Jeremy Fernando (Bio)

on translation & love

This talk meditates on the possibility that not only is love a fundamental aspect of translation — after all, what even compels one to do something like that, particularly in this day and age where such endeavours barely count in accounting ledgers, hardly register as productive, are often even frowned upon as indulgent — and that there is no love without translation (as all attempts to connect to another entail, or even are, moments of reading), but that translation — being the most sensitive of readings, in which one is opening oneself to the possibility of the text, the possibility of another — and love, whilst not quite the same thing, are potentially inseparable from each other.

Which also means that translation, even when done out of love, while attempting to have as much care for the text, for another, as possible, always also runs the risk of transforming the text: changing it in ways that might fundamentally alter it, for better or worse.

Where the translator is always also potentially a traitor.

Who (s)he betrays though — the text, herself, the other, their relation — that might be the question.

Though, as my dear friend Neil Murphy once told me, « reading literature with your head is always a mistake ». So, instead of attempting to rationalise a text — and by extension, reign it in, make it safe, tame it — perhaps all we can do is to open ourselves to a work. And listen. And hope that, as Berlin might sing — along with all the risks that it might just — « take my breath away ».