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[20 Jul 2006|04:40pm]

Hi there,

I'm going to write my thesis over the next few months, and I'm going to write it on postcolonial translation theory if I can get my teacher to agree on that (we never agree on anything, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed), and especially focus on the role of the translator and ways to achieve decolonization through translation. One of the things necessary to have any chance of achieving decolonization is improving the position of the translator, because it's the power imbalance in the translation field that supports the power imbalance in the rest of the world, because the people with the knowledge and ability to translate don't have a lot to say on which work gets translated and how. Therefore I'd like to compare the position of the translator to the position of the white woman, who is in a power position because she is white, but is suppressed by men.

I want to include things like Venuti's resistancy, cannibalism, and some feminist translation strategies, in order to find out where the translator stands and how s/he can come to terms with the external factors influencing his/her work. And also because I think it's time that several theories met. I think keeping each seperate idea in a separate box isn't going to help in any way and bringing them together might lead to more new, better ideas and a deeper understanding of each seperate field. Moreover I think it's quite silly to keep denying that translation is more than turning a text in one language into a text in another language and suppose that it has nothing to do with anything but knowing the 'meaning' of the words.

Maybe it sounds stupid, but over the last years, especially last year when I was reading South African fiction and read the views of Gordimer and Coetzee on writing from the perspective of the other and the difficult position of the white woman, I've become aware of the fact that I'm white, a woman, European, educated, and especially aware of the fact that I'm studying English and actually don't know any languages that aren't European. The first four things I can't change, but I feel like maybe I should learn e.g. an African language so I can actually decide for myself what I will or will not read (and maybe even translate). Just I don't have a clue which language and when and where to learn it, but I expect I'll have plenty of time to think about it.

Any views on this (or ideas for my thesis o'course ;))?
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Link TV Video Clips of YearlyKos [11 Jun 2006|09:01am]

If anyone is interested, you can see clips from YearlyKos here: http://www.linktv.org/yearlykos/

Longer segments with better video controls and chat are posted here: http://www.fora.tv/ - I was told by my friend Robert Fuller that these are going to be free. When I searched, I found this one.
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from Al-Ahram [05 Jun 2006|01:47am]

Native informers and the making of the American empire

Lacking internal support or external legitimacy, writes Hamid Dabashi*, the US empire now banks on a pedigree of comprador intellectuals, homeless minds and guns for hire

IN THE COURSE OF the US presidential election of 2004, during the final round of campaign between President George W Bush and Senator John Kerry, at one point the public debate came down to a comparison between the competing notions of an empire with no hegemony (for President Bush) versus a hegemony with no empire (for Senator Kerry). The issue remained moot, rather tangential and academic to the debate, and unresolved with the re-election of President Bush.

Two Orientalist paintings: Sir Frank Dicksee's Leila and William Clarke Wontner's Safie, One of the Three Ladies of Baghdad; Three colonial picture postcards of young Algerian women--staged, produced and bought by French colonial officers; The original picutre from which the cover of Reading Lolita in Tehran was cropped

Soon after Seymour Hersh published an article in The New Yorker in April 2006, exposing an apparent Pentagon plan to attack Iran--an attack in which for the first time since Hiroshima and Nagasaki the use of nuclear weapon was contemplated--anti-war activists all over the world were alerted that this particularly frightful extension of US militarism might mean the death of tens of thousands of more innocent people. An organisation of concerned scientists issued a warning in the form of a video simulation, predicting that such an invasion, if it included the so-called "tactical" use of nuclear weapon, would immediately kill at least 3 million people, and expose millions of others to cancer causing agents, with the domain of the catastrophe extended eastward beyond Iran into Afghanistan, Pakistan, and even India.

Read more...Collapse )
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Celebrating the marginal man [16 Jan 2006|10:13pm]

If Hum Aapke Hai Kaun (1994) sold you the vision of the marriage of materialism and family values Bluffmaster tells you to hell with the family, materialism is here to stay (As the first song sums up the film “Na biwi na bachha na baap bada na maiyan, the whole thing is that ke bhaiya sabse bada rupaiya.”) Coming from a society that looks at selfsacrifice as an integral part of Indian life this film takes a radically different point of view.

