29 ene. 2006

Irony is dead. Someone on the Lucipo list pointed out (in reference to a Drew Gardner poem) that "chicks" do not really "dig war." This is untrue, it turns out! Turns out the army is full of men, who'd have guessed? I got some emails asking me about my advice to translators. Did I really mean it when I said "Stick to Neruda and Lorca; nobody wants to hear about new poets"? You may not like sarcasm, but if you don't even recognize it...


I'm surprised that anyone would even question the merits of Drew's poems. Their brilliance is self-evident. It's not even the "subtle" kind of brilliance.

Irony is a necessary tool. To rule it out would be as radical as eliminating metonymy.

Is there an "irony aphasia"?

"The heroic city was sleeping the siesta." That's the famous beginining of 19th century Spanish novel. A contemporary reviewer (contemporary to the novel, not to us), pointed out that it was not the city sleeping, but its inhabitants. He pointed out that the South Wind could not be "lazy," because wind is by definition in movement. He hoped these slip-ups on the first page would not prevent readers from going further in their reading of this otherwise excellent novel.

(I couldn't tell whether his nitpicking was itself ironical. Was he satirizing a prevalent mode of criticism, or exemplifying it? You would have to be closer to the period to even tell.)

The metonymy of "lazy summer day" is quite interesting; it would take a long while to explain it to someone who didn't intuitively get how metonymy worked. But we all understand it quite well.

To leave ideas "in the inkwell." ("dejar en el tintero") = to fail to write all the ideas one might have written. I've always liked that 19th-century Spanish expression.

You would think a capacity for reading figurative language would be the sine qua non of literary folks. After all, we all know how to understand figurative language in "real life." Why do we forget this skill when reading literature? Should we point out that houses don't talk, and therefore "The White House Announced..." doesn't make sense? That streets cannot be nervous, only the people who work there? That it's the bosses inside the suits, not the "suits" themselves, that do the hiring and firing?

6 comentarios:

shanna dijo...

that makes the second time somebody has read "chicks dig war" as a straight-faced poem that i know of. amazing. it's one of my favorite poems of 2005, easy.

Behrle, Prince of Trolls dijo...

I think we're expecting too much from the Lucipo...CHICKS DIG WAR should have been the title of Drew's book. But it's still, yeah, insanely great.


Daniel Silliman dijo...

Perhaps the fear of irony, the fear of figurative language, is the fear of a text that can be read in more than one way?

e.g.: http://www.laweekly.com/index.php?option=com_lawcontent&task=view&id=12467&Itemid=9

Jonathan dijo...

Any text can be read in more than one way... Reading itself offers that possibility.

Laura Carter dijo...
Este comentario ha sido eliminado por un administrador del blog.
John dijo...

Excellent post.

The Street is languid today.