Ode to Translators

Translation is a way of life: to negotiate between systems, to search to understand multiple meanings, to straddle systems, to be in multiple locations simultaneously, to effect change, to introduce new ideas, to always confront the dualities of words and the dualities that language itself embodies, to look deeply into cultures and ways of viewing the world, to mediate, to subvert, to break norms, to give a new life to language and ideas, to mediate between past, present, future, to be in all time constructs at once.

Some scholars say that translators have the most intimate readings and experiences with the works that they translate. Perhaps that is because they temporarily embody the very medium that they transfer: words. Translators become words, they travel like words: the very words they interpret and re-codify. Like a devotee possessed, they are mounted by words and depend upon that activity, that trance, to carry the word into another dimension. Another dimension that carries a whole new range of possibilities.

They work in a space between languages that is simultaneously in both languages.

Translators cross all kinds of boundaries, often without physically moving at all. They reflect deeply on multiple interpretations, the possibilities of multiple audiences, the possibilities of multiple intentions that often contradict each other. They reflect and weigh these perceptions, and even as they create, they are aware of an inner voice that reminds them of the dangers, hopes, and possibilities of representing and of representation.

Translators look at the meaning that a word conveys and the meaning that surrounds the word. They work with the aura of the word, its spirit and its life force.

All of this, or simply a tool for imperialism, for colonization, conquer, destruction. We all have our decisions. We all have our crossroads.



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