When Pressed

Collection Two: Mid 2009

Movement in Language

If writing is the mere conversion of ideas and emotions into a scripted form, then translation eases those ideas and emotions from their signifying shells, and slips them into the shells of another tongue. But for some writing involves a struggle with language. Failure, noise, slippage and the unsaid are as prominent as expression and meaning. If we take Walter Benjamin seriously as we take on a task, and believe that translation can fleetingly regain language, or give us a glimpse of it, what does that mean? Not just for writing and poetics, but for our everyday speech, and for our formation of communities through shared signs in motion. There tends to be a gulf between translation theory and practice. Writing by practicing translators on the topic is often confined to entirely anecdotal forewords, as if the only interesting thing to say about the process was the heartbreaking choice between one word and another. But surely there is more (or less) to say. And perhaps it can only be said from a space between theory and practice, between original and copy, between languages. By what means can we criss-cross the gulf between translation theory and practice? How can translation and translation theory engage with what is covered over, left unsaid, obscured and erased, not just in translation, but in every act of writing and speech? Not only between languages but within them.

Keep checking in; new work will be added from time to time as it comes to light.