Commercial-Free Memories?

“When I watched the thirty-second commercial for the G.I. Joe Mobile Command Center or a promo for “The Fall Guy,” everything came rushing back: the way light flooded the living room before the extension was added to the house and the mango trees sprouted; the rabbit ears perched on top of the old Hitachi, which barely hauled in two channels on the good days; my grandfather and the cats sitting on the couch, scratching the sides in unison.”

Matthew St. Ville Hunte on ads in our lives.

“One must always trust…”

Zhivago footnotes

“Some people love footnotes. They view them as the subtext of the story, an underlying narrative of facts to enrich the plot. To me, they are an enormous distraction. They pull me out of the flow of reading, and when I choose to skip them I feel guilty, as if I’ve just cut a corner. Unless they are funny, or artistic in some way, I’d rather not include them in the first place, or include them as minimally as I feel is possible.

…foregoing footnotes always involves a leap of faith, but so does the act of writing, and so does choosing a career as a translator. One must always trust that people care enough to read, to inquire, to research, and to understand.”

— Yardenne Greenspan

Duly Noted: on Footnotes and their Place in Translation

“An artist in her own right”

“I first read Chekhov in Russian, as a student, both short stories and the plays, but the effort to focus so hard on the original Russian, and my lack of experience in life, had left me, as a student, with a somewhat blurred vision of Chekhov himself. I rediscovered him much later, with the ease (and laziness) of reading in my own language, this time through translation. And it was a great gift: at last, through her work*, I could see clearly who Chekhov is as a writer, and why he is incomparable. It’s not really something you can explain; you read the translation, and you know.”

–Alison Anderson

*The speaker refers to translations created by Constance Garnett.

The role of the literary translator in the age of “Ferrante Fever.”

“About suffering they were never wrong”

David Lehman’s essay on W.H. Auden’s ekphrastic poem.

“I teach poetry in the graduate writing program of the New School in New York,” says David Lehman, “A favorite prompt of mine is to read “Musée des Beaux Arts” and other poems about paintings. Then I suggest that the students visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and write about Brueghel’s sublime depiction of summer, “The Harvesters.” Try it—not in competition with Auden (you can’t win), but with Auden’s marvelous poem as your model.”

My two cents:

Don’t be intimidated by “you can’t win.” Try itnot in competition with anybody, except perhaps yourself. Go ahead, and write your own marvelous poem.

 

The essay was featured in The Wall Street Journal, Review, Sat/Sun, May 14-15, 2016.

“Stop!” vs. “Desire of Liberation”

“…an aspect of the ‘Kamasutra’ that has been lamentably overlooked is its strikingly modern attitude toward the role of women in sexual relations. One reason for this ignorance is that the text is known almost entirely through the flawed 19th-century English translation of Sir Richard Francis Burton.

Burton can be admired for the courage and determination it took to publish the work at all (it was banned in England and the U.S. until 1962), but he robs women of their voices, replacing direct quotes with reported speech rephrased by a man, thus erasing their vivid presence. For instance, the text says that, when a man strikes a woman, ‘She uses words like ‘Stop!’ or ‘Let me go!’ or ‘Enough!’ or ‘Mother!’ Burton translates it like this: ‘She continually utters words expressive of prohibition, sufficiency or desire of liberation.’

— Prof. Wendy Doniger, author of “Redeeming the Kamasutra” and a translation of the “Kamasutra” (with Sudhir Kakar); The Wall Street Journal, Sat/Sun, March 19-20, 2016

“…just let the mind wander”

“What Victor and others with his dementia can teach us is that the key to creativity might lie in our ability to suspend conscious scrutiny, if only for a moment, and just let the mind wander.”

“Dementia and the Keys to Creativity” by Dr. Sternberg, The Wall Street Journal, Review, Saturday/Sunday, February 20–21, 2016