[excerpts] Parker on Nabokov


[excerpts] Parker on Nabokov

February 2017

What is Art?

“Art exists so that one may recover the sensation of Life,” wrote Viktor Shklovsky, the noted Russian Formalist critic. “People living at the seashore grow so accustomed to the murmur of the waves that they never hear it. By the same token, we scarcely ever hear the words which we utter…We look at each other, but we do not see each other anymore. Our perception of the world has withered away, what remained is mere recognition.” The true purpose of art, Shklovsky reasoned, is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived, and not as they are known. It is perhaps appropriate to think of Nabokov’s prose as devoted to this end. Few writers so thoroughly engage the reader’s attention upon the specific constituents of reality, the foci of consciousness, as does Nabokov. His art marshals a whole panoply of stylistic usages for the purpose of awakening fresh perception.”

What Separates Humans and Animals?

“Being aware of being aware of being,” Nabokov wrote, is what distinguishes us from animals. “… if I not only know that I am but also know that I know it, then I belong to the human species. All the rest follows- the glory of thought, poetry, a vision of the universe.”

Sexuality and Conscious Life

“If love and sexuality in their many forms are present, it is not because of simple notions of Freudian ideology, but because as universal experiences love and sexuality in their various forms provide enormous stimuli to the individual states and workings of conscious life.”