Unreal Nature

July 20, 2018

Because: Who Cares?

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:31 am

You do realize that I love this work. As if that changes something.

Continuing through This Little Art by Kate Briggs (2017):

… The translator knows that the work she is translating is not hers: she knows that it didn’t originate with her; it is not something that she has already written or said. Indeed, she is not sure if she would be capable of writing or saying it herself, and perhaps this is precisely part of its appeal, of how it is appealing.

[line break added] Responding actively to its address is a way of opening her own writing up to its difference, its independence: to the instruction of its different energy, its unfamiliar thinking, its other rhythms. This, I think, is why so many writers translate, or have translated, and speak of translation as a special kind of negotiation of the passage from reading to writing, as its own way into other forms of writing, as a way to move their writing elsewhere.

… In [Barthes’s] lecture course titled How to Live Together, the fact that we can go too fast, or indeed too slow, for other people, for the person we are supposed to be accompanying, or is supposed to be keeping company with us, the person you are hoping will stay with you, your listener, your reader, the child you are trying to walk to school, is the central issue: the lecture course’s crystallizing theme.

[line break added] A theme embodied by the sight of a mother glimpsed from Barthes’s window, walking out of step with her son. Too fast. Dragging him along by the hand (so that he is forced to run to keep up). This fact and lived theme of what Barthes calls disrhythmy, and the power dynamics that are in play, and the disturbances it can cause.

[line break added] The question of the lectures, then, will be how to find a way of walking (being, living, also reading, writing and thinking) together that might somehow take account of our different rhythms, not through enforced synchronicity, but allowing for them: you read faster than I do, you get up earlier than I do, and eat later, you race ahead while I walk more slowly, and yet still (in this fantasy that Barthes is hoping to simulate in life) we’ll find ways of coming together, points in the day for companionship, offsetting, modulating, interrupting our competing desire for solitude.

… I am the decisive, skewering and ideologically skewed interpreter, laying down in print once and for all (or until the next translation, which may well never come) what, in my terms, this sentence says, what it does; what, in my terms, this work says, what it does.

I am among the hidden masters of our culture, as Maurice Blanchot put it.

I am passed over and profoundly influential; my work is fascinating and derivative and determining and necessary and suspect. It is everywhere taken for granted and then every so often singled out to be piously congratulated. Or taken apart.

… The story I am telling about my own impulse to translate is sentimental. And difficult, I know. In the way it lays claim to a certain kind of exclusive relation: You do realize that I love this work. As if that changes something. Because: Who cares? Who else really cares?

My most recent previous post from Briggs’s book is here.




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