contexts. "I was the shadow of the waxwing slain /By the false azure in the
windowpane," Shade imagines at the beginning of his poem, "I was the smudge of
ashen fluff-and I Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky"
death, all the strands of Pale Fire intersect and open out, in inverted form, in the
"reflected sky" of the otherworld. From there, if we believe Brian Boyd, he and
Hazel benevolently manipulate Kinbote as he writes his commentary. Yet in his
death glimpse of the cosmos, Shade sees not a pair of worlds but "a system of cells
interlinked within Cells interlinked within cells interlinked Within one stem" (59,
11. 704-706). The image implies limitless expansion and attenuation, with the "stem"
presumably belonging to a plant that is itself a single organism in a world among and
within limitless others. Pale Fire, it is possible to argue, is a "lemniscate"
a two-world, metonymic expression of a cosmic order that is, as the figure of
the lemniscate implies, incomprehensibly infinite.
In Freud, the primal scene exists in an otherworldly beforetime unknowable to
the patient-despite a lifetime spent on analysts' couches, the Wolf-Man never could
remember it (Obholzer 36)-but detectable by the analyst in the transference.
Extending its invisible tendrils across the barrier between narratable history and
infantile prehistory, the primal scene orchestrates a life; by tracing these strands back
to their source, what seems on the surface to be a confused muddle of unrelated
events is granted satisfying order and coherence. In proposing that the primal scene
may be a fantasy, however, Freud threatens to replace the surety of a historical event
with what Peter Brooks calls an "infinite regress" (276) in human history,
another kind of referentiality, in that all tales may lead back not so