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Language speaks, because speaking is its pleasure and it can do nothing else.

Penelope Fitzgerald

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Thursday, September 9th, 2010

🦋 What I'm Reading

Currently pretty involved with two books, both of which I can't figure out quite where to start writing about... I'm having a lot of immediate reactions to what I'm reading but nothing developing into a good blog post.

Gunfighter Nation: the myth of the frontier in 20th-Century America is a really eloquent historical analysis by Richard Slotkin, whose Regeneration through Violence I was reading previously and not writing much about either. A lot of fascinating, chilling quotations from Theodore Roosevelt and Buffalo Bill and so forth, a sort of self-styled macho elite.

Altazor: o el viaje en paracaídas is a book-length poem about falling into space. Much that I'm not sure what to make of, plus some belly laughs and fun imagery. I got interested in this poem when I saw it mentioned in the movie Dictadura. I'm reading Eliot Weinberger's parallel translation, and finding it very helpful (but am going to massage slightly below). You can read the Spanish online at the Universidad de Chile's Vicente Huidobro page. Check out this speech by God, from the preface*:

Then I heard the voice of the Creator, who is nameless, who is a simple hollow in space, lonely, umbilical.

"I made a great noise and this noise was the ocean and the waves of the ocean.

"This noise will be stuck to the waves of the ocean forever, and the waves of the ocean will be stuck to it forever, like stamps onto postcards.

"Afterwards, I braided a great cord of luminous rays to stitch each day to the next: the days, with their dawns either authentic or synthetic, but undeniable.

"Afterwards, I etched geography on the land, lines onto the hand.

"Then I drank a little cognac -- for purposes of hydrography.

"And I created the mouth and the lips of the mouth, to imprison ambiguous smiles; and the teeth of the mouth to keep watch on the absurdities that enter our mouths.

"I created the tongue of the mouth, the tongue which man tore from her proper role, making her learn to speak... She, she, the gorgeous bather, torn forever from her proper role, aquatic, purely sensual."

Huidobro is a very interesting cat, I'm tempted to call this work surrealistic though I don't rightly know how closely he worked with that school... The wikipædia article indicates that his school was Creationism, but also that he was the sole member of that movement. Picasso drew his portrait and Arp shot a great photo of him. There is a great reading of the first Canto up at Google videos, with subtitles.

* (Which I would put in the same class of greatness as the preface to Also Sprach Zarathustra)

posted evening of September 9th, 2010: 2 responses
➳ More posts about Regeneration through violence

Friday, September 10th, 2010

🦋 The Journey by Parachute

There’s a thin line between what you are and what you aren't.
I'm afraid of loving you, and you're afraid I can't.
I’m falling now, I’m falling.
I’m falling now, I'm falling.
Take it away.

Robyn Hitchcock, "I'm Falling"

Nearly every line of Altazor that I have read so far is just screaming for me to quote it -- I am going to go ahead and lay out some blocks of quotation; my idea here is to be doing a parallel translation of the poem (based loosely on Eliot Weinberger's) and (in the other direction, at the same time) of my own writing. Here is a section that immediately follows the speech by God that I quoted in the previous post -- a second great soliloquy, this time by Altazor (and/or by the author, there is a great deal of confusion between his voice and his character's): Con casi cada uno de los líneas que yo acabo de leer del poema Altazor, sentía el deseo de citarlo, repetirlo, traducirlo. Adelante, voy poner unos palabras citadas; tengo aquí la idea de traducir simultaneamente el poema (siguiendo vagamente la traducción de Eliot Weinberger) y mi propia escritura. Con esto, una pasaje que sigue directo el discurso de Dios citado en mi post anterior: es un segundo grande soliloquio, por Altazor mismo (o quizás por el autor, hay una gran confusión entre los dos).

read the rest...

posted evening of September 10th, 2010: 7 responses
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Sunday, September 12th, 2010

🦋 The atmosphere of the final sigh

Let's look at the next bit of Altazor's prologue. So far there have been two brief, pointed soliloquies, by God and by Altazor; the next to speak will be the Virgin. I am dying to know whether the Spanish word "aureola" is a pun for "aureola/halo" -- as an English speaker reading the Virgin saying "look at my aureola" has a different meaning from "look at my halo"... [...argh, never mind, this was based on a confusion on my part between "aureola" and "areola".]

I take my parachute; running off the edge of my star I launch myself into the atmosphere of the final sigh.

I circle endlessly above the cliffs of dream, I circle among the clouds of death.

