Words : Friends/Enemies?

Words : Friends/Enemies? This subject covers many disciplines and would need a few books to study, so, let’s say it’s a pack of seeds for a conversation.

We all meet this idea that words are reductive. They are put on things like stickers, making them simpler than they are.

It’s this idea that when you “labeled” at thing, it become true, then it’s fixed, and cages are not far.

It happens all the time, even on the lowest levels, like “Is this good or bad?”. It’s much more complicated, probably…

Words prevent things and events to be seen as complex, changing, moving and trying.

When you learn another language, you keep noticing weird things, like the fact that a word in one language never completely fit a word in the other one. Each word is charged culturally, and I own a 400 pages book only on this subject!

Travail in French is not exactly Work or Labor (proof is you have two words where only languages have one – Arbeit, in German). Labor contains a part of suffering and difficulties, right? Etc…

Now let’s have fun with Frontière : Frontier, Border, Bounday. Oh well…

Knowing this, I wrote this article because…

I watched my cat, who was watching me. I was asking myself (like many of us) :

What does she think? – and what does she think, since she does not use words in her head?

 

Hmm we blog, we talk, we email, we text, we share our day at dinner time : words are huge. Our thoughts are made of words!

Then I went to this area : Words are friends. They are powerful and pleasant tools, and there’s nothing better in life that a good conversation on a balcony with your best friend you have (with a glass of wine, of course). Words become, then, vessels for intelligence, sparkling ideas : friendly tools we use as virtuosos. Time flies.

…knowing that they are tricky and labeling

Find your good partner, talk about this : “Are words our enemies or our friends?”.

I’ll ask Wittgenstein, waiting for you answer in the comments.

Thank you! Thanks for reading!

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A Red Dress and other desires : Dispositif ou Agencement?

Well this is a conversation subject for drunk overthinking friends, let’s go :

Deleuze says that a woman doesn’t desire a red dress, but the whole arrangement she makes of it in her mind : a date, the dress, a man, a summer evening, a dance maybe, a dinner…

A little boy desires a baseball bat, but also a system of what could be around : friends, summer afternoons, running, winning…

The French word he uses for that is “agencement“, which I find translated as “arrangement“. But there’s a problem : “arrangement” is also a French word, therefore I feel a bit disappointed here. It’s colored : un arrangement is a way things are placed, but it’s also a deal.

Our “agencement” means arrangement, but more in a layout process.

A red dress for a date/a baseball bat can dance in an arrangement, a system made of many things (dancing, eating, man’s eyes, walking in a summer night street…), maybe we can consider it’s a layout, a deal? What about a new splendid bat?

My problem is the radioactivity of words. They are like bees here…

If a French arrangement is an English arrangement…
if a French agencement is also an English arrangement…

…how do I explain agencement to you? It’s an arrangement but it’s not a deal. It’s something you find already placed (by destiny, or another person?). We say that an appartment is perfectly “agencé” : it’s not about the furniture, but about the map, the drawing. This big window is on the sunny side, waow, great!

Agencement is about space. Things oriented and placed in space.

The red dress, and the bat, they are all imagined moving in a special space… This is desire!

It’s colored : things in space, how they are placed, a layout. Passive voice, maybe.

If we want to talk about something prepared, it’s more an arrangement (under the form of a deal), we call this un dispositif.

Dang! A new word! Dispositif is often translated by Apparatus, but it’s wrong. I think an apparatus, in English, is a thing, a device, a machine. It is, in French, but it’s also “the name we could make from the verb to dispose”. A metaphorical apparatus, in a way. Effectiveness is coloring it.

It’s not a disposal (which means a destruction, an elimination), though we say une disposition, in French (I’m sure it makes sense, right?). It’s a positioning, voilà : a placement.

Here we are : Agencement means Arrangement, but also a Positioning.

Not positioning each little part of the agencement : it’s clearly about positioning the whole system. Things “linked” (how) to each other.

Agencement is more like that : a map of how things are and play together. The purpose is to say “It’s there, it’s like that, it’s what we have, what was prepared”.

