Wednesday, 28 January, 2015
It has been too long, I know. I hope you did not worry over my absence. I have not perished through my efforts, or resigned in them. What has happened, you may ask?
Actually, I have written little, here and elsewhere, this past month, and I wish that I had spoken less. That is to say, I think many of us speak too much, particularly myself, when we, or I, ought to be acting, or thinking. When speech does come, it ought to come clearly and eloquently, or, at the very least, truthfully. Yet, how is the interpreter supposed to learn language without speech, for speech is the essence of language. But what is speech? I think for many speech serves to fill a void, a blankness, which without might lead those people to self reflection, and few are those who dare such a task. Yet, many of the introspective among us also are talkative. Talk, becomes a kind of pattern, a habit, a ritual, which makes it both indicative of culture, and it’s creator. This brings me to my absence.
What is culture, if not a commonality in habit? From language to color to sport. Culture builds on top of ideologies – say Confucius, or Plato, or Christ – and it grows and morphs, and sometimes those ideologies are lost or forgotten, and are replaced by tradition – such as strict family structures, or, materialist holidays. I dare say, culture may be the antagonist of originality. Culture is the conformity of a population to a kind of imagination, which gradually loses its creativity, until it bursts from the suppression and dullness.
I have been, as no doubt many of you have, slowed by the traditions of the culture which I reside in, though I am rogue in it. In this culture, the broad culture of the United States of America, the people gather on so called “holy-days.” The most profound of these traditions are situated in the most beautiful of seasons, and the people hide from the chill air, and bare branches, and they huddle together and bring warmth into their families and homes with an excess of food and possessions.
As an interpreter it is important to understand culture and tradition, in order to appropriately interpret meaning, among sounds. I have spent much time in the past couple of months engaged in these traditions, but I must confess: my participation is not that of a participant, but more so of an anthropologist. I sit by and observe, and gather. It’s not that I like or dislike any particular tradition – that is, I do not intend to discuss my preference here, though I will say I am rather fond of the cold, and the bare branches – rather, I feel unable to be a natural participant. I am so estranged, it seems, that the best I can do is observe and take notes and, when my energy is sufficient, try to play the part.
The holidays are over, and have been over, yet other traditions persist. These traditions are distractions to solitude, and thought, and can be, therefore very frustrating. Still, my occupation remains to study and become the expert in this craft of interpreting, and not to lose track. Some events have passed, which I hope to highlight. I have done some investigations, though minor, and I have talked to professionals. These experiences I hope to convey in another letter to you.
Until next time, I am your observant,
The Solitary Interpreter