The READIN Family Album
Me and Sylvia at the Memorial (April 2009)


Jeremy's journal

Liberty is not a woman walking the streets, she is not sitting on a bench waiting for an invitation to dinner, to come sleep in our bed for the rest of her life.

José Saramago

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Sunday, April 28th, 2013

🦋 Out in the back yard

Spring is without question here; and we got a ping-pong table! Here are Ellen and Sylvia volleying.

Sylvia and I put it together yesterday afternoon; but we took a break so John and I could do some jamming. A new setup means I'm not sure yet where to set up the camera; and the upshot is that I'm mostly just out of the frame, a disembodied Stroh fiddle. Shades of February! We ran out of tape at what seems to me like a pretty opportune moment.

Let's Play Outside!

  1. Waiting for the Man (Lou Reed)
  2. Running to Stand Still (U2)
  3. Arms of Love (Robyn Hitchcock)/
    Boys of Bluehill (trad)
  4. Halting March (trad)
  5. outtakes from an embarrassingly bad rendition of She Said She Said (Lennon-McCartney)
  6. The Needle and the Spoon (Skynyrd)
  7. Singin Everybody's Song But My Own (John)
  8. St. James Infirmary (trad)
  9. Drowsy Maggie (trad)/Dancing Barefoot (Patti Smith)
  10. Red Overalls (Jeremy)
  11. Will the Circle be Unbroken (trad)
  12. Shortnin' Bread (trad)/Hip Shake (Slim Harpo via the Stones)

posted evening of April 28th, 2013: Respond
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Saturday, April 20th, 2013

🦋 Dogwood

posted evening of April 20th, 2013: 1 response

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

🦋 Swing Low

Swing Low

Mountain Station
weekend of April 14th

  1. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (traditional)
  2. Tombstone Blues (Bob Dylan)
  3. Red Overalls (Jeremy)
  4. California Stars (Woody Guthrie)
  5. Rattlesnakin/Groovin' (an admixture of a couple of old blues artists and Robyn Hitchcock)
  6. Four & Twenty Blues (Jeffrey Foucault)
  7. Meet Me In the Mornin' (Bob Dylan)
  8. Humoresque (Antonin Dvořák)

    posted evening of April 16th, 2013: Respond
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Monday, April 15th, 2013

🦋 Escher Highway


posted evening of April 15th, 2013: Respond
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Saturday, April 13th, 2013

🦋 Reflections on the desert

With all this composition and revision, I am getting unnervingly close* to having a finished draft translation of The art of resurrection on my computer and in my notebooks and in my head. Now is the time for me to admit to myself, it is very unlikely that this will ever see publication, or be read by anyone else than (obsessively) myself and (gratifyingly) friends I send the Word file to. (And if you are one of those friends, thanks greatly for the interest and for the kind words, and if you are not but would like to be, then definitely get in touch, I am glad to send drafts around.) This will very likely end up in the category (if there even is such a category) of "fan-translation," an amateur's first foray into translation of a novel, spurred on by infatuation with the book; something to be proud of certainly but not something that will (so to speak) make my name as a translator.

So what do I get out of it if not publication? Well -- it ia a hugely fun project. So there's that -- I can't really think of a better way I could have spent these past months of evenings and weekend, than by reading and rereading this book and my translation of it. And too, it has truly been increasing the intimacy of my relationship with language: I am feeling fluent in English in ways I had not realized before, that I lacked fluency. I think I am gaining, as well, some skill in or understanding of storytelling, and in the process of revision.

So -- that's my story and I'm sticking with it. (And yes, I am submitting this translation for publication, thinking of a couple of different places. And keeping my fingers crossed.) Tomorrow I am going to start composing my notes and excerpts for the submission. Here are a couple of great things about this novel: Narrative Person. I don;t think I've encountered another author able so easily and so subtly/seamlessly to shift between 3rd-person narrative, 1st-person recollection, 1st-person-plural narration, paraphrase and dialog -- the subtlety of structure can be a bit tricky to untangle at times, but it makes for a very pleasant sensual response to the way you slide around, between different camera angles and lenses. Squalid Erotica. The sex scenes between Magalena Mercado and the Christ of Elqui are uncomfortably, weirdly titillating . Haunting Irreality. The eerie final chapters will keep you up at night. (This is almost the opposite of Magical Realism!) Slapstick Meditation on Faith. Rivera Letelier's reverent (and at the same time bawdy) treatment of the Christ of Elqui's faith and lunacy is inspiring and touching. I have had the sense all along, despite the passages that I couldn't quite get in the original, that this is a great novel; and reading the English is bearing that out. This is just a pearl of a book.

posted evening of April 13th, 2013: 2 responses
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🦋 Reflected in the water

We spent some time this afternoon walking around the Great Swamp Preserve -- just spectacular this time of year, and few people. Lots of photos of the still waters at the link; and two videos.

posted evening of April 13th, 2013: 1 response

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

🦋 He oído cantar el gallo, y no sé dónde

So, so much fun to find a Dylan lyric in a Spanish language text!

