May 2nd, 2015 · Maghrebi Literature, Uncategorized
April 29th, 2015 · Performance
Off to France today & first gig for Nicole Peyrafitte & me on Friday, May 1st in Sète with a group of post-dada, post-everything performers:
Humphrey Davies on ‘Representational Translation’ and the Uses of Urban Dictionary and Google Translate
April 28th, 2015 · Arab Culture, Arabic, Translation
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“In the middle of a sentence,” Davies said, “you may get a list of words with no definition. Obscure, arcane words; words he did not expect you to know.”
An attempt to achieve a one-to-one correspondence of these words, Arabic to English, would be doomed to some kind of failure, Davies said. Indeed, researching the meanings of words and trying to map them to English just didn’t work. “Even if the English language has 248 words for pudendum, you can be pretty much certain that those 248 words will not map accurately onto the words you found in Shidyaq.”
“So I started experimenting with other approaches.”
In the middle of one list, where the narrator is speaking of the charms of women, he also gives antonyms, some of which Davies read off on Saturday: “runts, trolls, long-necked pinheads…”
“And I took these from the Urban Dictionary online,” he said.
In another occasion, Davies said, “I took the Arabic words, and I put them through the Google Latin translate facility and came up with words that have some claim to reflect the meanings, but which are very strange to hear, which was the intended effect.”
The final strategy Davies discussed for these lists was “representational translation.” In this, Davies said he took a list of the Arabic words, arranged them in subgroups, and then found words in English in the thesaurus, grouped such that they have “some internal logic, and then present that as a representational translation.”
Davies did footnote it every time he used a “representational translation,” as contemporary readers do have an expectation, he said, of literal, one-to-one correspondences in their translations, whereas Davies’ translation was moving more toward conveying what the Arabic did for the reader.
He also wanted to make clear:
Despite all these pyrotechnics, we must never forget that this book actually was not just about being clever, and that it’s one of the most intellectual engaged, one of the most surprisingly modern sensibilities…he talks about human rights, he talks about the stupidity of trying to persuade people to your point of view through violence, he talks about his fears of his wife’s infidelities, his wife’s fears, his fear of erectile dysfunction. … It’s not just about word games.
Also, from yesterday:
April 27th, 2015 · Uncategorized
Press Release by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
Nobel Laureates call on cities to tackle sustainability challenge
Cities around the globe need to re-invent themselves if they want to be a safe home for generations to come. Nobel Laureates call upon cities to tackle the dual challenge of population growth and climate change and seize the opportunity to lead the transition to sustainability. National and internationally agreed greenhouse-gas reduction targets need to guide and support local action. The distinguished scientists signed a memorandum this week in Hong Kong at the end of the three-day Nobel Laureates Symposium on Global Sustainability, convened for the first time in Asia. The Symposium was co-hosted by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Asia Society Hong Kong Center.
“We challenge all city governments, innovators, and the private sector to work together to unlock necessary resources and enable evidence-based local action to limit further man-made climate change,” the memorandum reads. Entitled ‘The Great Urban Transformation,’ the memorandum states, “We challenge nations to adopt and meet national targets consistent with the internationally-agreed 2°C guardrail. We challenge national political leaders and policymakers to heed the call – not only from leading scientists and economists – but from their own cities and citizens – to generate a strong, equitable, and science-based agreement at the UN Climate Summit in Paris, in partnership with mayors, business leaders and civil society.”
The Hong Kong Symposium focused on the role of cities in the face of climate change, under the title “4C: Changing Climate, Changing Cities” – a reference to the fact that global warming, if unabated, will reach four degrees Celsius already by the end of the century. This rapid rise would be unprecedented in the history of human civilization.
“I have no right to be pessimistic. None of us do.”
“If we do not act boldly and reduce our greenhouse-gas emissions, the impacts of global warming will hit hard,” said Nobel Laureate Yuan T. Lee (Chemistry, 1986) from Taiwan, who until recently served as the President of the International Council for Science in Paris. “Especially cities are prone to climate change risks such as unprecedented heat-waves or flooding. Countries spend enormous sums to defend themselves against other nations. They forget that climate change is our biggest, and common, enemy. Cities seem to understand this much better, and they’re indeed critical for combating climate change as they’re a prime cause for CO2 emissions. Many of them are indeed pioneering.”
