On language

I’m sure there’s a theme in here somewhere.

From Mark Hatzfeld’s article in Eurozine about national languages and their evasions:

The third linguistic device manipulated with great agility in the banlieue is slam. […] Its greatest virtue for the purposes of our present discussion is primarily that it overthrows that symbol of linguistic dictatorship represented by the written word, the imperial written word. Slam, like the dig and verbal sparring, legitimises verbal artistry in an environment that keeps exponents of the written word at a distance: slam is the acrobatics of the spoken word raised to the level of a fine art. In this sense, it may well be reconnecting with certain cultural phenomena that predate the written word, a furious, destructive archaism that relocates the present moment – the now – at the centre of the world by rejecting the arguments and expertise of organised memory and capital. In this way it restores pleasure in the instantaneous and the volatile to both authors and listeners, qualities that are tending to disappear from creative possibilities. It encounters en route the John Cassavetes, the Antonin Artauds, the Rimbauds, all those who lived for the moment.

From Massthink:

Poetry, Heidegger then claims, is the prime art. It is above all arts (not just because all art is poetic, but because poetry is a making, creation). Poetry works in language (taking terms and giving them new meaning), which, isn’t that the primary means of unconcealment? True, the other arts have their own way of unconcealing, but they do it within a clearing already opened up by language, by naming beings for the first time. Language can thus be said to be the prime unconcealer. Especially creative language, i.e. poetic language. Language itself is poetry in essential nature, which, through the telling word, brings something into being, brings it in a certain way. Again, not any language, but language as manifested in the work (of poetry), in the original naming, in language having its being as language. Philosophy is related to poetry in that, like it, it is a work of the word. Thus, philosophy, after all, like poetry, occupies a special place (in the unconcealment of beings). It is just that there were things that the tradition was not able to think through, thus leading to instances when it worked with semblances (rather than truth).

From the edu-factory discussion, by Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson:

Since translation is a practice, we find it more useful to speak of it in practical rather than theoretical terms. For us, translation is never simply about language – it is a political concept which acquires its meaning within plural practices of constructing the common. On the other hand, it implies conflictual processes and struggles that constellate about the heterogeneity of global space and time. To return to our initial concern about borders and border-crossers, we might mention the work of the Frassanito Network. Founded after a border camp protest in Puglia, where a number of internees managed to escape from an illegal detention center, this network links a number of groups across Europe and beyond doing political work around movements and struggles of migration. Neither simply an autonomous university nor a group of activists, the practice of translation is fundamental to the modes of organization instituted by this network. We can mention, for instance, the transnational newsletter Crossing Borders (http://www.noborder.org/crossing_borders/), which has been published in up to ten languages.

At stake here is not simply the communication of a stable message to readers in different language groups but the entry of translation as a practice of political organization that is central to the constitution of the network. The production of these texts across languages necessitates a time and space of organization that is fundamentally different to that which would emerge in the absence of this practice. This is only one instance in which translation becomes a principle of political organization that constitutes new forms of struggle and movement that reach toward the global scale and question the division of activist from migrant that has plagued many political efforts in this regard.


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