Photographer Eve Arnold had a long and productive life: she died in London in January 2012, aged 99. I was honored to meet her a few years before she passed on. She took hundreds of photos of Marilyn Monroe, and is responsible for a remarkable 1955 color photo of Marilyn Monroe reading the last chapter of «Ulysses» by James Joyce in a Long Island playground. There is a gentle irony in MM’s choice of the last chapter.
In «Joyce and Popular Culture», R.B. Kershner quotes a letter from Arnold about the day she took the shot:
In post 7, I quoted Sergio Waisman from Borges and Translation: The Irreverence of the Periphery: “Like any act of writing, translation is always undertaken from a specific site: the translator’s language, but also the entire cultural and sociohistorical context in which translators perform their task.” In the in-traduisible, we translate the intra-duisible. Induce the text through the veil of the nuisible.
Which makes it almost impossible to answer the question of who the translator serves. The reader-cannibal-flesh/word-eater? Or the mercenary-writer who uses the translator (sometimes from beyond the grave) to pull a hat over her or his own face? Translating, one wishes to serve the text itself, but the conditions of reception in one’s own language make the process like shuffling a deck of cards with your arms behind a curtain.
The translation that results bears the memory of the original, and also incorporates into its fibre the resistance of the reader to let the foreign into their language, the resistance that is a cauterization of any reading practice from its very start: because we live somewhere. Somewhere translates itself into the translation. The prescription of untranslatability may haunt the translator, but as I translate, no, I am not haunted, I turn and wear the text, making its fibre into my fibre.