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Translation

How to Not Sell Out

How to Not Sell Out

Three accounts of the same conversation

Soon after meeting P in 2011, I read his first book. The overall mood was utopian, yet pragmatic. Fable-like methods were used to depict bleak truths while avoiding finger-pointing: Once upon a time, farmers cleared a forest; the water table fell, so they dug a well, and it fell some more, et cetera. Red herrings abounded. One memorable paragraph lamented the extinction of Steller’s sea cow, a sluggish 30-foot behemoth that could have provided truly socialist quantities of meat and milk.

Elham’s Suitor

Elham’s Suitor

He’s sobbing again

I open my eyes. The Colonel stares back at me like a buck’s head mounted on the wall. An abstract painting, blood streams from the old man’s throat down onto Parvin’s Che Guevara poster and over the star on Che’s forehead, where it gets lost in the black shadows on his face to reemerge out of Che’s left nostril.

L’Autore Invisible

L’Autore Invisible

Ralph Ellison in Italian

Translators themselves want to seem inconspicuous, like imperial clerks toiling away in a dark garret, resolving geopolitical issues by working out the finer terms in the draft of a big treaty. The collective need for invisibility creates a language that’s even, parsed out, correct — a language that escorts books out of their country and dresses them up as responsible travelers.

Horse Soup

Horse Soup

“This is na-a-a-a-o!”

It was 1982. Brezhnev died. Ready also died, after eating rat poison. Olya started her senior year at the Institute and bought herself a violin made by the German master Schneider for 1,600 rubles, telling her poor parents that a girlfriend who’d dropped out of school and married a Georgian had given it to her. She continued to meet Burmistrov at the same apartment. She was so used to Horse Soup’s screaming that she no longer paid any attention to it, focusing only on the food in front of her. 

Eyes Open

Eyes Open

Que se sepa que en Chile nos estarán robando los ojos mas no la VOZ! 

The citizen body has always been the target of state violence, but, in keeping with these visual times, the police targeted the optic organ itself, rendering their violence spectacular. The target was no longer the body but the eye of the citizen. They aimed to leave eyes open and awake forever, perpetually shot upward, blank.

Ogresse

Ogresse

Audre Lorde’s plumed serpent

So, with my back leaning against the door, I mumbled: Do this, do that. What an algorithm! Let’s recap . . . Defend the citadel. Don’t hide. Don’t be afraid of your anger. Know when to indulge yourself. In other words, be a heretic in order to be more devout than the faithful. Follow the intuition of the ancestral bacteria in your stomach in order to keep track of the metaphors of the soul. But did I really understand?