I meet the Virgin, seated on a rose; she says to me:

"Look at my hands: they are transparent, like electric bulbs. Do you see the filaments where the blood of my pure light is running?

"Look at my halo. Cracks run through it, proving my antiquity.

"I am the Virgin, the Virgin with no taint of human ink, the only one who is not only halfway there; I am the captain of the other eleven thousand, who have been to tell the truth overmuch restored.

"I speak a language which fills the heart, according to the law of clouds in communion.

"I am always saying goodbye, and I remain.

"Love me, my child, for I adore your poetry. I will teach you aerial prowess.

"I need, so strongly do I need your tenderness; kiss my locks, I have washed them this morning in the clouds of the dawn. I want to lie down and sleep, on my mattress, the intermittent mist.

"My glances are a wire on the horizon, where the swallows can rest.

"Love me."

I knelt in that circular space. The Virgin rose up and seated herself on my parachute.

I slept; I recited my most beautiful poems.

The flames of my poetry dried out the Virgin's hair; she thanked me and then slipped away, seated on her soft rose.

"The flames of my poetry"! -- remember, true song is arson.

I am not able to make much sense of the third paragraph of the Virgin's speech -- who are the other 11,000? Who has been restoring them? What is everyone else only halfway? [Jorge López supplies some good ideas toward an answer in comments.]

Spanish below the fold.

posted morning of September 12th, 2010: 4 responses
➳ More posts about Translation

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

🦋 Altazor's manifesto

I'm feeling on a bit of a roll with reading and translating the prologue to Altazor. Here is another section, in which Huidobro/Altazor lays out the manifesto of the poem. There is some tricky pronoun-switching here; but I think the way I'm reading it makes sense.

Oh: how beautiful... how beautiful.

I see the mountains, the rivers, the jungles, the sea, the ships, the flowers, the seashells.

I see the night and the day, the axis where they converge.

Oh, oh,-- I am Altazor, great poet, without a horse who eats birdseed, nor who warms his throat in the moonlight; with my little parachute, like a parasol above the planets.

From each drop of sweat on my forehead are born stars; I will leave you the task of baptizing them, like so many bottles of wine.

I see it all, my brain was forged in tongues of prophecy.

See the mountain as the breath of God, climbing its swollen thermometer until it touch the feet of my beloved.

Am that one who has seen all things, who knows all the secrets, without being Walt Whitman -- I have never had a white beard, white like lovely nurses, like frozen streams.

That one who hears at night the counterfeiters' hammers, just busy astronomers.

That one who drinks from the warm glass of wisdom after the flood, paying heed to the doves, who knows the path of fatigue, the seething wake behind the ships.

That one who knows the storehouses of memory, of lovely forgotten seasons.

He: he, shepherd of airplanes, who conducts lost nights and masterful winds to the matchless poles.

His moan is like a blinking web of unseen meteors.

The day rises in his heart; he lowers his eyelids to make night, the farmer's respite.

He washes his hands under the gaze of God, he combs his hair like light, like he's harvesting slender raindrops, satisfied.

The screams are more distant now, like a flock across the hills, when the stars are sleeping afer a night of continuous labor.

The beautiful hunter, looking at the heavenly watering-hole where the heartless birds drink.

(The as-yet-nameless stars will make another very satisfying appearance early in Canto I.)

posted evening of September 14th, 2010: Respond
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Friday, September 17th, 2010

🦋 Romped romped tantas cadenas

Each Canto of Altazor gets a little faster, a little more frantic. In Canto III (which Weinberger says in his preface, is where the fireworks really start), the rhythm is getting insistent, begging you to follow along:

Break all one's ligaments and veins
The loops of breathing and the chains

Of our eyes, our paths to the horizon
Flower projected on uniform skies

The soul paved with memories
Like stars, emblazoned by the wind

The sea, a rooftop shingled with bottles
Dreams in the sailor's memory
Sebastian Ramirez and Tomislav Definis of V Producciones have filmed a spell-binding reading of this Canto, paired with Bach's piano concerto #9. (Be sure to keep watching til the end!)

posted evening of September 17th, 2010: Respond
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Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

🦋 Weinberger as translator

In Canto V of Altazor it seems like Weinberger is really coming in to his own -- this is the first Canto where I can really read the translation without constantly looking back to the original to see what rhythm and meaning Huidobro was getting at, the point at which Weinberger's poem becomes a poem of its own.