“I am optimistic, because I have no right to be pessimistic. None of us do,” Lee added. “My little granddaughter once asked me: Did your life as a scientist actually make a difference? If, together, we work hard to change, I eventually will be able to tell her, that we tried – and we did.”
“Some of the brightest minds of our planet, a number of Nobel Laureates, have intensely debated what they deem to be one of the greatest challenges of our times: climate change,” said Penny Sackett of the Australian National University, former chief scientist of Australia, who led the memorandum team. “They have a plain message: the future of humanity is at stake. We are at a watershed moment.”
The cities of tomorrow are forming today, determining emissions
Since the cities of tomorrow are forming today, determining the greenhouse-gas emissions for decades to come, smart infrastructure design is key. This is particularly true for Asia which hosts nine out of the world’s ten largest urban areas, including Tokyo and Shanghai.
“The cities of the world provide some 100,000 laboratories, where modernity can be re-invented, and where the transition to sustainability can be tested and implemented, “ said John Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact research and initiator of the Symposium series. “Human progress in the future will be based on our renewable energies, on circular economies, on unprecedented resource efficiency. Cities have always been the ‘mothers of invention’, so they will lead by example on the road towards global decarbonization. However, the urban challenges are very diverse: while mature and rich settlements can rapidly enter a climate-friendly state, billions of people in informal settlements first need to be provided with fundamental services. Yet even the latter can be addressed in ways that do not harm the local, regional and global environment.”
Hong Kong could serve as a laboratory for change
Participants of the Hong Kong Symposium included Nobel Laureates Brian Schmidt (Physics, 2011, from Australia), James Mirrlees (Economics, 1996, from the U.K.), Rioyi Noyori (Chemistry, 2001, from Japan), William E. Moerner (Chemistry, 2014, U.S.), Mario Molina (Chemistry, 1995, Mexico) Ada Yonath (Chemistry, 2009, Israel), Peter Doherty (Medicine, 1996), George F. Smoot (Physics, 2006, U.S.), and Yuan T. Lee (Chemistry, 1986). Numerous experts participated in the debate, including Jiang Kejun, Director of the Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, Christine Loh, Under Secretary for the Environment of The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region, Aromar Revi, Director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, and Johan Rockström of the Stockholm Resilience Centre.
“I believe we’re sending a strong message from Hong Kong to the world: fundamentally greening city development is necessary, and it is possible,” stated Ronnie C. Chan, Chairman of the Asia Society Hong Kong Center and co-host of the Symposium. “We deeply appreciate that the Nobel Laureates and distinguished experts came to us to debate this critical issue. Given the importance of megacities – especially the rapidly growing ones in Asia – for global greenhouse-gas emissions, Hong Kong could serve as a laboratory of change.”
Weblink to the Symposium, where the Memorandum will be published: www.nobelcause.org
For more information on the symposium, please contact:
External Affairs, Asia Society Hong Kong Center
Communications, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
About the co-organizers:
Founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd in New York, The Asia Society is a leading not-for-profit, non-government educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context. Across the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, The Asia Society provides insight, generates ideas, and promotes collaboration to address present challenges and create a shared future.
As one of the eleven centers of Asia Society, the Asia Society Hong Kong Center (the “Center”) was established in 1990 by a group of Hong Kong community leaders, led by the late Sir Q.W. Lee, the honorary chairman of Hang Seng Bank. In 2012, the Center established its new permanent home in Admiralty, Hong Kong. Through conservation, rehabilitation and adaptive re-use of a group of historic structures on a former British military site, the new center premises combines heritage conservation with a distinctive modern aesthetic, complete with world-class arts, performance and conference facilities. These facilities enable the Center to offer a broad selection of programs in the form of lectures, performances, film screenings and gallery exhibitions to members of the public.
The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, founded in 1992 and based in Potsdam/Germany, is one of the worldwide leading research centers in its field. A staff of more than 300 from both the natural and social sciences work together to generate interdisciplinary insights and to provide society with sound information for decision making. The main methodologies are systems and scenarios analysis, computer simulation and data integration. The research results get published in peer-reviewed international scientific journals. The institute’s core funding is provided by the Federal Government of Germany and the State of Brandenburg. Its director Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber initiated the Nobel Laureates Symposium Series and brought it to London, Stockholm, and now Hong Kong.
About the sponsors and supporters that the organizers wish to thank:
JPMorgan Chase & Co. is a leading global financial services firm with operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, asset management and private equity. JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands.
