

bachmann about the genius composer and his lover, n oh we love those genius composers lacking all social graces..

and la veneziana, one of my favorites, where people can jump into pictures if they have the willpower to.  (thinking my picture of trees in a field in the big black frame from gigi’s house, which i love to walk into and sometimes get lost in) mcgore says ‘you understand, don’t you…that in another instant the painting would have sucked me in forever.  i would have vanished into its depths and lived on its landscape, or else, grown weak with terror, and lacking the strength either to return to the real world or to penetrate the new dimension, i would have gelled into a figure painted on the canvas, like the anachronism frank was talking about.  yet, despite the danger, i have yielded to temptation time after time…  p. 101  (n that sums up everything i want to say in my story and haven’t found the way to say.)

in beneficience, that redeeming heartbreak and the knock knock of chestnuts on a roof

here is what i see in your eyes right now…

you and i shall have a new, golden son, a creation of your tears and my fables.  today i understood the beauty of intersecting wires in the sky, and the hazy mosaic of factory chimneys,  and this rusty tin with its inside-out, semidetached, serrated lid.  the wan grass hurries, hurries somewhere along the dusty billows of the vacant lot.  i raise my arms.  the sunlight glides across my skin.  my skin is covered with multicolored sparkles.

and i want to rise up, throw my arms open for the vast embrace, address an ample, luminous discourse to the invisible crowds.  i would start like this:

‘o rainbow-coloured gods…’  p.50

wingstroke, isabel, the black haired girl whose eyes sparkle as if dusted with frost skiing in the dark alone ‘right up into the stars’ she repeats, and when he is speaking, apologizes, ‘sorry-i had the feeling i was still amid the snow and the stars.’  her ribcage is crushed (he crushes the angel’s wings (first taken for a dog) in her closet when drunk the night before.)

the wood-sprite knocks twelve times a la red book a la dodecagon

terra incognita  p. 303 “I realized that the obtrusive room was fictitious, since everything beyond death is, at best, fictitious:  an imitation of life hastily knocked together, the furnished rooms of nonexistence.”  it is, all of this, this fiction,

the transparence and soundness
of such an unusual coffin  p. 499

which arrow flies forever?  the arrow that has hit its mark.  p. 389  not sure how i feel about this statement…i find it to be something more like the opposite…

in tyrants destroyed,  the idea that he has developed a method for squashing ‘future tyrants, tigroid monsters, half-witted torturers of man. p. 460  his efforts to make him terrifying only make him ridiculous, thereby destroying him (an old, proven method).  this is an incantation, an exorcism, so that henceforth any man can exorcise bondage. p. 459

p. 374 ‘That is exactly what occurred to me:  yes, I am seeing you for the last time; this, in fact is what I always think, about everything, about everyone.  My life is a perpetual good-bye to objects and people, that often do not pay the least attention to my bitter, brief salutation.  From In Memory of L. I. Shigaev
(ludmila my love also a name in pushkin’s ruslan and ludmila)

p. 511 ultima thule the name of the epic poem he’s given to illustrate before she dies, employer never gets back in touch but he works on it anyway, Falter, name of man who discovers this secret solution to the ‘riddle of the universe.’  and what does this have to do with this constant resuscitation of ghosts, do i know?

p. 512 ‘as though along with his soul he had lost his sense of time (without which the soul cannot live)’  how do i feel about this statement?  well terrible because i have No sense of time at all!  but it seems like a very made up statement and not based on anything really, one of those grand statements that just feels good to say.

p. 589 the worst madman is the one who fails to consider the possibility of somebody else’s being mad too.

p. 599 signs and symbols ‘referential mania’ herman brink had called it (look this up) ‘in these very rare cases the patient imagines that everything happening around him is a veiled reference to his personality and existence.’

p. 618 i love the ending of ‘scenes from the life of a double monster (from pov of siamese twin), where the last sentence closes ‘our nervous kidnapper, a small doll-faced man wearing cheap spectacles, one glass of which was doctored with a bit of tape.  (because the double monster is perfectly balanced and whole i think, and everyone else born into this monsterdom)

p. 637  There, to the right, is the Bridge of the Sword leading to the Otherworld (‘dont nus estranges ne retorne’).  Lancelot crawls over it in great pain, ineffable anguish.  “Thou shalt not pass a pass that is called the Pass Perilous.”  But another enchanter commands:  “You shall.  You shall even acquire a sense of humor that will tide you over the trying spots.”  from Lance, which i associate with wilson’s chapel perilous, n think of my ayahuasca trip n seeing all the usual but laughing laughing

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you will go back

I am the wrong direction, the dead nerve-end, the unfinished scream. One day my words may comfort you, as yours can never comfort me.
Paul Bowles, in Next to Nothing (1976)

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a lot of newcomers this week.

“A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what’s going on. A psychotic is a guy who’s just found out what’s going on.”


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too crooked

there is no such thing as an ability that is too useless, too crooked, or too small.  it only depends on what you do with it.  as lao-tse pointed out, the bad can be raw material for the good.   benjamin hoff

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sentence chords

from ursula leguin’s introduction to the left hand of darkness:

the artist deals with what cannot be said in words.  the artist whose medium is fiction does this in words.  the novelist says in words what cannot be said in words…a sentence or paragraph is like a chord or harmonic sequence in music: its meaning may be more clearly understood by the attentive ear, even though it is read in silence, than by the attentive intellect.

and, the story’s first sentence:

i’ll make my report as if i told a story, for i was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of imagination.

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