The Artist The Thinker

Writer’s Block & Recalibration: Nabokov’s Lolita

My pallet has lost its vibrancy, colours mixed in the wrong equation. My paintbrush has dried up, boar bristles jagged and harsh. My toolbox, playing hide and seek. I stare at my canvas and despise what I have created – dullness – I loath it. The theory has overpowered the aesthetic. The rush has displaced detail, and my lust for beauty is hibernating.

I know it’s there, I’ve written before, and I will write again in the same fashion. Writers Block. A disease. A parasite.

I know what I need, I need a recalibration. I need Nabokov. Na. Bo. Kov. I can feel it working already. I pull apart my bookshelf with appetite. There it is, my compass, my true north. Lolita.

I’m often asked what my favourite book is. I always answer without hesitation, without thought, almost innately. Of all the books, of all the stories, of all the words. Lolita.

Predictably, they ask. Why?

I was 15 when I bought my first copy – I wondered around the second hand book arcade in Newtown for hours, four to be exact. Red heart shaped glasses enticed me – $4.85 and the book was mine. The previous owner was a smoker, the smell of burnt tobacco hitting me as I opened the first page. I imagined who the previous owner was, where they were now, what brand of cigarettes they smoked, and what they thought of Lolita.

When I die, if a supreme being asks me what was the most beautiful thing of my existence – I would recite this paragraph. The opening paragraph.

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

And with that, it begins. The words are no longer just words. They are the entire past, present, and future. They are creation and death. They are etherial and otherworldly.

What’s the book about they ask.

It’s about a pedophile I reply, mainly for shock value. I enjoy creating a little controversy, curiosity, and uncertainty.

An orchid growing in a conventional garden is beautiful, but an orchid growing out of decaying and rotten land is more than just an orchid – it holds a different currency.

Beautiful words written about a beautiful topic is still just an orchid in a pretty garden. Beautiful words written about human immorality – that’s when the conversion begins.

I finish the book in three days, and it’s back. The knowledge that words can alter cognition, that even the most immoral concepts can be painted romantically – that I can turn the dull into an orchid.

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