Remorseful at the news, there were a few of the men who wanted to call an emergency union meeting, to see what could be done; but the union leaders were in Antofagasta, waiting to meet with the provincial authorities. They would not be back until after Christmas. And then others, the most political, the ones who knew something was happening, but weren't sure just what -- in a low voice they were urging that we take the dynamite which the patizorros had cached (in case the strike lasted too long, and the military was called in -- they had seen that happen in other salitreras), and attack the guards head-on. But in the end common sense reigned, the decision was just to keep watch and make sure they didn't do Maguita any harm.

posted afternoon of April 6th, 2013: 6 responses
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Sunday, March 31st, 2013

🦋 Happy Easter!

From The Art of Resurrection:

The radios and newspapers began to print and broadcast news of this prophet come down from the hills above the Elqui; an uncivilized campesino, has not cut his hair for years, or his beard or his nails; doesn't even have a grade-school education and yet he can preach for hours before the rapt multitudes, the inflamed rhetoric of an illuminated mestizo, a creole prophet, a Coquimbo messiah. The crowds were shocked to hear him say that the All-powerful is not only with those who go to church, who confess and do penance; his mercy is far greater than that, my brothers, his love is greater than this world, it does not stop at the horizon, is more vast than the very mansion of heaven; he comes not looking for the good or the saintly, he comes to save the wicked and to pardon the sinner. His sacrifice on the cross was for all of us. Including you, my brother, you in the hat with the turned-up brim, making fun of the sacred word!

posted morning of March 31st, 2013: 1 response
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🦋 Odds and ends

Mountain Station's practice yesterday was a lot of fun, here are some highlights. Our faces are more visible than in many previous tapes, which may be an asset or a detriment.

Track listing
  1. Odds and ends jam
  2. Blues with a side of bourbon
  3. Queen Jane Barely
  4. Ride the rails jam
  5. Off the rails jam

posted morning of March 31st, 2013: Respond
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Saturday, March 30th, 2013

🦋 Translation, Revision: practice and progress

In the past few months of not-blogging-much (and not at all, I suppose, about translation), I have been quite busy with reading and re-reading The art of resurrection and extending the excerpt I published in translation. I thought a good thing to write about here would be the manner in which I've been doing the translation.

Essentially I've split the process into four (or 3 1/2) phases, rough draft, revision, close read of the revision, second revision. I have (mostly) finished this process for the first 2/3 of the book and taking a break to look at what I've come up with; I must say, reading my translation feels a whole lot to me like reading the original feels to me -- not sure if that has any bearing at all on how others will perceive the text.

The rough draft process is always done longhand; much of it takes place on the train to and from work. This is where I read the Spanish and write very rough, almost literal translation as fast as I can, with (ideally) very little re-reading. The goal is to come up with something vaguely like a Google Translate translation, where the sentence structure is not quite right and some of the words are untranslated or incorrectly translated, but the overall structure and meaning of the sentence can be divined.

Revision is transferring my rough draft onto the computer, tweaking the language so it reads smoothly and sounds right, and communicates the image in the original. This is a much slower process and involves a lot of looking up words and phrases (at variously, Span¡shD!ct, Google Translate,,... the list goes on...) and consulting with friends and acquaintances, thanks all!

Now it's time for a close read of what you've done so far. Print out a few chapters of what's on the computer, and spend a few days reading it, marking changes in the text or on the computer. When done, go through the document adding in the changes you have marked.

What's great about this process is I never feel like I am or should be dealing with a finished product so I'm free to leave notes and uncertainties in the text. What I have now for chapters 1-16 reads really well, mostly, but there are still notes in it about changes that need to be made. Obvious? Probably, but this feels like the first time I am really believing it.

posted afternoon of March 30th, 2013: 2 responses
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