Monday, September 24, 2012

Project Notes

Note to self: Remember!

Perhaps the concept of translation and mistranslation can play in my project hatching. Thylias told me about her experience of translating Spanish poetry when studying at Oberlin and there's an idea! What if in my course of mapping, I include the paths of mistranslation and other-translation? While I am currently in a Spanish class, I thought this idea might be interesting with my knowledge of Chinese. Although I grew up fluent, years of not speaking or reading it has caused it to deteriorate. What remains of this once fluent language? What would the decomposition of this knowledge look like

Rather than a crumbling building, I'd like to think of it as a more organic form. Maybe there is mold or moss growing in the spaces where knowledge once blossomed. If I retaught myself Chinese, would I not acknowledge the strange evolution that had been taking place? It's a re-education and not a rehabilitation.

I can still recite the poems and proverbs my grandmother made me memorize as a child. While I can poorly translate the gist of the poems, I have long forgotten the significance of the act of memorizing them. It's become a tongue-twister, like "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers." I'm sure if you asked me to actually recite the poems, some words would be incorrect due to askewed inflections and pronunciations. That proves troublesome because Chinese, like most languages, depend on the inflections. I could either be saying, "Who am I?" or "I die water."


  1. I adore the idea of visualizing the decomposition of knowledge (for you, your Chinese language skills), especially by viewing it not as a ruined, destroyed state, but rather as an organic state with moss growing (as you said). This makes me think that no knowledge was ever truly "lost" then, merely transformed - or, mistranslated - into a new state, a new tongue. This reminds me of what I was trying to take a look at in the different versions of poems by Poe I posted on. Perhaps this is also a kind of mistranslation? What do you think - is mistranslation possible between two poems identical in intent and written in the same language?

  2. I was definitely thinking about your re/un/mis/translated Poe poem when I was typing my post! I see a direct correlation between poems and language. They're practically synonymous!

  3. a book about book decomposition on Amazon --related, though not exact:

    and go here, for more about "endangered languages":

    books that are travelogues and cultural studies, try this for a form of start:

    --lnguage in the news:

    --or make a "Wordle" --"silent" to make one:

    (link too wordle also in c-tools)

    --only a beginning! --as is some scale of everything...

  4. --and Brian Dettmer's book autopsides!:

  5. an image of a book autopsy here:,r:0,s:0,i:73&tx=61&ty=75

  6. Brin Dettmer's flickr photostream: