Wednesday, September 24, 2008

speaking of not speaking the language...

en route to belgium a few weeks ago, i stopped for a few days in paris. i was sitting in a cafe on the beautiful rue blanche having some tea and realized how nice it was to be sitting in public and not understanding a word anyone else was saying. after awhile i started to focus on the people sitting at the table next to me, who were speaking quite animated and loudly. i began to listen to their words and through a kind of "word association" began to write down in english a series of phrases that were suggested by the french that i was hearing (i have no real knowledge of the french language)...

"the text of heads
the moustache of snow
the boy is a girl
the condescending tone of laughter
like reading with a helmet on
stepping on your face
seagulls are like a crutch
but the birds are like this
like a field of quail and questions
sitting, sitting in the afternoon
she is truly enchanted
circles and churches of laughter
humming and singing endlessly
invisibly carried by a plane
tending to see more slowly
she prefers a wall with hands on each end
a voyage of looking, like a line
like the mother of jesus breaking
being pushed down a drain
trees, sure, in certain zones."

i've been working with this kind of intuitive translation for years now, but i recently read e. canetti's the agony of flies and found this wonderful related gem:

"and what if the words of different languages had some secret connection to one another."

on many levels this "what if" is the foundation of all my work and working process.

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3 Comments:

Blogger ArtSparker said...

"the World is Bound with Secret Knots" is the name of the permanent Athanasius Kircher exhibit at the Museum of Jurassic Technology (I know i have mentioned the MJT before here, but there seemed to be a connection).

8:11 PM  
Blogger susan heggestad said...

Exquisite - that was delicious to read.

6:10 AM  
Blogger sroden said...

thanks much for the kind words!

7:33 AM  

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