Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Immigrant/Craig/Harriet

[Craig PS is whipping the normally so docile Harriet Blog into a frenzy with some provocative recent entries. Here's my response to his entry about bilingualism. I will write a response to his entries on David Larsen's translation practices later today:]

I’m bilingual, but I generally refer to myself as an immigrant, because bilingual feel like a euphemism, and there’s more to this issue that just the language – how one walks (seriously), talks, dresses, writes poetry, writes about poetry all have to be policed.

The immigrant’s body is kitsch, the immigrant’s language is kitch: either because it’s a token of the authentic (tourist tsatchkes) or because it’s not a token of the authentic. The immigrant is a site of excess (words have too many meanings, literature has too many authors, they are exotic and predatory, they ruin the illusion of cohesion, of coherence etc). And that’s why they have to be policed. And this also goes back to why I am critical of notions of “community” that are based on “realness” and “authenticity.” The immigrant is inauthentic.

As for my poetry, I have a book called Pilot where I work with the way two (and more) languages interact to create contorted versions (very “exotic” – to refer back to your last post – at least to myself) of these languages. In part i did this by writing in a strange Swedish, in part by translating that swedish in various ways; in part by translating American canonical texts (Cronenberg, Scalapino, birthing manuals) through various langauges. I wanted to teach the reader how to read like a foreigner, like a grappler, a stumbler and bumbler of languages. Because that reading is violent and beautiful.

Well, I could go on. I got on this site because I wanted to respond to your translation post but you’re just one step ahead of me all the time Craig and now my daughter is crying so I will respond to the Larsen statements later perhaps here or perhaps on my own blog since that thread now appears over.



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