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My Potential Patients: Origins, Detection, and Transference in - page 60 / 69





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Cohen 57

transference thus creates an intermediate region between illness and real life through

which the transition from the one to the other is made" (154).

As in his regard for the artistic potential of madness, Nabokov angrily opposes

Freud's use of infantile repressions as an ultimate explanatory paradigm. In a



passage in Speak,


he declares that in exploring the

"spherical" "prison of time"


I have ransacked my oldest dreams for keys and clues-and let me say at once

that I reject completely the vulgar, shabby, fundamentally medieval world of

Freud, with its crankish quest for sexual symbols (something like searching

for Baconian acrostics in Shakespeare's works) and its bitter little embryos

spying, from their natural nooks, upon the love life of their



The parenthetical aside is a sly wink to the reader familiar with Nabokov. In "The

Vane Sisters," the protagonist awakes from a dream, tries to look in it for signs of the

recently deceased Cynthia Vane, and, as the story ends, despairs. Reading every first

letter of the last paragraph, though, yields an otherworldly message from Cynthia and

her sister Sybil, ironically affirming the possibility of a kind of communication with

the dead (Boyd, Discovery 213-14). Clearly, planting and searching for acrostics was

not beneath Nabokov, nor was, for that matter, comparing himself to Shakespeare on

the pretense of their shared birthdays (Lee 85-86).

This is not to say that Nabokov is covertly approving of Freudian dream

interpretation and the infantile traumas it often uncovers; he undoubtedly finds both

19 Shade offers a similar, pithier barb in recalling the downfall of the I.P.H.: "And to fulfill the fish wish of the womb, A school of Freudians headed for the tomb" (Pale Fire 57).


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