High Tide

When I homeschooled the girls, this author and homeschooling mom, Melissa Wiley, wrote about her homeschool being tidal.

I believe my reading life to be tidal as well. This means there’s moments of high energy and activity, followed by other times where for some reason, I’m not as engaged, and I may feel a bit stagnated. But it may simply be that we all need some time to process and ponder, or that life takes front line, and reading, writing, and the blogging community are pushed aside as a consequence.

However, I can say that, if I’m not reading, I’m usually thinking about it.

Currently I’m at a high tide, where read along opportunities have arrived, and when I’ve found kindred spirits that have inspired me to take up some books, and helped me find others that are meant for me. The problem with a high tide is that it’s hit me with lots of goodness at once, therefore I need to pause and regroup. I don’t want to miss anything, 🙂

You all know of my current affair with Moby Dick. I thank Brona for proposing this read along. And Bellezza for her faithful posts of quotes every ten chapters. This was an unusual way for me to follow up on a book. I like it so much that I may employ it early next year when I take up on One Hundred Years of Solitude with Ruth. She writes a quote per chapter every ten chapters. I do love going back to the book through the quotes, and also her comments on some of them.

This week I discovered cathyc‘s blog, a person whose reviews I love to read at Goodreads, and who is importing them to her blog. Talking about this and that, she redirected me to a book that I had been recommended last year, Umberto Eco’s Experiences in Translation, which I’m reading in the Spanish translation, where it’s called “Decir casi lo mismo.”

I was shamefully puffed up yesterday as I read the first pages and saw my small thoughts on translation beautifully expressed, and wisely defended by no less than Umberto Eco! From the pen of a man who has translated books himself, looked at other translations, and had his own books translated to many languages, and lots of conversations with his different translators, came some conclusions I’ve also contemplated.

Our proposal. Ahem. His proposal is about approaching translation from the experiences in translation themselves, from the reality of that which editorials commission, and translators engage on. Theoretical conclusions may be smart and alluring, but the problems we face when we translate, and the existence of translations that are accepted or rejected using clear guidelines, take us to a much more fascinating realm. Eco speaks from the position of someone who is involved in translation. He is not telling language scholars to shut up, but I like where he draws the lines of what he’s going to talk about. As a person who has translated, and who has read and edited other people’s translations, I right away attest to what he says he’s learned from his own experience doing this too. His best knowledge came from the problems some of his translators faced, how they posed those problems to him, and how they worked together at solving them. That taught him that at times, the apparent limitation or obstacle the translator faced led both of them to a solution that, -ready?- IMPROVED his original text.

Eco has also a humble approach. Instead of aiming at a complex and all encompassing theory of translation, he also limits his book to translation in the present, and from text to text. What do I mean? He doesn’t deal so much with translation from old books and deceased authors, -though he always borrows from any translation effort at all moments when it helps us understand some aspects of it, or to categorize all sort of different experiences that fall under what we call translation. He also doesn’t deal with the translation when it’s done in a different medium. For example, a book turned into a movie, a poem into a song, etc. He talks mainly about what happens when he publishes a book and it gets translated into many different languages.

In my head, instead of talking about the composition of food and which recipes are better, it’s about talking of all that happens when people cook certain things, and follow certain recipes that are being consumed, and how they are received, with special attention at failed recipes, or obstacles to follow some recipes when you have to change some ingredients but you want to obtain the original dish. As such, he’ll write about language somehow, and what happens in a few very relevant scenarios when we attempt to say that in a different language.

Umberto Eco is also a reader. He understands and gives credit to the readers’s sixth sense when it comes to translations. If you love language, and books, and have read in translation, this book is for you. His tone is conversationalist because the book content comes from a series of conferences he attended where as he says, he constantly came to a different view on translation than that of most of the other presenters.

It’s possible that while reading, you come to finally identify experiences with language and books you’ve had and couldn’t articulate. To me, this book is extremely rewarding.

