Translation as a Destructive Process

Renee Gladman explores the process of translation further on pg.133. Here, as the group discusses the poetry of the Bleetsgat, one remarks

“Were that poet Ravickian and not just translated as such. The Bleetsgat… well how can we tell that it is in the poem and not just in our reading of it? And I can’t stop wondering where I place the original while I am fixated on the text”

“-The poem is the door fallen apart

-Yes, broken open

-So the translation, I began to feel, was a destructive reassembling – pinning back the plank flung again”

Here, another exploration of the process of translation and understanding itself is presented. I think from what the text says is that the speaker is questioning the difference between someone’s understanding of a poem that they are building while simultaneously holding back the knowledge that it had or has a meaning to the writer before or during it’s creation until it’s completion. The difficulty in setting aside the understanding you may have of the original writing of it during reading it is a factor that impedes or complicates translation itself.

Indeed, I think I agree with the idea presented in the second half of the quote I selected that presents translation as a destructive action, a pulling of meaning from a thing only to re-apply it in terms that it may never have been made for. There are many examples of this in our modern world understanding of words, where many German, phrases or Asian languages express concepts or feelings or states of being that do not have a direct translation into English.

Is the attempt to translate the vast complexity of the Ravickian language and culture in some ways causing the fire to approach? Although the Bashir are possibly responsible for it, there is evidence in the later parts of the text that there is “fire from above” and that the Basharac may not be entirely responsible for it (pg.146).

By the end of the text, I found myself rather lost. I am as of yet unable to understand where the fires are coming from, and what the “antagonist” is, besides the counter-push mentioned in the later chapters.


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