2011年6月28日 星期二

It’s traditionally considered advantageous for a writer.

Why we fight: we’re trying to make cricket bats.

-“In my view, emotion in a reader derives from reception of a clear rendering of primal human experiences: fear of death, desire, loss of love, celebration of being. To spark emotion, a poet must strive to attain what Aristotle called simple clarity. The world that the reader apprehends through his or her senses must be clearly painted, even if that world is wholly imaginary…” again, Mary Karr, Against Decoration.

Sticking to words in the name of some sort of belief about what translation is leads only to balls. Balls, that is:

(The following is from Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing.)

ANNIE: You’re jealous of the idea of the writer. You want to keep it sacred, special, not something anybody can do. Some of us have it, some of us don’t. We write, you get written about. What gets you about Brodie is he doesn’t know his place. You say he can’t write like a head waiter saying you can’t come in here without a tie. Because he can’t put words together. What’s so good about putting words together?

HENRY: It’s traditionally considered advantageous for a writer.

ANNIE: He’s not a writer. He’s a convict. You’re a writer. You write because you’re a writer. Even when you write about something, you have to think up something to write about just so you can keep writing. More well chosen words nicely put together. So what? Why should that be it? Who says?

HENRY: Nobody says. It just works best.

ANNIE: Of course it works. You teach a lot of people what to expect from good writing, and you end up with a lot of people saying you write well. Then somebody who isn’t in on the game comes along, like Brodie, who really has something to write about, something real, and you can’t get through it. Well, he couldn’t get through yours, so where are you? To you, he can’t write. To him, write is all you can do.

HENRY: Jesus, Annie, you’re beginning to appall me. There’s something scary about stupidity made coherent. I can deal with idiots, and I can deal with sensible argument, but I don’t know how to deal with you. Where’s my cricket bat?

ANNIE: Your cricket bat?

HENRY: Yes. It’s a new approach. [He heads out into the hall.]

ANNIE: Are you trying to be funny?

HENRY: No, I’m serious. [He goes out while she watches in wary disbelief. He returns with an old cricket bat.]

ANNIE: You better not be.

HENRY: Right, you silly cow —

ANNIE: Don’t you bloody dare —

HENRY: Shut up and listen. This thing here, which looks like a wooden club, is actually several pieces of particular wood cunningly put together in a certain way so that the whole thing is sprung, like a dance floor. It’s for hitting cricket balls with. If you get it right, the cricket ball will travel two hundred yards in four seconds, and all you’ve done is give it a knock like knocking the top off a bottle of stout, and it makes a noise like a trout taking a fly… [He clucks his tongue to make the noise.] What we’re trying to do is to write cricket bats, so that when we throw up an idea and give it a little knock, it might … travel[He clucks his tongue again and picks up the script.] Now, what we’ve got here is a lump of wood of roughly the same shape trying to be a cricket bat, and if you hit a ball with it, the ball will travel about ten feet and you will drop the bat and dance about shouting Ouch! with your hands stuck into your armpits. This isn’t better because someone says it’s better, or because there’s a conspiracy by the MCC to keep cudgels out of Lords. It’s better because it’s better. You don’t believe me, so I suggest you go out to bat with this and see how you get on. [quoting from the play] You’re a strange boy, Billy, how old are you? Twenty, but I’ve lived more than you’ll ever live. Ooh, ouch! [He drops the script and hops about with his hands in his armpits, going Ouch! ANNIE watches him expressionlessly until he desists.]

ANNIE: I hate you.

HENRY: I love you. I’m your pal. I’m your best mate. I look after you. You’re the only chap.

ANNIE: Oh, Hen… Can’t you help?

HENRY: What did you expect me to do?

ANNIE: Well…cut it and shape it…

HENRY: Cut it and shape it. Henry of Mayfair. Look — he can’t write. I would have to write it for him.

ANNIE: Well, write it for him.

HENRY: I can’t.


HENRY: Because it’s balls. Mary’s part is the least of it — it’s merely ham-fisted. But when he gets into his stride, or rather his lurch, announcing every stale revelation of the newly enlightened, like stout Cortez coming upon the Pacific — war is profits, politicians are puppets, Parliament is a farce, justice is a fraud, property is theft… It’s all here: the Stock Exchange, the arms dealers, the press barons… You can’t fool Brodie — patriotism is propaganda, religion is a con trick, royalty is an anachronism… Pages and pages of it. It’s like being run over very slowly by a travelling freak show of favourite simpletons, the India rubber pedagogue, the midget intellectual, the human panacea…

(end passage)


“I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you’re dead.”

