Thursday, February 1, 2018

Returning home

The joy of going out to have fun is, of course, the good time having fun but beyond that I find a special pleasure in returning home, naturally on a cold night but whatever the weather and season — opening the door, stepping in, and finding the familiar scene intact, albeit empty, and silently welcoming me with all the warmth like that of the maternal embrace.


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

All Americans are Immigrants

All American are immigrants, except for Native Americans, from the very first arrivals, who were refugees escaping oppressive England in search of religious  freedom, and the waves of immigrants thereafter from all over the world, all of whom constituted this nation and enriched it.  America is by definition multiethnic and multicultural, a beautiful rainbow. Why doesn’t the media hammer this fact loud and clear for all to hear, this I fail to comprehend


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Translation is Adaptation

Translation in its basic meaning is rendering a text written in one language into an equivalent text in another.  It aspires to fidelity but this can mean truthfulness to the form of the text or its sense, and the sense can mean the text’s meaning or its aura; and, furthermore, the exact nature of the sense the translated text means to convey depends on the judgment of the translator.  

A translation may be passably successful but rarely, if ever, even adequately successful.  A translation at best only approximates the original text; it necessarily transforms and distorts; it unfailingly fails to capture the real character of the original text.  As Italians express so tersely, traduttore traditore

This is inevitable in so far as languages differ in their constitution, not only lexically but, more importantly, sonically — lexically because a word in one language differs from a corresponding word in another language in its semiotic territory and attendant connotations, and sonically because each language possesses its own particular sound, rhythm, and cadence.  Translating poetry is, for this reason, an ever unbeatable task.  The aforementioned Italian dictum, which may be translated as “translator is a traitor,” may be more naturally rendered as “translation is treacherous,” but in either case, the sense of the pun is lost as is the peculiarly Italian cadence.  

The problem is inherent in the art or science of translation, true, but more accurately and importantly it is that we are misled to thinking of translation as an effort to achieve equivalence just because the languages are all equally verbal.  But, rather, two languages are actually like two different mediums.  A painting redone in engraving is not a painting but an engraving, and they are appreciated and evaluated accordingly; even a watercolor copy of an oil painting is a different animal altogether.  A clearer example is a novel made into a film; the filmed novel never really reproduces the novel because words are abstract while pictorial images are inexorably concrete.  A sentence like “A woman stood at the window, looking down on her garden and beyond the fence” will have to be photographed in a film with a woman of a certain age and constitution, costumed in a particular style standing in a specific posture by a window of certain design, shot either from the back or from a distance outside facing the window.”  There is no such an indefinite entity as a woman, a window, a garden, or a tree in photographic representation.  A novel rendered as a film is an adaptation, even though many spectators expect it to be a faithful rendering almost like a translation; it should bear a title different from that of the original novel and described with the phrase “adapted from” or “based on.”  

A poem in translation must be understood, too, as a rendering that captures only some of the sense of the original.  Ezra Pound’s rendering of Chinese poems into English is far from faithful but show that he understood that translation can only aspire to very rough approximation.  He knew the truth that Translation is Adaptation. 


Vacant Store - 空き店

When I walk by a vacant store and, peeking inside, see the place completely emptied, I feel a pang of sadness through my marrows and hear a death knell.



Sunday, August 20, 2017

Green-Wood Cemetery

One day late in May, on 28 May to be exact, I had a sudden thought that I wanted to remain in New York perpetually.  I had already asked a friend, serving as my executor, to scatter my ashes over the Hudson so that eventually I will reach my beloved Italy across the Atlantic Ocean.  But my life in New York since my retirement in 2001 has been very happy and I just didn’t want to leave behind my home here.  To stay in New York I must have a grave; so, I started searching for cemeteries, and the Green-Wood was my choice; I had visited it before and found the place very beautiful.  

On 22 June, I rang the Green-Wood Cemetery and made an appointment for 5 July.  On that day, I was shown around to see the available lots.  I chose promptly one of the four sites and one specific plot there; and back in the office I made a payment and it was all done.  Curiously, I was cheerful going to the cemetery and through the whole procedure, and I was even more elated coming home.  

Only when I was back home, I realized that 5 July, the day I acquired my plot was the day when my love Tokiko and I got formally together.  I had no idea of this remarkable coincidence when I chose that particular day to visit the cemetery and purchased the plot that very day.

Furthermore, I noticed a few days later that 5 July 2017 fell exactly on the 60th year anniversary of our union, the felicitous return-of-the-calendar in Asia, the cycle that combines the 12 zodiac signs and 5 elements.  I was dumbfounded; I am in no doubt that Tokiko dwelled in my mind and guided me all the way.  She passed away in 1995; and since I still have her ashes, we will be together once again after my passing. 

As mysteriously, too, 38 days passed between my first thought of the perpetual abode in New York and the purchase of the plot, and, moreover, reviewing my journal, I discovered that 38 days later, on 12 August, I came up with the design for my headstone, featuring the Sanscrit character for kahn, my zodiac sign, the rooster. As I explain elsewhere 38 is the magic number in my numerology. 

My life with her lasted 38 years; and if I lived to 2033, I will have lived 38 years without her.  I will then be 100. 


On 31 August, I went to Supreme Memorials in Brooklyn and ordered my headstone, exactly 19 days after I devised the design for it, the date I now chose deliberately.  I also stopped at Leone Funeral Home, recommended by Supreme Memorials, to arrange the interment of  Tokiko’s ashes and my cremation.  On the way home, I realized, again to my astonishment, that Leone matched her sign Leo, her birthday being 30 July, exact opposite of mine, 30 January. 



The scaffolding with a sheathing of opaque plastic outside my apartment has been shielding the sunlight and keeping my room perpetually under a heavy cloud, now for over nine months, and I wonder if it is not slowly affecting me mentally with  the sleepy condition of sunlight deficiency I christened Nonsolitis, which I am now suffering in addition to Diabetes Type 2 and Artritis, the condition of fatigue and ennui induced by large scale art exhibitions; on the other hand, the sleepiness may be of a cause unknown to me, in which case, I can still call it, yes . . . Non-so-litis.


Monday, July 31, 2017

My Numerology 19

I was born in 1933 and left Japan for the US in 1952; my life in Japan was 19 years; this was the start.  

In 1957 I got together with my love, Tokiko, who passed away in 1995; we shared our life for 38 years, 19 twice.  My teaching career also lasted 38 years; I took my first job in 1963 and retired in 2001. I assumed a male identity until 1971, when I regained my rightful womanhood; I was 38 then. 

If I lived until 2033, I will have had 38 years of single life; I will then be 100.  Cool.