CONJUNCTIONS: A Web Exclusive
|this flying forwards backward, this missnessing, it has to do more with everything—
Augusto de Campos and Emily Dickinson translation experiments by Eric Ellingsen and others
I go Penha
hurt, in your skin, Ana and Paula
everything, all, alles, alas, Matheus said, after, Cidade City Citè.
(I think it has to do more with everything.)
To start or initiate Luiz
again, Alex, again means again
the color of Adriane
giving color to Ana
a flower Paulo
I need the will to go there, Will
like will you go to Paris Naina
(You know this before the future.)
The laugh Miguel
the love Ilona
what a windmill does, maybe crush Ariane and Gabriel
the sky Carlo
to fall down Lauriza
the pain Jochim
pain tales and Rafael
Hurt too: the love letters
this, this is this
(I English this)
It’s like you’re hurt A
It all begins
again A, G, A, J.
The colors L
To blush K
The flower G
E, C, E
or the past tense of to go.
Went away P, D,
D to M eat N
The love M
Destroyed in the second person
(to scratch, to break, to bite
an antique word:
a very romantic phrase: L
The sky M
(The Something follows)
TRANSLATING Augusto de Campos’s translation of Emily Dickinson’s #245 back into English, and other things that never made it into Portuguese
“I think of myself as a hare, as Charles Wright says Virginia Woolf once said, stilled, expecting moon visitors.”
#245, at 2:55 pm, November 29, 2011,
Ding says, this word only exists in this language. The feeling
of missing somebody more than missing, more than
nostalgia—a missing that is present.
Ding says I had a jewel between my fingers.
Ding says and slept.
Ding says hot was the day, ok, tedious
the wind. “It’s mine,” Ding says.
Ding says awake—my fair fingers
Ding says (the gem is gone) I censor.
Ding says an amethyst missness
Says the way it works is the way I meant it to work.
Missness: The way it missnesses is the way I mean it to miss.
Ding says the missness is all I have.
November 29, 2011, around afternoon,
Sandra says I had a jewelry in my fingers
and I slept.
Hot was the day, (and this ? )
the wind. It is mine, I said or sad.
Wake up and my fingers my honests
my trusts my truests,
the gem goes out. Censures or something—
Amethyst, a Brazilian stone. A circle around a nostalgic
November 29, 2011, around 20.00,
Ana, Alice, Carol, Jerôme, Marcia say I had a jewelry on my fingers. Say and. Say I felt, I fell, I falling, I asleep. Say the day was warm. Say no. Say warm was the day. It could be. Say but it could be something else. The day. It could be something, or someone. I would say, I had a ring on my fingers and then I fell asleep. Maybe because it was hot. And I was born on a wind. Maybe. No no no. I was bored on a wind. How do you say I said? How do you say question? Maybe it’s mine between quotations. I said, I felt asleep. I said, I wake up. We all agree on this. I wake up. Yes. And my honest fingers, a person, a window, the woman, the nothing between the egg and this . She pointed. No, it’s an alien name. No, it’s the center of an egg. No, a yolk. No, but it’s the same as a moon. No. Well maybe. No. It’s important. Yes. It’s very important. Yes.
She waves her fingers in front of the poem, pokes me moon. It’s important. The name is all this and a yolk. Of course, I’ll read the original after we’re through! Oh yes, the original. The precious stone. The day. What is it when you smooth this? No. This is the original now. A second original. An also. No, it could be one thing more, a verb. An “A.” No. No. We have problems with names, names of stones, names of eggs, names of nos. Forget the egg and censor. I censored. I censor, that is all you need to know. I miss amethyst. That’s why I got so sad. No. That’s what I possessed. The sad. Yes.
November 29, 2011, around 21.00,
(#245 second time, after reading out loud Emily’s original, after talking why, after talking what, after this, after asking again, Ana, Alice, Carol, Jerôme, and I try again, and with Marcia, the one on a warpath, the one who thinks I’m using her ((her, us, all of us; you)) to make a poem)
I had a jewel around my finger.
