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A Job for Eternity

From "Prof. Woodbridge in an Essay on Nature Postulates the Reality of the World"
Review of Frederick J. E. Woodbridge,
An Essay on Nature (1940).

THAT philosophers are essentially diurnal creatures (no matter how late into the night their inkpots and spectacles glitter) and that space would not be space if color and outline were not primarily perceived are suppositions that transcend the author's "na´ve realism" just at the point where he seems to be most securely hugging the coast. But is visibility really as dominant as that in all imaginable knowledge of Nature? Though I personally would be satisfied to spend the whole of eternity gazing at a blue hill or a butterfly, I would feel the poorer if I accepted the idea of there not existing still more vivid means of knowing butterflies and hills.

[New York Sun, December 10, 1940]

From a letter to Edward Weeks, September 19, 1941
From Wellesley, Massachusetts.

IT is pathetically dull to watch the good old eastern combination of butterflies on the college lawns here -- after my Western orgies: rather like a garden in Cambridgeshire after a summer in the mountains of Spain.

[Weeks Collection, University of Texas, Austin]

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Copyright © 2000 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; April 2000; Nabokov's Butterflies, A Job for Eternity - 00.04; Volume 285, No. 4; page 60.