Robert Bosch Foundation. Established in 1964, the Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH is one of the major German foundations associated with a private company. It represents the philanthropic and social endeavors of Robert Bosch (1861–1942) and fulfills his legacy in a contemporary manner. The Robert Bosch Stiftung works predominantly in the fields of international relations, health and education, and the aims and objectives of modern science.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club. Founded in 1884, The Hong Kong Jockey Club is a world-class horse racing operator and Hong Kong’s largest community benefactor, operating as a not-for-profit organisation. Committed to global excellence and giving back to society, the Club is always “riding high together for a better future” with the people of Hong Kong.
CLP Group: CLP Holdings Limited, a company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, is the holding company for the CLP Group, one of the largest investor-owned power businesses in Asia Pacific. Through CLP Power Hong Kong Limited, it operates a vertically-integrated electricity supply business providing a highly-reliable supply of electricity to 80% of Hong Kong’s population.
Climate-KIC is the EU’s main climate innovation initiative. It is Europe’s largest public-private innovation partnership focused on mitigating and adapting to climate change. Climate-KIC consists of companies, academic institutions and the public sector. The organisation has its headquarters in London, UK, and leverages national and regional centres across Europe to educate students and professionals, to support start-up companies and to bring together partners on innovation projects to bring about a connected, creative transformation of knowledge and ideas into products and services that help mitigate and adapt to climate change. http://www.climate-kic.org
Giti Group is a diversified group active in manufacturing, real estate and consumer lifestyle in Asia-Pacific. It founded the largest auto tire operations in China and South-East Asia.
Stiftung Mercator is a private foundation which fosters science and the humanities, education and international understanding. It specifically initiates, develops and funds projects and partner organizations in the thematic fields to which it is committed: it wants to strengthen Europe, improve integration through equal educational opportunities for everyone, drive forward the energy transition as a trigger for global climate change mitigation and firmly anchor cultural education in schools. Stiftung Mercator is committed to reducing the human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases included in the Kyoto Protocol by 40 percent in Germany by 2020 and by at least 80 percent by 2050, measured against the 1990 levels.
The Volkswagen Foundation is an independent non-profit foundation established under private law. With an annual funding volume of around 150 million euros it is the largest private science funding foundation in Germany. It supports the huma¬nities and social sciences as well as science and technology in higher education and research. The foundation places a special focus on providing support for junior scholars and scientists and fostering cooperation between researchers across the borders of disciplines, cultures, and national states.
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April 24th, 2015 · Book Launch, Uncategorized
April 21st, 2015 · Gulf Disaster, Man-made Disaster
WORD SWARM APRIL 20 2010
joint military operation
Iraqi American forces killed two senior al-Qaeda leaders
Abu Ayyub al-Masri, and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi
News broke explosion at 11 p.m. EST on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig
safe house in Thar-Thar in the province of Salaheddin
umbrella group, Islamic State of Iraq
radical Sunni militant groups
General Raymond Odierno said significant blow to al-Qaeda
24 people killed 2 separate suicide bombing attacks in Peshawar
A schoolboy victim attacks take death toll to 73 in three days, after two blasts in the city of Kohat killed 49 people during the weekend
News broke an explosion occurred at 11 p.m. EST on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico
A magnitude 5.2 earthquake hit Western Australian mining town
Kalgoorlie-Boulder this morning.
Long Island teen guilty of murdering Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero.
Toyota pays a record $16.4 million fine to the US government over allegations that the automaker concealed defects in its vehicles — sticky pedal
NATO service members died bomb attack army base southern Afghanistan.
death toll of foreign soldiers in 2010 to 166 in Afghanistan
McLaren driver Jenson Button won the Chinese Grand Prix
re-open the skies over Europe
ash from a volcano in Iceland
a high pressure here and a low pressure there
News broke that an explosion occurred at 11 p.m. EST on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico southeast of Venice
the jet stream came down, spun around, & then went back up through the Straits of Gibraltar
amphibians, reptiles, mammals, bird and fish species
Remembering Columbine 11 years ago
celebrate National Park Week
largest subtropical wildnerness
showdown Senate financial reform
Zephyrs top Express in 11 innings
Today’s Money Word is deflation
BIG Oil Rig Explosion Off Louisiana Coast, 11 to 15 People Missing, Infernal Blaze
trust leaked away with the Tritium
bar NEPA analysis of climate change impact
Being fat is bad for your brain
erratic, potentially fatal heart rhythms defibrillator responsibility the Guidant Corporation
short-circuit and fail
“Nobody is being held accountable.”