I fell asleep.
The day was warm—
the wind an essay, or
prosy, or more. I this.
I wake up. My honest fingers
I censored. The gem was gone.
I miss amethyst.
Missing’s what I have now.
During the second poem
we laugh how. We laugh jewel. We laugh how Jewel has the most poetry books sold in poetry today. We laugh how padlocks smell fishy. Or should. We laugh getting creamed. Sticking it. Finest street finger food in Brazil. I tell the story of Lance asking me to smell his fingers at the water behind the worship speakers when I was fourteen. The right losing place. Our time of unfurring. Who’s inside the fortune cookie now, Marcia asks me? Marcia rails me. She’s warpathing. This is what we do. The critical why. How to properly approach someone you want something from: a greeting, a food offering, a translation please, or things. Thing things. What a curved word would be. I suggest the equivalent of word implants, plastic poetry surgery. How I stare at ideas cleavage. How dare you? Climbing gear looks. Back masking hidden tracks. Keep talking to me … The place where memory tries to listen in. When attention span is on the wane, the butter comes out of her ears. Ears like a soothsayer. The danger of dropping fragile names that shatter. It’s because you don’t have the word that expresses this feeling in your language, the warpather says. I wink a week later. What’s this hole here? Things are easily fixed upstairs, she says. I give her my jacket. “I consider spoken Portuguese to be a different language, a very different language, from written Portuguese,” I say, Queneau says, to her. (Emphasis mine. Sic mine.) The pocket has a well-worn hole. Needs to be rehemmed. Is something easily fixed with stitches. Or darning. Or something. Let’s see to this upstairs.
At precisely 2:45 pm, December 1, 2011,
I ask an Isabel. Isabel from now on is “I” or “Is.”
I had a jewel on my fingers, a jewel jewel. Why a jewel? Not a ring. A stone. Precious, or semiprecious? A gem? Raw found, or raw cut and then worked, and then polished properly. A thing into shape. It’s worked. Shaped. Tuned. Sprung. A luster. Do I luster? I am looking at I. Facet. Face it. Is. I luster for sure. Depth matters. An exactness. The cut has consequences. I need to trap the light ray right. Bounce back: a luster. Held or had? Held in? Had on? I asks Simon and Leon. Simon and Leon ask me. A philosophy of refraction. Of letting things pass through and change. It starts generic: a jewel. Of no specific origin. Of no specific type. But it’s the Jewel, direct object. It’s been given. It’s someone’s specific meaning now. Holding works something found into some kind of shape. Hold hard. Hold on. Press right. Holding on makes one tired.
And I fell asleep. Fell. She’s awake now. I wake. We wake more than once each day.
Hot warm was the day. Boring the winds—bored. I’ve never known a boring wind. Bore. To bore down on. Press into. Impress. Something wind pressed. Smoothed. Weathered. Slowly. Continuously. A board. Something felled. We felled. Boring in. To pierce, or, to board a flight. Boarding up. A board is made from the timber, or pulpwood. Pressed slurry. Like chicken. Like eggs. Saplinged. Or, cut precisely from one thing. Like tree borrowing from northern native Americans. I don’t remember their names. The Kwaakuitl. Prying the boards you need from a living tree with yew-wood wedges. Just enough to keep things growing. Begged from. You would. Boards from the whole forest without taking anything all the way down. Or like Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopedia, tree limbs bent to grow into the specific shapes of boards you need for specific parts of boats. You don’t say Eric. Precisely prosy. Hmm. Hewn. Worked. Planed. Finished, well, finished for a long time. To become a small part of something else. Some house. Some hut. Some boardwalk easement. Crafted. Into more intricate shape. If I was a board I wouldn’t want to be plane. Where you cut the board will determine which way it will bend, slant, bow.
‘Twill, she says. It will. It will twill. Weave. Offset. Allow drape. I think I luster again.
