12.0402 more first things

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Thu, 4 Feb 1999 22:14:11 +0000 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 12, No. 402.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

[1] From: Jim Marchand <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu> (28)
Subject: First Things: Attribution

[2] From: Jascha Kessler <jkessler@ucla.edu> (18)
Subject: Re: 12.0392 translation, interpretation, play

[3] From: Jascha Kessler <jkessler@ucla.edu> (54)
Subject: Re: 12.0392 translation, interpretation, play

Date: Thu, 04 Feb 1999 22:06:25 +0000
From: Jim Marchand <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Subject: First Things: Attribution

One of the first things we do in the humanities, indeed as human beings in
general, is attribution and its flip-side athetization, and much of our ink
is spilt in applying these two operations, usually together. We attribute to
author: "Bacon wrote a great deal of Shakespeare," at the same time
athetizing from Shakespeare. We attribute to dialect: "Wolfram's Parzival is
written in the Bavarian dialect." We attribute to time: "The manuscript is of
the first ten minutes of the 12th century." We attribute to concept: William
Dray, "`Explaining What' in History," _Theories of History_, ed. Patrick
Gardiner (Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1959), 403: "Ramsey Muir observes: `It was
not merely an economic change {athetization, JWM} that was thus beginning; it
was a social revolution {attribution, JWM}.'"

Sometimes this operation is obscured by the language in which it is couched:
"Did Yiddish come from German or is it from a Romance stock?" "What we have
here is a typical example of acyrologia." "Hitler was not a psychopath."

Sometimes this operation is blurred by the language in which it is couched
(fuzzy concepts): "Medieval man believed in a flat earth." "In the Greece of
Homer's day ..." "Kissing the shoulder is de rigueur in Arabic countries (or
Arabic-speaking countries) even today." "Medieval Iceland is a typical
example of an incapsulated culture."

The last example shows in how facile a manner concepts can be used. What is
an "incapsulated culture?" Can anyone given an example? If so, what is there
about MI which would make a candidate for attribution to this concept?

Very little has been written on this operation. In fact, one frequently gets
blank stares when one uses the word `athetize', though one might expect such
a common operation to have many words by Marchand's Perversion of Zipf's Law.
But there is also Marchand's Correlation to the Perversion of Zipf's Law:
That which is used all the time is not spoken of very little if at all.

Jim Marchand.

Date: Thu, 04 Feb 1999 22:08:08 +0000
From: Jascha Kessler <jkessler@ucla.edu>
Subject: Re: 12.0392 translation, interpretation, play

I think it not too far from the subject to suggest that fundamental
command in the ontology of Judaism is "the schma!" or Hear! O Israel.
One hears first, even before one sees as a newborn. One hears, it
seems, in the womb, from early on. Not talk, but hearing, and after
hearing, to listen. And then, to learn to speak, which is not easy,
and then to read and write, which are removed abstract sorts of
Jascha Kessler

> Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 12, No. 392.
> Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
> <http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/>
> <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/>
> [1] From: Jim Marchand <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu> (35)
> >
> [2] From: Zauberberg <zauberberg@pixie.co.za> (34)
> Subject: 12.0387 - talk
[material deleted]

Date: Thu, 04 Feb 1999 22:08:19 +0000
From: Jascha Kessler <jkessler@ucla.edu>
Subject: Re: 12.0392 translation, interpretation, play

As for the matter of translation, which I have been doing from exotic
languages for decades, the difficulty is in writing something in
one's own language, at least when it comes to more than technical
factual matters. That, the writing in one's own language is very
difficult, an art, or craft that needs to be learned. As to writing,
i.e., translating art works, poetry, etc., that is even more
difficult indeed. I have addressed this subject in various casual
essays over the decades, and it comes out wittily, in a book of
poems, a series of connected poems, entitled CATULLAN GAMES, from the
Hungarian of Sandor Rakos, a few years back, in print, Marlboro
Press. In that very witty and profound work, and it is short enough,
Rakos puts Catullus, not Catullus' poems, into a Hungarian monologue
of various kinds, indirectly speaking of translation thereby. In my
Englishing, it constitutes yet another remove from the Latin poet.
The point being, one has to SAY it in one's own language, and cannot
wring one's hands at the things this or that or another language has
not the capacity to say. This gets amusing. I was criticized by a
Hungarian poet/translator in the UK because my translations were
American. As though his ACQUIRED English (rather stiff and unnatural
itself) were a better translation because English, not American.
Years earlier, my patron in Hungary, President of the Hungarian PEN
once laughed and said he had heard some of my work criticized because
it was Hungarian! As if there were even a single point in the
universes of discourse at which they could meet or touch in any way,
the two languages.
And I was once enlightened by an old Romanian at a Congress of
translators in Belgrade, who among all the fulminators in all the
papers, simply spoke for 20 minutes on his view, and talked about the
main thing, what he called "logemes." Those units of meaning were
the only things one should be concerned with. All the rest, the
cultural experience of the original language, etc., could not be
translated, a word which in Shax's day meant "transformed from the
original shape, or form, utterly." If one works with logemes, one
has some hope to translated. I have just published a new,
commissioned translation of KING OEDIPUS, with a Preface, in
SOPHOCLES, 2 --out this month from the University of Pennsylvania
Press, as part of their complete Greek Drama, and all the works were
done by poets, and I daresay not one has the command of Greek of
aClassicist, if even an iota of knowledge of the ancient language. I
chose to use the standard high drama form which is a good resource in
English, the iambic pentameter blank verse of Shakespeare, but not
Miltonized or Wordsworthized either. For the Chorus, trimeter,
rough. And simple speech as we speak today. That text will show
what I think can be done by way of translating. It is always our
current tongue one must use, and that is what one must hear, and
listen to, even if it is alloyed with an old and powerful traditional
form. Prose wouldnt do it, not properly, though it's easy enough to
avail oneself of.
Jascha Kessler

Jascha Kessler
Professor of English & Modern Literature, UCLA
Telephone/Facsimile: (310) 393-4648


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