Guest Post: ‘Palimptexts’ by Xiangyun Lim

PALIMPTEXTS

Translations

i. Swallow / Fish

See, homes grow from soil, moulded
by the sea’s pulse. Islands
of water, of trees, of fish, for

someone out there
breathes in the condensation of time.

A swallow flies past:
pilgrim from Song, beating
a familiar refrain of the pensive,
fleeting tail flicks of light

for it was bait of
glinting waves. Not a romance,
but a voyage in a home not its own
to discover, upon landing
a face rearranged

(drilling sounds pierce the walls as
dark chapped hands
build new lifts
in a cacophony
of foreign banter)

Sometimes, walking on these grey roads
void of any other, I hear myself anew:
his steps an intimate timbre.
Do the same consonants and vowels grammar his
boredom, plans, clutter

(a swallow flies past, pilgrim from Song
the familial refrain)

Then,
now
tracing vaults of oils and sculptures:
perhaps he too became a fish
like the fishes we now own
from the school of Chaozhou

v. Island

Staircase: old man
bringing down a tower of cardboard
boxes. Boy with Down’s
Syndrome trails
behind
in the memory of standing upright,
unmoving as an old man lifted his bag

Or stairs: Malay wife
climbing with hands
holding
hand
of husband, bolstered
by the plastic promise of new pillows.

Station platform: toothy wall-
poster child, sitting atop a
white
see-saw
horse
when sand still papered playgrounds, drawing cats
that became the wiles of our myths: cat spirits.

(Oh tower of Bolligen: where do I find my
stone, tower of Bollingen)

Sunset: without night,
illuminating how we
stand
like
flagpoles
and wait for the train,
or perhaps for home.

Odyssey: a story fossilised in
fish bones as the sea’s pulse
still moulds, washes and beats.
See this island. Island of
water, of
trees, of
fish, for

a long time ago
we sat with dinner
as the sky blinked at us
beneath the hawker’s shelter and
echoing shouts. It rained, suddenly,
careless tears time forgot till
it was late. As passers-by
scurried, you stayed with me
at our umbrellaed table,
eating chicken rice,
drinking soup,
quiet as islands.

Palimptexts

Palimptext I

Palimptext II

Palimptext III

Drafts

Draft I

Draft II

Draft III

© (Xiangyun Lim) 2017

About

My project is a conscious exploration of the process of literary translation, and a probe into particular ideas of ‘creativity’ associated with practice. The experiment looks at the translatory reading of a text, which continues after the first encounter through the various interactions a translator experiences in the bid to embody it in and through another language. My own initial journey in translating Chinese poetry has materialised into what I call a palimptext: booklets made out of tracing paper in which layers of engagements with the chosen text are presented as a physical whole.

The term “palimptext” is a portmanteau of ‘palimpsest’ and ‘text’. The word ‘palimpsest’ forms from the Greek word ‘palimpsēstos’, from ‘palin’ (again) and ‘psēstos’ (rubbed smooth), and refers to ‘a manuscript or piece of writing material on which later writing has been superimposed on effaced earlier writing[1]’. My process is effectually palimpsestic in which engagements with the poems were distinct in time of occurrence, nature, and consequential result — always with the same source, but not through the same tools — in the same way a palimpsest emerges from the same material carrying traces of earlier writings by different pens or inks. To represent the palimpsestic process in distinct layers, I chose to use only tracing paper, with each layer — each engagement — presented together as a whole; a booklet made out of tracing paper.

To call this product a palimptext was thus deliberate. Rather than being ‘rubbed smooth’, every layer is unhidden and integral to the product in totality. The word ‘text’, with etymological roots from French ‘texte’, or ‘textus’, can refer to the ‘wording of anything written or printed[2]’. Yet is writing only limited to words, and words necessarily made out of letters? ‘Write’ too has various roots that refer to actions such as ‘to score’ (from Old English wrítan) to ‘tear or draw’ (Old High German rîȥan)[3]. The use of the term palimptext thus has two implications: first, it frees me from limiting the content I produce to alphabetical words, and secondly, it presents the palimpsestic process as a physical product — a material form to represent my palimpsestic translatory reading of the chosen poem, 《航海纪事》.

