Thursday, October 20th, 2016
A friend just now described a blister's shape as "a laconic Nike swoosh" -- and he was quite right, too, that's what it looked like. And I had indeed just had in mind that very image, without having been able to name it, and replied, "I had that exact thought except without the eloquence!" He: "I feel that way when I read books I like" and the scales fall from my eyes!
Sunday, August 4th, 2013
Speaking of Antonio, and thinking as always about identification with the narrator, I just want to note that Antonio's description, at the beginning of chapter 2, of his stay in the hospital reminds me very strongly of my own extended stay as a child after an auto accident -- the circumstances obviously quite different but the feeling of being kept in the bed not fully understanding what's going on around you is instantly recognizable.
I don't remember, however, the three days of surgery: they have disappeared completely, obliterated by the intermittent anesthesia. I don't remember the hallucinations, but I do remember that I had them; I don't remember having fallen out of bed due to the abrupt movements that one of them provoked, and, although I don't remember that they tied me down in the bed to prevent that from happening again, I do remember quite well the violent claustrophobia, the terrible awareness of my vulnerablility.
(Incidentally: Is Antonio 42 or so at the time of writing? is a question I find intriguing.)
Sunday, August 5th, 2012
This afternoon I finished my first round of revisions/corrections on a translation of Aaron Bady's essay The Autumn of the Patriarch: forgetting to live. Not the first L2 translation I have done but certainly the longest, and I think perhaps as well, I have approached this text with a little more systematic method, more "seriously", than previous ones.
Writing in Spanish is a peculiar, unfamiliar feeling for me, as I've said; but it does not hold a candle to revising material that I have written in Spanish. The denseness of the bifurcations of identity of the speaker that I have to go through to get from "me the translator" writing the words to "me the identification-with-the-author" playing the parts of Bady and of Bady's authorial voice to "me the reader" speaking the words to "me the listener/hearer" digesting the syntax and meaning, is quite remarkable. I am finding the multiple "me" voices in harmony with one another for much of the essay, which makes me think the translation is pretty good -- there are a few parts that seem clumsy and a few parts where I'm totally in the dark as to whether the Spanish rings true -- but I think I need to get in touch with some Spanish speakers to ask...
Friday, August third, 2012
(This post is a continuation of the earlier Peter's Voice thread -- I am trying among other things to make my reading of La universidad desconocida be Peter's reading, trying to get in his head and read through his eyes and hope to fully realize his character. Hope that anybody's going to be interested in reading about this guy and the books he is reading and translating; but of course this hope has always been intrinsic to the READIN project...)
Walking down Partition Street in the light summer rain and watching the lightning across the river past Rhinebeck. A really impressive storm but it's far enough off, the air's not moving here. You have to strain to make out the thunder. Nice -- I'm glad to fantasize the soundtrack and just watch the show, glad to get a little wet, glad to get home and inside and dry off.
Laura's a little spacey tonight. Dale and them had a gig down at Tierney's, we smoked some grass on the way over there and she really got into it --the intoxication goes very nicely with Megan's chops on the washboard, with Dale singing "Rag Mama Rag," it must be said... a lovely time but all too short as they only had a half-hour set. The other acts? Nothing really that interesting, so here we are back home and Laura's prowling catlike by the bookcase. I'm smiling and asking her what she's reading.
-- Eh, nothing's really grabbed my attention much since Snow.
I grin, and flash on the "Love and Happiness" scene and Al Green singing, and feel the little twinge of uncertainty that's always present around Pamuk, like I'm not really getting it or am getting the wrong thing. (And hm, I should really mention that song to Dale...) -- Want to check out some poetry I've been working on? I found these pretty intense old Chilean poems over at Calixto's blog... and don't mention, or perhaps it goes without saying in this context, these poems from Ávala seem to me like good trip material -- but I've mentioned Chile, and Laura would rather listen to Bolaño. Nice --I open The Unknown University at random and hit on "El dinero"; and it seems to me like this is the perfect poem for today, being as I am in receipt of a check from the Reality Fusion job, feeling confident about our rent for the next few months, even about a shopping trip over to Amazon...
Still not much headway on the literary translation thing. But I remain hopeful; how could I not be, with Laura snuggled against me here on the couch as I read to her.
Saturday, July 21st, 2012
Why no flowers:
Señor Josner your sexless poems your notes cry out
They plead for love
que yo escribo
que yo intento
que yo intento escribir
que yo intento escuchar
escribiré, iré, iría
Saturday, July 7th, 2012
It's the funniest thing -- somehow I had gotten it into my head that the title of Bartleby y compañia was Bartlett y companía -- this despite many times of reading the correct title, and of writing it out, and even of ordering it on Amazon [and it occurs to me now that I have not really read anything, anything that sticks in my memory, about it, just references to the title]... thinking it had something to do with the quotations dude. (And to be sure there are a lot of quotations in the text -- that's not really here nor there though.) This is my introduction to Vila-Matas and it sure is a pleasant one. The idea of "un cuaderno de notas a pie de página que comentaron un texto invisible" is just about exactly what I am wanting to be reading right now -- and here I am experiencing that reverse-projection which I refer to as identification with the text in spades, I feel like the first chapter of the book is written in my voice. Thanks for the impetus, Richard. (And I am going to throw caution to the wind disregarding the hinted warning in Jean de la Bruyère's epigraph. Tal vez soy yo entre los otros a quienes la gloria consistiría en no escribir, pero...)
