The Darkness of the Present: Poetics, Anachronism, and the Anomaly Steve McCaffery 6 x 9 · 256 pages ISBN: 978-0-8173-5733-7 · $34.95 $24.47 paper ISBN: 978-0-8173-8642-9 · $34.95 $24.47 ebook
“This book raises important ethical/political issues for the practice of art in the twentieth century. The Darkness of the Present calls them to rigorous attention in a series of critical studies. It finishes in a deliberate move to stand back, in order to reflect on the issues from a cool critical vantage, like Tennyson’s poet at the end of The Palace of Art.”—Jerome McGann, author of Radiant Textuality: Literature after the World Wide Web and Are the Humanities Inconsequent?: Interpreting Marx’s Riddle of the Dog Google boosk preview here.
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:
[On March 11, 2011, northeastern Japan suffered a massive earthquake that left nearly 16,000 people dead or missing and many others injured. Soon afterward, the editors of Gendaishitecho (Japan's foremost magazine of contemporary poetry) and the AsahiShinbun (one of Japan's largest newspapers) collaborated to commission and publish a series of works about the disaster, all written by Japan's foremost poets. The following poem was Hiromi Itō 's contribution to the project. This translation first appeared in PoetryKanto, vol. 28 (2012). (J.A.)]
A huge earthquake, a huge tsunami People die and just moments later There’s the nuclear meltdown Drawn-out fear assaults us Each time I go to Tokyo It is darker Hot and humid there It stings In Tokyo Everyone was afraid Everybody was angry
Rosalía de Castro (1837-1885) attends her ear to the smallest of musics: rhythms of words and how they operate in transporting song and conversation into the page. How line-breaks work. Rhyme. How a copla or popular ditty might function as a break or cut, a secession, as Chus Pato might say.
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.