“The appeal of the film must be its total familiarity. No ingredient is new, nothing disturbs. Its reassuring ethos is seductive and soothing, reversing the effects of the global invasion of our culture though not of our economy, implicitly asserting the permanence and stability of all the institutions that are at this moment under pressure: joint family, patriarchy, religion and the nation.”
Times of India (Mumbai) on Hum Aapke Hai Kaun

In Hum Aapke Hai Kaun, Nisha’s (Madhuri Dixit) room displayed jellies, toffees; ice-cream (not a single indigenous sweet) in a country where farmer suicides are on a rise how familiar is the vision of excess. The western sweets, the family business of manufacturing automobiles all represented globalization in Hum Aapke Hai Kaun but the values were strongly Indian. Bluffmaster tells you that the affluence has not left your moral fabric untouched, that economic growth does bring social change with it. Eleven years post-Hum Aapke Hai Kaun we know that the notions of joint family, patriarchy, religion and the nation have undergone a major change, joint family is replaced by
Live-in relationships (think Salaam Namaste) and the idea of a nation has made way for an Americanized global village sort of reality as films about Indians abroad and their cultural conflicts hook the multiplex audience. The reality of Bluff master lies in the here and now of globalize Indian society. Bluffmaster gives us a new hero, a new reality and a more honest version of urban life.

“How do we create a character? We take the morality and aspirations of society and personify them. That becomes a character who is idealized, and then some actor or some actress plays that role and they become big stars.” Explains Javed Akhtar who created the persona of angry young man through blockbusters like Deewar, Trishul. This explains why the trend of films centered on the theme of conmen and criminals has caught the fancy of Bollywood filmmakers.

About fifteen years into globalization and having seen how it translates into everyday reality. We, as a society have seen the Gross Domestic Product grow and the country ‘prosper’ but we as individuals have neither been a part of this progress nor have we benefited from it. This has made us feel deprived of what we feel we rightly deserve. The current films are no more as simplistic as Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge where western way of earning money leaves the family values, untouched. Whenever any society is in state of flux, the social norms and values are constantly changing. As a result there are no clear demarcations of what is good and what bad. The line, if any, is extremely blurred. Finally the film industry is sitting up and taking notice of a changing norm less society. It therefore comes as no surprise that films like Bunty aur Babli, Ek Khiladi Ek Hasina, Kaante are getting made and becoming box office hits.

Bluffmaster is the story of Roy, a conman, his protégé Dittu and his love interest Simmi. Simmi walks out on Roy when she realizes that he is a conman and stands her ground as he tries to win her back. Roy needless to say wins her back after numerous twists and turns in the tales. It’s not the story that is told, but the way it is told that makes all the difference to this film.

One of the first lessons that Roy gives Dittu is that the world is a sea and every socio-economic strata corresponds to various varieties of fish .he goes on to explain how the big fish eats small fish and that’s the rule of survival. The common man is shown in the train, crowded streets and decide not to dupe the common man cause it is simply not worth it. The beautiful Mumbai skyline that bears resemblance to the Manhattan skyline and people hanging out precariously makes a strong comment on urbanization.

Roy is the archetypal marginal man, "lives in two worlds, in both of which he is more or less of a stranger." (Robert Park) he straddles two worlds, one with traditional Indian values where another man touching his woman angers him no end and the other one is the product of a changing globalize society. Marginal man is a result of a culture of poverty juxtaposed by affluence marked by political apathy, the splitting of families, passivity to economical obligations, and a tendency to seek immediate pleasures (Oscar Lewis, 1961) sounds a lot like our current social milieu and explains why the marginal man resorts to crime a having preference for short-term goals and having witnessed so much of social upheaval he has no faith in tomorrow and to him its all about the present.

The celebration of marginality has never been this grand as in Bluffmaster, for instance the use of Hip Hop, music that largely originated in the Harlem neighborhood and clothes that go with the music. The mix of Hip Hop and rap further accentuate the Ghettoism that is an integral part of the marginality of the marginal man. The dancers dressed as show girls make a statement about the time when a rocky desert turned into Las Vegas , and the greed and the flashy lifestyle it brought in its wake.

