DAY 88: 长河沉寂地流向前去

May 16th, 2014 § 1 comment

The above, I’ve been informed, is the first word of Dai Congrong’s bestselling translation of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake into Mandarin Chinese – which makes it available to 960 million people, though I doubt it’s on Kindle. ‘Word’ is stretching it a bit, indeed so is ‘translation’ since where the master of Zürich

james-joyce-finnegans-wakeMr Joyce and Ms Beach

employed the single word ‘riverrun’, Ms Dai writes literally ‘long river silently flowing forward’, five words and nine characters. Or so I’m assured by authorities who are more acquainted with their hanzi characters than I am. The rhythm of the sentence reminds me, and I expect you, irresistibly, of Borges’ translation into the idealist language of Tlön of the sentence ‘The moon rose above the river’: hlor u fang axaxaxas mlo, or literally ‘upward behind the onstreaming it mooned’ (‘Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’, II.)  But this is simply a coincidence, and Dai is surely a materialist

daiDai and friends

- although Bishop Berkeley inevitably makes an appearance (‘pidgin fella Balkelly’) in the Wake. I seem to be digressing again.. (Sources are cagey about Dai’s age, but rumours that she was a product of the Cultural Revolution have got to be wrong.)

On a related topic (movies), today’s award is the Bechdel Award, for films which satisfy the Bechdel Rule as follows:bechdel-test

(I hope your screen resolution is good enough for you to read it. If not, find it here. Two female characters who hold a conversation on something other than a man.) The Hobbit, Casablanca, and Alexander Nevsky fail (I think), but Chocolat passes, as well as Alien.

The Cup Final

- could we avoid it? And Arsenal are in, after a nailbiting semi against Chelsea, to face Everton on June 1st. I refer as usual to the women’s (or as it’s quaintly called, ‘ladies”) squad. Rather than post a pin-up of (say) Shinobu Ohno, Danielle Carter or Freda Ayisi, let’s look at some of those north London nine-year olds gun__1391159185_ladies_festival2who will be the backbone of the lady Gunners when M. Wenger is pushing up the pissenlits.


This week’s app is the hugely popular iNakba, produced by the Israeli ‘memorial’ organization Zochrot,presentation3which ‘provides coordinates and maps of Palestinian localities that were completely demolished and obliterated after their capture, partially demolished, or remained standing although their residents were expelled.  The maps also show buildings that were left in these localities, provide historical information and include video clips and photographs.’ Unfortunately only available on the iPhone, as its name would seem to imply. Not so, we are told – it’s ‘shortly’ to be on Android; and anyway the ‘i’ in iNakba is the first person singular as in moi or ego. This may in any case the meaning of the ‘i’ in iPhone; those of us who have nothing better than an idPhone will have to wait for Freud’s promised upgrade: Wo Es war dort soll Ich sein.

Human Rights (Britain, torture, etc.)

Readers (e.g. Guardian readers) who are always looking out for a reason to knock our country’s human rights record in comparison (say)  with that of Somalia or the DRC will be cheered at the news that HMG is facing the prospect of being hauled up before the ICC over torture and other human rights abuses in Iraq; putting Mr Cameron potentially in the dock with Karadzic and Charles Taylor. There’s a good case; I bet they (the Brits, not the Guardian readers) now wish that, like the US, they’d held back from signing up to the Rome Statute. See of course A & Ors v. SSHD no. 2 (2005) per Lord Bingham on the ‘non-immutability’ of the definition of torture – the problem of shifting goalposts in the human rights field.

Poetry Corner

(To mark International Conscientious Objectors day, a bit late. Same as Nakba Day, is this a coincidence?)

‘Futility’ – Wilfred Owen

Move him into the sun -
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds, -
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved – still warm – too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
- O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?


Have we had any Bellini? Have I posted Casta Diva? Too hackneyed, you’ll say, with reason. Here’s Anna Netrebko with the mad scene ’Vien, diletto’ from I Puritani. Let the Youtube pseudo-experts sneer, she has my vote.


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