Thursday, 29 November 2018

The jokes in Speak, Memory chapter 11

I’m still reading Nabokov’s Speak, Memory, slowly, because of all the other things going on. 
Look at chapter 11: 
“The kind of poem I produced in those days was hardly anything more than a sign I made of being alive, of passing or having passed, or hoping to pass, through certain intense human emotions.
But then, in a sense, all poetry is positional: to try to express one’s position in regard to the universe embraced by consciousness, is an immemorial urge.” 
That’s a good passage. 
And then I came across this line: 
“Vivian Bloodmark, a philosophical friend of mine, in later years, used to say that while the scientist sees everything that happens in one point of space, the poet feels everything that happens in one point of time.” 
I’m reading a copy that has no notes, no annotations. But I caught the joke—Vivian Bloodmark is Vladimir Nabokov, like Vivian Darkbloom in Lolita
It’s the next part that I don’t get: 
“Lost in thought, he taps his knee with his wandlike pencil, and at the same instant a car (New York license plate) passes along the road, a child bangs the screen door of a neighboring porch, an old man yawns in a misty Turkestan orchard, a granule of cinder-gray sand is rolled by the wind on Venus, a Docteur Jacques Hirsch in Grenoble puts on his reading glasses, and trillions of other such trifles occur—all forming an instantaneous and transparent organism of events, of which the poet (sitting in a lawn chair, at Ithaca, N.Y.) is the nucleus.” 
What are these references?


  1. i read this when i was about your age but that was over fifty years ago; i recall i liked it, tho... i think he's talking about all the things that are taking place in our reality that we're not aware of but that are taking place; for instance as i type this, you in England are probably walking across the street either to another class or on the way to the library to study; the pavement you're treading is cement or asphalt and there are probably small weeds somewhere in the vicinity; there's the sound of traffic, other people are driving by, there's a slight wind blowing, the sun is approaching the west, etc. in other words, what's real is not limited to one consciousness, but is, in fact, unlimited as far as we know... what's happening on Betelgeuse as we speak? we'll never know, but that doesn't mean it's not occurring... etc. more: since time is produced by gravitational warping, it''s not impossible that things in other parts of the universe are experiencing it in a totally different way than we do, as humans... reality is not something fixed, unmoveable, but flows like water; we just don't notice it...
    that's my take, anyway...

  2. I doubt that those are references at the end, rather than some free ranging of the imagination. But one never knows. There is nothing at the Nabokov listserv, and typically, I think that if they have not dug it out, then there is nothing to dig.

  3. I see.
    Thank you both for your comments. I just thought they were referencing to something, especially with the name Jacques Hirsch.