(end quote)

Yes, the words are sacred, the words your audience is reading, not the originals. You can’t get the new ones in the right order if you’re too scared to touch the sacred original ones.

2011年6月27日 星期一

Flights to quality

The meteoric rise of Apple represents a flight-to-quality, but not a flight to quality.

The idea that there’s this pent up demand for “quality”, and that all you need is a charismatic leader to smack you upside the head to make you realize it is nothing but wishful thinking.

Apple doesn’t win on quality, arranged against a sea of undistinguished, cheaper competitors. It wins by giving less risk and making things more simple. It didn’t even used to charge its mark-up as a symbol of quality and status, it did so because it really couldn’t get lower costs in comparison to its competitors. Its new products actually do benefit from enormous scale, and it does have relatively lower prices on some products, but maintains a relatively high price on many simply to maintain its status as a premium brand.

Apple gives you answers, lies of course, but definitive answers that are good enough so that you don’t have to think anymore. That’s how you sell anything, not by dripping out little things and saying it’s kinda good or whatever, and is what it is, and stands by itself, etc, etc. Those days, if they ever existed, are gone. Marketing: this is what this is, this is all there is, all you need to know, and how it’s going to help you. Done.

What I’m saying here is that we’re selling records and you don’t sell many records by not selling them. This is selling records. It’s about reach and relevancy, and pretty ain’t got nothing to do with it. Otherwise, well, y’know.

Seems to be a Wikipedia-heavy day. Should really get back to actual translation contributionisms.

2011年6月17日 星期五

Paid to look pretty

People like to look at pretty things. There’s a market for the makeup artist and the model, but I’m beautifully confident there’s no market for the “authentic.”

At the same time, there’s a market for mirrors, or as the kids call it these days, “filters.” Now some people may tell you the yearning for difference is a yearning for the authentic, but they are lying to you. People want Game of Thrones because it tells the exact same story as all the other stories, with a filter (an occasional trill, pseudo old language, “oldish” costumes.) But have no doubts, Game of Thrones is 90210 with all the sex and violence you always craved. And in 10 years you’ll get even more of the sex and violence you’re missing now.

So the next time you’re thinking about trotting out your version of the “real world”, think about how many successful ad campaigns have been based on reality in the past 60 years. How many used models without makeup? How many didn’t use models?

Translation is a catch-all. In a non-command world, people need to have a reason to keep on reading or listening, market or not. Actions and results speak louder than the occasional call from the wild about “authenticity.”

I wish I could remember what I wanted to write about ‘strongly-typed languages.’ I’m pretty sure I had more and more interesting things to say about that.

2011年6月2日 星期四

The booger king


著 九把刀


Animal was my best friend back then, and his family had a lot of money. He’d always have a new copy of the Youth Express each week which he’d let me look at. We’d read about Super Saiyans and Frieza and whatever new things were happening in the Blast Limit Saga. I knew that stuff cold, just as well as he did. Where my confidence came from, however, always remained a mystery.

He lived in a small town in Lugang. After class we’d read comics together while we waited for the bus.

“You’ve been talking to Jiayi a lot recently,” Animal said, sitting under a tree, looking up at the sky.

“Yup,” I said as I kept on reading his magazine.

“You don’t think that’s a little weird? I mean, what do you even talk about?” he said, still looking up at the sky.

He was always staring up at the clouds. It eventually got me thinking something’s just not right with people who do that.

“You know, whatever,” I said, making a face before getting back to the magazine.

“I mean, she’s got really good grades. What could she possibly want to talk to you about?”

You’d think his neck would get sore eventually.

“Animal,” I said, picking my nose without putting down the magazine.

“Goin’ fishin?” he said, still entranced by the clouds.

“You know, I’m not just some ordinary guy,” I said, admiring the snot on my finger.


“Yeah, really. Sometimes I even scare myself with how incredible I am,” I said, placing the booger on his blue backpack.

“原文” http://giddens.twbbs.org/story/21girl/s_girl03.htm