Cecilia Vicuña, "Quipu Viscera" (2017)

Performing Experimental Translation

Si l’on ouvre la bouche pour émettre un mot au lieu d’un son, ou de l’air, ou rien, est-ce qu’on est déjà dans la traduction ? Enlevez une étiquette de jean de son contexte de jean pour nous la montrer sur une autre surface, s’agit-il de la traduction ? Et quoi dire du mot « traduction » ? On trouve ce mot presque partout, et très loin de l’activité de rendre dans une langue (culture, contexte, temps) ce qui a été déjà dit dans une autre langue, culture, contexte, et temps. How do we translate these research findings? How do we translate this into action? Etc.

Faire un mot ? Le mot dans l’émotion ? Emoción ? [The word in the emotion?] Which brings us to gesture: the passage of language through a body, that of the translator. It’s this that is of interest here. As is polylinguisme et ses effets, polylinguism and its effects— the use of more than un idioma para exprimir or contrar or countenance thinking. Countenance: does translation have a face? And if that face is of a queer body, queered body, an already queered reading practice? What does the face face? Who then can sign the translation? With what figure? Woman?

Translations emit. They pull us in and push at us at once. Emit, that curious word: it’s time spelt backward. Translation makes time go backward, as O Resplandor1 demonstrates. What other act can do this?

Each time, time’s rupture must be admitted, for every translation destroys time. This is not “an impossible sentence with no meaning.” It is the time or tense of all translation, all writing. Like the future anterior of the phrase “I died,” all translation appears as a monster in time itself. (O Resplandor 6) [O Resplandor, a book of poetry, is also my theoretical exploration of translation, for theory—or thinking, as I call it—is best performed in poetry, within the greater and more dexterous tools that poetry offers.]

Google translates the first paragraph, as I refuse to: If the mouth is opened to emit a word instead of a sound, or air or anything, are we already in translation? Remove a denim label from its jean context to show it on another surface, is it the translation? And what of the word “translation”? The word is found almost everywhere, and very far from the activity of rendering in one language (culture, context, time) what has already been said in another language, culture, context, and time.

Cuestións preparadas por Erín Moure

21 marzo 2019

Kelowna, C.-B.

Erín Moure
Poetry translator
Shanzhai Lyric
Poetic research and archival unit
Chris Tanasescu
Digital poetry
Bianca Rae Messinger
Jorge Galvis