Book review: Lolita (hella spoilers)

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.” These are the first words in Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita.

Dolores, little Lo, Lolita is Humbert’s obsession. She is what provides him with joy. She is what leads to his unhappiness. It is not her fault.

We all have a Lolita. It can be a step-daughter pretty girl you’re in the middle of a cross-country road trip (I hope it’s not). It can be your wife, who’s of legal age and always has been. Your Lolita can be whiskey, or your job.

Lolita is a manifestation of Humbert’s desires. Humbert is a pedophile. He is attracted to little girls. More specifically, he is attracted to the “nymphette” –  a small subset of little girls that are attractive to him. It’s hard to tell from the novel whether this “type” is simply the girls that show Humbert attention, or whether it’s the type of girl that behaves more promiscuous than girls her age, reads girl magazines, and shows awareness of her sexuality.

We want our desires to manifest and make us happy. This is what Humbert wants, and he makes it happen. He moves in with this girl of his dreams and builds an image that can work for his fantasy. Sound familiar, yet? We’ll get there.

We don’t know if the girl actually falls for him. He frames the book in a way to make it seem like it is a mutual falling in love – like the girl jumps on him when she has the chance because he’s a hot, older guy that should appeal to that kind of girl (nymphette, reads girl magazines).

However, it is later revealed that Lo has a revulsion to Humbert. She tries to runaway, she flirts with other men, and in quotes she says he raped her. It’s not the mutual love story he crafted early in the novel. He turns her into what he wants her to be in his mind.

Doing this is narcissistic, and it’s how he can get what he wants. He changes, after the fact, how she viewed him and acted towards him, in his mind, instead of changing himself into something that she would actually want to be with. Or, even more difficult, accepting that she will not want to be with him. This takes responsibility and work. Blaming others and changing events in your mind is much easier.

I wasn’t surprised when Humbert killed the man Lolita ran away with. The man was a creep, and wasn’t good for Lolita, but more than that, the dude was a villain in the narrative that Humbert had built for himself. Humbert wasn’t living in a rational world with individuals. He was living in a world where people are supposed to serve him and his fantasies. When a new man entered Lolita’s life, that served as a disruption to the narrative that was supposed to play out. When he murdered the guy, Humbert was the hero in the narrative he built for himself.

If your takeaway from Lolita was that this is a book about a creepy old man, and you are a good person because you are nothing like Humbert, then you simply aren’t self aware. We all have narcissistic qualities. As mentioned earlier, we project our wants and desires in our own love lives on our environment. This is a defense mechanism for doing something difficult – sacrificing and working to improve ourselves in order to find happiness instead of happiness happening because of events external to us.

It’s a beautiful book that exposes the dark in all of us (if we are willing) through a beautiful story written by a narcissist.

Humbert broke the law. He ruined a girl’s life. He killed a man. He is not good. But he is no less happy than the narcissistic reader that continues to find problems with the world instead of putting in the work to change.

Email from Uncle:  https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/05/middle-class-americans-are-sick-elite-privilege/589849/ 
Excellent. Well said and intellectually honest. 
My response. On reading it back, it shows that I’ve been reading a lot of The Last Psychiatrist lately.
I don’t think this article is good or intellectually honest. [Uncle] is right – that it is well said. It’s well-said thoughts that appeal to its target audience (subscribers of The Atlantic).
It stopped being intellectually honest when it said Hillary was “10,000 times as appealing [as Trump]” lol that’s an intellectual, academic statement if I ever heard one. Then it listed racism and sexism as reasons Trump won. That’s what the readers of the Atlantic want to read – that they’re the “good guys” and Trump supporters are bad people.
The main point of the article is reached in the last couple paragraphs – Democrats should be a party of justice – that attacks those that don’t play by the same rules. The article says look beyond economic interests, but that’s all the author does is look at economic interests. The author thinks we should hold “the elites” (I’m not a fan of the term cuz it’s too vague and not defined here) accountable when they violate codes of ethics or have rights that don’t belong to others – non-elites. That’s the whole campaign Trump ran on.
Trump won because Republicans are tired of the establishment politicians that promise and don’t deliver. The politicians that say they’ll make changes to corruption and stop the handouts (like the bailouts). No ordinary citizen relates to, or likes these types, not even evil republicans.
Democrats are the good guys because they want us all to live by a moral code – as long it’s The Democrat moral code. They are the party of fairness – to each a piece of the pie. They fail to see that Republicans are the party of a different fairness – to each their own. Democrats are the party of do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t physically harm others. Republicans are the party of traditional boundaries – boundaries in place to keep hierarchies in tact that are believed to serve a function for both the individual and the larger group (the family, the community, the country).
Democrats can point to the community hierarchies and call them racist, but that’s not calling a black man a spade a spade. They’re straw-manning the republican belief system in the same way Republicans refer to Dems as “no-good welfare queens”.
Should we all have to live by the same moral and ethical codes, as the author points out? Cuz that’s the debate that the two parties have had for centuries. We (middle class) don’t agree on those core values. We (middle class) do agree that we don’t like the idea of being exploited. But the article doesn’t go into how we’re being exploited, and how a president can stop us from being exploited. It gives the same talking points that an establishment politician would give, without any substance. “You are being exploited. We need change!”