A few excerpts from an interview with Nabokov (of “Lolita” fame, though possessing many other talents), from 1964. I denote the interviewer’s and Nabokov’s words by I and N (Q and A seemed ill-suited).
I: Some critics have felt that your barbed comments about the fashionability of Freudianism, as practiced by American analysts, suggest a contempt based upon familiarity.
I am uncertain how to mention something I came across while browsing casually (yes, we all do it, one way or the other; there is no escape from it). Should I merely “Like” it, “+1” it, or (shudder!) “Pin” it? Add myself to a statistic that conflates equally those who have read or even re-read it, with those who have scanned it, clicked on a link, or (usually) stumbled upon it by accident and then…
A general sense of tedium and disaster. Half-past eight. Little coughs, the clearing of nervous throats, coming in clusters of sound, rustling of pages. Some of the martyrs plunged in meditation, their arms locked behind their heads. I meet a dull gaze directed at me, seeing in me with hope and hate the source of forbidden knowledge.
Girl in glasses comes up to my desk to ask: “Professor Kafka, do you want us to say that … ? Or do you want us to answer only the first part of the question?” The great fraternity of C-minus, backbone of the nation, steadily scribbling on.
A rustle arising simultaneously, the majority turning a page in their bluebooks, good teamwork. The shaking of a cramped wrist, the failing ink, the deodorant that breaks down. When I catch eyes directed at me, they are forthwith raised to the ceiling in pious meditation. Windowpanes getting misty. Boys peeling off sweaters. Girls chewing gum in rapid cadence. Ten minutes, five, three, time’s up.
One of those quotes that I found worth promoting from my regular feed. This is from the end of Chapter 17 in Book 2.
Variety is disappearing from the human race; the same ways of acting, thinking, and feeling are to be met with all over the world.
(which, depending on your point of view, is good or bad)
This is not only because nations work more upon each other and copy each other more…
The love of wealth is therefore to be traced, as either a principal or an accessory motive, at the bottom of all that the Americans do; this gives to all their passions a sort of family likeness and soon renders the survey of them exceedingly wearisome. This perpetual recurrence of the same passion is monotonous; the peculiar methods by which this passion seeks its own gratification are no less so.
In an orderly and peaceable democracy like the United States, where men cannot enrich themselves by war, by public office, or by political confiscation, the love of wealth mainly drives them into business and manufactures. Although these pursuits often bring about great commotions and disasters, they cannot prosper without strictly regular habits and a long routine of petty uniform acts. The stronger the passion is, the more regular are these habits and the more uniform are these acts. It may be said that it is the vehemence of their desires that makes the Americans so methodical; it perturbs their minds, but it disciplines their lives.