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Forgetting Lolita: How Nabokov's Victim Became an American Fantasy
In January of 1959, the 600 residents of Lolita, Texas, found themselves in the midst of an improbable identity crisis. The town had been named in 1909 for Lolita Reese, the granddaughter of a Texas patriot. But following the U.S. publication of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel in 1958, “Lolita” had suddenly acquired a whole new set of connotations.
“The people in this town are god-fearing, church going, and we resent the fact our town has been tied in with the title of a dirty, sex-filled book that tells the nasty story of a middle-aged man’s love affair with a very young girl.” So read a petition circulated by R. T. Walker, deacon of the local First Baptist Church, who hoped to change the town’s name from Lolita to Jackson. In the end, however, the proud citizens of Lolita decided to hunker down and wait out the storm: As the Texas historian Fred Tarpley put it, “Lolita was retained with the hope that the novel and the [upcoming] film would soon be forgotten."
In fairness to the good people of Lolita, nobody in 1959 could have predicted what the future had in store for Lolita. In the ensuing decades, Nabokov’s novel spawned two films, musical adaptations, ballets, stage adaptations (including one legendarily disastrous Edward Albee–directed production starring Donald Sutherland as Humbert Humbert), a Russian-language opera, spin-off novels, bizarre fashion subcultures, and memorabilia that runs the gamut from kitschy to creepy: from heart-shaped sunglasses to anatomically precise blow-up dolls. With the possible exception of Gatsby, no twentieth-century American literary character penetrated the public consciousness quite like Lolita. Her very name entered the language as a common noun: “a precociously seductive girl,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. (Gatsby, by contrast, had to settle for a mere adjective: “Gatsbyesque.”) At a certain echelon of pop music megastardom (the domain of Britney, Miley, Katy Perry, Lana Del Rey) they are all Lolitas now, trafficking in the iconography of lollipops and stuffed animals and schoolgirl outfits. In the sixty years since she first appeared, Lolita transcended her original textual instance: She became an archetype, an icon of youthful desirability. Lolita became America’s sweetheart.
And yet, there is also a sense in which the citizens of Lolita, Texas, have been proved right. We have forgotten Lolita. At least, we’ve forgotten about the young girl, “standing four feet ten in one sock,” whose childhood deprivation and brutalization and torture subliminally animate the myth that launched a thousand music videos. The publication, reception, and cultural re-fashioning of Lolita over the past 60 years is the story of how a twelve-year-old rape victim named Dolores became a dominant archetype for seductive female sexuality in contemporary America: It is the story of how a girl became a noun.
"Are there any last words?" Harrowing VR simulator reveals what final moments are like at assisted suicide clinic Dignitas
The Last Moments offers viewers an interactive experience of being helped to die at Dignitas - where hundreds of Brits have chosen to end their lives
"Are you sure you wish to drink this in which you will sleep and die?".
These are the harrowing words in which people are helped to die at Dignitas in a new virtual reality film.
Wearing a headset, viewers are transported to the Swiss assisted suicide clinic where hundreds of Brits have chosen to end their lives.
The eerie experience was created by London-based writer-director Avril Furness whose film The Last Moments allows people to choose when to die.
The film's trailer states: "What would your last moments look like?"
It then cuts to two women in a hospital room.
A blonde woman, seemingly a loved one or relative, tries to feign a smile as tears run down her cheek as she sits at a table.
While a brown-haired woman, who is a nurse apparently, is silently stood at the window apparently overlooking the Swiss countryside.
The film then switches so the viewer is in a bed having their hand held by the loved one while the nurse walks in with a bottle of pharmaceuticals and a cup of water.
She asks the viewer: "Are there any last words?"
They are then offered the drink in which they are warned they will sleep and then die.
Writing on her website, Ms Furness said the interactive docudrama allows people to "experience an assisted suicide and either end their life or carry on living".
She added: "The choice the viewer makes directly impacts the outcome of the film and also allows for choices to be polled to help spark debate on this sensitive issue."
Ms Furness came across the idea for the film when she saw a full-scale replica of the Dignitas clinic at Bristol University while writing a dystopian script inspired by Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror.
According to the film, one Briton travels to Dignitas every two weeks to end their lives since the clinic opened in 1998.
In May last year the film was shown to medical specialists, PhD researchers and right-to-die campaigners at a euthanasia conference in Amsterdam.
It has since been submitted to various international film festivals with plans to take it on a tour of UK venues.
But Ms Furness said she is wary of making the film more accessible online without the "necessary framework".
She told Wired magazine: "It’s important to introduce context upfront, allow the viewer to experience the film, and then provide an “after-care” environment for people to decompress and potentially hold debates around what they’ve just witnessed."
How men from Africa and Asia can easily migrate to Europe: Western African route
The route between Senegal, Mauritania and Morocco and the Spanish Canary Islands was once the busiest irregular entry point for the whole of Europe, peaking at 32 000 migrants arriving on the islands in 2006.
But the numbers dropped by 60 per cent in 2007 following bilateral agreements between Spain and Senegal and Mauritania, including repatriation agreements. Strengthened border controls, including the installation of the SIVE maritime surveillance system, also helped, along with the Frontex-coordinated Operation Hera.
Migrants on this route were mostly from Morocco and Senegal, with others from Niger, Nigeria and Mali. They generally travelled in long wooden fishing boats, known as cayucos; migrants from Morocco use smaller fishing boats called pateras.
The numbers continued to drop from 2007, until by 2012 there were just 170 arrivals in the Canaries. The figure remained stable for the next two years, although it rose to 874 in 2015.
The Moroccan smuggler operation is not well developed. Sea passages tend to be arranged by individuals working independently, serving clients who have made their own way to the coast rather than using the services of organised networks. Small boats found on Lanzarote containing very small numbers of migrants gave strong indications that drug smuggling was the primary goal of these journeys.
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