To me this doesn’t seem enough. In 1948, in a passage inserted into Speak, Memory, one of the most celebrated literary biographies of the twentieth century, Nabokov writes in his luxuriant, exacting prose:
The mysteries of mimicry had a special attraction for me. Its phenomena showed an artistic perfection usually associated with man-wrought things. Consider the imitation of oozing poison by bubblelike macules on a wing (complete with pseudo-refraction) or by glossy yellow knobs on a chrysalis (‘Don’t eat me – I have already been squashed, sampled and rejected’). Consider the tricks of an acrobatic caterpillar (of the Lobster Moth) which in infancy looks like bird dung, but after molting develops scrabbly hymenopteroid appendages and baroque characteristics, allowing the extraordinary fellow to play two parts at once (like the actor in Oriental shows who becomes a pair of intertwined wrestlers): that of a writhing larva and that of a big ant seemingly harrowing it. When a certain moth resembles a certain wasp in shape and color, it also walks and moves its antennae in a waspish, unmothlike manner.
When a butterfly has to look like a leaf, not only are all the details of a leaf beautifully rendered but markings mimicking grubbored holes are generously thrown in. ‘Natural selection’, in the Darwinian sense, could not explain the miraculous coincidence of imitative aspect and imitative behaviour, nor could one appeal to the theory of ‘the struggle for life’ when a protective device was carried to a point of mimetic subtlety, exuberance and luxury far in excess of a predator’s power of appreciation. I discovered in nature the nonutilitarian delights that I sought in art. Both were a form of magic, both were a game of intricate enchantment and deception.
There’s a lot more here than the capacity to notice details with obsessive attention. There is also, not least, the capacity to see beauty.
Even when our attention alights on something momentarily and then slides away. On the wings of a butterfly. Or the sound – ‘Lolita’ – of an unforgettable name.