Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Translating Suffering

My dear E! is working on a project about which I am totally excited. Excited, honestly, to the point, that I just called her to tell her that I want to write something with her about it. Basically, it's a study of concentration camp museums, specifically Buchenwald, and how the shapes/forms/presentation of the products associated with that museum tell a story about the past.

To that end, she just received a booklet from the museum, in which the participants and artists describe their projects in light of History and Nation and Ethnicity. She, being brilliant, is translating the German into English. Pretty awesome, yes?

That is not the point of this post, though. The point of this post is relation--as I talk to dear E!, I am in the middle of bureaucratic, form-filing nightmare, tenure-track paperwork. And I am feeling sorry for myself because I HATE it.

Then, she sends me a phrase: "hautbespannte Kochenwesen":--used by one of the museum artists to describe the former prisoners of the camp. She tells me that it can be translated literally, as "skin-tightly-stretched knuckle-beings."

And my eyes water.

And I am not so sorry for myself anymore.


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Maxwell said...

I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.....