It also solves a complication the palimpsest presents: that the process is necessarily chronological, where a layer is either above or below another (and where authorship is not always the same). The chronology of my process is simply a result of my physical limitations — that I can produce one thing at a time, with two hands, a brain, and one keypad. However, the engagements with the text happen simultaneously, in an interlinked and dynamic way, and presenting these layers on physical tracing paper to make up a whole, i.e., in a booklet form, is my solution and attempt to embody the dynamic process.

The state of being creative has been, as Clark details in The Theory of Inspiration, called ‘trite, mystifying and even embarrassing… a spurious and exploded theory of the sources of literary power.[4]’ Other descriptions range from ‘transcendent’ to ‘ecstatic intuition’ and ‘naive indulgence’ — terms that lean towards the florid and abstract rather than the rational. Yet there are elements of the creative in writing and translating, creating parallels which have been picked up and apart in what an emerging ‘creative turn’ in translation studies[5]. Loffredo and Perteghella places this arrival of a new ‘critical setting’ in the ‘cultural relativity of translation, as a practice and as a discipline, which allows a further shift, this time towards translational “subjectivity”’[6]. This ‘subjectivity’ is so intertwined with the idea of creativity as the translator inscribes a text from another language with creative input synergised with his or her past experiences and histories.

Yet to put the concept of creativity, already abstract in itself, into the obliqueness of subjectivity only further obscures specifics of the translational process. My experiment thus tries to demystify these terms for myself, and to explore the boundaries that these terms encompasses and cross, even challenging Clark’s supposition of the ability of the ‘creative’ to ‘achiev[e] feats unattainable by any merely rational or procedural method[7].’ This is not to say that I seek a theory or a formula that proves otherwise, but more accurately to find the boundaries that become creative limitations that would work for myself, whether in the form of routines or consciously sought stimuli. I also acknowledge the degree of intuition present in the translational process, here only insofar as a form of translator subjectivity — a subconscious realm where experiences and history tangle and colour the way we read and write.

The freedom to explore brought clarity to the parallels between the creative and literary translation. Imagination is where the two meet, tapping on the ‘power or capacity to form internal images or ideas of objects and situations not actually present to the senses, including remembered objects and situations, and those constructed by mentally combining or projecting images of previously experienced qualities, objects, and situations’. In the case of the latter, it would be a translation from a language to another. And yet my project, as a clear experiment of/in process, is not a presentation of translations in their fully-formed state. Instead, the experiment has been one of value in its documentation the process as a metaphorical composition — a musical one that collects the reverberations of the text in me, amplifies the strains that resonance, and arrange a new melody with new linguistic instruments and the internal rhythms of both text and my own musical background. It adjourns here in the form of a palimptext, but the reading of the text and the translatory process still continues.

[1] Oxford English Dictionary [online]. < http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/136319?rskey=F87g0T&result=1#eid >, [accessed 17 May 2017]

[2] Oxford English Dictionary [online]. < http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/200002?rskey=ZzOckj&result=1#eid >, [accessed 17 May 2017]

[3] Oxford English Dictionary [online]. < http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/230750?rskey=42QSw1&result=2#eid >, [accessed 17 May 2017]

[4] Clark, Timothy, The Theory of Inspiration (UK: Manchester University Press, 1997), p. 1

[5] Nikolaou, Paschalis, ‘Notes On Translating The Self’, in Translation and Creativity, ed. by Loffredo, Eugenia and Perteghella, Manuela (London: Continuum, 2006), p. 19

[6] Loffredo, Eugenia and Perteghella, Manuela, ‘Introduction’, in Translation and Creativity, ed. by Loffredo, Eugenia and Perteghella, Manuela (London: Continuum, 2006), p. 1

[7] Clark, Timothy, The Theory of Inspiration (UK: Manchester University Press, 1997), pp. 2-3

Xiangyun Lim has a particular interest in translating contemporary works from the Chinese diaspora. Having grown up in Singapore, Xiang has lived in Seattle, Barcelona, Taiwan and United Kingdom and finds belonging in the intersection of cultures and languages. She is one of the recipients of the Singapore Apprenticeship in Literary Translation (SALT).

