Friday, 19 November 2010

Father Tongue

George Steiner - The Hermeneutic Motion


The Hermeneutic Motion, the act of elicitation and appropriative transfer of meaning, is fourfold. There is initiative trust, an investment of belief, underwritten by previous experience but epistemologically exposed and psychologically hazardous, in the meaningfulness, in the "seriousness" of the facing or, strictly speaking, adverse text. ()

After trust comes aggression. The second move of the translator is incursive and extractive. () We "break" a code: decipherment is dissective, leaving the shell smashed and the vital layers stripped. Every schoolchild, but also the eminent translator, will note the shift in the substantive presence which follows on a protracted or difficult exercise in translation: the text in the other language has become almost materially thinner, the light seems to pass unhindered through its loosened fibers. For a spell the density of hostile or seductive "otherness" is dissipated. ()

The translator invades, extracts, and brings home. The simile is that of the open-cast mine left an empty scar in the landscape. As we shall see, this despoliation is illusory or is a mark of false translation. but again, as in the case of the translator's trust, there are genuine borderline cases. Certain texts or genres have been exhausted by translation. Far more interestingly, others have been negated by transfiguration, by an act of appropriative penetration and transfer in excess of the original, more ordered, more aesthetically pleasing.


Lawrence Venuti, Translation Studies Reader, Routledge, 2000. p.193




This view of translation as a hermeneutic of trust (élancement), of penetration, of embodiment, and of restitution, will allow us to overcome the sterile triadic model which has dominated the history and theory of the subject. (After Babel: Aspects of language & translation, Oxford University Press. 1975. p.319)



Now let's compare the imagery created with the words in this text

with the imagery in a piece of Ecriture Feminine:


Reading with Clarice Lispector: Chapter 1

"Sunday, before falling asleep":

A Primal Scene

When we read a text, we are either read by the text or we are in the text. Either we tame a text, we ride on it, we roll over it, or we are swallowed up by it, as by a whale. There are thousands of possible relations to a text, and if we are in a nondefensive, nonresisting relationship, we are carried off by the text. This is mainly the way it goes. But then, in order to read, we need to get out of the text. We have to shuttle back and forth incessantly. We have to try all possible relations with a text. At some point, we have to disengage ourselves from the text as a living ensemble, in order to study its construction, its techniques, and its texture.

by Helene Conley, Publisher: University of Minnesota Press

Biraz da Clarice Lispector, The Stream of Life, 1973:

And if here I have to use words for you, they have to make an almost-only corporeal meaning. [...] But I am trying to write you with my entire body. [...] I enter slowly into writing the same way I entered into my painting. It's a world entangled with vines, syllables, sunflowers, colors and words—outlining the entrance of the ancestral cavern which is the uterus of the world and from which I will be born. [...] the road is long, it's painful but it's lived. [...] I embody myself in voluptuous and unintelligible sentences which spiral beyond words. And a silence evolves subtly from the clash between sentences[...].


Do you see what I mean, dears?

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