When the Segway came out I was quick to mock it and to laugh at the Onion's "gay little scooter" infographic. I mean, like we need more motivation not to walk around? Like I'm not fat enough and must go even further out of shape? This dorkomatic object is going to transform all civilization - NOT. And 12 miles an hour? Wimpy. Why not just ride a bike? Sarcasm won out over my basic technophilia.
Today I got to ride on one for about a minute and it was incredibly fun. It was the closest thing I have experienced to being like some science fiction chick who has been dissected and attached to a spaceship. I felt like a total bionic cyberhuman. Lean forward or back and it follows your body, speeds up, stops. It felt like I just had to think, and I'd move around.
Okay... okay... I can think and my legs move.. but I really like that "brain in a jar" feeling. I would happily be Seria Mau. Actually riding it was a notch below having a personal jet-pack that actually works. Also, the tech museum people had it set to beginner mode, so it couldn't go more than 5 mph. I leaned way forward and it felt out of control fast. I think 8 mph or 12 would take some getting used to, but then it would be great. Supposedly they are also thinking about making a faster one for bike lane use. I do love riding a bike and feel a bit cybernetically enhanced while on one, but I'm also wimpy, lazy, and half-crippled.
The Segway's motion was super smooth. I felt like a part of a well tuned, slick machine. Brain ---> action with no annoying, clunky body in between.
In those SF stories of being the brain in jar attached to spaceship, or exoskeleton or whatever, there are big moments of pathos where the bionicky person regrets smelling a flower or physical touch or eating a sandwich. That's just lame. As a spaceship human you would have even more information coming into your brain. You might not get the rose smell like you used to have it, but instead you'd get a million times more data input and maybe it would have great nuances... I mean, a rose never smells the same twice anyway... sign me up for robot-hood.
For a moment I will merge blogs with Davee because I started to go off at length in the comments to his post on this tibetan word "shenpa", introduced to him from a Pema, a buddhist teacher of some sort. The essay is very interesting - that shenpa place of just realizing the hooked-ness is where I start to write poetry. The poetry is in order to interrupt the shenpa.
As a translator I notice that Pema uses translation and untranslatability as an interruption. "Here is this word, there is no exact equivalent to it in English, but a lot of almosts and explanations. " The leap of mind required to learn the word jolts your thinking out of its ruts. A Tibetan might be equally jolted by studying some English word that is important philosophically that has no equivalent in the Tibetan language. The last few weeks I have been translating from Hebrew, or helping a poet translate from Hebrew to English, and I don't know any Hebrew, or didn't when I started. To sit and listen to her explain the connections between two or three words in the poem - their similiarites in sound, their etymologies and nuances of meaning - it was a strangely ecstatic experience. I would note this is also a good thing about science fiction. People complain about jargon, but invented language does accomplish some level of idea-evolution or idea invention or shifted awareness.
Since the ALTA conference last year and especially since Stephen White's seminar on something called ecotranslation or ecopoetry, I have been way more aware of the issue of foreignizing vs. domesticating in translation. By this I think translators mean the decision to come up with an approximation of meaning that will be familiar to the reader in the target language.
For example, in 2000 when I translated "F---. and the Devil" I chose roughly equivalent birds for many of the birds mentioned in the poem, like making "tarotaro" into "mockingbird" or something. Now, I would lean towards just saying "tarotaro" and letting the American reader wonder - or making it possible for them to turn to footnotes - or assuming that the curious will just google it. The effortlessness of answering reference questions on the net, I think, means that translators can be more bold in their foreignizing.
Yesterday in my truck I was listening to an old tape of Sweet Honey in the Rock and on the song about Robert Bork I burst into tears foolishly. "The bitter battle over Bork is over, the bitter battle over Bork is done, the bitter battle over Bork is history, and OUR SIDE WON!" "That Reagan era liberal optimism which was so pathetic then - from my point of view in all-republican Houston - it looks like nirvana now," I thought. "Here I am in the promised land of Califa and yet the world has gone mad. Wonder what Sweet Honey girls thought about fuck-o Clarence Thomas. No wait, actually, I don't have to wonder."
The "Are my hands clean?" song brought another flood to me. Who knows anything now about "the blood soaked fields of El Salvador" or realizes what our country did to their country. Creía que a mí no me gusta mi patria pero este vergüenza ya me muestra que sí. If I weren't a nationalist and a patriot I wouldn't be ashamed.
Then this morning I get this:
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, "[the men] are entitled to respect for their private lives...� The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime."
Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stehpen Breyer agreed with Kennedy in full.� Justice Sandra Day O'Connor agreed with the outcome, but not all of Kennedy's thinking.
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.� Scalia wrote for the three, "The court has largely signed onto the so-called 'homosexual agenda.'... The court has taken sides in the culture war... nothing against homosexuals."�
Read a book about autism, Let Me Hear Your Voice, by Catherine Maurice. It was excellent and interesting. I'm in the middle of "Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder", which has some good points but is mostly striking me as a bit nutty. Maybe in 20 years we'll all be aghast at the cow's milk we have been drinking, and it does seem reasonable to associate gastrointestinal problems with autism, and I do believe lots of people have gluten and milk allergies, but.... still... ending up at homeopathic teas did not help convince me. From my armchair: after reading this book, about 2% of me wanted to eat nothing but raw carrots and rice; all my health problems will be solved... maybe that's the magic bullet... I'll be svelte as a model... I'll gain 20 IQ points and my house will be cleaner and more organized. Other 98% of me is way more skeptical of this mountain of anecdotal evidence and emotional appeals. Besides the homeopathic tea, the allure of the miracle clean house and model figure that Seroussi gained by going on this very restricted diet herself, I'd say the least convincing moments of this book were the parts where it was clear the author thinks everyone would benefit - that moms who feed their infants cow's milk are almost dangerously criminal and are in need of being saved - her horror at the cheese flavored fish crackers fed to autistic kids as rewards in "Let me hear your voice" style therapy - not considering that maybe some kids have variants of autism that don't involve gastrointestinal problems... It is a big warning flag to me when people are convinced that they have found the magic formula of diet or vitamin to fix everything.