She can be found at https://tweedlingdum.com.

 

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Guest Post: the kafka variations by Colin Campbell Robinson

These variations are based on the writings and life of Franz Kafka and in particular the Blue Octavio Notebooks.

The Blue Notebooks composed by Max Richter featuring Tilda Swinton also provided inspiration.

The process of composing variations involves reading the original text in a public place, a bar or a cafe or on a train etc. whilst making notes of the everyday events occurring in that place. These are mixed with reflections and questions inspired by the reading. These notes are collected and then typed for editing and arranging purposes. Photographs are then added but not as illustrations. They are stills from an unmade film that refers to the text yet the narrative remains uncertain.

The kafka variation are one of six short of variations produced by this method. The others are Wittgenstein, Blanchot, Dogen, Guy Debord and the ghost variations featuring a number of literary figures as well as members of my family.

the kafka variations

part 3

I am an end or a beginning.

 

 

17.

Dread of night the dread of not night.

18.

He fights an independent battle. Everyone is fighting amidst betrayal, sniping, stragglers, cavalry and the rest.

Therefore, who is independent in this fracas?

He believes he is fighting alone. For once he is independent, however, he doesn’t realise there are others fighting with him for they are hidden.  Not by necessity, but by chance.

19.

Stumble along the way a little above the ground. Not a high wire trick for mountebanks.

20.

He reports seeing people swarming like ants within a trench. It has been built in the main plaza for educational purposes. No one emerges any wiser.

21.

To envelop –  enclose

encase

swathe

shroud

cloak and wrap

22.

On his desk is an envelope in which he keeps fragments. The aim, as always, is to collect until he has collected himself.

Another method he considers involves knife fighting and stone throwing but these are activities beyond his pale gift. How will he ever dream and touch totality at this rate? From sheer exhaustion after painting a corner, he explains.

23.

Pulled out of the swamp by your own pig-tale; an ignoble fate or redemption?

Answers to be submitted in a plain brown envelope.

24.

Angels don’t fly, according to the good doctor, because there is no gravity in the spiritual world.

This is beyond our conception, yet, we can know our surroundings. In fact we can know them better than ourselves as the inner world can only be experienced, not described.

25.

Beyond knowing in all this distance, distance.

26.

Quieter and fewer are those who speak whereas those who scream are legion.

Can this world be quiet and true?

Only when lying in a ditch on the side of the road, trembling.

27.

The truth will out, he says, to no one in particular.

 

Idleness is the beginning of all vice, the crown of all virtues.

28.

Not a thought, anywhere.

29.

Everyday confusion: for example, the train, the time.

To reach B from A and for A to reach B, no matter how many times A calculates the hour needed to traverse what is, or what appears to be a relatively short distance [1], A’s projections never match B’s assumptions.

Of course they fell out over this little misunderstanding  (of no importance) and haven’t spoken since.

30.

He has misunderstood the men with the wide eyes and round lips; the men with the dark hair and flashing teeth?

He who betrays you is the one who professed love.

No sympathy for those he misunderstood as they may mislead him still.

The good march in step. The others dance around them unaware, the dancers of time.

31.

Sometimes it is better to break in rather than break out of the prison. Once inside you become one of us.

[1] ‘Relatively short distance’ refer to A. Einstein and space/time continuum et al, ibid, etc

© (Colin Campbell Robinson) 2017

Colin Campbell Robinson is an Australian writer and photographer currently living and working in the Celtic extremity of the Isle of Bute. Recently his work has appeared in Otoliths, BlazeVox 15, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Futures Trading, E-ratio, and Molly Bloom 11 among others. Knives Forks and Spoons Press will be publishing his collection Blue Solitude – a self-portrait in six scenarios in October 2017.

Colin also collaborates with the Move in Picture project where he has published Ryokan: The Artist Book.

Talking Transformations

TalkingTransformations

For this new project, Manuela Perteghella is collaborating with Ricarda Vidal.