Next, I intend to write another post with my wish list for Christmas and January, cause, why not? There’s several books that I’m noticing which have caught my interest, and that I can’t read or buy right now, so I’m going to cherish writing that list and anticipating their arrival.

I also need to work on a tangent post on scents and perfume. It’s part of an interesting conversation I’m having with Bellezza that started with perfumes and it’s progressing into, well, you guessed it, books! She also holds a Japanese books read along in January, and I’m looking forward to it.

P.S: I wish you all could smell the coffee. This brand has several kinds, all with Texan city names. I picked the Houston blend, not because that’s where I live, but because it’s seriously the best of their varieties.

23 thoughts on “High Tide

  1. I wish I could corral my attention span. Even shutting off screens isn’t helping much right now. I envy you the serious reading [in the nicest way]. I remember, too, when I found Melissa’s blog! I loved her approach. Such a nice memory. I still check it out–we have read the same things many times (and I didn’t know she’d chosen the book).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually thought that life is tidal too. The Eco book is soooo neat. I love when authors talk about something difficult but with so much gusto and passion. It’s such an excellent way to learn about something complex. I love his balanced approach of theory/practice, versus the more traditional theoretical approach to theoretical questions. I love that he talks about translation backwards, from the fact that there are translations among us, and they are excellent. I’ve been all my short reader life trying to debunk the idea that “we lose in translation”, and finally Eco tells us all, “hey, look at how much is gained by translating”.

      I forgot to say that Rushdie got super inspired to write Quichotte when he read DQ in the Edith Grossman translation. Grossman’s book Why Translation Matters? is also superb. It’s from the mouth of translators, 🙂 I’m not disqualifying others, neither are they, I’m just mesmerized by what those involved in translation say themselves. They are the bridge for all the rest of us to understand translation better, explored as a reality, instead of looking at it as an abstraction.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I have never written a quote from each chapter of a book before, but I thought I should do that for Moby Dick (to help myself keep track of such a classic). Now, if you would do that for One Hundred Years of Solitude that would help me, greatly! You have already helped, however, by explaining to me how oppressive the culture was.

    We should read an Eco book some time. The only one I’ve read is The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana; try as I might, I’ve never been able to finish Foucoult’s Pendulum.

    I wish I could have home schooled my son. My first husband, his father, passed away when he was in kindergarten, and I had to work. But, I think home school is such a wonderful option for children. And, their mothers.

    I’ll have some of that coffee!😋

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes to the Eco book. I’m up to reread The Name of the Rose. Foucault I still remember being very confused. It wasn’t as amazing as The Name of the Rose. It’s a book which movie adaptation I adore equally. Let’s see what we can work out, one book at a time, hahaha.

      I think I am going to keep a list, just to not lose any of this interesting possible future reads, and see if the interest is still there for me and not only, for you and others.

      And I understand, as a single parent, you had to work. Homeschooling was such a wonderful adventure, until the last two years when everything started to fail, it wasn’t the free and beautiful choice we chose anymore. We changed and last year was a tough transition. This year is a good year, He is been good to us.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I finally bought a secondhand copy of the Foucault for a reread. I read it at about the same time as all the furore following publication of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, and as it seemed to have some connection to the latter I sort of got a handle on how being creative about a conspiracy theory, because it’s amusing to joke about it, can get you sucked in to the whirlpool of fake news so that you start to doubt what’s true and what isn’t and it all gets a bit dangerous.

        I met and discussed Arthurian matters with one of the authors of Holy Blood / Holy Grail (it was about the Grail being symbolic of Jesus’s so-called bloodline, if you remember, and was the basis of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code novel). I was frankly unimpressed by (a) his pontificating and strutting around, and (b) his misleading approach of blending half-truths, speculation, genuine history and metaphor into one huge pseudohistory that to me was clearly metafictional. So reading the Eco soon after kind of echoed what was familiar to me from Lincoln, Baigent and Leigh’s pseudohistorical farrago.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t remember Foucoult’s Pendulum as much as The Name of the Rose. I knew both are based on historical happenings but always clear to be fiction. I remember Eco being intelligent, over my own ability to understand the allusions and all that was presented, but nonetheless enjoyable to read.