That said, if my kid were autistic, I would try anything that looked promising, even feeding him nothing but gluten-free vitamins, rice, and boiled white fish. Heck. Maybe I'll go on that diet and have to eat my words. I feel bad mocking Seroussi's book but can't help it. I'm certainly glad her kid got better and she was able to help people. But I find the book suspect anyway in its fervent attachment to dietary solutions to every problem.
I am in the middle of School Success by Gender: A Catalyst for the Masculinist Discourse on jhk's recommendation. He criticizes this long report for its failure to take into account any possibility of a positive non-sexist "masculinist" discourse. I have not finished the report, but so far I have to agree with a lot of what it says. They do equate "masculinists" with misogynists to some degree and it seems wrong of the report to make this so absolute. Though, what if that's just reflecting what they saw? Maybe they didn't see any non-misogynist articles about gender differences - likely enough. jhk points out in that case, they could have at least provided a category for it and rated it at 0%. I guess when they say there are masculinist misinformation campaigns, and this misinformation campaigns should be fought, I'm with them. Where is the "good" men's movement? I haven't found it. I have only found individual nice guys. They should all be having consciousness-raising groups like 70s feminists. Like Max's bachelor party...
All this serious reading !
Meanwhile, between paragraphs, spent the day working on those lame-ass grants, having coffee with Bad Moms Club, working more on grants. Because these poetry center people can't get their head out of their collective ass, I spent 5 hours looking up phone numbers and addresses and bios and publication lists for the proposed grant recipients. Now, since the board already invited them, they must ALREADY have this information somewhere. Everyone I ask points at someone else. No one knows. No one has this basic info. Why? WTF? Am I wasting my time? When I drove all the way down there, NO INFO that I had requested, but instead I spent my precious time setting up a computer and showing someone how to use Filemaker.
"We've been paying someone to do this.. I don't know if it's possible but... what I'd really like to do is..."
"You want to print address labels?"
"Yes! Yes, exactly! How did you know?"
"Uh... what you have here is a list of 200 names and addresses, it's not rocket science."
"You are a gem! You're so confident!"
Jesus H. Christ. What I'm not confident about is these people's ability to survive as an organization. Also why am I helping them? They're cluelessly racist, they're incompetent, they're old fashioned, they just lost their biggest funding source, they don't seem interested in me as a poet. Nice enough otherwise though... Am I really going to learn anything here?
Spent most of the afternoon playing "house" for the first time with M. Before, he would play "baby" but this time he said the whole thing, like "You be the mommy and I be the daddy and this (a toy dinosaur) is the baby." He switched off being mommy and daddy. Both involved a lot of going to the store in a car, with keys. Then feeding the crying "baby", changing its diaper, putting baby to bed with a blanket and a kiss and a bottle. It was a nice game to play. Did not cook or clean (beyond mac n cheese). Did not earn any money. Did not work on school project.
Just got back from Harry Potter bookstore party at Keplers - it was insane - little kids and grownups and blase-acting teenagers all dressed up in robes and glasses and lightning scars. I think several people were nearly trampled as it neared midnight!
Off to read H.P. in the bathtub and find out who died. Tomorrow will be a super-hamtaro morning for little M. because I plan to read until I finish the book.
I spent the last 2 days grooving on Yehudit's poetry. She made literal translations of her poetry, often with long lists of possible words like this: biography (chronicles curriculum vitae history annals) . By some miracle we felt that we were on the same wavelength and I was able to grok what was going on in this long mythical poem-cycle. Over the hours our conversations got nuttier and nuttier. "So the thorn, the yud, is the first word, the first letter of YWH or YHWH or whatever, and the thorn pierces my tongue..." "Ah, like the logos, the word phallus, in the beginning was the Word, order piercing chaos, your tongue is forked like the serpent and..." "Exactly! The tongue is pierced and the lion crouching over the violin is the flame of the Holy of Holies. The fire is the inspiration of the Axis Mundi the mandala spins around." "Oh okay, you don't actually have the lion here but it's the implied lion." "Right, I never actually say 'lion' but you see the lion." "And Arke, she is the messenger running out, but also Arche of Thales." "So here why don't we say "the yud-thorn piercing... rather than just 'the thorn' because no one will get it otherwise and they might not get it anyway but at least they'll know there's something there not to get."
This made complete sense to us.
We had the funny picture of me as co-translator being like the poetic handmaiden in her lap between her legs, with a huge dick-tionary (logos/phallus/birth) between my legs. This also made sense, I suspect only to us in the heat of the moment.
Anyway, I am having a great time with it. Poetry is nuts. Good poetry has to be.
I am picturing the funny products that will come out - will guys go to Jamba Juice and order the "Strawberry Jizz Boost"? Fucking nasty!!! Will there be commercials (cummercials?) on TV where there are a bunch of macho football players in a bar and some big haired girls in miniskirts, and then one of the macho guys orders a "Jizz Lite" beer and the girls all look at him and go "Hmmm, think I'll pick that one to blow!" Or what? They need some serious marketing chutzpah. Screw just having it in dingy health food vitamin stores that smell like asparagus pee.
And why limit oneself to just "neutralizing the salty, bitter taste"? Why not flavor it?
And where is the girls' version? Actually I think the girl version might just be to eat a lot of garlic. Seriously now though, it's only a matter of time before they have some pill you take that makes your pussy have some nauseating artificial banana flavor. Progress - I love it.