We have devised Talking Transformations as a platform to examine what ‘home’ means to us at a time when notions of ‘home’ in Europe are becoming more fluid, being challenged and reshaped by unprecedented migration. Ideas and constructions of home are intricately connected to language: the mother tongue, the foreign language and, between them, translation.

Our project employs poetry and art translation to examine notions of ‘home’ in relation to migration. We look at the impact of migration on notions of home by commissioning and sending poetry about aspects of one’s own ‘home’ into a linguistic and artistic ‘migration’, where poems are translated into different languages and into film art.

Motivated by Brexit, our first project focuses on the UK and the countries most important to EU migration into and from the UK: respectively Romania & Poland and France & Spain. British poetry will be sent through linguistic and literary translation via France to Spain before returning home; in parallel, an original Polish poem will travel through translation from Poland via Romania to the UK before returning to Poland. The poems will also be translated into film art en route.

The original poems will be commissioned on the basis of public workshops held with local communities in Britain and Poland. The resulting poetry and films will be exhibited physically (in festivals, public workshops) and on our website in 2018:

http://www.talkingtransformations.eu/

Translation and other modes

Our exhibition of art, poetry and translation objects transARTation! has physically finished. The feedback from our artists, partners and visitors has been wonderful. In particular our visitors felt inspired to be creative and make their own art-translation! We are going to create a virtual exhibition on our website, so that for the next two years we can still offer an experience of this artistic activity. More to come soon. Beautifully designed catalogues are also available from our shop.

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Encyclopedia by Charles Sandison

Now,  here’s another exciting, thought-provoking event complimenting and enhancing the conversations around translation and other modes of expression. A one day event dedicated to the exploration of the relationship between translation and multimodality at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Cambridge:

Translation and Multimodality

Date: 26 May 2017,

Time: 11:00 – 16:00

Location: Seminar Room SG1, Alison Richard Building,  Cambridge, UK.

With this event the organizers intend to take a bolder interdisciplinary stance and to engage with recent research that explores intersemiotic translation in its most innovative forms.

Please read here for a programme  and further details.

 

TransARTation! more events

 6 May 2017  2-4pm The Shoe Factory Social Club, Norwich, UK

Translation as Collaboration: hidden messages and unsolvable jigsaws –  by Dr Anna Milsom (University of Leicester).

 

Anna Milsom discusses translating Poema Invertido, Verónica Gerber Bicecci’s response to Poema Plástico by Mathias Goeritz. 

Verónica Gerber Bicecci’s Poema invertido begins with a question: could Mathias Goeritz have left a message in his Poema plástico that no-one has noticed? Goeritz once described the piece as “a lament set into the most luminous wall at the Museo Experimental el Eco”, the art museum in Mexico City he conceived as a sculptural manifestation of what he called “emotional architecture”. Becoming obsessed with the idea of trying to decipher the unknown language that Goeritz invented, Gerber Bicecci asked a number of different people to help her interpret his poem. From the four responses received, she extracted words and ideas that ultimately became “the pieces of an unsolvable jigsaw puzzle” in her own Poema. For TransARTation!Poema invertido has entered a new phase: drawing on notions of ‘thick translation’ whereby a text is located within a web of other texts and translation is seen as a positive form of rewriting rather than in terms of loss, literary translator Anna Milsom offers English versions, handwritten into the original document. The Spanish and English texts co-exist alongside one another in Inverted (&Translated) Poem, taking one more step in the chain of responses that started with Mathias Goeritz’s visual poem embedded in a museum wall.  This event is free, but do let us know if you are planning to come. ​

6 May 2017  6 pm The Shoe Factory Social Club, Norwich, UK

Artist Simon Starling’s in conversation with Anna Milsom 

Come and listen over a glass of wine to former Turner  Prize Winner Simon Starling on the importance of translation in artistic practice and the visibility of the artist.

