The Dumbness which prevails in Our Town!

THURSDAY, MARCH 11, 2021

Three cheers for named Catalan person: The dumbness which prevails in Our Town perhaps most resembles The Plague. Three cheers for the Catalan translator person who will still get paid, even though his completed translation will have to be discarded.

A news report in the Washington Post offers this basic background:

BERGER (3/11/21): A Catalan translator has been removed from a job translating the poem by National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman that she presented at President Biden’s inauguration because, as a White man, he did not fit the “profile,” AFP reported.

The move by Barcelona publisher Univers marks the second instance of controversy in Europe around the choice of a White person being chosen to translate “The Hill We Climb” by Gorman, who is Black, and at 23 became the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history.

Translator Victor Obiols told AFP on Wednesday that Univers had commissioned him last month to translate Gorman’s work into Catalan, a language spoken in Spain and Andorra. After he completed the job, the publishing house informed him he “was not the right person,” he said.

“They told me that I am not suitable to translate it,” Obiols told AFP. “They did not question my abilities, but they were looking for a different profile, which had to be a woman, young, activist and preferably Black.”

That's the basic background. Apparently, Univers didn't realize that Obiols wasn't a woman and wasn't black when they first hired him on.

(For the record, the first translator who couldn't stay was Dutch. It was time for them to go!)

The Dumbness in Our Town, how it burns! And how rapidly it spreads! We offer three cheers for the latest reject because of the analysis he offered:

BERGER (continuing directly): “It is a very complicated subject that cannot be treated with frivolity,” he continued. “But if I cannot translate a poet because she is a woman, young, Black, an American of the 21st century, neither can I translate Homer because I am not a Greek of the eighth century BC. Or could not have translated Shakespeare because I am not a 16th-century Englishman.”

Obiols said he would still be paid for his work. Univers did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

That analysis isn't new, but it's beautifully expressed. As for the rapidly spreading Dumbness, The Dumbness, how it burns!

(It's a bit like the Dowdism which once moved through Our Town. Except the Dowdism crept.)

This is "a very complicated subject that cannot be treated with frivolity,” Obiols politely said.

But that's the way an increasing range of topics are now being treated here in the streets of Our Town, especially in its more elite quarters. Our new religion spreads and grows. As with all our human toys, it becomes increasingly stupid and dumb. 

We've spoken to experts about this matter. Dumbness always prevails in our human affairs until we're forced to locate a way stop it. Or so these disconsolate major scholars have uniformly and thoughtfully said.

The spectacular Dumbness, how it burns! And how this dumbness creates Trump voters! Let's not forget about that!


44 comments:

  1. "The dumbness which prevails in Our Town perhaps most resembles The Plague."

    Meh. It's not dumbness, dear Bob. It's a standard totalitarian M.O. Implemented by your liberal-hitlerian cult, of which you're a proud member.

    And while we still do have some faith in the resilience of the American system, it's getting more and more difficult to stay optimistic. Read this, for example:
    https://www.bostonherald.com/2021/03/06/h-r-1-is-democrats-latest-attempt-to-damage-democracy/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Plague analogy is dead-on whether from Albert Camus or Somerby.

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  2. It isn't that Obiols cannot translate the poem, but that he might not be the best translator of it. It does seem likely that a black female activist might have a better grasp of nuance than someone removed from the subject matter of the poem itself. Given that this is a poet laureate being translated and not a random author at a publishing house, it makes sense to me that they should try for the best translation, not simply an adequate one.

    The argument about translating Homer is specious. Clearly someone native to that time period and culture would be better than someone today, so far removed from everything mentioned by the poet, but that is not available today, whereas a better translator for Ms. Gorman's poem should be available with a little effort.

    Black activist women have been barred from both writing and translating poetry for such a long time that no one should begrudge them getting their chance now.

    That Somerby doesn't see the advantage of finding a better translator suggests he is not much of a poetry aficionado.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Black activist women have been barred from both writing and translating poetry for such a long time"

      Evidence, please?

      Delete
    2. Name one (besides Gorman).