“It’s mine,” I said—. I wake
up—and my sincere, my honest, my fingers, my honest fingers, my holding, my why. Why my honest fingers? Why my point? They point. They grab. We touch. A contract of touching. I luster. I want to touch everything. I want to touch everything true.
(The gem went away). Why? Of course it did. It always does. Gems go away. That’s just like Gems. They always go away. Slip off. Why Gem now? Why not jewel?
I censure—I stop at nothing—I take things out—I take out “I.” We do. We think of an experiment: Go all day without saying the first-person singular “I.” We recommend trying. We agree Emily would like this. We all do.
We do an amethyst longing, or a longing of amethyst. We want wanting to press the Jewel into a Gem, press the Gem to a specific stone. An Amethyst. Amethysts used to be precious, till they were found in bulk in Brazil in the nineteenth century. In bulk. In other divided solids. To bulk is boring. Eighteen hundred poems found in bulk in the eighteen something or other. Last century. Twelve or so published in books. Same century. Too long. Too long to measure. To measure longing. How to measure longing? What scale is this? What scale is this missing? She’s probably pressing plants. She’s probably touching her sacred spring.
Missing. This missing is what I have. Longing is what I have. What I have to hold. To start holding. The holding on is what we have. It doesn’t help the luster.
What Rodrigo left out and added from Emily #245, on December 3, 2011,
He left out now.
He left out the remembrance.
He added brackets.
And he makes this carry a negative
connotation now. We connote now. Now this is something
sad. This is a mixture. This is the meaning
of violet. This the eight-lobed brain!
Make sure to find the nineteenth century. Look up
the lost. The forgotten. The intoxicating symbols
of amethyst. The impurities’ malleable hardness.
The cicadas’ sense of form. The protection
in battle. You hard white now, you wine-soaked deposit,
you big chaste deposit, you Brazilian
stone. He says, she’s lost
her heart. He says, the winds are full
of tedium posts, not prose
making. Those were the good old days. The word
he uses is deeper. Then memory. Then a membrane brain
from old days. For old memory mist, ‘twill.
‘Twill does do that. Did. That
‘Twas. This ‘Twere. This ‘Tweren’t.
This ‘Twill be. The missing
pieces allow a nostalgia to move in.
On the other side of the poem is a plan of a city
a diagram where all the water in Brazil goes.
On December 3, Rodrigo is unhappy,
simply not happy with Augusto’s Emily. He comes back. Brings it up. Has translated Brazilian philosophers before. Vilém Flusser for starters. Like Augusto, Flusser translated many of his own books into other languages, like German and Spanish. Each time Flusser translated one of his own books, he took the chance to rewrite it entirely. So the German translation is a different book than the same book in Portuguese. To accurately translate any of Flusser’s books into English would require separate translations for each translation in each language. I ask Rodrigo to make a second Portuguese translation of Emily Dickinson’s #245 into English. Three days later, I give Rodrigo’s translation to three people: an architect, an artist, a waitress. The translation by the architect has been lost. The translation by the artist is no good. The translation by the waitress has been cut by the editor.
#245 Rodrigo does his own Emily
Segurava uma jóia em meus dedos—
O dia estava quente, e os ventos cheios de prosa—
“Assim ficará” disse eu—
Acordei—com meus dedos honestos zanguei,
A jóia nāo mais of tinham—
E agora uma lembrança de Ametista
É tudo o que tenho—
On the side I do my lusters for Emily
Please forgive my fingers, I don’t think they are all liars.
Which way is the earth rotating? Now
if I can rose things right, then.
Then is the secret staying closer
to the ruins right here? Is this the place
where I rather starts? Is this the place
where censors are cosmically sensitive to being
censors? Is this where the warpath vocabulary
warpaths? Overlooks the discordant
harmony of honey, unpacks the brain swallowed chirps.
This multi-everything. This missnessing. This shiny predation. This
the winds’ starting place. Where winds dream blew blue.
