Last night’s reading was Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov. Perhaps a form of self-torture, though recommended by the brother – possibly understandably.
Time means succession, and succession, change:
Hence timelessness is bound to disarrange
Schedules of sentiment.
He views the afterlife in a fashion quite fascinating – the question of if there is a heaven, how would a man twice-widowed meet up with his wives, both present in his paradise?
In this poem of cantos, the second canto he explores his reactions towards a child’s death. Within the third canto, he struggles with questions of afterlife. Freudian views, Buddhist concepts, he seems not to adhere to any, but to examine all. An exploration of the soul in modern form and yet categorically without explicitly relying on any given religion. Perhaps that is the wont of a Russian heritage – it is my own: to listen, to view, to interpret but not hold as law, since it might change and who is to know what may be when death finally comes?
Life Everlasting – based on a misprint!
I mused as I drove homeward: take the hint,
And stop investigating my abyss?
But all at once it dawned on me that this
Was the real point, the contrapuntal theme;
Just this: not text, but texture; not the dream
But topsy-turvical coincidence,
Not flimsy nonsense but a web of sense.
Yes! It sufficed that I in life could find
Some kind of link-and-bobolink, some kind
Of correlated pattern in the game,
Plexed artistry, and something of the same
Pleasure in it as they who played it found.
It strikes home – so many coincidences are attributed to Fate. That my Canadian tensor and I of the States, a world apart, should have found one another and across the space and time of years. That we developed what we did, and as we did, found links and connections, our lives merging together in incontrovertible ways – the similarities with his mother, his brother and my own life, joining together within his own – it formed a pattern. His mother’s name, her professions and mine are the bookends of life, the alpha and omega in similarity. His death, it ended our dream, but brought home these connections, the reasons behind what seemed naught but happenstance. Beautiful and wonderful and now tarnished in his loss.
And to read this upon the suggestion of his brother, it seems to add even more to the complexity. Of wend and weave, this pattern is complex and there are moments when it all seems so clear, so guided by things above and beyond; and then the moment fades.
I drove to the drugstore to pick up something for a bugbite that has swollen and expanded upon my spine, a simple prick that in allergy has grown to the hard size of one of my vertebrae and filled with pain to the touch. In driving, against the impending rain-grey sky, I caught sight of a trio of children wandering along the side of the road. Their dark skin gleamed against the cloud-cover and they were dressed in bright colors: one in red, one in vivid emerald and one in a summer’s sky blue – the shade notably absent today. For a moment’s whimsy I was thrilled – look at the rainbow preceding the rain as they tramp through the August-browned tall grasses, killed by the heat that comes in advance of the autumnal death. But then the moment passed.
Who is to say whether these patterns and wonders are reality or if they are the need of our minds to impose order on a world that is fundamentally chaotic? Are our memories and desires and needs, our search for reason and security, nothing more than our will for rational relationships to exist set upon the unreasonable world surrounding us? Or are these correlations, these patterns something fundamental that we need but search to find? Perhaps it isn’t the reality of these twists and turns in life that matter inherently, but the search and discovery of these – for this is where there is true wonder to be found.