Not too long ago we saw Helen do the cabaret with a blonde wig and had no problems with it but Mandakini under a waterfall raised the ire of numerous women’s groups. We as a society like to believe that erotica is an ‘imported’ concept. Sex and sexuality is something that the Bhartiya Nari does not talk about. Its easier for men to ogle at Helen and not feel guilty about it because she is not a Bhartiya Nari and she is not someone’s sister, mother and daughter. Somehow a naked European doesn’t upset our values as much as a naked Indian woman can. Besides how can the heroine be ogled at, she is after all the hero’s property and he will not be a hero if he lets others infringe upon his property. Bluffmaster has numerous scantily clad white models dance in its title track ‘sabse bada rupaiya’ the writing on the wall is clear the hero and the social set up may have changed but the role of the woman remains the same.

Watching the film in the stalls in Eros, where one could hear people clap and cheer as Roy conned people, he clearly was a hero they connected with. When they saw Malik (Company 2002) they threw coins at the screen, when they see Roy or Bunty (Bunty aur Babli 2005) they clap. The marginal man had announced his arrival and Bluffmaster proves that he is here to stay.
Marginal Man.
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[12 Jul 2005|01:19pm]

Hi, I wrote an essay on the position of Coetzee and Gordimer as white South Africans, which goes into the ways in which they resist complicity in their work and also discussing the role of feminism. Thought it might be interesting. If anyone wants to use part of my essay or wants a list of the sources I used, just email me. That goes for all the other things I've posted here, too.

White South Africans and ComplicityCollapse )
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July's People by Nadine Gordimer [03 Mar 2005|10:25pm]

I finished July's People by Gordimer today, and it was a lot easier to read than Burger's Daughter. Less politics, more human interaction. I didn't really get the ending, though. Anyway, I think it's an interesting book. For people who don't know what it's about: it deals with the relationship between a family and their slave, July. The family has to flee Johannesburg because the blacks are killing the whites, and they go and live with July. They don't really think they were treating him as a slave, and although in some ways they have been taking really good care of him, they have not even bothered to ask his real name in all these years that he worked for them. Of course there are some problems when this rich white family has to live in a small village of mud huts, and July's wife and mother aren't too happy about them living there either.
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Poems by Langston Hughes [24 Feb 2005|11:41am]

Johannesburg Mines

In the Johannesburg mines
There are 240,000 natives working.

What kind of poem
Would you make out of that?

240,000 natives working
In the Johannesburg mines.

I, Too

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow, I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.
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Representation of Miranda in The Tempest [20 Feb 2005|08:31pm]

I wrote this paper a while ago, I think it sucks, but maybe any of you can find something interesting or useful in it... The Representation of Miranda in The Tempest and its adaptationsCollapse )
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J.M. Coetzee - In the Heart of the Country [20 Feb 2005|07:42pm]

I read In the Heart of the Country by J.M. Coetzee this week, and I thought it was pretty confusing. Initially I thought it was too confusing, but at a certain point it got a bit better and actually became really interesting. The book can be interpreted in many ways because it is so confusing. One cannot really tell what is 'fact' and what is fiction. The main character gives several versions of the same event and shows that she is an unreliable narrator by interpreting things incorrectly and contradicting herself.

It is unclear whether or not the main character, Magda, killed her father. She says she shot him, and buried him, but in the end she is feeding him. I got the impression that she did kill him, although my teacher did not think so.

It is also difficult to say what the story is about. My theory on that is that it is an allegory of colonialism, and a lot of critics seem to agree with that. Magda shoots her father because he has an affair with Anna, a servant, or at least that is what is suggested. She seems to be jealous, this is suggested in a scene where she thinks Anna and her father are having dinner when she is up in her room having a migraine (although there is no real evidence that this is the case, since she can only hear her father talking). There are two servants, Hendrik and Anna, who are married.

Magda feels very useless, she sees herself as a cleaning device or something. She is lonely. Her mother is dead, she does not have any brothers or sisters (she believes that they died, although there is no evidence for that). She hears voices, she imagines things. Her interpretations and the various accounts she gives of certain events seem to be a way to give meaning to her life: "I make it all up in order that it shall make me up" (79).