Dispositif is the same, but it sounds more like something decided, wanted. The purpose is to say “This is what we placed and how, to be effective”.

 

Mhh where’s the red dress, here?

Thanks for following & reading!

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How to translate Mallarmé’s poem Apparition in English and realize…

There are maybe four great French poets of this time : Verlaine, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and… Mallarmé.

Mallarmé’s poetry is haughty, “learned”, puzzling, abstract. Thus, it’s a game for the poetry lover – and impossible to translate properly!

Here’s the end of Apparition :

Qui jadis, sur mes beaux sommeils d’enfant gâté
Passait, laissant toujours de ses mains mal fermées
Neiger de blancs bouquets d’étoiles parfumées.

I found this translation :

Who, in the blissful dreams of my happy childhood
Used to hover above me sprinkling from her gentle hands
Snow-white clusters of perfumed stars.

Okey, but no… It should be more like…

Who, long ago, along my spoiled child lovely sleeps
Was passing, always letting, from her improperly closed hands,
Snow some bouquets white of perfumed stars.

As always, translation poetry is a mess, and with this guy it’s worse, because… even in French we’re not sure!

  • Enfant gâté means spoiled child, but it’s ALSO a positive happy thing, it can be “overly happy childhood” (mmmh maybe it’s the same in English?).
  • And here, sprinkling sounds wrong to me. She doesn’t “sprinkle”, but, as her hands are “mal fermées” (“incompletely closed”, but on purpose, right?), she from her hands lets perfumed stars… snow.
  • The color white must be placed after the word in French : “un bouquet blanc”. If you put it before, you sound “poetic”, which made me write “a bouquet white”. How does it sound?

Ahhh, have fun, thanks for reading!

I added Mallarmé painted by Manet, his friend – who could perfectly paint him academically, but chose, I suppose, to show something else…

Apparition

La lune s’attristait. Des séraphins en pleurs
Rêvant, l’archet aux doigts, dans le calme des fleurs
Vaporeuses, tiraient de mourantes violes
De blancs sanglots glissant sur l’azur des corolles.
— C’était le jour béni de ton premier baiser.
Ma songerie aimant à me martyriser
S’enivrait savamment du parfum de tristesse
Que même sans regret et sans déboire laisse
La cueillaison d’un Rêve au coeur qui l’a cueilli.
J’errais donc, l’oeil rivé sur le pavé vieilli
Quand avec du soleil aux cheveux, dans la rue
Et dans le soir, tu m’es en riant apparue
Et j’ai cru voir la fée au chapeau de clarté
Qui jadis sur mes beaux sommeils d’enfant gâté
Passait, laissant toujours de ses mains mal fermées
Neiger de blancs bouquets d’étoiles parfumées.

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“What do we displace, today, dear?”

There’s a French/English problem with the word “Translation” :

In English, you use the same word to translate a word (in a language to another language) AND to translate in geometry (which “moves every point of a figure or a space by the same distance in a given direction”).

In French, “to translate a word” is Traduire, and “to translate geometrically” is Translater. Which becomes for nouns : Une Traduction / Une Translation.

 

I had fun one day writing an article about concepts translations, which is, for example, to pick an architecture concept (“the door”, “the archway”) and to use it in another discipline (in poetry, in photography, or teaching).

“Displacing Concepts” : from Architecture to Poetry ?

 

I admit my brain is in some places connected like that : as soon as I notice a structure, I want to extract it and play with it around, in… another discipline.

  • The idea of verse in poetry would become interesting in photography.
  • The form “sonata” in music is maybe something in architecture.
  • Etc.

 

Today I take my magnifier and I realize we could do this “exercise” with other things than concepts.

  1. Methods
  2. Models
  3. Invention
  4. Team
  5. Supervision
  6. Training exercises types
  7. Risks
  8. Out of the box thinking
  9. Paradigm changes
  10. Etc

 

I know someone who studied how music pedagogy could be useful to language learning. That’s a fantastic idea!

