Puzzled by the pieces of a broken vase

November 2, 2016

 

In my previous blog post I declared war on dull #translation research texts, stuffed with lifeless and boring comparisons and desperately lacking #originality and freshness when it comes to their vocabulary. No sooner had I finished writing the piece than I came across a lovely metaphor, in a totally unexpected place. Last weekend I visited #Dublin with a friend, and before exploring the history and dark corridors of #Kilmainham Gaol, we stopped at the #Irish #Museum of Modern #Art. One of the collections currently on show is called ‘fragments’, which caught my attention just from its opening paragraph. The inspiration for the collection’s title was borrowed from a philosopher called Walter Benjamin, who penned down the comparison between translation and the re-assembly of a broken vase, expanding that while the individual fragments must be pieced back together, they need not be like each other.

 

I was of course childishly happy that translation took such a prominent place in the exhibition, and immediately decided somewhat opportunistically to turn this little piece of wisdom into my next blog. However, it did not turn out to be as easy an endeavor as I expected, to my disappointment. I realized that while Benjamin’s phrase continued to sound very poetic and full of meaning, I actually had no clue as to what he could have intended by it. Obviously some further research was needed, and I eventually came across one of Benjamin’s articles on translation, called ‘The Task of a Translator’.

 

Don’t they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions? Because my intentions sure were good, but boy did I suffer. Despite the promising quote that made me read the article in the first place, not that much #poetry was to be found in this text. I started reading very optimistically, but decided I urgently needed a break when I came across a sentence that had both the words purpose as purposiveness’s in it. Oh well, I tried. Better luck next time!

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