She tries to write her own story and calls herself "[a] woman determined to be the author of her own life" (68). My idea on this is that she does not succeed in this and that reality keeps pervading her narrative, that there is a case of trauma. There are several references to abuse and rape, Magda pays a lot of attention to her father's genitals when she has to wash his dead body, she also describes the penis of Hendrik, and pages 3-4 seem to point to incest: "Wooed when we were little by our masterful fathers, we are bitter vestals, spoiled for life. The childhood rape: someone should study the kernel of truth in this fancy." In the end she is also raped by Hendrik, and they end up having sex every night when Anna is sleeping. Magda has always felt like a hole that needed filling up, and she is looking for that in Hendrik, she is looking for someone to make her into a whole being, but it does not work. She does not like having sex with him.

Magda is trying to make peace with Hendrik but it does not work. This I think can be seen as a reference to colonialism. Magda cannot just ignore her position, cannot ignore the position of blacks in South Africa and just make everything alright because in the end Hendrik can not be equals with her. Hendrik has to flee for the police because he is afraid they will accuse him of the murder of Magda's father and thinks Magda betrayed him. Hendrik raping Magda can be seen as an attempt to attack the colonizer. Rape has always been important in colonisation because on a metaphorical level colonisation is more or less like rape, but women were also often raped by the colonisers so they would produce slaves. Magda also thinks it is not clear what her relationship to Anna and Hendrik is, she invites them into the house and tries to become friends with Anna.

The novel is concerned with language. Magda talks about meaning, about différance (although she does not use the word), there is a lot of self-reference, and there are some references to Lacan, e.g. "It is a world of words that creates a world of things" which is a quote from Lacan's Ecrits.
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this is somethin on art and women in it... [11 Feb 2005|01:27pm]

When the entire impressionist movement refused to look at women as anything other than either a fallen woman or a child lost in the woods we chose to turn a blind eye to that and look at the beauty of colours , techniques and strokes. Themes did not quite seem to matter . the women in the paintings never look straight across through the painting unless they are bar girls , prostitutes , tramps . Renoir painted women lost in their own world or nature. It was some unwritten rule that the women in the painting would not be aware of being painted. The good women were largely at places such as a granary [ Toulouse lautrec ] , waterfronts [ Renoir] . man -culture and women – nature is a stereotype that most artists seem to reinstate. If women are having a good time they are accompanied by men or chaperones or else they are not good women.

A closer home look at Indian art makes some revelations that makes me never want to look at these artists again. Mohini, the playful and seductive sringar of radha , on a swing, hair left loose. Or mohini playing the taanpura with love and wait in her eyes . raja ravi varma at his best perhaps , painting women , generally modestly clad[save for a few semi naked ones]in the art of beckoning , seducing, waiting for their loved one. One could argue that he was the court painter of prince of baroda and though a little bit of erotica never hurt anyone least / last of all Indian princes ,[madhubani art for instance but that’s another debate] the truth remains he could/ would not make a statement through his paintings. Largely criticized for not being Indian due to his love for very rococo esque colour scheme [ light and shadow , twilight , dusk et al] one look at his themes and paintings puts to rest any further doubts. He further reinstates that when in love Indian women deck up, wait for their lover tirelessly, seduce , doing all things feminine. While the men are bound by no such rules in matters of the heart.

I would dare not call him a modern painter simply because he borrowed heavily from the madhubani miniatures , radha kishan as a dominant theme and portraits of queens and princesses in their parlour , being served by ladies in the waiting [ never a slave in sight lest the queens charact be questioned] , so his painting for his period of time was rather regressive.

M. F Hussain on the other hand has been very bold in making a statement or putting a controversial one on canvas. His collection on Indira Gandhi inspired by a statement made during emergency.[ Indira Gandhi : the only man in the cabinet]. Cut to partho dutta , touted by some dailies to be Picasso in the making, who invariably symbolizes strength , power as male bastions and portrays women in the act of day to domestic chores , gossiping or as accompanying their husbands. His paintings of Benaras ghats rarely have women taking a dip in the ganges alongside the sages [ which is not an unusual sight]. He paints crowds as largely comprising of men. Anjolie Ela Menon being a self proclaimed feminist all her work is looked upon in a feminist light , her portrayal of women and phallic symbols [ that generate a lot of furore due to the sheer sensation/ scandal quotient]does deserve the attention it gets not because it is sensational but because it for the first time looks upon women not just as desired but desiring as well. This equality in our Indian society is quite an utopia.