Now this is a subject for an afternoon conversation, right?

If you don’t have a partner for that, read some prefaces or thinkers’ interviews, find the seeds and patterns, and apply them elsewhere.

What is impressionism (art) in teaching? What is a corridor (architecture) in marketing campaign? What is a fade to black (movie editing) in poetry? What can a street photographer bring to a lecturer? Etc.

Have fun. Thanks for reading!

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Intellect & Emotions weaved in poetry : La Fileuse / The Spinner

Hi, my reader…

You know me a little : I love to watch and find structures, then I love to find two opposite qualities, then I love to find how they dance together, how they weave…

Thus I ask myself questions like “Does an artist have to explore his paths from him/herself, or does he have to learn all the rules of his/her Art before?”. Or “Does a piece of Art please the audience as it is, or does it please the audience with questions, links with other things, analysis bliss?”.

I know nothing about poetry, but as I’m interested in the translation processes (English/French), therefore I had to look at poetry “building”.

  • Some poets work on words alchemy, they create sparkles with unusual words and their combinations. It’s chemistry! Those are impossible to translate.
  • Some poets tell stories, they lead us into descriptions. You see images or/and movements. Those are possible to translate.
  • Of course : it’s often a fabric made of both…

 

Most of the time, the reader who knows a little and like poetry SEES what is activated. You could almost imagine the poet in his workshop…

 

There’s a delight in feeling sensations provided by a good line, and there’s another pleasure which is to understand why.

It’s why we often meditate on a poem. We read over. We stop. We suck it, feeling nuances like a good cigar or an old rich wine. This discipline activates your brain on many levels, and you can almost hear the levers and dials of your intelligence and sensitivity (sensibility?) moving their little feet in your dancing mind…

 

I chose “La Fileuse” (The Spinner), a poem by Paul Valéry, because… You’ll see…

I give the translated text (the French one is at the end). Of course the French rhymes are lost, there’s less music. Whatever.

 

Like in a quiet painting, a spinner falls asleep…

She fell asleep because of the blue sky, or the wheel’s noise, or is she tired? She spins wool, or her hair? Is it a poem or a dream?

Things resonate : swaying garden, rose, head, hair. All the poem can be seen as a “game of arrows” playing with your inner eyes : the woman, then the garden, the wheel, the blue, a tree, a stem, a rose, the woman, she spins (but she’s aslept, right?). Your “sights” are pulled, constantly…

The proceedings of the poem plays with paradoxes, facets, like a poetic proliferation. The time seems lost in dreammobility. The “camera” dances between small elements like in Pierre Boulez’s music. It’s like examining a small architecture (instead of following the time and the path of a “story”).

Therefore the reader is pleasantly lost, like in… a dream. He needs to go back to beginnings. Many little disturbances are like jewels in the painting. A stem, in which the wandering wind relaxes…

To keep it a poem, the translator chose to forget a few flakes :

  • Your sister the lofty rose, a smiling saint, -> a rose where a (female) saint smile
  • You languish . . . -> You think you languish…

 

Here is it. The poem has many assets…

  • You don’t clearly understand the poet’s wills
  • Strangeization of the phrases keeps you focused
  • You’re not clearly explained the images
  • It’s a game of chemistry and at the same time a game for thinker
  • Your “logic” is caught, then it’s driven into a unlogic
  • It’s maybe meta : the poem looks like a dream of a dreaming person
  • It says something about the freedom of a poet
  • It respects rules (it’s poetry) but it does NOT
  • Things are unclear, things can be many things at a time (hair/wool)
  • Resonance between things (nodding garden, flowers, head), creating a quiet dance
  • The poet disturbs you, tests you, and your images inner builder
  • Multiple re-readings brings you something, clues
  • This poem, maybe, has to be SOLVED

Thanks for reading!

 

The Spinner

Seated, the spinner in the casement blue—
The garden nods and sways melodiously;
The old wheel snores, and she becomes entranced.

