today on the street in Saint Petersburg I walked past a wedding party whose music of choice was the title theme from Twin Peaks. cultural (mis)translation is a thing here.
Seeing “The Master” did little more than convince me that Joaquin Phoenix needs inevitably to play James Agee in the latter’s biopic:
Of all the words which may be used to designate any sort of tenant, the word we heard used least frequently throughout our investigation, by landowners, storekeepers, townspeople, small farmers, tenants, sharecroppers, and all local human beings white or black, save only new dealers, communists, and various casts of liberal, was the word sharecropper.
In the north, however, and particularly in the seaboard north, where most of the writing and printing and reading of the United States is carried on, sharecropper has, through the agencies of print and the lectured word, become the generic term. Literally, of course, it describes both sorts of tenant, for each sort shares his crop: and it may be that through constant usage it will establish itself as generic. At present, however, it is indigenous, and not only is it a dialect word, to which a conscientious ‘educated’ person knows he has forfeited the right, even should he know its meaning accurately; and not only is it a dialect word inaccurately used by those who have no right to use it; but it has very swiftly, and within a very few years, absorbed every corruptive odor of inverted snobbery, marxian, journalistic, jewish, and liberal logomachia, emotional blackmail, negrophilia, belated transference, penis-envy, gynecological flurry and fairly good will which the several hundred thousand least habitable and scrupulous minds of this particularly psychotic quarter can supply to it: and is one of the words a careful man will be watchful of, and by whose use and inflection he may take clear measurement of the nature, and the stature, and the causes, and the timbre, of the enemy.
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men 454-6
The popular weekly magazine Ogonek ran a regular feature in 1936 called “Are you a cultured person?” that allowed readers to test their general knowledge. Among the things a cultured Soviet person should know were the names of five plays by Shakespeare, five makes of Soviet automobile, four rivers in Africa, three types of warplanes, seven Stakhanovites, two representatives of Utopian social thought, two poems by Heinrich Heine, and two Soviet icebreakers.
Sheila Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism
These conclusions can be generalized. I want translations with copious footnotes, footnotes reaching up like skyscrapers to the top of this or that page so as to leave only the gleam of one textual line between commentary and eternity. I want such footnotes and the absolutely literal sense, with no emasculation and no padding—I want such sense and such notes for all the poetry in other tongues that still languishes in “poetical” versions, begrimed and beslimed by rhyme. And when my Onegin is ready, it will either conform exactly to my vision or not appear at all.
Nabokov, on translating Evgenii Onegin
I don’t believe our eyes, much less, our minds freeze moments. The camera lens has introduced this as a commonplace notion that now seems to be widely accepted.
Dmitry Samarov, in his profile of Noah Vaughn. I don’t really buy the hackneyed argument this is embedded in (viz. photography has, for the worse, supplanted visual ideas long in development), but it is fascinating to think about thought-in-time, and the diachronic perception eclipsed by synchronic, “frozen,” images.