Conduct

My relative silence from this blog has been due to that translation that lassoed me in. The 'sample' I had been sent hadn't been representative of the entire text. Nor were the terms respected. And I received emails with bold print, which may have been provoked by the fact that I thought I had been jeered when they said that my translation would be better than the original. I write this because it is yet another illustration of the forces, even ostensibly benevolent, in this case of gainful employment, that must be fought in order for us to remain free, if in thought. We work among cacophonous forces that are not concerted.
What is more, the writer-translator, may be, by default, over-sensitive; one may blame adolescent afternoons spent with the Bovarys or Julien Sorel for allowing the narrative in one's mind based on sentiments. The word sentiment has to do with being able to receive impressions, immediacy, the ability to feel, even intuit. It is no wonder that sentiments, including those of love, have troubled people throughout the ages to the point of their wishing to concoct remedies, which may comprise words. To be sentimental is to enter a dimension some will claim is not there.
Similarly, to be able to extend a narrative of sentiments, page after page, is to possibly see the people around one as boorish: one has a magnifying glass in one's hands, a tool developed through overly-concentrated observation for over-extended periods of time. To be alive in this way in this age is to either retreat like Rilke to the land of books or to become a warrior engaged with discord, where the page of each moment is never silent in response to one's words, as is the blank page, blankly receiving what one puts there.
But people only appear not to be sentimental. To cut off feeling entirely is to no longer be alive. Therefore, the boorish are just those with inarticulate sentiment - those who have discordant inner lives.
To claim sentiment is to become the object of ridicule for those undecided in the face of their own emotions. Heraclitus writes that the truth is one but that people make it look like it is many: is this not because of the various emotional paths used to reach that Rome, each path attempting dominance, to become the main drag? This is the nature of sentiment: we're told that to deal with problem coworkers, one is to let them vent, to give their words primacy, to add questions like, why does that make you feel that way, I hear what you are saying. Potions and charms exist as cheap ways to mediate the unbridled.
Rumi writes that we are given imperfection (e.g. caprice) in order to be more understanding with others. This truth is a singularity on which we should all agree. "Familial piety" - in this context, appreciating the oneness of the musical scale of human behaviour. The words come from the Preface to my own copy of the Iliad, brought to me from Greece. The translation was updated by Murray's great nephew, inspired by "love of Homer" and "filial piety", with the hope that it would "Nestor-like serve" a few generations. This is the beauty the concerted effort over what is worth preserving. All work should be so conducted.




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