      Delete
    3. The poem was translated by thousands of publications and websites throughout the non-English speaking world. You better check all those to make sure they were translated by black activist women only. Don't forget to bring your matches and burn all those evil translations. And we probably need to boycott all those countries that didn't seek out black activist translators, don't we? This is going to be so much fun!

      Delete
    4. Gloucon, you seem to be talking about one poem, not a collection of poems. The two are different.

      Delete
    5. You're presuming it was a better translation. And it's a really terrible poem, btw, which also has little to do with women.

      Delete
  3. "The Dumbness, how it burns!"

    Part of Somerby's dumbness is that he doesn't understand how dumb his argument is. It is also fair to say that Somerby is treating this subject with greater frivolity than Obiols.

    As to creating Trump voters, that is clearly a chicken-and-egg problem. I think the dumbness came first with them, and that is why they became Trump voters, not vice versa.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. anon 5:38, wishful thinking in the extreme. The stupidity of this whole identity politics thing is going haywire. The dems lost seats in the House, and squeaked by, almost by a miracle, to gain majority of the senate by a 50-50 majority. It's incredible the extent the commenters here deny that the king is wearing no clothes.

      Delete
    2. There are studies showing that Democrats tend to be better educated and that they have greater knowledge of current events than Republicans. That is factual evidence of their greater stupidity, if their belief in conspiracy theories and any nonsense fed to them by Fox News were insufficient.

      The Democrats not only won two senate seats they were not expected to win, but won the presidency with both a popular vote and electoral college landslide. That is not squeaking by. That so-called miracle occurred because of the hard work of Stacy Abrams and Democrats in Georgia.

      You should consider Somerby a buffoon with no clothes or Trump himself, but Biden is definitely well-clothed.

      When someone uses the term "identity politics" instead of civil rights or social justice, I know I am hearing or reading a conservative viewpoint. No Democrat refers to equality and inclusion that way. And most Democrats recognize that if their victory had not been a landslide, Trump might have been more successful in his attempts to steal it.

      People who dispute that Democrats won handily are generally conservatives, believing the big lie.

      And that puts you firmly among the dumb.

      Delete
    3. Jake buddy I know you think you just pulled an epic dunk on AC/MA but you just sound like you're in a cult.

      Delete
    4. Identity politics is all the Republicans have, so it is in their interest to make a big deal about...Victor Obiols, Catalan translator, I guess. To them, it is a giant grievance (I guess) when a professional translator is told “Ms Gorman would like to use a black translator, so thanks, and here’s your full paycheck.” Is that about right? It’s... such a non-issue.

      Delete
    5. Gorman attended New Roads, a private school in Los Angeles. As impressed by Gorman as one might be, there are even more impressive students currently attending New Roads. The future is bright.

      Delete
    6. AC/ MA,
      Agreed. First politician who runs on "Fuck the white working class" gets my vote for life.

      Delete
    7. You can't just lump all white people together as if they think the exact same thing.
      I learned when I was very young that all snowflakes are unique.

      Delete
    8. Jake, I am a Democrat, was much relieved when Trump lost. When I talk about those who insist that identity politics is a non-issue, unimportant etc and stand firmly against those who say the king is wearing no clothes, I mean you (and MH) and the indeterminate number of anons (is it all the same person?) who constantly attempt to refute TDH's simple common sense observations about how nuts the identity politics narrative has become.

      Delete
    9. AC/ MA,
      Which rights of straight white men should we stop enforcing the protection of, so we can win elections by showing we don't care about identity politics?
      Please be specific.

      Delete
    10. AC, I react to the specific posts here. I have never stated a view about “identity politics” in general. For example, how is Gorman wanting a black translator an example of politics? Is she running for office? Is this specific example really important or a cause of concern for the average voter?

      Delete
    11. 10:29,
      That's not how it works.
      AC/ MA doesn't get to choose which of his rights he will sacrifice. In his world, without identity politics, the rest of us make those choices for him.

      Delete
    12. I'm sure AC/ MA will be just fine with Jim Crow for white people, as long as politicians don't talk about it.