Google criticized privacy practices
the privacy rights of the world’s citizens forgotten
stricter enforcement of title IX
Twain’s last words
Best Nonholiday Quarter for Apple
Taliban sniper fire lethality rates drop
Peter Steele “Life is killing me” is dead
no ban on animal cruelty videos
Off Louisiana Coast, 11 to 15 People Missing,
Statoil Committed to Oil Sands
Bush warcrimes on off broadway
Miami Condo Sales rise
Oil Rig Explosion Infernal Blaze
boxer hangs himself in jail
Reds pitcher Volquez suspended
Tuesday, April 20
News broke that an explosion occurred at 11 p.m. EST
on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico
52 miles southeast of the Louisiana port of Venice.
According to the Coast Guard, 11 to 15 crew members were reported missing
of the total 126 workers aboard the rig
at the time of the blast.
from my poem-sequence The Gulf (from Rigwreck to Disaster): A Triptych (Barzakh, Black Widow Press 2014). Image collage by Nicole Peyrafitte for multi-media performance of the piece.
April 20th, 2015 · Arab Culture, Uncategorized
April 17th, 2015 · Memoir, Obituaries
The Frankfurter Allgemeine (FAZ) brings today a remembrance of Günter Grass by his friend, the film maker Volker Schlöndorff. Opening paras (in German) below; the rest of the article here.
Erinnerung an Günter Grass: Das Herz eines zürnenden Gottes
Günter Grass war die Stimme des deutschen Geistes in der Welt: ein Patriot, kein Rechthaber, auch wenn er oft über das Ziel hinausschoss. Erinnerung an einen Freund.
16.04.2015, von VOLKER SCHLÖNDORFF
Da soll man nun was sagen oder schreiben, wenn der letzte und beste „väterliche Freund“ einen ohne Vorankündigung verlässt. Und man es vor zehn Minuten erfahren hat. Reden kann ich eh nicht, weil ich mich erst mal im Wintergarten eingeschlossen und wie ein Schlosshund geheult habe. Nie hätte ich gedacht, dass es mich so treffen würde.
Warum tut diese Nachricht so weh? Millionen werden diesen Verlust ebenso empfinden: die „schweigende Mehrheit der Leser“, die ihm über ein halbes Jahrhundert treu gewesen sind. Sein großes Herz, aus seinen Texten sprach es; seine vielen Kinder, Enkel, seine Frauen, seine Freunde kannten es, in Liebe wie im Zorn. Es gab ihm etwas Allmächtiges, sogar in seinen eigenen Augen – was wir ihm liebevoll verziehen, ohne ihn für unfehlbar zu halten.
Anders war das mit der Öffentlichkeit. Da hatte er einen anderen Stellenwert. Päpstliche Unfehlbarkeit wurde ihm nicht zugestanden. Allenfalls, dass er „anders“ war. Anders als man sich einen Schriftsteller, einen Deutschen, vorstellte. Und deshalb wiederum stellte er alle anderen in den Schatten. Er war die Stimme, auf die man hörte, im Inland wie im Ausland. Nicht Deutschlands Stimme, sondern die Stimme aus Deutschland, die die Welt aufhorchen ließ bald nach dem Krieg, an dem er, rühmlich oder unrühmlich, jedenfalls teilgenommen hatte. Er wusste, wovon er sprach, wenn er schrieb. Und er ahnte auch das Echo – meistens …
Die Schreibmaschine war seine Blechtrommel. Er wusste sie zu nutzen. Zum Nutzen der Leser und unseres Landes. Denn natürlich war er ein Patriot.
Daran ändert die Tatsache nichts, dass er vielen als Nestbeschmutzer galt. Zuerst mitten im Hochgefühl des Wirtschaftswunders und des „Wir sind wieder wer“, als er ihnen (uns und sich) in der „Blechtrommel“ Schuld zuwies und sie antworteten, sein Buch sei Pornographie.
April 16th, 2015 · Book Award, Poetry, Translation
For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2014.
JUDGE: Ana Božičević
April 14th, 2015 · Obituaries, Poetry, Translation
Though best known as a novelist, artist & polemicist, Grass was also a poet. A good obit here, an excellent article here & his last interview here in the Guardian. Salman Rushdie tweeted: “This is very sad. A true giant, inspiration, and friend. Drum for him, little Oskar.” (See also Rushdie’s piece in The New Yorker). I will reread some of the work, and watch Schlöndorf’s film version of “The Tin Drum.” Here some of his poems translated by Jerome Rothenberg, from the latter’s New Young German Poets (City Lights, 1959):
MUSIC OUT OF DOORS
When the silence seemed to have been subdued,
Aurelius came with the bone.
