DEATH JUST MEANS YOU'RE NOT INVOLVED ANY MORE.—Wendell Berry
|•Célestine Vaita: Breadfruit. |
New York and Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 2006
•Célestine Vaita: Frangipani.
New York and Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 2006
|•David Bellos:Is that a fish in your ear? Translation and the meaning of everything.|
New York: Faber and Faber, 2011; 978-0-86547-857-2
Amélie is convinced that it is impossible to translate Poetry : "you have got to respect the polysémie of the words and if you do one traduction litterale it doesn't work into the other language"To which I replied
I agree with Amėlie you can't translate poetryand then I went on to translate the poem. (I'll set the two versions at the end of this post. It is by the way not my first attempt at translating poetry: earlier this year I made an attempt at Horace's Diffugere nives, where the attempt was to preserve meter and formality of the original. But more about that another time.)
You can however translate poems
you can only translate a meaning and poetry tends as Amėlie points out to be polysėmique, perhaps there's an English word for that, I don't think so, "to have many layers of meaning"
So a true translation would be a number of versions perhaps
Then there s another big problem about translation, the fundamental one
The idea that it can exist presupposes the idea that you can kniw what a statement ( sentence, poem) means
With only a few exceptions (huis clos, sens unique, STOP) I think you cannot, can never
Some people doubt that there are any affects or experiences that cannot be expressed, on the commonsensical grounds that we could say nothing about them and would therefore have no way of knowing if they existed for other people. The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein presumably meant to adopt an ag-nostic position on this issue in the famous last line of his Tractatus when he wrote, "What one cannot talk about must be left in silence." The infinite flexibility of language and our experience of shared emotion in reading novels and poems and at the movies must also cast doubt on whether there are any human experiences that cannot in principle be shared. On the other side of this thorny tangle is the intuitive knowledge that what we feel is unique to us and can never be fully identified with anything felt by anyone else. That inexpressible residue of the individual is ineffable—and the ineffable is precisely what cannot be translated.
Translation presupposes not the loss of the ineffable in any given act of interlingual mediation such as the translation of poetry but the irrelevance of the ineffable to acts of communication. Any thought a person can have, the philosopher Jerrold Katz argued, can be expressed by some sentence in any natural language; and anything that can be expressed in one language can also be expressed in another. What cannot be expressed in any human language (opinions vary as to whether such things are delusional or foundational) lies outside the boundaries of translation and, for Katz, outside the field of language, too. This is his axiom of effability. One of the truths of translation—one of the truths that translation teaches—is that everything is effable.
From infancy to the onset of puberty, children of every culture have always known that animals have things to say to them. There's no folklore in the world that doesn't similarly break the alleged barrier between human and other. But in our Western script-based cultures, growing up (which is so heavily entwined with formal education that it might as well be treated as the same thing) involves unlearning the instinctive childhood assumption of communicative capacity in nonhuman species. No wonder our philosophers and priests have long insisted that language is the exclusive attribute of humans. That self-confirming axiom makes children not yet fully human and in real need of the education they are given.In other words, language is communication and must be effable. But is Bellos's final sentence, in the previous quotation, "meant" literally? Does meaning not lie in signals as well as statements?
|Une main chemine dans mes cheveux|
passe / arrache
devant les yeux
sous les franges des filles
pour tes regards sur le haut de mon dos
Ma nuque courbe l'échine
shampoing après shampoing soin
rase petit sabot
de près petit salaud
des bigoudis plein le front
j'ai mis de l'air dans mes cheveux
brosse à bout rond en poils de sanglier pour brushing "sans électricité statique"
blond vénitien roux flamboyant brun auburn blanc mort
perruques en authentiques cheveux de filles perdues
filez doux longues chevelures : le temps des crânes est revenu
jolie itsi bitsi tini ouini tête crépue
tu tournes en boucle bourrique
ton cuir est dur
On reprend la coupe?
—Emmanuelle De Baeck
|A hand traces through my hair|
through / and out again
before my eyes
the unruly bleached lock
under the girlish bangs
The bones of my nape curve
that you may glance at it
shampoo conditioner hairspray
shave it short
with the close clipper
really close you little bastard
curlers over the forehead
i’ve put air in my hair
soft round brush, boar-bristles, to avoid static electicity
venetian blond flame red auburn brown dead white
wigs made of real hair from lost girls
away long hair it’s time for skulls again
pretty itsy bitsy teeny weeny frizzhead
you go round in circles like a mule
your scalp is leathery
shall we do it over?
Solstice and Corfu, the final two works for string quartet, are quite later, from the middle 1980s, and belong to Erickson's final period, when his music was oddly both expansive and innig, cosmic in outlook and scope yet intensely personal. They are, I think, valedictory pieces, and hearing Solstice again last night, in the immediate personal context of the matter of the previous post to this blog, was — not comforting, I don't feel comforting is anything I particularly need, but a reminder of eternal matters. I think Bob would smile, for a number of reasons, none of which he'd offer to bring up, if he heard me say, as I might, that I treasure these late pieces of his as participating with the late B**th*v*n. I'm sure he privately — very privately — aspired to that.
The Second Quartet (1956) is miles away from the First. From the very opening, even a casual listener will be struck by its greater openness, the ease and extent of its spatial dimension, the huge range of loudness, tone color, pace, texture. Where the conversations of the First Quartet had been contrapuntal, directed, like rational and logical disputations proceeding toward a logical outcome, those of the Second Quartet are fanciful, exploratory, playful but not according to so many rules.