translation

Irrealities

Rito Ramón Aroche at the azotea.  Havana, 2010
Rito Ramón Aroche at the azotea. Havana, 2010

Rito Ramón Aroche (b. 1961) assembles and dismantles scene after scene in distinct poetry collections.  Many pieces project such a heightened awareness of construction and destruction as to put anything called “reality” at a marked remove.

Bright arrogance, gallery C

Speed, Erotics, Emergence

Insect writing from Brian Conley's Decipherment of Linear X, Courtesy the artist

While I feel hard-pressed to finish what I had planned for this column within the time allotted, time is on my side—or lack thereof.  One area that remains unexplored is the ways in which theories of artificial intelligence impact translation, especially given the huge impact of machine translation technologies.  Forgoing the sense of translation, no longer routed through consciousness, one can embrace an inhuman speed which, while riddled with non-sense may evolve unforeseen sensibilities and new forms of intelligence—while still attending to the situatedness of the agen

Assumption

Bird, 2015, Photo by K. Dykstra
Bird, 2015, Photo by K. Dykstra

The obvious entry for A is anxiogenic:  translation is anxiogenic.

Whereas the convergences defining translation cause anxiety or manifest around situations causing anxiety – be that experienced as apprehension, dismay, desire, dread, fear, fugue, inclination, misgiving, restlessness, etc. 

Alternatives. Abolition Abrasion Accompaniment Acumen Adhesive Alien Aliment Altercation Altitude Amnesty Anathema Anodyne Antichronism Apoplexy Arabesque Asperity Asylum Aversion Axis And

Antonym. Advisable

Bright arrogance #14

How the weird enters the world, part one

Image from Edmund Joseph Sullivan's illustrations of Rubáiyát from 1913, appropriated in 1966 by the Grateful Dead

There is a large shelf in the poetry section of Powell’s Used Book Warehouse in Portland, Oregon that is weighed down exclusively by versions of Edward FitzGerald’s illustrious and legendarily loose translation of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. It is perhaps the destiny of only the greatest poems to become furniture, decorative shelf-filler, markers of conformity masquerading as taste. Ultimately, unread. Just as easily do these all-too-willingly adopted artifacts start to become emblems of an embarrassing past, haunting “used” stores with their overabundance like copies of Herb Alpert’s Whipped Cream and Other Delights.

Bright arrogance #13

David Hadbawnik and Carrie Kaser's epic redux reduced

Image from David Habdawnik and Carrie Kaser's Aeneid, Courtesy the Artists

David Hadbawnik’s Aeneid (currently a series of hand-sewn and illustrated chap-books numbered 1 & 2; 3 and 4) is a translation-as-reduction, paradoxically allowing for selective amplification through subtle resonances generated in the space of what’s left out. The epic in general is no light reading, although these translucinations make it so without trivializing the content. Like Christopher Logue’s similarly reduced Iliads (but unlike, I would say, Ronald Johnson’s erasure of Paradise Lost or this more transductive work of conceptual needlepoint), the modernist spacing and minimalist gestures of condensation allow the poem to take advantage of an aeon of intertextuality, without getting the Laocoön end of it.

Bright arrogance #11

Sawako Nakayasu's modernist feedback loops

Clark Lunberry and Hiroko Washizu at Tokyo National Museum, Ueno Park, Tokyo

I met with long-time colleagues and collaborators Clark Lunberry and Hiroko Washizu in Tokyo to discuss Sawako Nakayasu’s book of translations and anti-translations Mouth: Eats Color.

Bright arrogance #10

Ostashevsky and Timerman's pirating-parroting of language

Images from The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi, Part I, Courtesy the artists

No language is one. That’s one of the more salient affirmations of Derrida’s work on translation. This multiplicity and struggle for meaning, the infirmation of a singular text, is amplified in these works that introduce images in ways that are additive, not reproductive. Eugenes Ostashevsky and Timerman’s recent collaborative chapbook The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi, Part I extends the informatic looseness of Brainard/Berrigan’s Drunken Boat to show that if language is not one, neither is it 3.14159265 . . .

Bright arrogance #9

Berrigan and Brainard's 'Drunken Boat'

Image from Berrigan and Brainard's Drunken Boat, courtesy estate of Joe Brainard

Ted Berrigan’s “The Drunken Boat” — a mimeograph publication from 1974 with drawings by Joe Brainard — exemplifies a different type of insouciance towards the source text than any we’ve seen thusfar. Berrigan passes off his seemingly straight, utterly conventional translation of Rimbaud’s “Le Bateau Ivre” as his own work.  He calls his translation a “homage” to Rimbaud — which, while usually a humble gesture acknowledging influence and gratitude, in this case could be possibly interpreted as a form of naked aggression and erasure.

Bright arrogance, gallery B

Transduction, transposition, translation

from the notebooks of Jean-Michel Basquiat

It is a truism for the experimental translator that as Google Translate gets better, it actually gets worse.  Witness the demise of the ability to "Turn Your Google Translate Into a Beatbox."  If you follow the instructions now, you only get a perfunctory recitation of consonants, alas.

Bright arrogance #8

Intersemiotic Dante and expanded translation

Diagram of The Malebolge (from Alexandre Masseron's 1947 French translation of the Divine Comedy)

In the last column, I speculated that Mary Jo Bang’s translation of the Inferno was initially seduced by but ultimately rejected the more corrosive qualities of Flarf. However, in the baroque-brut line of Henrik Drescher’s accompanying illustrations, there seems to be a corrective, drawing us into visceral mess of hell’s innards, albeit with high artisanal flare.[1] These illustratings seem to outdo (or undo) Gustave Doré's engravings from his popular Dante volumes of the 19th century, in that they are at once more terrifying and more cuddly — open to being in an loose relation with the text they accompany. In contrast, Doré's engravings are so aesthetically overpowering that, existing in volumes that were kept around the house more as a marker of status than for reading, the illustrator’s name is more commonly associated with this Divine Comedy than that of its proper translator (Henry Francis Cary, who for the longest time, because of a C with an overgrown serif, I thought was merely “Gary” — like some anonymous Cher or Prince of a forgotten poetry scene).

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