In her book The World Republic of Letters , Pascale Casanova highlights the inequality that exists on the world literary stage, arguing that there are forces at play in this distinct realm that have previously been ignored. For her, Paris is (or was, until recently) the dominant “center” that has the almost uncontested power to assign value to literary works. Casanova argues that through this process, which she calls “consecration,” works undergo a change in their very nature: they move from “literary inexistence to existence, from invisibility to the condition of literature” by force of a “magical transmutation” (127). The fact that she points to translation—a process often conceived of as a neutral transfer of meaning from one language to another—as one of the primary means of consecration raises important questions about translation. In this essay, I will use Casanova’s theory as a framework through which to probe some of the still highly contested questions surrounding translation: namely, what is at stake in translation, and what kinds of translations do the most justice? Specifically, I will outline and analyze some of the conversation surrounding translation and how it is used by both central and peripheral writers in order to argue—with and through Canadian poet Erín Moure—that active “mistranslation” actually serves as a more just way of encountering the Other.
Pierre Klossowski is not well-known outside of France, and especially not for La monnaie vivante or Living Currency (1970). His récits or his philosophical readings of Sade or Nietzsche have garnered the most acclaim. By way of his reading of “living currency” however, he deconstructs contemporary economics, teasing out the intricacies between sensuality, value, and the simulacrum, transgressing the categories between language and economic transaction. Published alongside photographs by Pierre Zucca that ostensibly illustrate Klossowski’s hermetic theses, La monnaie vivante is at once satirical and deathly serious, a synchronous commentary on the Marquis de Sade’s Society of the Friends of Crime and the utopian socialism of Charles Fourier. After a brief overview of Klossowski’s life and career, a reading of La monnaie vivante in depth is developed. By inverting the classical usage of the simulacrum through its analogies with the numeraire or basic standard of value, Klossowski critiques the discursive biases that stand against a pure flux of intensities. In this way he anticipates postmodernism even as he also problematizes it. The destruction of political economy and metaphysics are combined he suggests, and the relativity of one cannot be granted without the other. We here show how Klossowski uses affect and the exorbitant to address the sensuous libidinal currency moving through and alongside its economic counterparts, as well as how these observations still remain underestimated today.
El presente trabajo examina los criterios que fundamentan las respuestas de la crítica contemporánea a La Vorágine (1924) de José Eustasio Rivera (1888-1928). Se argumenta que los presupuestos desde los cuales la recepción académica busca demostrar cómo la obra ‘representa’, ‘refleja’, o ‘aprehende’ la realidad sociopolítica, no obedecen a procedimientos ‘objetivos’. En este caso, la instrumentación del texto bajo la etiqueta ‘literatura colombiana de la violencia’ se traduce en una dinámica y emotiva negociación de modelos de realidad. La propensión hacia el tratamiento realista de la ficción no constituye un rasgo negativo. Esta experiencia induce a la recepción crítica no sólo a ensayar los paradigmas del espacio y la subjetividad que mediatizan sus aproximaciones a la narrativa, sino también a construir nuevo conocimiento sociocultural. A través del análisis de la interacción texto-receptor, desde el enfoque pragmático, este artículo contribuye a un mejor entendimiento de la producción y transferencia de la lectura realista.
This essay expands upon the range of possibilities encompassed by the term ‘biopoetry’ as coined by Eduardo Kac in 1999, by exploring an alternate example of the genre in a recent collaborative work by Galician poet Chus Pato and Canadian poet Erín Moure, Secession/Insecession (2014). I also wish to situate the emerging field of biopoetry within Merleau-Ponty’s theories of the phenomenology of language and expression, which share with both Kac and Pato/Moure a vital interest in the boundaries between speaking and non-speaking worlds and contain what I believe to be elements of a poetic theory pertinent to 21st century biopoetics. While Kac’s Genesis experiment (quite literally) offers voice to the bacterial world, Pato and Moure, in contrast, situate the poet in a space removed from language, where she writes in ‘secession’ from institutionalized words through the trope of poetry as ‘prosthesis’. Although their visions of biopoetry appear to appear to mark opposite ends of a spectrum, the works of Kac and Pato/Moure each offer poetry as a translational bridge, navigating tensions between worlds. Ultimately, biopoetry stirs questions of political and ethical concern through experimental forms that contest the dominion of words over nature. At stake is the reclamation of the radical alterity of non-speaking worlds, to include the ‘muteness’ of time, geographic territories, and languages lost through forced migration, in addition to the ‘otherness’ of non-human biological life. Biopoetry plays at the margins, testing the fragile ground between a human world demarcated by language, and a world that has no need of it, or of us.