Weary—having drunk the azure—of spinning
The nestling hair elusive to her frail
Fingers, she dreams; her little head bows down.

A bush and pure air make a lively stream
Suspended in the sunbeam: delightful sprinkles
Of flower-losses bathe the idler’s garden.

A stem, in which the wandering wind relaxes,
Bends the vain salute of its starry grace
Devoting to the wheel its splendid rose.

The sleeper spins a lonely woolen hair:
Mysteriously the subtle shadow weaves
Into the thread of long and sleeping fingers.

The dream unwinds angelic laziness:
Ceaseless, onto the sweet ingenuous spindle,
The hair waves gladly under her caress . . .

Behind so many flowers the azure hides,
The spinner girded round with leaves and light:
The sky of green is dying. The last tree burns.

Your sister the lofty rose, a smiling saint,
Perfumes your hazy brow with gentle wind
Of innocent breath; you languish . . . You are fading

In casement blue where you were spinning wool.

La Fileuse

Assise, la fileuse au bleu de la croisée
Où le jardin mélodieux se dodeline,
Le rouet ancien qui ronfle l’a grisée.

Lasse, ayant bu l’azur, de filer la câline
Chevelure, à ses doigts si faibles évasive,
Elle songe, et sa tête petite s’incline.

Un arbuste et l’air pur font une source vive
Qui suspendue au jour, délicieuse arrose
De ses pertes de fleurs le jardin de l’oisive.

Une tige, où le vent vagabond se repose,
Courbe le salut vain de sa grâce étoilée,
Dédiant magnifique, au vieux rouet, sa rose.

Mais la dormeuse file une laine isolée ;
Mystérieusement l’ombre frêle se tresse
Au fil de ses doigts longs et qui dorment, filée.Le songe se dévide avec une paresse
Angélique, et sans cesse, au fuseau doux crédule,
La chevelure ondule au gré de la caresse…Derrière tant de fleurs, l’azur se dissimule,
Fileuse de feuillage et de lumière ceinte :
Tout le ciel vert se meurt. Le dernier arbre brûle.

Ta sœur, la grande rose où sourit une sainte,
Parfume ton front vague au vent de son haleine
Innocente, et tu crois languir… Tu es éteinte

Au bleu de la croisée où tu filais la laine.

 

 

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Instagram : itspeteski

All your blog articles are translated

Building words
It’s a strong energy

 

When you write a blog article, you use a combination of processes, which are all similar to translation.

  • You have a confused “big picture” idea you need to put into an article
  • You have a necklace of confused ideas you need to put into sentences
  • You have the words and they go fast, you don’t type fast enough
  • You are, while typing, parasitized by the process of shaping it
  • While you write and shape, the critic into you judges what’s written
  • All these are disturbed and jostled by new spurting ideas pushing in the back
  • You have to link your paragraphs
  • You have to check your spelling
  • You have to work through your reasoning, from beginning to end

 

All these (and I forgot probably a dozen more) are a like a translation between your boiling brain AND the words you see dancing on your screen.

 A big part of writing is choosing…

Therefore what?

I don’t know!

What do you think? Do we need to be aware of that? What levers are available? What can we change? What for?

 

Have a nice day!

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Instagram : ninoleone60

Because of “you”, this French Verlaine’s poem can not be translated in English.

1 Tu or Vous?

You know that in France we have two different “YOU”.

  • It’s “VOUS” for the people you don’t know very well, your teacher, strangers, etc.
  • And we say “TU” to siblings, lovers, parents and good friends.

I know, it’s a bit complicated when you speak English. Your “How are you?” becomes “Comment vas-tu?” to my brother and my friends, and “Comment allez-vous?” to my neighbors, my mother-in-law, etc.

Sooo…  How are vous? or How are tu? See?

Of course you get that it’s very important in France, because vous is more polite, creates a safe distance, etc. As a French, we are easily offended by the wrong or too early “tu”. Some web pages targeting teenagers use the “tu” communication (in emails, for example), which can be tricky and over-familiar to many.