Here begins the unexplored land
Round on account of the eyes that behold it
Profound on account of my heart
Filled with likely sapphires
Sleepwalking hands
And aerial burials
Eerie as the dreams of dwarfs
As the branch snapped off in infinity
The seagull carries to its young
There is one point though, where I think his translation could really be improved upon. The long repetitive, chanting section that begins
Jugamos fuera del tiempo
Y juega con nosotros el molino de viento
Molino de viento
Molino de aliento
Molino de cuento
Molino de intento...
Weinberger renders as,
We play outside of time
And the windmill plays along
The wind mill
The mill of inspiration
The mill of narration
The mill of determination
The mill of proliferation...
(and keep in mind that this goes on for another 200 or so lines) -- I love his word choice but think it would flow much better together if every line is turned end-to-end, thus:
We play outside of time
And the windmill plays along
With that singsong rhythm set up I can plow full steam ahead through the pages filled with just Exaltationmill/ Inhumationmill/ Maturationmill/ etcetera etcetera...

A couple of lovely lines from earlier in the canto, in my own translation:

So let us light a pyre beneath the oracle
To placate destiny
Let us feed solitude's miracles
With our own flesh
So in the cemetery, sealed off
And beautiful, like an eclipse
The rose breaks its bonds and blossoms beyond the grave
Laugh, laugh, before fatigue arrives.

(Speaking of translation, I had some potentially very good news from an editor at Words Without Borders, about my submission of Zupcic's Réquiem. Should know more next week.)

posted evening of September 22nd, 2010: Respond

🦋 La bella nadadora

Speaking of Altazor, I found on YouTube a reading of the Prologue that I've been translating over the last few weeks. Clémence Loonis is reading:

My translation of this section below the fold.

posted evening of September 22nd, 2010: Respond
➳ More posts about Reading aloud

Saturday, May third, 2014

🦋 A different kind of asemic writing

The final canto of Altazor is sui generis. It is "asemic" -- it communicates a text without using an established language.


Al aia aia
ia ia ia aia ui
Lali lalá
Rimbibolam lam lam
Uiaya zollonario
Monlutrella monluztrella
Montresol y mandotrina
Ai ai
Montesur en lasurido
Lusponsedo solinario
Aururaro ulisamento lalilá
Ylarca murllonía
Hormajauma marijauda
Olamina olasica lalilá
Olandera uruaro
Ia ia campanuso compasedo
Aí ai mareciente y eternauta
Redontella tallerendo lucenario
Ia ia
Ai i a
Ai ai aia
layu yu
ayu yu
Sensorida e infimento
Ululayo ululamento
Cantasorio ululaciente
Oraneva yu yu yo
Infilero e infinauta zurrosía
Jaurinario ururayú
Montañendo oraranía
Arorasía ululacente
ivarisa tarirá
Campanudio lalalí
Auriciento auronida
Io ia
Ai a i a a i i i i o ia
Here is Juan Ángel Italiano reading it:

posted afternoon of May third, 2014: Respond
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Sunday, July 20th, 2014

🦋 Altazor: from Canto III

Basta señora arpa de las bellas imágenes
De los furtivos comos iluminados
Otra cosa otra cosa buscamos
Sabemos posar un beso como una mirada
Plantar miradas como árboles
Enjaular árboles como pájaros
Regar pájaros como heliotropos
Tocar un heliotropo como una música
Vaciar una música como un saco
Degollar un saco como un pingüino
Cultivar pingüinos como viñedos
Ordeñar un viñedo como una vaca
Desarbolar vacas como veleros
Peinar un velero como un cometa
Desembarcar cometas como turistas
Embrujar turistas como serpientes
Cosechar serpientes como almendras
Desnudar una almendra como un atleta
Leñar atletas como cipreses
Iluminar cipreses como faroles
Anidar faroles como alondras
Exhalar alondras como suspiros
Bordar suspiros como sedas
Derramar sedas como ríos
Tremolar un río como una bandera
Desplumar una bandera como un gallo
Apagar un gallo como un incendio
Bogar en incendios como en mares
Segar mares como trigales
Repicar trigales como campanas
Desangrar campanas como corderos
Dibujar corderos como sonrisas
Embotellar sonrisas como licores
Engastar licores como alhajas
Electrizar alhajas como crepúsculos
Tripular crepúsculos como navíos
Descalzar un navío como un rey
Colgar reyes como auroras
Crucificar auroras como profetas
Etc. etc. etc.
Basta señor violín hundido en una ola ola
Cotidiana ola de religión miseria
De sueño en sueño posesión de pedrerías

posted evening of July 20th, 2014: Respond

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

se debe leer en un idioma que no sea el propio

posted morning of April 16th, 2017: Respond
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