          I never felt like reading Davinci. I don’t like those books that as you say mix truth with fake news. I know that The Name of the Rose character is basef on Guillermo de O’camm, and Foucoult’s Pendulum inspired in Foucoult, right? I’m not 100% but I believe Eco is different from Dan Brown. I would like to think Eco is after quality and Brown after sensationalism for the masses.

          I have not read Holy Blood/Holy Grail, but as you say, I am leery of those books that try to rewrite the Christian truths, and of movies too. If they have quality, I can appreciate them somehow, but the reactions they elicit bother me somehow.


          • Ah, I wasn’t comparing Eco with Dan Brown, Silvia, just saying that Eco was cleverly exploring the dangers that engaging with conspiracy theories and theorists can get you into, while Brown swallowed a conspiracy theory hook, line and sinker to fashion his cryptic crime thriller. I’ve read the Da Vinci book, even watched the film, and laughed out loud at it, but with Eco’s thriller I occasionally laughed with it whilst also experiencing anxiety during the scrapes the protagonist suffered.

            I need to reread The Name of the Rose too. And read another of Eco’s novels or two that I have waiting. And a book of essays by him… So little time! 🙂

            Incidentally, the Dan Brown film starring Tom Hanks is fun. I laughed a lot!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Hahaha. I know you weren’t comparing, my apologies.

              It’s me trying to sort books out. I didn’t get the part you say that those Holy Grail books helped you understand Foucoult’s Pendulum, and I forgot… Foucoult’s Pendulum is also based on a conspiracy theory, right? You may be able to help me here, 🙂 But I know you hold Eco in a reputable place as a writer.

              The Dan Brown film with Hanks I watched, I think. It’s hilarious.

              I know… So many books, so little time.


              • As I remember Eco’s novel takes the nonsensical Holy Blood, Holy Grail book as its inspiration, even having three men as the originators of the fake conspiracy (just as the Holy bloodline pseudohistory had three authors): I just checked the Wikipedia entry for confirmation, and I was right!

                Knowing the background to the HBHG (published in 1982) book helped me understand Foucault’s Pendulum (the English translation came out in 1989). The 80s was a time when conspiracy theories really took off in the public imagination, with all the usual suspects (‘faked’ moon landings, Roswell incident, fossilised Noah’s Arks etc) now having Knights Templars, holy grails and holy bloodlines all added to the mix. The Eco novel showed how easy it was for faked theories about hidden secrets to be believed and taken seriously.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Chris, this is why I appreciate you so much. It’s a privilege to me to count on your knowledge, and I thank you for always being humble about it and not patronizing. It’s good to know you, a scholar and researcher with a heart, who loves and respects people.

                  Thanks for characterizing a decade through one book! It’s amazing that thanks to our exchange on Foucault’s Pendulum, I am making sense of the 80’s in the sense that you took me back to that time in life when yes, conspiracy theories were all the hype, and books, movies, and music, at least popular music, responded to that. Thanks to this you wrote:

                  (‘faked’ moon landings, Roswell incident, fossilised Noah’s Arks etc) now having Knights Templars, holy grails and holy bloodlines all added to the mix.

                  I’m now placing certain books and memories in context, and I feel nostalgic. I even remember a famous pop group in Spain, Mecano, and their song Laika, (the dog who was sent to space). I checked, the song was written in 1988. In 2017, when I read The Gray House, and was in talks for the book discussion held at my blog with Yuri Machkasov, the translator who was a nuclear physicist and emigrated to Boston where he worked on computers, and who translated The Gray House by his own initiative, later to be contacted by Marian Petrosyan’s agents and hired as the official translator; he recommended me his own translation into English of this book, Omon Ra. The book was published in 1992, but it’s of a fake moon landing! Yuri put the book here for free, http://a7sharp9.com/Omon.html. What I did was copy the text, make it into a word document, and send it to my kindle. I loved it!

