Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Author's Invitation

Now, I invite you to translate into any target language from the original English what I wrote last post. Please be accurate. Please get my intention, and get it right.

But, I confess, by the end of what I wrote, I'd forgotten my original intention.

And, I do declare, I intended more than I originally wrote. I think I already said that, and didn't even intend to repeat myself.

Now, I think I mean to say this: that not only is the author's intention more and less than what she or he writes but the intention changes just as soon as and during and after what is written is written.

Three more things, I'm sure: first, I am very grateful for change, even for ostensibly shifty intentions. My parents had a breakthrough in their relationship just as soon as my father, a man whose profession is religious talk, started saying and intending, "We practice daily what we believe; all the rest is just religious talk"; he then began giving true love to my mother every day.

Second, what do you intend by feminism, when you read what you thought I intended by it last post?

Third, Nancy Mairs also writes (as she starts a book with a "Prelude: Loving the Other") this:

Other-Love is writing's first name.
--Helene Cixous, "Sorties"

"and if you're very, very
lucky, like me," I
wrote to my daughter
several years ago as she made
her leisurely way from a Peace
Corps stint in Zaire to Tucson
to begin whatever-came-next,
"you'll wind up with a perfect
life!" I really did, and do, be-
lieve that my life is perfect,
although I recognize that cer-
tain details of it--like my own
advancing debilitation by mul-
tiple sclerosis and my hus-
band's metastatic melanoma--
might seem from the outside
to forbid it such status and
even to mark me as (1) a Polly-
anna, to use a quaint term, (2)
in denial, as pop-psych-speak
would have it, or (3), to be
blunt, out of my wits.
"The outside," however,
never provides a good vantage
point for life study. . . .
The truth is also that although "perfect" may mean "flaw-
less," it may mean "consummate" or "whole" as well, and it
is in this sense that I cherish my life as I could not, perhaps,
without its flaws. That is, these force me to live daily at the
potential end of the world as I know it, and so, on any given
day, my life must be as fully made as I can make it: perfect.


Nathan Stitt said...

For clarity's sake you want us to address:

I hope my point is this: author intentions matter tremendously if you are an insider or an outsider.
Now, I think I mean to say this: that not only is the author's intention more and less than what she or he writes but the intention changes just as soon as and during and after what is written is written.
Second, what do you intend by feminism, when you read what you thought I intended by it last post?

Is that correct? Sorry I'm having trouble following you.

J. K. Gayle said...

If you're knocking on the door, please do come on in. And do have a seat, and would you like tea or coffee? Did you also used to wonder what Amy Grant meant singing "Lead Me On"? Was she having trouble following, or did she really think he just might lead her on? I can't lead very well, so might I be leading you on here?

Joking aside, I'm just asking questions about the value of an approach to translation that has to give too much focus to the author's intention.

In the hallway here, just now, I spoke with a friend who's written his second novel. Except his publisher, this second time, has asked him to write the synopsis. He's to reduce the 350 pages down to 2. And it's giving him fits. He's the ultimate insider. And is full of all he intends with each one of those precious 350 pages. I told him to get someone else to write the synopsis for him. The someone else would be an outsider, like the rest of us, who could be less attached to all he intends. And in fact haven't you heard of novelists marveling at what their readers were able to see in their books that they the author never thought of in the first place?

But just to boost you, and me, a little. You did pick out some fine quotes from my post to italicize in your comment. So now I ask you: Why'd you think those were the ones I might like you to pay attention to?

Nathan Stitt said...

I chose those quotes by using skills carefully honed after seven years of university. The skills that enabled me to glean all of the right answers the night before the exam and then ace the test. So... key words and contextual clues.

You speak in riddles more than any one I know, and it kills me to communicate via black & white. This would be much more productive face to face, but life's not fair that way. I'm a bit wore out from work at the moment. I'll re-read the last few posts and try to come back with something useful.

...and Amy Grant? hahahahaha

Nathan Stitt said...

Oh, I meant to ask you to clarify "what do you intend by feminism?" I have no idea what the means.

J. K. Gayle said...

At some point, Nathan, we recognize we're just playing with language. Serious stuff, huh? I think we've hardly begun, after our collective years of education, to really get at some of the things Jesus says--the parables, the hyperbole, the super-nature, the questions. Aristotle really really wanted that kind of language to be different. I'm afraid, in the west anyway, that Aristotle is winning. We can hardly imagine much that doesn't smack of logic. So, I play.

When I'm asking you what you intend by what I say, I'm still playing. As you read this very sentence, you construct something in your head. So it's my voice, yes. But if I say "one million dollars" you imagine that so much better than I say it. "Feminism" is so laden, as Hillary Clinton mourns about herself, with baggage. I tried writing about "fingernails" once; seemed a little less risky to people stopping by to read. But we just load up any ol' word, spoken and written, with meaning(s). Hope that helps with what your asking. And if you're just pulling my leg, then "good one!"

Nathan Stitt said...

Just for the record, it takes more effort for me to comment on your blog than it does for me to create a post on my own. ;)

I was not pulling your leg and I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the way you approach life. Or at the very least, the way you express yourself. It's refreshing but also nearly impossible for me to interact with via typed word.

Nathan Stitt said...

Okay so now, going back to the previous post, I understand what you are saying about insider language. I think the nature of what you brought up is most present in my life in the form of inside jokes. Half of the time, things my wife or my brother and I laugh at aren't even expressed in words. Through common experience, or an understood concept, we find humor. I believe the same applies to religion, and politic, and society as well.

Now on to what I intend by feminism... My experience with feminism has been mixed. I recognize the inequality and abuse that has been inflicted upon and tolerated by women. However, despite the fight for equality, I also believe that men and women are inherently different, by design. I perceive excesses in feminism, where in the name of equality, there is a natural order or balance that is over-ridden. With the end result being something that seems unnatural to me, if carried to it's logical end. I suppose I should come up with a good example to back that up, so I'll try to think of one. I've also encountered this recently in passages in the Bible with the whole complegalitarian stuff, and it makes my head spin.