The place where all jewelry starts. This is where birds trade stories
of ‘twill, play in the dark
while our honest fingers eyes close.
They say my seasonable slump test stopped not stopping. They say the idea of slump testing is always different than the act of slump testing when some slumping starts. I say can she be a slump test. Something that stops stopping but doesn’t end. You ended but didn’t stop stopping. The idea of mesmerizing stopped. The idea of released stopped. The idea of returning stopped. I don’t know if stopping left a tattery hue. Can she be a tattery? Do I make nimbuses while she makes tattery hues? The idea of stopping was faster than the time it takes for having the idea of zilch. But you still mattered. They said you would stop mattering, go away. But you must have a huge matter pile, a lot of matter. I asked the lurking physicists how much matter you had. They said, What are you talking about? Other theys all said very matter of factly, it’s a matter of fact. Matter of fact, it all may stop someday. I hope I’m there when it all stops to know.
Oh you hunch experts. Oh you plug pullers. Oh you relic providers. Oh you purveyors of second chances. Oh you Stoppers. What rills. What mazy motion. What are rills anyway? Can she be a rill? Can she be a reason and a caterpillar too? If she’s a rill I want to be a rail around that rill. I want to lean on that rail and rim that rill forever. She’s on the opposite side of the planet but we’re separated by 150 years. I’m sure there is a French word that perfectly fits this feeling. What a pickle. I wish she would say that. I wish she would invite me back to share gulps from her cruet. The idea of a cruet. Just to see her jug again with the cork bung. Oh eloquent advocates, please make the bung and cruet thoughts stop. All I really want is everything to end without anything stopping. But when ending, I forgot if beseeching matters. Can she be a beseech? I think she is a beseech. I just want to stop wanting it all to stop. Now where did I lose my table of contents? Let’s lets. Was I just athwarting? What ‘twill. The characteristics of a ‘twill. Would I be able to recognize a ‘twill if a ‘twill ran into me in broad daylight? Can I trade the word ‘twill for a throwing star? Can I throw that throwing star at all the stop makers? The next time I turn myself into a jewelry I’m going to get lost. Where have all the coconut venders gone, the ones with bendy straws that reach though time into your heart? You have a dream, I have a feeling. Let’s find an orange beanbag and let our fingers be less honest fingers. The end.
At last I was amorphous. I kicked from the inside out.
My tools were invisible like Wonder
Woman’s plane. The toolbox was the world,
but the lid handle was really small, and hard
to pick up, and I think I was standing on the lid anyway.
I have to be honest. My dojo is wobbly. It has nothing to do with my fingers.
My martial arts marginalized. I can’t chop shit in half. My hello fan-
belt broke. Everything I know fits inside
a bunt. I wish you would set a booby trap for me.
I wish you would snare me lovely. I wish you would
tell me where I can leave my hide
and seek information. When
can I have that promised bite of your forbidden apple
slurry? Can you press my coal into a jewelry? Can we
take something apart and unscrew together?
What would it be like to unscrew with you … I can’t wait
to imagine. Will the multiple-choice questions have
only one choice, like your multiple-choice questions?
I asked the weather person, she said the rain blows. I asked
the mathematician for what adds up. She surfaced,
said you never counted. Until things count, I will
not tell you which lines are trip wires,
which grates I loosened over the sidewalk’s perilous holes.
I found relief among all the can openers. Hung
out in all the can-opening sections. I opened cans. Closed
cans. Scrutinized how can openers can open even
when they are not opening, how they need
to open up to be able to open up other things. I wanted to open up
everything, so I just started to. You can’t
just try out all the can openers, the can manager in charge said.
It was then I found happiness
by finding my favorite can opener of all time.
It looked like the raven. It looked like a prayer hut. It
woke up each morning and told the world its dreams.
It danced before bedtime and played the bone drums impossible.
It was also a key to the everything space where all the magic
carpets are made from all the loose ends in the world.
I rolled these loose ends up.
