Like many traditional translators, Benjamin describes a bad translation as the “inaccurate transmission of inessential content,” an inaccuracy that experimenters may revel in, as they amp up the noise between versions . . . We could say in a Lacanian moment that these new translators make a pere-version of the original, seemingly derailing the paternal metaphors and prohibitions implicit in God-as-namer and the translator as the guarantor of the name. But what would it mean to take Benjamin seriously (and, with Lacan, to avow the unavoidability of the paternal imago), to search for the Adamic patois, divine remnants of the sacred language in the infomatic jumble of disaggregated signs in our literary arcades?
Structuralism and linguistics Jacket 35: Émile Benveniste in conversation with Pierre Daix, 1968, translated by Matt Reeck. Les événements — the “events”. Students dissatisfied with the policies of the De Gaulle government took to the streets in May 1968 in what are now referred to as the “events.” These protests shook the French government from the laissez faire policies of the previous thirty years. They mark the turning point of an intellectual ferment whose noteworthy members include the vanguard of post-structuralist, Feminist, psychoanalytic, and deconstructive thought — an intellectual renaissance that continues to define our era. Read the rest of the interview in Jacket 35
Émile Benveniste (1902–76) is among the most important French linguists of the twentieth century. His theory of enunciation — the “énoncé” and “énonciation” — argues persuasively that language is a social process. Also a pre-eminent historical linguist of Indo-European, he was elected to the Collège de France (the most prestigious intellectual post in France) in 1937 where he stayed until his retirement in 1969. You can read his work in Indo-European Language and Society (Faber and Faber, 1963) and in Problems in General Linguistics (University of Miami Press, 1971).