Beauty is defined by exclusivity , in times of famine beauty is plump and a symbol of abundance a la botticelli , michaelangelo . in times of abundance it is waif thin a symbol of abstinence may be . maybe not. While we sell beauty in jars and bottles and wispy clothes the artists sold it in the female form , sensual but constrained by the society.

The elusive feminine mystique and beauty are

Why must good always be juxtaposed by evil [isn’t that done to death]. But some existential thought prods me to think that if there is no evil how would you define good. Then good is nothing but absence of evil. Thus for something to be evil or ugly it should share the same space/existence with the the beautiful or good. That’s exactly what Manet did in Olympia by putting a Negro slave woman next to the beckoning Olympia he gave her an added beauty of colour , form and the unmistakable body language. Till date our society and the media defines beauty by whats ugly . beauty is waif thin, fair and ugly is fat and dark .

A particular cosmetic brand uses coloured models with their white counterparts. The afro American models serve to make the White Americans look gorgeous .
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[11 Feb 2005|01:23pm]

Tara by Dattani combines the elements of absurd theatre with a more commercially viable feel to it and without ever compromising on sketching out his characters. They are simply brilliant. Tara and her brother Chandan specifically. I see a little bit of Tara in all of us , and yes in myself, Tara is sarcastic , not bitter [till much later in the play] her intelligence is what takes away from us the deep sympathy we would otherwise feel for the poor little thing. The play debunks stereotypes without making it look like a conscious effort. Perhaps it really isn’t. Tara’s mother is the most well sketched character in the play second to Tara and Chandan. The relationship these three share. The grey areas in her mother at the same time the need to protect her children that all mothers feel as an instinct.
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Glyph & Erasure by Percival Everett [26 Dec 2004|04:57pm]

From Erasure by Percival Everett:

Classes did end as all things must, and right on schedule, and with the welcome news that my promotion to professor had come through. But the news did nothing to erase my depression over the rejection of my novel, now the seventeenth one.
'The line is, you're not black enough,' my agent said.
'What's that mean, Yul? How do they even know I'm black? Why does it matter?'
'We've been over this before. They know because of the photo on your first book. They know because they've seen you. They know because you're black for crying out loud.'
'What, do I have to have my characters comb their afros and be called niggers for these people?'
'It wouldn't hurt.'
I was stunned into silence.

From Glyph by Percival Everett:

Have you to this point assumed that I am white? In my reading, I discovered that if a character was black, then he at some point was required to comb his Afro hairdo, speak on the street using an obvious, ehtnically identifiable idiom, live in a certain part of a town, or be called a nigger by someone.
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Postcolonial Translation: Domesticating the Exotic (essay) [22 Dec 2004|11:01pm]

Postcolonial Translation: Domesticating the ExoticCollapse )

This essay was graded 8.5 on M level.
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Rushdie on Commonwealth literature [19 Nov 2004|03:17pm]

Salman Rushdie on a Commonwealth literature conference held in Sweden in 1983:

"Many of the delegates, I found, were willing freely to admit that the term 'Commonwealth literature' was a bad one. South Africa and Pakistan, for instance, are not members of the Commonwealth, but their authors apparently belong to its literature. On the other hand, England, which, as far as I'm aware, had not been expelled from the Commonwealth quite yet, has been excluded from its literary manifestation. For obvious reasons. It would never do to include English literature, the great sacred thing itself, with this bunch of upstarts, huddling together under this new and badly made umbrella" (62).

"The nearest I could get to a definition sounded distinctly patronizing: 'Commonwealth literature', it appears, is that body of writing created, I think, in the English language, by persons who are not themselves white Britons, or Irish, or citizens of the United States of America. I don't know whether black Americans are citizens of this bizarre Commonwealth or not. Probably not. It is also uncertain whether citizens of Commonwealth countries writing in languages other than English – Hindi, for example – or who switch out of English, like Ngugi, are permitted into the club or asked to keep out" (63).

Rushdie, Salman. Imaginary Homelands. Essays and Criticism 1981-1991. London: Granta Books, 1991.
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