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realclearworld

T.E.A. and Solipsism with Lolita

The Book

Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita" is a stunningly beautiful example of prose at its very best. An absolute pleasure to read and to immerse oneself in the writer's delicately crafted imagery, Lolita, as seen through the eyes of Humbert Humbert is the epitome of one who "walks in beauty like the night."

"Oh, what a dreamy pet! She walked up to the open suitcase as if stalking it from afar, at a kind of slow-motion walk, peering at that distant treasure box on the luggage support. (Was there something wrong, I wondered, with those great gray eyes of hers, or were we both plunged in the same enchanted mist?)

The deftness of the prose is incredible. In your mind's eye you can "see" exactly what the writer wants you to see moving at the exact pace that he intends for you to move at.

"She stepped up to it, lifting her rather high-heeled feet rather high and bending her beautiful boy-knees while she walked through dilating space with the lentor of one walking under water or in a flight dream. Then she raised by the armlets a copper-colored, charming and quite expensive vest, very slowly stretching it between her silent hands as if she were a bemused bird-hunter holding his breath over the incredible bird he spreads out by the tips of its flaming wings."

Just then, you feel a tinge of something wrong.

You begin to sense the vulgar aesthetic of it all, and you come to grips with the realization that you're enjoying beauty through the eyes of a pedophile, and the book is never the same again. You struggle with Humbert's morally repugnant behavior even as you recognize the greatness of the writing.

Lolita herself is nothing like what Humbert describes her as being. She is a rather ordinary twelve year-old, and her exotic beauty resides solely in Humbert's mind. The nymphet described in the book exists because he exists.

That's classic solipsism.

The theory or view that the self is the only reality. An extreme form of skepticism which denies the possibility of any knowledge other than of one's own existence. Applied to political ideology, it is the belief that one specific set of beliefs is the only acceptable set of beliefs which defines that political ideology, to the exclusion of all others.

The modern day Social Conservative movement is Humbert Humbert to the Taxed Enough Already coalition's Lolita.

Continue reading at The Last Wire

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