... His second book was even more successful than the first, professors in North American, and some of the most distinguished ones among the academic world of those long-past days, wrote enthusiastic reviews, wrote books about the books which were commenting on the Fox's books.
And from this moment on, the Fox felt -- with good reason -- that he was content; the years passed by without his publishing anything.
Well, people started talking. "What's up with the Fox?" -- when he showed up right on time for cocktails they would come up to him and be like, You ought to publish something more.
-- But look, I've already published two books.
-- And good ones, too! -- would come the reply -- That's exactly why you should publish another one!
And here the Fox did not say anything, but thought to himself: "What they're really looking for, is for me to publish a lousy book. But because I am the Fox, I'm not going to do it."
And he didn't.
"Fox is the smart one."
The Black Sheep and other fables
Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
The truth is you already know what it's like. You already know the difference between the size and speed of everything that flashes through you and the tiny inadequate bit of it all you can ever let anyone know. As though inside you is this enormous room full of what seems like everything in the whole universe at one time or another and yet the only parts that get out have to somehow squeeze out through one of those tiny keyholes you see under the knob in older doors. As if we are all trying to see each other through these tiny keyholes.
"Good Old Neon", the fifth story in David Wallace's 2004 collection Oblivion, is just an excruciating story to read. Especially (of course) in light of Wallace's ultimate fate, and especially the last two pages of the story; but even without the author's suicide, even without those last two pages, the story brings the reader unbearably close to the mental process of contemplating suicide and of being driven to contemplate suicide. The act of identifying with the narrator (and of identifying with the author, identifying with his character) is excruciating.
Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
(Keywords pastiche, mistranslation?)
Si, en suma, fuese un acto carente de honestidad el simple gesto de coger un pincel o una pluma, si, una vez más en suma (la primera vez no llegó a serlo), tengo que negarme a mí mismo el derecho de comunicar o comunicarme, porque habiéndolo intentado fracasé y no habrá más oportunidades.
What comes to mind as a means here of identifying with the narrator, or rather as a way of explaining the identification that is occurring, is to mistranslate his stream of consciousness, to replace the references to painting and to calligraphy with one's own arts and shortcomings; of course one would not be able to hew too closely to the original text for long/at all, and it might straightaway degenerate into pastiche and thence to original writing (a degeneration devoutly to be wished, one might assert) -- one might well veer off into pedagogy, might feel compelled to instruct one's (sparse, and ever dwindling!) audience in methods of blogging, on how to write without having to consider it writing, on how to take heart in one's feelings of inferiority to the successful bloggers and/or successful writers and journalists, to rejoice in one's own failure and lack of intellectual cred. Talk (to them, since you know who the couple of people are who read your journal, though perhaps without being up front about whom it is you're addressing) about composing posts with a particular ear in mind, and about how to avoid feeling slighted when you fail to engage, and here of course you will want to be careful about laying down a guilt trip, and will wonder if this bait will be sweet enough to pull anyone in. Push them away more likely!
...No soy pintor.
Hm: an idea worth pursuing perhaps.
Friday, April 13th, 2012
I'm finding that Sada's book (which takes a pretty sleazy guy as its protagonist!) is giving me an unnerving sense of identification with Demetrio, for all the amoral douchebag that he is. This book is bringing to mind some of my very favorite novels.
I'm finding the beauty of Saba's syntax -- the rush of phrases and colons and chanting authorial voice -- intoxicating and exciting, finding it is rubbing off on my own stream of consciousness. In certain ways the book reminds me of Bolaño, of his situations and characters. The flow of Sada's cant pulls me into the action like the opening of Snow. Absolutely want to seek this out in Spanish as well; I think Katherine Silver's translation is brilliant and that I could learn something from it if I could figure out how she brought this insane rhythm across.
Thursday, January 19th, 2012
Dora was hurrying now and wanting her lunch. She looked at her watch and found it was tea-time. She remembered that she had been wondering what to do; but now, without her thinking about it, it had become obvious. She must go back to Imber at once. Her real life, her real problems, were at Imber, and since, somewhere, something good existed, it might be that her problems would be solved after all. There was a connexion; obscurely she felt, without yet understanding it, she must hang onto that idea: there was a connexion. She bought a sandwich and took a taxi back to Paddington.
Reading Murdoch's The Bell lately, I have been conflicted as to how I feel about the characters. I identify with them at points; but they have an air of falseness around them, the characters and plot elements seem almost like scenery for Murdoch's philosophizing and fable-telling. Not sure I mean this as a point against the book -- I am liking the book a lot -- but it does seem like an important stylistic element.
Then again I got a similar vibe from The Little Stranger, which was pretty clearly not written for philosophical argument.
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