DANA JENEIMDLINA NICOLAESCU
IOANA TUDORAANA MARIA ZAHARIADE
MIHAELA CRITICOSANDREEA MIHALACHE
GHEORGHE ALEXANDRU NICULESCUIOANA TEODORESCU
New Europe CollegeGE-NEC Program
Copyright 2004 New Europe College
ISBN 973 85697 9 6
NEW EUROPE COLLEGEStr. Plantelor 21
Tel. (+40-21) 327.00.35, Fax (+40-21) 327.07.74E-mail: [email protected]
Editor: Irina Vainovski-Mihai
Born in 1954, in Bucharest
Ph.D., Cornell University and University of Bucherst (1994)Dissertation: Protest and Propaganda in 16th Century German and English
Professor, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, University of BucharestAmerican Council of Learned Societies fellowship, Cornell University
(1991-1992)Andrew Mellon Fellowship,Vanderbilt University (1993-1994)
CEU grant (1995-96)EU - Tempus mobility grant, University of Cardiff (1996)
DAAD grant, University of Tubingen (1997)Scholarship offered by the School of Criticism and Theory, Cornell University
Papers presented at international conferences in France, Germany, GreatBritain, the United States of America, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Hungary,
Several articles published in Shakespeare Studies and Renaissance Studies, aswell as in gender studies and in cultural studies
Books: Meanings of Violence in Shakespeares Plays, Editura Universitii,Bucharest, 2002
Fashioning Global Identities, Editura Universitii, Bucharest, 2001Ec-centric Mappings of the English Renaissance, Editura Universitatii, Bucharest,
1997Frond i propagand: Teatrul reformei n Anglia i Germania secolului al
XVI-lea [Protest and Propaganda in the Reformation Theatre of the 16th
Century], Editura Universitii, Bucharest, 1996
CIRCULATING IMAGES: THE TRANSLATION
OF THE GLOBAL INTO THE LOCAL
I. THEORETICAL QUESTIONS REGARDINGGLOBALIZATION
I.1. Globalization and hermeneutics
The impact of globalization is mostly considered in economic or socio-political terms. Ulrich Beck, for example, in an answer to the questionwhat is globalization?, distinguishes between globalism, which is infact a cover for neo-liberal ideology and reduces all the dimensions ofglobalization ecology, culture, politics and civil society to economicphenomena subject to the sway of the world market system; globality,which refers to our present perceptions of living in a world society, inwhich social relationships are not entirely integrated into and determinedby nation-state politics; and globalization, which denotes the processesin which sovereign states are crisscrossed and undermined by transnationalactors.(Beck:100-101).
Though the market, transnational actor and nation-state relations, andthe new perceptions of a world society will be of constant concern inour undertaking, this essay will shift the focus of analysis from the macrolevel to the micro level as regards the sense individuals make ofglobalization. The approach we have adopted is multiple and eclectic:it is informed by sociological and ethnographic studies, by the perspectivesof cultural and media studies, and at the same time by a more singularapproach derived from hermeneutics. From a hermeneutic perspective,globalization is conceived of largely in terms of a cultural translation.Support for this view has come from the widely acknowledged work ofsociologists such as Jonathan Friedman, John Thompson and JohnTomlinson. The latter turns to hermeneutics and translation whenrethinking the idea of cultural imperialism and of Americanization. Herejects the thesis of the homogenization of culture as a consequence ofglobalization on the grounds that culture simply does not transfer in thisunilinear way. Movement between cultural /geographical areas always
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involves interpretation, translation, mutation, adaptation, andindigenization as the receiving culture brings its own cultural resourcesto bear, in dialectical fashion, upon cultural imports (Tomlinson, cultureand globalization, 1999: 84).1 Like Tomlinson, John Thompson questionsthe thesis of Americanization via the dissemination of mass media, ahighly influential thesis advanced in the 1970s by Herbert Schiller.According to Thompson, the proponents of Americanization appear toignore the hermeneutic appropriation which is an essential part of thecirculation of symbolic forms (Thompson 1995:175).