20170413_153815This event is free, but you need to register here:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/in-conversation-with-simon-starling-tickets-33971164668?aff=es2 

Attendees to the talk can also see Simon Starling’s installation, a new “talk work” shown in a cinema-like cubicle, which has been devised specifically for TransARTation!  A Talk takes as its starting point an image of the Scottish actor Stephen Clyde standing at an improvised lecture podium while playing the role of the artist at the Glasgow debut of Starling’s 2016 play about the mistranslation and reinvention of Japanese Noh theatre in avant-garde Europe during World War I, At Twilight: A play for two actors, three musicians, one dancer, eight masks (and a donkey costume). Once again voiced by Clyde and drawing on a number of lectures made by Simon over the past few years, this richly illustrated presentation investigates both the role of the artist’s talk in Simon’s practice and his continued interest in the relationship between translations, transformations and transpositions.

For information on the exhibition and associated events please click here
For directions to The Shoe Factory Social Club click here

TransARTation! Wandering Texts, Travelling Objects 2017

transartation_logo

is a travelling exhibition of translated ‘objects’, translation workshops, artists’ talks and site-specific works that opens up a space for artists, poets, writers and communities to explore ideas about translation and art in a variety of ways.  And what is better than a travelling show to start an exploration of translation, in the way this reflects how texts and ideas travel and migrate across geographical, cultural and fictional spaces.

Scotland: 31 March-8 April 2017

The Byre Theatre,

The University of St Andrews, 

Abbey Street, St Andrews,

Fife KY16 9LA

 

England: 12 April-6 May 2017, 

The Shoe Factory Social Club  

St Mary’s Works – St Mary’s Plain,

Norwich NR3 3AF

Translation is a far-reaching activity, albeit often an invisible one. Translation operates both as  practice and as a metaphor. As a practice, it is the process which allows stories and ideas to travel freely between peoples and cultures. As a metaphor, the notion of translation as a journey, a moving-across, a transformation, or an interpretive juggling act is often conjured up in discussions that explore nationhood, identity, politics, but also creativity. Increasingly, translation is being recognised as a transdisciplinary activity, drawing upon and contributing to a whole range of ideas and practices that include, but can go far beyond, taking a text from one language into another. As artists and writers produce work inspired by translation, the exhibition also explores questions of displacement, cultural difference, migration and identity.

The exhibition brings together a heterogeneous group of artists, including writers of texts and translations, poets, visual artists, multimedia artists and performers, creating the opportunity for insightful and fruitful collaboration across the board, challenging the idea of artistic compartmentalisation.

Perhaps most significantly, this exhibition brings together British and international artists, including British artists and writers residing in European cities, highlighting how both literature and art naturally transcend national boundaries, and how both seek to shape inclusive societies and cultural commons.

The exhibition is complemented by a series of associated talks and participatory art workshops. The aim of these is to foster public engagement and community involvement in investigating how translation, understood from all angles, stimulates and provokes the production of text-objects and works of visual art.

 

transartation_logowants to democratize culture and creativity, and see in these the power to contribute to an inclusive society, bringing together communities. In this sense, our translation-objects and workshops are fully participatory, allowing audiences to engage creatively with art, literature and language, and intellectually with ideas of translation, culture and, finally, of society.

It is an opportunity for artists, translators and the public to engage with translation in all its dimensions. For more information about contributing artists, opening times and associated events please visit www.transartation.com

TransARTation! is a free, participatory arts event devised and curated by

Manuela Perteghella, Eugenia Loffredo and Anna Milsom

We hope to see you there!

TransARTationimage (1)

lottery_Logo_Black RGBImage result for st andrews uni logo

 

The Warwick Prize for Women in Translation

A great start to the International Women’s Day!

The inaugural Warwick Prize for Women in Translation will be awarded in November 2017 to the best eligible work of fiction, poetry, literary non-fiction or work of fiction for children or young adults written by a woman and translated into English by a female or male translator. The £1,000 prize will be divided between the writer and her translator(s), with each contributor receiving an equal share. In cases where the writer is no longer living, the translator will receive all of the prize money.

The prize aims to address the gender imbalance in translated literature and to increase the number of international women’s voices accessible by a British and Irish readership.

For more information about the Prize and how to enter please read here.