On the side of my third Emily #245, I think of a way of making a new kind of story poem:
(Rules to play: Jot down thoughts you can’t stop thinking about. Order those thoughts. Use those numbers as prompts to tell the stories and connect them spontaneously during the poem reading that always changes.)
STORY POEM #1:
1) YES and the ladder to love Yoko.
2) Zeno’s arrow, Pass the Ass (an ecological parable), the idea of halving anything, or pointing.
3) Javelins launched at the edge of the universe. Thanks, Lucretius. The expanding edge in the way.
4) The prayer hut of morning dreams and nightly singing.
5) Stretch a cloth across the universe. Let all orbiting things poke holes in the cloth. Make theories of falling in and falling out while caring for Poincaré.
6) The dendrochronologists in their ambulances analyzing tree finds stored in body bags on archaeology sites.
7) How the tops of poplars map where the water tables are, and, saltwater wells making sites holey.
8) How you can see the geological bedrock by looking at the Manhattan skyline.
9) The rate of pre-melting and bulk. World trade. Jet fuel. Impossible permutations. Every form’s secret. Memorials slope. Slump tests.
10) A kiss when you get here, or, trying to part hair on a bald head, or, as a backup, Shechem and watching TV in English class.
Last Emily experiment: what was lost in #245, PART I
(Emily Dickinson #245
starting in English, translated online through every online search option I could find in three hours, on December 21, 2011, and then back into English)
I held a Jewel in my fingers—
And went to sleep—
The day was warm, and winds were prosy—
I said “‘Twill keep”—
I woke—and chid my honest fingers,
The Gem was gone—
And now, an Amethyst remembrance
Is all I own—
From English to Afrikaans, from Afrikaans to Albanian, from Albanian to Arabic, from Arabic to Armenian, from Armenian to Azerbaijani, from Azerbaijani to Basque, from Basque to Belarusian, from Belarusian to Bengali, from Bengali to Bulgarian, from Bulgarian to Catalan, from Catalan to Chinese (simplified), from Chinese (simplified) to Chinese (traditional), from Chinese (traditional) to Croatian, from Croatian to Czech, from Czech to Danish, from Danish to Dutch, from Dutch to Estonian, from Estonian to Filipino, from Filipino to Finnish, from Finnish to French, from French to Galician, from Galician to Georgian, from Georgian to German, from German to Greek, from Greek to Gujarati, from Gujarati to Haitian Creole, from Haitian Creole to Hebrew, from Hebrew to Hindi, from Hindi to Hungarian, from Hungarian to Icelandic, from Icelandic to Indonesian, from Indonesian to Irish, from Irish to Italian, from Italian to Japanese, from Japanese to Kannada, from Kannada to Korean, from Korean to Latin, from Latin to Lithuanian, from Lithuanian to Macedonian, from Macedonian to Malay, from Malay to Maltese, from Maltese to Norwegian, from Norwegian to Persian, from Persian to Polish, from Polish to Portuguese, from Portuguese to Romanian, from Romanian to Russian, from Russian to Serbian, from Serbian to Slovak, from Slovak to Slovenian, from Slovenian to Spanish, from Spanish to Swahili, from Swahili to Swedish, from Swedish to Tamil, from Tamil to Telugu, from Telugu to Thai, from Thai to Turkish, from Turkish to Ukrainian, from Ukrainian to Urdu, from Urdu to Vietnamese, from Vietnamese to Welsh, from Welsh to Yiddish, from Yiddish back into English transformed.
We have a lot of hot air.
Yes, “he said.”
Earth’s solar energy vacuum.
What was lost in translating #245, PART II:
The word jewel was lost. A held was lost. An a was lost. In was lost. My was lost. And I was lost. The finger arrived at the end alone.
I went to sleep and woke with a word that didn’t exist. It is this word: Adormesin. Adormesin has no meaning in any language. Adormesin now means one who goes to sleep, wakes, and brings back a new word. I adormesined adormesin.