It is this hermeneutic appropriation in globallocal interaction thatthis essay will concentrate upon, while at the same time calling on theRomanian experience of exposure to the global media to adduce furtherarguments against the thesis of homogenization.
I.2. Walter Benjamin on translation
The perception of globalization in terms of cultural exchanges and ofhermeneutic operations may benefit from the idiosyncratic views heldby Walter Benjamin on translation. In his essay On the Task of theTranslator (Benjamin 1968) Benjamin starts from the assumption that atranslation is necessarily a betrayal of the original, a betrayal that is,however, valorized positively as a kind of a Derridian supplement. Thoughderivative, issued from the afterlife of the work of art, translations enjoya higher status than do the originals. They are essential to and almost aconstitutive part of the originals, whose worth is measured in terms oftheir translatability. The more translatable texts are, the moresignificant (basic) they are considered to be. The original is thus deprivedof its auratic position and the translated copies partake of the creativeand cognitive process that is usually denied to them.
Benjamin also operates a reversal of positions: what comes after ismore important than what was before. One could say that he anticipatesthe reversal Derrida introduced in The Postcard. There the positions ofSocrates and Plato are reversed: it is Socrates who takes down noteswhile Plato is the inspiring source. Derrida deconstructs the oppositionbetween the before, the primary, the origin, the source, and the after,that which is post, the effect, the copy, the relay. (Derrida 1987)
As the original has been deprived of its auratic position, fidelity to theoriginal in the act of translation becomes of secondary importance.
Similarity to the original is the hallmark of a poor translation. Nor istransmission of the meaning of the work essential in translations.Benjamins views on translations suggest an open-ended and indeterminatecommunication model, in which the work of art no longer functions asthe source of meanings to be decoded and reproduced by faithfultranslations. What really matters is the continuous reconstruction byreaders/translators of the effects a work of art can produce. Consequently,translations enjoy a considerable degree of autonomy from the original,almost displacing the original.
The autonomy of translations from the original is enhanced by theincreased historicity of the former. Since what is translated is only theeffect of the work upon a historically determined cultural and linguisticworld rather than its textual meanings, a translation has to be renewedand updated periodically, so as to ensure its topical relevance to theaudience. The periodic reconstruction of the work in the acts of translationis a prerequisite of the works growth and development in its afterlife.
What Benjamin further values about translations is the network oflanguages that they activate: the fact that they raise individual languagesout of their isolation and connect them with other languages. The mostimportant goal that a translation has to attain is to serve the purpose ofexpressing the central reciprocal relationships between languagesLanguages are interrelated in what they want to express and the kinshipof languages is brought out by translations. (72) Translations raise theoriginal to the higher realm of pure language, where languagessupplement each other. Translations point to the predestined, hithertoinaccessible realm of reconciliation and fulfillment of languages.
The relationship between the original and its translation, both understoodas fragments, is therefore not one of governance but of coexistence withina wider network. The fragments of the original and of the translationmust be put together as parts of a vessel. (78) Neither should have theiridentity occluded in the act of translationA real translation istransparent, it does not cover the original, does not block its light. Theideal of coexistence is attained by means of incorporation a translation,instead of resembling the meaning of the original, most lovingly and indetail incorporates the originals mode of signification. (78)
The primacy that Benjamin confers on translation in its relationshipwith the original is, therefore, not the result of a mere reversal of values.Translations involve an accretion in value and meanings of the original,
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with the latter reaching a superior stage Most importantly, translationsmake the invaluable attempt at establishing interrelations betweenlanguages and reconciling them in a system that defies all hierarchicalstructures and confining boundaries.
It is possible to tease out a number of features that may be morerelevant to cultural translations in global-local interaction than they areto the actual work of translating literary texts. Of course, the scale andquality of the type of translations involved in the local-global transactionsdiffers widely from those of literary translations. To translate Benjaminsviews into the jargon of globalization theorists, his essay insists on thelocaliz
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