Differentities Of Darkness In Vladimir Nabokov's 'Perfect Past'

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Nobody likes to think of their cradle, their safe haven, to be rocking above an abyss. That's where the monsters are, ready to snatch you up and swallow you into eternal darkness. That darkness, however, is the difference between living and not living, and the cradle, as Vladimir Nabokov depicts it, "is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness" (303). In his essay "Perfect Past", Nabokov describes in a beautifully poetic account of what it means to exist as a human in our most transitory state: life---, which is positioned between the boundless periods of pre-birth and post-death. With an artfully clear use of language, anecdotes, and symbolism, Nabokov asserts that existence in its purest essence is a shared and somewhat…show more content…
For example he states, "Over and over again, my mind has made the colossal efforts to distinguish the faintest of personal glimmers in the impersonal darkness on both sides of my life" (304). The juxtaposition of "faintest" and "glimmers" suggests that Nabokov believes that life is a mere speck of sentience between two episodes of black, and moreover, that one's individual existence does not truly matter. Like a shiny speck of glitter that infiltrates the third-grade artist's workspace, ultimately, glitter is glitter and one speck of it is no more of a beautiful nuisance than another. Despite Nabokov's seemingly nihilistic outlook on life, he maintains an optimistic, nostalgic tone that pervades throughout his essay. He writes, "As I crawl over those rocks, I keep repeating, in a kind of zestful, copious, and deeply gratifying incantination, the English word 'childhood' [...]" (308). While Nabokov's language remains elevated and sophisticated, his introspective tendencies shine through and illuminate his underlying infatuation with life. Nabokov's naively admiring tone thereby cloaks his existentialism in a shroud of warm and ravishing accounts of arguably the purest form of life:…show more content…
In providing the readers with a recognizable state of being, Nabokov states, "[Childhood] sounds mysterious and new, and becomes stranger and stranger as it gets mixed up in my small, overstocked, hectic mind, with Robin Hood and Little Red Riding Hood, and the brown hoods of old hunchback fairies," (308). This portrayal of childhood immediately resonates with anyone who still clings to the innocence of years long gone and further alludes to his earlier argument that imagination can fatally obfuscate the true meaning of life. In speaking of imagination, Nabokov writes, "In order to enjoy life, we should not enjoy it too much" (304). Here Nabokov subtly persuades the audience not to seek refuge in immature habits of the mind and instead confront the visceral realities of consciousness. Making such a poke at the childish inclinations thus further substantiates Nabokov's appeal to logos via the logically derived notion that if imaginations are not real and life is about what is, then one should not find solace in such dispositions. This therefore also lends itself to crafting an air of pragmatism that synchronizes with the overarching nostalgia of the

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