Print Story Tod und Verzweiflung toben um mich her.
By Bartleby (Wed Jun 21, 2006 at 09:55:32 AM EST) (all tags)
Hört, hört, höööööööööört, Rrrachegötter!

I'm just listening to Renata Tebaldi as die sternflammende Königin. "Awestruck" doesn't begin to describe how I feel about this singer and this aria. About the whole opera, but especially about the revenge aria. Whow.

Now that I've deleted everything I originally meant to write, I might just as well not post this to the Hole. Ever wondered what an ant feels when it's stoned?

The poet's seven fundamental virtues, No. 5: Despair.

"It is the humus, the peat, the compost of literature: despair. Despairing of work, of colleagues, of your own sanity, of the world, of literary business, everything. I have made it a habit to despair at least once a day for at least five minutes, of anything, and if it is only my housekeeper's cuisine. The lamenting that comes with it, the throwing-skyward-of-hands, the welling up of the blood, incidentally, provide the necessary physical exercise that otherwise is so sorely lacking from a writer's daily routine."*

Sad excuse for a translation, impromptu, by yours truly. Apologies to Walter Moers for butchering his book; but it would be too cool to have that ancient Zamonian candelabrum from the first Mythenmetzian digression in "Ensel und Krete".

I'd love to ask the old dinosaur poet how he manages to keep despair contained within those five minutes. [whining and wailing section goes here]

Cue Sparks.

Pull yourself up off the ground
You've started liking being down
The persecution feels cool
The subtle feel of garden tools
But what about that other life
'Cause this is more an afterlife
Seducing you each night and day
You're never gonna break away

I had this idea about a parallel husiverse recently. Imagine there's a website frequented by all those people that appear over here as diarist's moronic sidekicks/foes/nemeses. Robins, roommates, root causes, inc. Nobody feels their surroundings suffer from a dumbass deficiency, right? But since this site is 100% idiot-free, except for me showing up occasionally, where are all the goofy people?

Something I read this morning that puzzled me (it's about a tiny beetle, Claviger longicornis, that lives only in the nests of Lasius umbratus ants; another careless ad hoc translation, mille pardons): "[...] the beetle bewitches its host ants with glandular secretions dispensed through wisps of hair, which however don't serve as food, but as intoxicants. In case of disturbances, the ants carry not only their own offspring, but also the beetles to a safe place."


*"5. Verzweiflung

Der Humus, der Torf, der Kompost der Literatur, das ist die Verzweiflung. Zweifel an der Arbeit, an den Kollegen, am eigenen Verstand, an der Welt, am Literaturbetrieb, an allem. Ich habe es mir zur Regel gemacht, mindestens einmal pro Tag für mindestens fünf Minuten an irgend etwas zu verzweifeln, und seien es nur die Kochkünste meiner Haushälterin. Das damit einhergehende Lamentieren, Händegenhimmelwerfen und Blutwallen sorgt übrigens für die nowendige körperliche Betätigung, die ja ansonsten im schriftstellerischen Leben chronisch zu kurz kommt."

"Zweifel", in the second sentence, basically means "doubt", not "despair", but it's also the root of "Verzweiflung", "despair", and I chose not to obfuscate the connection there. An example for one of many reasons why a translation can never be perfect. By the way, what's the difference between "despair" and "desparation"?

< Change of Venue | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
Tod und Verzweiflung toben um mich her. | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
"bin ich zur verzweiflung nur erwacht? " by BlueOregon (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed Jun 21, 2006 at 10:31:57 AM EST

Both from lack/loss/without hope, but despair is the feeling of hopelessness, whereas with desperation we think of acts of desperation ... actions that come from despair. Though of course in a way the distinction must be drawn (actively) and overlap is possible.

I mention this only as a tangential introduction to a commentary not on your translation or on translation in general, but the interesting difference between these difference words for despair—nothing new to you. The Latin gives us hopelessness, but the German Zweifel (and Verzweiflung) is derived from doubleness, from consisting of two things, and the English 'doubt' (via the French, etc.) has a similar background. Then the German 'desperation' from 'doubt' is helped along by 'ver' as a wondeful perfective particle. I find that more interesting than despair vs. desperation ... perhaps because 'two' (often a word that, hrm, doubles for 'other') is so productive.

Okay, that was pointless ... but that's how and who I am.

Is there anything worthwile that isn't pointless? by Bartleby (4.00 / 1) #2 Wed Jun 21, 2006 at 12:43:59 PM EST
Picking words apart is exactly my cup of tea; maybe with an added angle of looking at how those things compare across languages. It seems to me that it's mostly in literary translation that this stuff actually matters.