The prosy winds turned into good hot-air machines. The hot air rises, the cold air drops. The poems stack effect. What made lift.
Somewhere along the way I became a he.
Before waking became earth energy, waking was stick and honest, scold and swallow.
The line with the Gem was gone was gone.
The precious stone was pressed into golden time.
I end blue.
NOTE ON THE TRANSLATION
These translations require flying backwards skills1, but not bulletproof vests. The goal of these translations are second originals2. The squirming facts of the first original change, like Proteus changes, like lines lionessing. It’s a little like Superman flying backwards at the end of Superman I, re-fusing the geological fissures, refusing the linear projectile line of time while reversing the entire planet’s rotation. To help reverse the original poem’s rotation, I ask people to help me translate parts. Sometimes I ask strangers for whole lines, sometimes friends for single words, sometimes train riders for a whole poem. The night before translating is also translating, as I night Penelope the first original’s lines onto pieces of folded paper. The original words are astronaut towels, compressed wafers which inflate when we add our water. Which means of course some people think it is like peeing into a clean laundry-machine load. Which also means ‘twills will be traded for throwing stars. Which means everything is still a role of the dice (for thrown stellar outcomes), especially when reheating concrete on a bus in Sao Paulo in luster with Emily Dickinson–de Campos. Sometimes it takes seventy of us or so to work up the backward-flying momentum required to slow the original poem down while inflating the words. It’s like where John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich can be possessed from a distance, his polymorphic actions changing, marionetted, the perception of what he was as an actor altered forever, not only within the film but in real life as well, where the real John Malkovich is always still being John Malkovich even when he’s being someone else.
To make the forwards-backward flying work, these translations have to have a different kind of gravity, a gravity made out of likeness lightness. As we perform the parts which will become the second original, the pendulum which is not a pendulum, and the world (which never really stopped stopping) speeds up again, cuts an alternative forked path through the original garden, creating the conditions for eigenstates, possibility clouds of dense overlaps in time. The past moment is changed while also staying the same, bifurcates, doubles, Schrödinger cats, singular plurals without losing the original word world path. Of course Superman flies forward to make the world go backward, so it’s a forwards-backward mode, so maybe what I mean is the opposite too.
After that’s done not being done, I work with a Turkish shoe cobbler in Berlin to sew the notes back together into paper quilts, poemworks, artwork astronaut towels, which, after having designed a second original, a new net of holes, there is just enough space for anyone to slip into the second original second person and head first (if you want), while flying backwards out of the first original forwarding in at least two different trajectories at once, time and time again.
1 To be fair, as Bruno Latour has demonstrated, I should also note the difficulty of flying backwards. “This is very odd … this flying backwards …” I think the moment is one of the most beautiful moments in performing contemporary thought. Latour is lecturing at the noble Nobel assembly, his face bandaged like he’s been in a slight modern backwards battle but prevailed; a souvenir equivalent to Jacob’s injury while dream wrestling. Latour did learn how to fly backward, which he demonstrates, his arms in front of him but bent at the elbows, like a right-angled Superman. Latour is scooting backwards away from the mic, out of the audible net, performing a slightly perceivable paddle that starts in his shoulders. And as his body turns right from the podium, he takes four small rapid steps backwards, pivots right again to complete the 360-degree turn, and, in a slow modern tai chi, he lands a Dim Mak to the end of the idea in front of him, a vibrating palm dotting an i, before returning his arms to their places at the podium, then repeating for the second time the first words, “… if I was a dancer I … flying backwards is very difficult.” This means everything.
2 I should also note that the concept of a second original is also a way Bruno Latour describes historical reenactments.
I should also note that a note in a poem is the poem too.
Bio: Eric Ellingsen
Once I was a wet dream in a dry county. Sometimes I danger chuckle, other times I phantom word. I am not usually a conveyer belt or an ingle, even when I am a reverse black hole without an inkling. Still, I don’t get out of the dark sometimes. Still, I do walk around saying heart over and over.