“What leads to knowledge is the hysteric’s discourse.” (Jacques Lacan, Seminar XVII: The Other Side of Psychoanalysis)
This token initiated what follows, and what follows is a thread searching for the button at the bottom of the well. This thread twists and drifts in the darkness, descending. We’re standing at the top, bent at the waist and peering into the depths, cool dark air around us and the distant sound of water echoing lightly off the stones. We conjure the thread from a spool in our chests; a long, long thread of words. Enough thread and we will catch the button. Get it out, sew it on—there.
Literature, like love, compels us to speak. How can we teach it?
In this paper, I compare the biographical process to the translation process, whereby the historical subject is translated and transformed into the biographical subject; I argue that despite the biographer’s intentions to remain truthful to the historical subject, this subject cannot be fully portrayed via biography. Similar to the translator’s task, the biographer also undergoes a process of interpretation, transfer and reorganization of information as s/he translates the historical figure into a biographical subject, whereby the historical figure is transformed and reinvented by the biographer. I contend that in Raquel Tibol’s Frida Kahlo: An Open Life and Andrea Kettenmann’s Frida Kahlo, 1907-1954: Pain and Passion, the biographical authors construct a fictionalized subject for they resort to interpretative and fictional methods to imaginatively recreate the historical subject. Moreover, like translators who transfer meaning from one text to another, the biographers also transfer the historical Kahlo into biography while molding her into certain identity frameworks. For example, while Tibol portrays her as an exemplary woman, Kettenmann depicts her as an exemplary artist. In addition, the biographers also omit certain aspects of her life and oversimplify her identity, further restructuring her life and identity to fit certain identity frameworks. Thus, I argue that the historical subject cannot be fully equated to the biographical subject insofar that the biographical subject is transformed and reinvented as the biographers imaginatively recreate her life and mold her identity on the basis of certain biographical focuses.
After his work on language in The Differend, in which the stuttering and arresting of phrasing is accompanied by a feeling that something remains to be said, philosopher Jean-Franҫois Lyotard turned to the aesthetic of the sublime in order to thinking through this impasse found at the limits of language, largely through the art of the avant-garde. The aesthetic of the sublime, in its 18th century Burkean and Kantian inflections, continued to hold a prominent place in Lyotard’s thought until his vocation as a philosopher came to an end with his death in 1998. Yet, despite the extensive writing devoted to the sublime by Lyotard, the work of Pseudo-Longinus, a major figure in the history of the sublime, remained largely uninterrogated. By reading Pseudo-Longinus’ Perí Hýpsous alongside Lyotard’s The Differend, I attempt to provide a reason for Lyotard’s neglect of the former due to its tendencies to further tighten the situation of the differend rather than unravel it.
Undergirding every theoretical framework is a network of material referents upon which ideas collect, propagate, and disseminate. Academic discourses not only exert an influence on the world, but are themselves equally influenced by it: the egalitarian feedback loop between subject and object is dictated by the constraining fact that we are embodied beings in a physical milieu. Despite the seeming immediacy and intuitiveness of this statement, however, it is a well-worn adage that we must be mindful of the delicate balance of theory and praxis. This is not only a normative statement or an ethical injunction, but a methodological observation: from the intimacy of Platonic dialogues to Jane Bennett’s “thing-power,” the history of philosophy points not only to the value of lived experience on thought and reason, but also its inescapability.
While such a philosophical position is well accounted for in the abstract in contemporary literature—e.g., Donna Haraway’s notion of situated knowledge—the movement from “a conquering gaze from nowhere” into a place infused with tradition, language, and culture demands a robust understanding of what this really (perceptively and emotionally) looks like. In the spirit of intellectuals like Gaston Bachelard (The Poetics of Space), this investigation proposes use language as a springboard to enact a phenomenological ‘bracketing’ in the style of psychogeography and the context of Southwestern architecture, foregoing a symbolic unpacking of traditional cultural iconography in favour of narrowing in those distinctive features of regional design—from pastel hues to the unity of adobe walls—that give it a distinctive and influential ‘feel.’ We will therefore work to unbind the subject from its strictly intellectual tethers, transcending the liberal humanist subject and transforming it into something much more embedded in and indebted to the realm of the particular—the trance of our own material constitution.