      Delete
    13. mh, politics isn't just running for office. For example there is 'office politics.' Politics is far broader, including 'identity politics' which is so pervasive now. Gorman wanting a black translator is politics.

      Delete
    14. I think Gorman wanting a black translator simply wants the translation to come as close as possible to what she intended to say (in that other language that she herself doesn't know).

      Delete
  4. "The dumbness which prevails in Our Town perhaps most resembles The Plague."

    If this is a reference to the book by Camus, The Plague, it is misplaced. Catalan is not spoken in Oran or anywhere else in Algeria.

    If he is merely implying that dumbness is widespread, why capitalize The Plague?

    Somerby is at his dumbest tonight. And yes, it does burn.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Monkey see, monkey do. Kevin Drum writes an article about translating Gorman's poems, so Somerby has to do it too. Drum's error is that he doesn't think there are any black female activists under 30 who speak Catalan. Sort of like saying that Othello isn't realistic because there weren't any moorish generals in Spain. When people say such things, they reveal both ignorance and bigotry.

    According to Wikipedia:

    "Afro-Spaniards are Spanish citizens of African descent. There are currently 1,301,000 people on the census that make up 2.4% of the total population of Spain, this being the second largest minority after the Hispanic-American population."

    There are many black immigrants in Barcelona, a center of Catalan culture. Given that the Catalans have been seeking independence from Spain, finding an activist might not be that difficult.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To state the obvious: one has to speak both Catalan and English. Although, even that is not enough; translating between languages is a skill and a profession.

      Delete
  6. Yes, this earth shaking story of Catalan translator Victor Obiols, whose translation WON’T GET USED but who will STILL GET PAID (OH...THE HORROR!!!!!1!) is sure to be of immense importance to those Trump voters sitting in diners in Punxsutawney. It affects their lives in the following crucial ways:.......

    Obiols sounds like a dick. Apparently, even Catalonia has them. He said “They told me that I am not suitable to translate it.” I don’t believe for a minute that’s what they told him. “They” (meaning someone unspecified, most likely Gorman’s agent) probably would just like to give a black person a chance to do it. I see nothing wrong with that, and I fail to see why Obiols is such a public pearl-clutching snowflake.

    Just the kind of person who would appeal to a Bob Somerby.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is patently ridiculous and conveys a mindset that would disqualify women from translating great writers who by number are predominantly male. Imagine the uproar if a black woman was told publicly that she wasn’t sufficiently qualified to translate a white male author by virtue of her race and gender.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, but Unamused, Obiols wasn’t publicly told this. HE chose to make it public. You have it precisely backwards. It is also extremely unlikely anyone told him he wasn’t “qualified.” That is HIS characterization. A little skepticism of Mr Obiols seems in order here.

      Delete
    2. Unamused, that scenario would never happen. The mindset for making these decision is targeted and political in playing off particular demographics as a means of power and control.

      No woman of any race will be deigned as being incapable of ascertaining the male mind and experience (or that of a particular male) unless the subject in question is a transsexual.

      Delete
    3. "No woman of any race will be deigned as being incapable of ascertaining the male mind and experience (or that of a particular male) unless the subject in question is a transsexual."

      It is unclear what you are trying to say. "Deigned" is not the right word. Do you perhaps mean "deemed"? But what you have written still doesn't make sense with that change. Are you saying that no woman will be considered incapable of ascertaining the male mind unless the subject is transsexual? If so, what kind of transsexual are you talking about? FTM or MTF? And if you think women can ascertain (your word) the male mind in general, why would she be able to ascertain a female to male transsexual? And if she can ascertain the male mind, does that mean she cannot ascertain the female mind, and if so, why not a male to female transsexual? It seems like your female has all the bases covered when she can ascertain males and females both.

      So, I don't get your point. I think you might have been trying to aim some snark at transsexuals, but you didn't hit the mark.

      Delete
    4. Like cancer, 2:03's response is still funnier than Cecelia's snark.

      Delete
  8. I think you can make an argument for giving a Black woman a shot at being in the intellectual elite for a change, but man Bob really pushed some buttons on the snobby libs here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And thats all that matters

      Delete
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