 

2 Verlaine

There’s an classic poem in France, named Colloque Sentimental, which begins like that :

Dans le vieux parc solitaire et glacé
Deux formes ont tout à l’heure passé.

In the lonely old park’s frozen glass
Two shadows lately passed.

Ha! You see the mood! These two were lovers, and they now talk about the past. Of course it becomes a cruel game between the wax lyrical guy and his cold ex.
So here is a part of their dialog :

– Te souvient-il de notre extase ancienne ?
– Pourquoi voulez-vous donc qu’il m’en souvienne ?

– Ton coeur bat-il toujours à mon seul nom ?
Toujours vois-tu mon âme en rêve ? – Non.

Ah ! les beaux jours de bonheur indicible
Où nous joignions nos bouches ! – C’est possible.

‘Do you recall our former ecstasies?’
‘Why do you want me to remember that?’
 
‘Does your heart still beat at my name alone?’
‘Is it always my soul you see in dream?’ – ‘No’.
 
‘Oh the lovely days of unspeakable mystery,
When our mouths met!’ – ‘Maybe.’

 

3 Translating the You?

Look closer at this one (you see me coming). The man asks :

– Te souvient-il de notre extase ancienne ? ‘Do you recall our former ecstasies?’

“Te souvient-il” is a formal way to say “Tu te souviens”. It’s the TU form of a close relation.

The woman’s answer is :

– Pourquoi voulez-vous donc qu’il m’en souvienne ?

She uses the VOUS form, speaking to him as a stranger. Putting a distance between them, saying “I don’t know vous very well”. So, the real answer is more like :

Why the fuck do you want me to remember that?

…but this is not poetry, right?

On the web I found :

  • “Why should I remember it at all?”
  • “Why would you have me rake up memories?”
  • “Why ever should you wish me to remember?”

All are correct, and we get her point, right?

BUT there’s no way, in a translation, you can feel the distance she puts using VOUS, instead of the TU she used to say in his arms, in older times.

Now, do you feel the guy tightening heart?

Aaawweeee!

Thanks for reading!

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Paintings : Joseph Lorusso

Verlaine & Impossibility to Translate Poetry

This poem from Verlaine is called “Nevermore”. Here it is in French, then in English. Verlaine is a master, but he is not the most complicated poet (like Rimbaud, who is more like a Wizard). He shows you things. Nevertheless, to translate his work in English is, as usual, struggling with words…

And it begins with the first word : in English you seem to use “memory” for our both words “mémoire”, and “souvenir”. A souvenir is more a recollection, a remembrance.

If the air is colorless, our “atone” is different : it’s colourless but also “without a voice”, atonic.

The sun casts a glare, it’s correct, but the french verb “darder” is more bitter. Dard means “a sting” like from a wasp, “the sun casts its monotonous glare” could be also “firing a sting of monotonous ray”.

The “north winds”, at the end of the first verse tries to say “la bise”. Bise (pronounce “bizz”) is a great word for chill wind,”icy calm wind”. It’s great because “une bise” means also a “little innocent kiss”. North wind can not explain the chill you feel when you hear “La bise”, a word who resonates with this bouquet of senses in France “Quiet icy silent wind which sounds like a delicate kiss too”. Yesss.

Poetry is made of words, these gold nuggets used by poets with the whole set of radioactivity and colors. It’s not possible to translate, but it is possible to try, thought. You got the idea of the poem. Then you HAVE to try to read the original, for two reasons : for the music of it, and to “dig” into this gold if you want to. Thirdly, the words used by the translator can trigger something, though, something… different. Another poetry, in fact. Why not. Subtleties.

At the end, I found another translation. To compare.

Thanks for reading!

(colors or colours, tell me?)

Nevermore

Souvenir, souvenir, que me veux-tu ? L’automne
Faisait voler la grive à travers l’air atone,
Et le soleil dardait un rayon monotone
Sur le bois jaunissant où la bise détonne.

