Did anyone see “Jeopardy”* last night?
The question was :
“Alexander Pope wrote this famous axiom in his Essay on Man:”
That would be “hope” of course. As Alexey Sklyarenko has pointed out many times, “hope” in Russian is “nadezshde” which is a near anagram for “Hazel Shade,” or, as John Shade puts it a “faint hope.”
This could even sum up Pale Fire as an epigram! (Transcendence as main theme)
Pope’s Essay on Man occurs elsewhere in PF:
Line 419, “See the blind beggar dance, the cripple sing,” directly references Pope’s An Essay on Man, a witty and ironic look at the folly of pride (ego) in every man. The essay is, in fact, an astute psychological commentary on how pride is evinced in the three basic Jungian archetypes I have been discussing (ego, shadow, and persona). Pope’s poem continues:
See the blind beggar dance, the cripple sing,
The sot a hero, lunatic a king;
The blind beggar and the cripple are both disfigured physically, so we might easily combine them as representing the lower consciousness aspect (Gradus as shadow), lamely attempting to perform. John Shade, it may be noted is also a “cripple.” A classic hero is usually an extraordinary man on a transformational quest, but this “hero” (Shade as persona) is a drunk. A king represents the ruling consciousness of thought (ego), but this one (Kinbote) is insane. These three types can be seen respectively in Gradus, Shade, and Kinbote. Not quoted in Pale Fire, but perhaps implied, Pope mentions two other types, the chemist and the poet. They differ from the other three in that they are not corrupt:
The starving chemist in his golden views
Supremely blest, the poet in his muse.
These two figures relate to transcendent values – mysticism and poetry – and are in a sense outside and apart from the psychology of pride. Interestingly, the alchemist and poet are the same as the characters in Timon. Here they represent, I maintain, the overarching theme in Pale Fire of transcendence. John Shade is a poet; he gave a book of poems the Popeian title “Supremely Blest.” He has access to transcendence despite his drinking and whatever other personality defects he might have (Shade, as persona, is part light, part dark). The chemist (i.e. alchemist) seeks the secret of immortality and as a magician combines and transmutes elements into spiritual ‘gold’ (like a true poet). Jung saw the alchemic process of transmutation as the alchemist’s psychological purification leading to spiritual transcendence. The alchemist projected his psyche into the process of transmuting the base Mercurius (i.e. shadow) to the redeemed “stone,” (who turns out to be Balthasar the gardener as Jungian archetype of the Self.)
Now I can add Hazel as the Jungian soul archetype the anima. This would support Brian Boyd’s theory of Hazel transmigrating into the Vanessa atalanta butterfly, an “eternal” soul/psyche image (although I do not believe the Vanessa is beneficent, but a harbinger of “Doom”). Hazel is John Shade’s (i.e. Botkin’s) rejected soul image – the fat, lame, clumsy, sensitive, psychic kid he rejected and subsequently all his life “twisted” himself in favor of becoming the staid, homey, beloved, and safe poet.
*(American Quiz Show)