Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Existence is a series of footnotes to a
vast, obscure, unfinished masterpiece.
Vladimir Nabokov. His novel “Lolita” was
published on this date, 1958, in NY (3 years
after it’s Paris publication – stupid American
prudery and hypocrisy!)
I read “Lolita” with a flashlight under the covers in about 1960. I was about 14-15. Enough said. Suffice it to say, I was confused about sexuality.
I “believe” in the uniqueness of each individual person. And I rather like the idea of that uniqueness. But you know, it’s extremely stressful! In one sense, each of us is the “be all and end all” of Life ….. but not really! And I say, thank God.
It is indeed important for us to value the ultimate worth and uniqueness of each person. That valuing is what lies at the base of the wisdom that says, “Do to others as you would have done to you”. No one can be denigrated, made inferior, mistreated, subjugated (which is why I won’t say that line in the Eucharistic Prayer that says “put all things in subjection under your Christ”; the Bible says we are brothers and sisters and friends and heirs of the Christ, not “subjects”).
But: while each of our lives is a glorious jewel in the universe of Humanity, I think Nabokov is spot on. Our personal existence is “a series of footnotes to a vast, obscure, unfinished masterpiece”. No one knows what that masterpiece IS; but we intuit it – at least I do! The Gospels call it “The Kingdom of God”. That moment when all is “as it should be”.
I love the freedom of knowing that my Life, all our lives, are in a flowing stream of Life. While I am a little cynical about the possibility of achieving a “Kingdom of God”, I do think it is important to balance a sense of “reality” about the fate of Humanity with a hope for possible improvement.
Is there an “unfinished masterpiece” anywhere, of any description, in the future? Who knows!
But Nabokov’s words encourage me: “Make your Life an exquisite brushstroke in the Masterpiece that is being painted”. What is at the “end” doesn’t matter. Our lives do.