See my flute and my white shirt,
see the giraffe peering over the fence,
that’s my kin that’s listening.
Now I’m going to beat down all those thrushes.
When the yellow dog ran over the meadow
the concert died out.
Nobody ever found the bone after that.
The notes were laid out under the chairs,
the concertmaster raised his air-rifle
and shot down all the blackbirds.
THE OPEN WARDROBE
The shoes are on the bottom.
They stand in terror of a beetle
On title way out,
Of a penny on the way back in,
Of a beetle and a penny on which they can step
Till it makes an impression.
On top is the Kingdom of Headwear.
Head where it’s safe. Head nowhere.
Tell me the bird’s name,
Where did his eyes roll
When he found himself trapped in so much color?
The tiny white balls, asleep in the pockets,
Are dreaming of moths.
Here a button was lost,
The snake in the girdle grew tired.
Asters and other highly combustible flowers,
Autumn transformed to a dress.
Every Sunday stuffed full of meat and the
Salt of ruffled panties.
Before the wardrobe grows still, turns wooden,
A distant kin of the pine tree —
Who’s going to wear your topcoat
Someday when you’re dead?
Moving an arm through your sleeve.
And every movement so friendly?
Who will turn up your collar on top,
Will continue to stand in front of the pictures,
And be alone under the windy bell?
NANA THE DOLL: SKETCHES FROM HER DAILY LIFE
The doll is playing with the minutes,
but no one’s playing with the doll —
unless the clock should take three steps
and then say, Nana, Nana, Nana, Nana …
The doll is playing with the rain,
she braids it, she covers her ears with its locks,
then she pulls out a comb from a miniature box,
and combs the rain with the comb.
A Full Moon in March
The doll wakes up, the children are asleep,
the moon’s entangled in the curtains,
the doll helps out by shaking the curtains,
the moon plays possum and the doll wakes up.
A Humid Day
The doll got a yardstick sent as a gift,
it was yellow so she played Hurricane.
When it bent she got lightning without any hitch,
but making it thunder was really a bitch.
The doll discovered a hollow tooth,
she dropped it into a glass.
The glass blew up, but the tooth was safe,
so it bit the leg of a chair in half.
The doll is playing with a spider,
the spider has a yo yo.
The doll is yanking the line, this could give us all a rough time,
so much depends on a line.
The doll is happy, celluloid!
the roof drops water on her head
and makes a hole —
the doll is happy, celluloid!
The doll is playing with the market,
currencies and poplars quiver.
The leaves drop down like colored bonds,
the deutschmark’s up the river.
At the Zoo
The doll rode up to the zoo
and stared an owl in the eye.
Since then the doll’s had mice on the brain,
if it only was pre-owlic times again.
The Longest Song
The doll is singing the carpet.
But because the carpet has so many stanzas
the doll will soon be hotter than that —
who knows the last line of the carpet?
The doll sat under the grownups’ bed and dug every sound.
When she decided to try it out with the rocking horse
she kept on repeating, during the breaks:
Be careful what you’re doing, man, be careful what you’re doing!
The doll was nailed on a piece of wood
and bombarded with darts —
but none of them hit her
because she blinked.
The doll wound up without any arms,
and after her legs had migrated too,
she thought for a long time whether to stay in this country —
when she stayed, well, she said, what could be better than Europe?
The doll grew so tall she could look over the dresser.
Each time the ball bounced she just couldn’t help feeling gay
where she was. The children down below refused to believe it:
they never would have dreamed their doll would act that way!
Doll’s Last Sermon
Now that the doll has spoken out, the weary slotmachines
grow dumb, they stop rattling peppermints,
the houses crumble to their knees
and turn devout — and all because the doll has spoken out.
The doll fell into the tea,
dissolved like sugar in that tea —
and whoever drank her got all dolled up
till everyone looked like everyone’s doll.
This doll will cost you a dollar ten —
at that price she doesn’t look bad at all.
But if you want prettier dollies,
then you’ll have to pay more than a dollar ten.
In back of our town
there’s a toad who squats on
when he breathes in and out
we can cook