                  Lastly, thanks, Chris, for explaining to me what Eco did with his novel. I’m sighing with relief to know he did something smart, ha ha ha. As for the other books. I truly think that, as long as we know what we are reading, and what’s doing to us, that’s the important part. Though I understand critics and parents, or religious people objecting to some of the cultural offer. From Madonna’s initial reaction to her song and album Like a Virgin, (who weirdly enough, was sung at on of the Italian seasons of the voice by a nun who won that season), to the opposition to The Passion of Christ, -which to me is a serious art offer, no matter how much it departs or follows true christianity-, going through the many bad movies that rode that Christ themed movies. And there’s a whole history of books and culture we could keep fleshing out until we arrive to Miley Cirus’s aberration of song, my mother’s daughter. For more than I see how sick we are to make art of our own illness, we need to recognize that cultural offers show us a lot of who we are, and what we deem important. What we fight against, and what we hold sacred.


                  • This is the link to the Laika song, https://youtu.be/LqbJWbre2rc

                    If you don’t understand the lyrics, the images of Laika in that youtube video are lovely. What times! Sigh.

                    Here, translated lyrics, (this were the times when many songs were narratives, legends)

                    She was Russian, and her name was Laika
                    She was a very normal dog
                    She went from being a commonplace animal
                    to being a world star.

                    They placed her inside a space ship
                    To observe her reaction
                    She was the first astronaut
                    In outer space
                    In outer space

                    The rocket is ready for takeoff
                    The controls on Earth say goodbye to Laika
                    Goodbye, Laika

                    In the base everything was silent
                    As it awaited any signal
                    Their headsets all in place in their ears,
                    They heard a dog bark

                    While on Earth there is a big party
                    Shouting, laughter, crying, and champagne
                    Laika looked out through the window
                    What is that color ball?
                    What am I doing turning around it?

                    The rocket is ready for takeoff
                    The controls on Earth say goodbye to Laika
                    Goodbye, Laika

                    One night through the telescope
                    A new light appeared
                    Nobody could give an explanation for it
                    As the sun rose

                    And if we believe in the legend
                    Then we must believe
                    That on Earth that is one dog less
                    And in the heavens there is one more star

                    And in the heavens there is one more star

                    The rocket is ready for takeoff
                    The controls on Earth say goodbye to Laika


                  • I heard about the nun who sang ‘Like a Virgin’ on The Voice, that must have been surreal to watch! It’s probably on YouTube, I suppose, I may wander over sometime and have a look.

                    You’re very kind to depict me as humble and unpatronising, I do try to be: there are too many of the opposite persuasion on social media and in real life, aren’t there?

                    The eighties were a bit of a blur to me, the landmarks coming with kids growing up and reaching milestones in their lives and with other family matters, good and bad. Popular culture mostly passed me by at that time, what with family, work and hobbies! I don’t know the Miley Cyrus song, and from what you say that may be an advantage. But I will have a look at the Laika clip! 🙂

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • The nun’s whole thing is on YouTube. This is a video they made of her Like a Virgin, https://youtu.be/r0e8Uve7cJU

                      And you know what? It works. She sings it with God in mind. It’s what is called these days cultural appropriation. Madonna borrowed from the Catholic culture, the nun in turn, borrowed from Madonna. I find it wonderful.
                      And yes, you are not missing anything not knowing Miley’s new song. I stumbled on it because she was all over the news when she broke up her marriage.

                      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the tidal analogy, I tend to think of my reading and blogging life, and well, all of life really, ebbing and flowing.
    I’m loving Meredith and Fanda’s chapter quotes and thoughts as well. It’s fascinating how we all focus on slightly different things, or how different passages hold significance for us.

    I’m starting to get excited about the 100 Years readalong 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Melissa Wiley’s blog, Silvia. I often wish she’d post more. 🙂 Have you or your girls read any of her books? I have not! I want to try one soon. I love the concept of tidal homeschooling and I think it’s real life. The coffee looks good. I may try to order online! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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