The Translator’s Silence incises three poetic fragments – from Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Rabindranath Tagore and Agha Shahid Ali – on to a take-away embellished, folded paper card. Following Agha Shahid Ali, the work’s reading of the three fragments suggests that “stranger” may become the “beloved” when even adversarial destinies, such as are common across partitions and “lines of control,” are reconciled through the force of a willing encounter with all that is unknown in the other. This encounter, across languages, memories, desires and nightmares, may lead to a loss of words at first. Perhaps the strangers who undertake to meet each other this way will need to translate each other’s silences before they can listen to each other’s words. This take-away that takes the form of a fold between utterances, embodies a gift of that silence.
Snowball (also called a Chaterism): A poem in which each line is a single word, and each successive word is one letter longer. One of the constrained writing techniques utilised by the Oulipo (Workshop of Potential Literature).
Given the mathematical genesis of the Oulipo and the interest in the movement among other programmers, I thought that someone must have created a program to generate these, and I was surprised that I couldn’t find one even after some pretty thorough Googling. So I wrote one myself. The C++ code is here.
On February 7th of 1909, a 30-year-old mother of two by the name of Emma Hauck was admitted to the psychiatric hospital of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, having recently been diagnosed with dementia praecox. The outlook improved briefly and a month later she was discharged, only to be readmitted within weeks as her condition deteriorated further. Sadly, the downturn continued and in August of that year, with her illness deemed “terminal” and rehabilitation no longer an option, Emma was transferred to Wiesloch asylum, the facility in which she would pass away eleven years later. It was around this time that a heartbreaking collection of letters, one of which is above, were discovered in the archives of the Heidelberg hospital; all written obsessively in Emma’s hand during her second stay at the clinic in 1909, at a time when reports indicate she was relentlessly speaking of her family. Each desperate letter is directed at her absent husband, Mark, and every page is thick with overlapping text. Some are so condensed as to be illegible; some read “Herzensschatzi komm” (“Sweetheart come”) over and over; others simply repeat the plea, “komm komm komm,” (“come come come”) thousands of times. None were sent. (via illsortitouttomorrow)
»usually a book is just a copy - but not this one. every single poem is individually written with my typewriter, so each page is unique. out of about 50 poems i chose 16 for each book, therefore also the contents varies.«
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