Among the languages I speak (with wildly varying degrees of competence), German seems to be the only one that derives the word for "despair" from the one for "doubt". However, there are no Germanic languages beside German, English, and some extremely rudimentary Swedish in that collection, so I might be missing the most promising places to look. Finnish, like French and English, calls despair the absence of hope (epätoivo/toivottomuus ['non-hope'/'hopelessness']). Note to self for tomorrow's work avoidance project: Find out about etymology of pl. rozpacz/ru. otchayanie. At any rate, they aren't connected to the respective words for "doubt".

[ Parent ]
In Danish by TurboThy (2.00 / 0) #4 Wed Jun 21, 2006 at 02:53:56 PM EST
it's "tvivl" and "fortvivlelse". Did I mention I find German vocabulary quite easy, while the grammar kills me?
Sommerhus til salg, første række til Kattegat.
[ Parent ]
Thanks! I was hoping one of you Skandinavians... by Bartleby (2.00 / 0) #5 Wed Jun 21, 2006 at 09:28:54 PM EST
...would comment. So my guess was correct. - Did I mention that Danish looks almost as cute as it sounds? :)

[ Parent ]
ants, anti-Husi, and antithesis of hope by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #3 Wed Jun 21, 2006 at 02:49:37 PM EST
Weirdly, I recently came across a table (out of any supporting context) about the treatment of intoxicated ants by other ants, and now you are talking about them again.

We are the goofy people. On that other site, they are heartily congratulating themselves on having successfully herded us into our own self-styled "community." Elsewhere, someone is compiling tables of statistics on the treatment of intoxicated Husites by other Husites.

Somehow it never really occurs to me that "despair" and "desperation" have the same root. Desperation carries a sense of almost being the superlative of despair, I think. Being so utterly without hope that one is at one's wits' end. And BlueOregon has a point that desperation is something that tends drive one to action while despair can be a purely intellectual exercise. Methinks the poet may find it productive to indulge regularly in despair, but to taste too much desperation could have adverse effects.

"later" meant either "when you walk around the corner" or "oatmeal."

We are...? Oh dang! by Bartleby (4.00 / 1) #6 Wed Jun 21, 2006 at 09:45:42 PM EST
I mean, I knew we humans are all somebody's lab rats, but here...? I fell right into the honey pot. Actually, what a relief if this is already the end of the journey.

The anti-Husi idea was prompted by a recurring kind of nightmares I have; I call them my Damoclean dreams. Their common element is a sense that I'm far better of/more respected/people are much nicer to me than I deserve, but it can't possibly last. Soon, oh so very soon, they will realize what a braindead freeloading waste of space I really am, and I will be duely tarred and feathered (and, with regards to my HuSi presence, shipped off to that moron mirror site). In other words, I'm dooooooooooooomed.

Fun with dictionaries.

des·per·a·tion n.
1. The condition of being desperate.

des·per·ate adj.
1. Having lost all hope; despairing.

de·spair intr.v. de·spaired, de·spair·ing, de·spairs
1. To lose all hope: despaired of reaching shore safely.

From here. Admittedly, my way of quoting borders on lying by omission, but it is always No. 1 on the list of definitions that adds most to the confusion. The usage examples from classical clear things up a bit better for me. I see the three examples for "despair" are all taken from translations. Hm.

[ Parent ]
Your recurring nightmares... by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #7 Thu Jun 22, 2006 at 04:45:53 AM EST
sound like my waking life. I remember a professor assuring me, when I was but a naive 18-year-old, that everyone feels like a fraud. I'm not sure I believe him, but those who appear utterly self-confident have to be faking it. They just have to be.

And, as always, I enjoy reading your diaries. One you wrote a few months ago prompted a discussion with iGrrrl who was wondering about the origin of your nick.

"I'm pretty sure it's from 'Bartleby the Scrivener,' based on the sig," I said. Turns out that iGrrrl had somehow missed that story - one of my favorites of Melville, actually - a hole that has since been filled.

All this to say, please write more. :-)
Continue to lean until you feel gravity threatening to discipline you for being stupid. - CRwM

[ Parent ]
There are plenty of idiots here. by calla (2.00 / 0) #8 Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 09:36:52 PM EST
Luckily only a few hang around for long.

"Are Linux chicks worth it?" fencepost

Tod und Verzweiflung toben um mich her. | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback