Not in the poem – the back bone of the book Pale Fire – but in the rather boring prose accompanying it, did Nabokov include the phrase ‘ivory back scratcher’.

Those words, methinks, deserved to be included in the verse. Highly inciting the imagination, they imply the poetic notion of a pale majestic woman – ivory-colored, well-arsed and likewise proportionally equipped – who grazes the delicate skin of my back.

As imagination is not all that practical, man must seek alternatives. Now that both wings are clipped – an inflamed little tendon in each of my shoulders – it has become impossible to perform the acrobatics of the self-scratcher.

Thus I long for the real ivory thing.


Such objects, however, are beyond my purse and not all that easy to procure anyway. Being an esthete, I would settle for a second hand version, however not for one second rate.

So, the pragmatist finds his solution. In the middle of the night, an itch tormenting this insomniac, I pick up this rather rude object and manage to perform the trick.


Your bricoleur, always looking for solutions in the house, at his best – this long spoon, once used to get the last bit of French cassis sorbet ice from its long, thin vessel, now performing its back scratching job.


Sierksma 10.11.15


Author: rjsiersk

Sierksma was born in Friesland, a 'county' in the northern part of the Netherlands with its own language which he does not speak and with an obstinate population to which he both belongs and does not belong. A retired Professor of Social Philosophy and Aesthetics, as a Harkness fellow he taught at Rutgers and Berkeley Universities in the USA, and at GUAmsterdam and TUDelft in the Netherlands. In 1991 he was awarded his PhD from Leiden University on the subject of 'Surveillance and Task: Labour Discipline between Utilitarianism and Pragmatism'. His books include Minima Memoria (1993), Lost View (2002 with Jan van Geest), and Litter Scent (2013). He has published poems and articles in Te Elfder Ure, Nynade, Oasis and the Architectural Annual. Half the year he lives in Haarlem, the other half he spends in la France Profonde, living ‘in his own words’ as the house out there was bought with the winnings from his essay Eternal Sin, written for the ECI Essay Prize (1993). In this blog, Sierksma's Sequences, written in English, he is peeping round his own and other people’s perspectives. Not easily satisfied with answers nor with questions, he turns his wry wit to a number of philosophical and historical issues. His aim in writing: to make parts of the world light up in his perspective - not my will, thine! Not being a thief, he has no cook, one wife, some children, one lover and three cats.

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