Someone once told me that a good statistician is able to tell any story they want with the statistics at their disposal. I think of translators as the statisticians of the humanities; they have the power to interpret texts and other works in a variety of different ways, and that interpretation gets produced and distributed to others. For example, the bible’s original Latin text contained a line that most closely translated to “man shall not lie with boy/child.” However, the sentence ended up being translated as “man shall not lie with man,” which had consequences across the social and political landscape of the Western world. How intentional are decisions like this? How are are translators of the power they wield? The power of language? Is it possible not to bring our personal worldview to a translation?
On Borges’ Writing:
In Borges’ “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” hrönir represent the concept of an object after it has interacted with humanity. They represent the idealistic “copies” humans form after interacting with something, because humans can never have perfect memory. Borges describes the different degrees of hrönir in the reading: “[hrönir] of the eleventh degree have a purity of form which the originals do not possess.” This describes how the flaws of things can be gradually eroded over time as the idea of them is passed through memory. For example, modern Americans idolize the country’s founding fathers, however, they were just as flawed as any human, and were not loved by all when they were alive. In The Allegory of the Cave, the shadows represent hrönir. They are mere reflections of reality, yet they are believed to represent reality, just like human perceptions and conceptual schemes.