We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—
that our lives had become unmanageable.
μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι
ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν
εἰς ἑαυτὸν δὲ ἐλθὼν
(ἔφη . . . ἀναστὰς πορεύσομαι . . . καὶ ἐρῶ :
ἥμαρτον εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ ἐνώπιόν σου
οὐκέτι εἰμὶ ἄξιος
ποίησόν με ὡς ἕνα τῶν μισθίων σου
καὶ ἀναστὰς ἦλθεν)
ἤγγικεν γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν
ἡ δὲ εἶπεν ναί κύριε
καὶ γὰρ τὰ κυνάρια ἐσθίει ἀπὸ τῶν ψιχίων
τῶν πιπτόντων ἀπὸ τῆς τραπέζης τῶν κυρίων αὐτῶν
ἤρξατο λυπεῖσθαι καὶ ἀδημονεῖν
τότε λέγει αὐτοῖς
περίλυπός ἐστιν ἡ ψυχή μου ἕως θανάτου
μείνατε ὧδε καὶ γρηγορεῖτε μετ' ἐμοῦ
καὶ προελθὼν μικρὸν ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ
προσευχόμενος καὶ λέγων
Aristotle is not an alcoholic. And he is not anonymous.
Aristotle is not a woman, not a barbarian, not a slave, not poor, not homeless, not uneducated, not afraid for his daughter who is dominated by a deity, not crying out in a “safe place” in profound pain to his closest friends and his dear father all about to abandon him.
Aristotle is neither in recovery nor in need of doing recovery work.
Aristotle may well manage to be our father of Western modern mathematics, of physics, of biology, zo-ology, medicine, psychology, sociology, anthropology, civics, politics, political science, the art of war, ethics, history, linguistics, literacy, literature, poetry, theater, philosophy, metaphysics, writing, and rhetoric. But where does that get him? And were does it get us?Aristotle does not translate. And by his own Aristotelian philology he will not be translated well. He does not have a translation theory. He does not even take the first step.
A (good) translation theory starts with admission of ambiguity and humility. (And now I begin listening humbly to the ambiguous epigraphs above. I’m listening by writing out the next six paragraphs in some correspondence with the epi-graphs. This is not yet translation, although I do “translate” some of the Greek here. Please don’t even start think that these zany para-graphs are some sort of glimpse into what that kind of translation will look like. I don’t. The glimpses are at http://rhetoricofaristotle.wetpaint.com. In posting these crazy playful notes, I’m going to stop blogging for a while. I will be reading and might be commenting on your blogs. Those of you who’ve been commenting with me, and at me, and from me here or at other blogs may recognize yourselves, or me, in my silliness here. Apologies again. I really do want to step up my work on translating Aristotle’s Rhetoric, with a translation theory. Did I already say Aristotle lacks one? As you see from the other Greek here, I’m co-opting the practical, rhetorical, feministical translation theory of Jesus Christ. And I’m converting again in a different way this week: from PC desktop to Mac book pro. So I’m stepping forward, again, admitting a certain powerlessness and lack of manageability.)
A good translation theory insists first on the greatest teacher’s original lessons not being “in the original” if ever original at all. It initially gets off its high horse – as we say here in
A good translation theory begins before Aristotle’s teachings on “Pneuma,” which is in 6 letters how we transliterate 1 word for His full and vital inspiration, His spiritual authority, which is what we today appropriate as the plenary inspiration of the text with certain necessarily-mysterious Divine-only locked-up-in-His-heaven categories of mistakes. A translation theory worth its salt starts at the point of utter poverty of breath. (I’m referring to the first “blessed” in the beatitudes. These inspired words must find their way back into un-recorded Hebrew Aramaic speech, and recovered into translated Greek that mirrors earlier collaborative translations of Hebrew into Greek by 70 some Jewish men commissioned by a polytheistic Egyptian king in a city established by a polytheistic Greek conqueror, the man who is none other than Aristotle’s very own student. Now, if that last sentence takes your breath away, then “it’s all good,” as my children would translate it. I might translate this whole paragraph on inspiration in translation theory with this whole English-Greek word: “hyperbole.”)
A translation theory that yields some light is one that speaks sometimes-shadowy “parables.” We could re-translate our Greek word parables ambiguously and humbly as this: as someone else’s stories thrown along side our own. But if I get on both sides, then I might come to the end of myself, moving in and out of the stories, until I move beyond that first step.
(I’m writing here about prodigals. One prodigal son, C. S. Lewis, writes the story of his own personal conversion out of atheism, in which God is the great chess-master who, late in the game, approaches checkmate by getting the literary critic, in his consciousness, to move out of simple “contemplation” [and shall we call such “contemplation” “Aristotelian,” with it’s cold detached singular arrogant objectivism?]. God moves Lewis into another side of consciousness: into robust and vibrant “enjoyment.” And Lewis begins to yield power and management to the translation, perhaps the interlation [as Mikhail Epstein theorizes it], between conscious contemplation and conscious enjoyment. So for more on that parable, find Lewis’s Surprised by Joy, but beware: it’s a life changer. Beware even more if you’re not a fan of literature or literary translation theory.)
A good translation theory starts back(wards) by re-thinking everything. (Here, you may recognize that I’ve translated μετανοεῖτε as [or by] “re-thinking everything.” We could have “translated” it “metanoia” by transliteration, the way Aristotelian rhetoricians and Christian preachers do with “hyperbole” and “parable.”)
A good translation theory with what Hélène Cixous also might advise from the get go is: avec l'écriture féminine. (Of course, pardon my French, or hers in my italics; but I do find it amazing that Jesus would speak to women, in their own goyim ethnic mother tongues – even in Greek on occasion, although most Jewish men and many ethnic Greeks under Aristotle wouldn’t bring themselves to think of letting these botched humans – especially the foreign females – speak. At first, Jesus himself appears to struggle with the powerlessness and unmanageably of their pleas, but, in interlation or translation or translingualization, their womanly rhetoric amazes and humbles him instantly, genuinely, and with great effect. The Greek deities in the daughters always over-hear and flee.)A good translation theory seems not safe at first. But it starts to admit that none of us is safe especially by oneself or even from oneself. There are dangers from which we need safe retreat with the closest of others so as neither to be abused nor to abuse, so as to face pain and abandonment and death. Most of us have to start earlier, with our fears and resentments and needs and imperfections with interactive boundaries in place. (And if Aristotle’s safe place is being on top of the world without needing to translate into or out of the barbarian’s mother tongue, then for most of the rest of us, a safe place must be altogether different. Jesus models this difference. He invites interaction – translations and interlations and “monolingual demonstrations” between men and women of extreme difference and imperfection – but he attends to his very personal needs in safe places. That’s all until “pain” and “abandonment” yield to their sister, “death.” Then, the “seed falls into the ground – good ground is another translation – and dies”: how else would he translate and how else could we learn without such a first step?)
update, cross-ref link: Feminist Binary: Eleventh Step