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?
Last week I questioned the idea of “a woman’s text” and I foreshadowed this week’s textile poetics commentary by touching on the feminist desire to legitimize handcrafts within the world of art as perhaps comparable to the idea of of “a woman’s text” that needs advocating in literature.
In recent years, growing interest has emerged in the relationship between poetry and computer code. A higher brow version of ASCII art, code poems draw on programming languages like Java or C++ for their formal inspiration. Since 2013, Stanford University has been running code poetry slams to explore the poetic potential of code. Participants in these competitions have explored the broadest definitions of code poetry.
Yong Shu Hoong is the author of five poetry collections, including Frottage (2005) and The Viewing Party (2013), which won the Singapore Literature Prize in 2006 and 2014, respectively. His poems and short stories have been published in literary journals like Quarterly Literary Review Singapore and Asia Literary Review (Hong Kong), and the anthologies Language for a New Century (W.W. Norton, 2008) and Balik Kampung (Math Paper Press, 2012).