Nous étions seul à seule et marchions en rêvant,
Elle et moi, les cheveux et la pensée au vent.
Soudain, tournant vers moi son regard émouvant
“Quel fut ton plus beau jour ? ” fit sa voix d’or vivant,

Sa voix douce et sonore, au frais timbre angélique.
Un sourire discret/ lui donna la réplique,
Et je baisai sa main blanche, dévotement

– Ah ! les premières fleurs, qu’elles sont parfumées !
Et qu’il bruit avec un murmure charmant
Le premier oui qui sort de lèvres bien-aimées !

Nevermore

Memory, memory, what do you want of me? Autumn
Makes the thrush fly through colourless air,
And the sun casts its monotonous glare
On the yellowing woods where the north winds hum.

We were alone, and walking in dream,
She and I, hair and thoughts wind-blown.
Then, turning her troubling gaze on me,
‘Your loveliest day?’ in her voice of fine gold,

Her voice, with its angel’s tone, fresh, vibrant, sweet.
I gave her my answer, a smile so discreet,
And kissed her white hand with devotion.

– Ah! The first flowers, what a fragrance they have!
And how charming the murmured emotion
Of a first ‘yes’ let slip from lips that we love!

Nevermore

Souvenirs, souvenirs, what do you want of me ? Autumn
Invites the thrush to fly through the air lifeless sans tone,
And the sun beats its rays down : relentless monotone
Over the yellowing wood where claps the North wind’s thunder tone.

We were walking all by ourselves as if in a dream,
She and I, haïr and thoughts buffeted by the wind’s non-esteem.
All of a sudden, she turned towards me her looks agleam
« Which was your most beautiful day ? » did her lively golden voice beam.

Her voice soft and sonorous, a fresh timbre angelic.
A discreet smile she did redeem as a reaction cyclic,
And her blanched hand I kissed with devoutness.

Oh ! the first flowers, how their scent liberates perfumes !
And the first sounds they emit akin to charming murmur
The first « yes » that escapes the lips of virgin dames consumes !

#peanuts #charliebrown #melancholy

Present Participles and “Stream of Consciousness” – Part I #Faulkner #translation

English language, from France, has a funny way to use present participles. When we study it, we notice the easy and constant use of present participles, the “ings”.

  • I saw my friend eating his dinner
  • I say nothing, just watching her fixing up her looks

Etc. We also have a “participe présent” in French, and we can use it your way, but we don’t. We would say here “J’ai vu mon ami manger son dîner/I saw my friend eat his dinner”. Using the present participle here would be understandable but a bit weird.

Joyce and Faulkner invented a great “literature tool” in English, which is :

Putting a microphone in a character’s head instead of describing the thoughts.

It’s the “Stream of Consciousness“, an interior monologue, an interesting narrative mode (sometimes with no punctuation), making a river of words – we don’t punctuate when we think, right?).

Put a mic in a head? OK : example with Joyce (Ulysses) :

a quarter after what an unearthly hour I suppose theyre just getting up in China now combing out their pigtails for the day well soon have the nuns ringing the angelus theyve nobody coming in to spoil their sleep except an odd priest or two for his night office the alarmlock next door at cockshout clattering the brains out of itself let me see if I can doze off 1 2 3 4 5 what kind of flowers are those they invented like the stars the wallpaper in Lombard street was much nicer the apron he gave me was like that something only I only wore it twice better lower this lamp and try again so that I can get up early

See? Faulkner uses this often in The Sound and the Fury.

French translators used, then, our present participles to build the French text. They could have “fixed it” our way, but they kept it. It is OK to translate my first example with “J’ai vu mon ami mangeant son dîner”. It’s just different.

It’s why I think that reading these translated novels in French provides us un surplus, a gain, a spare of poetry. Interior monologue weaved with present participles, it’s a river of sensations, a transmission (it’s written), a surgespurt of feelings, actions (“ing”) and thoughts.

In part II, I’ll tell how French writers used this idea to invent “another French”, full of marvels and spells…

Spell, in French, is a good word, a fantastic word : Sortilège

Thanks for reading !

#city

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