He showed up smelling of beer. She made tea. He said her house was pretty. And that he really liked hotels. Clean towels, lots of towels, always there, at hand. She agreed, talked about the stretched white sheets. She couldn’t have agreed, she shouldn’t have agreed. They talked about the day, about each of their days. She’d had a full day. He’d had an artist’s day. An unproductive day, as an artist’s day should be. He talked about his wanderings, about the hotels he’d been to. They weren’t always hotels; sometimes they were fleabag motels in Chinatown. She asked if he was famous. He said that artists couldn’t be famous. She said they could be. But they shouldn’t be. She said it to disagree. He said poets, then. There aren’t any famous poets. She said there are. Uh-huh, he said. She asked about his life. About the life he’d left behind. He answered by accident and then said let’s talk about you. He said she asked a lot of questions. Too many questions. He said he liked to be distracted. He said if someone gets too close, it blocks your vision. And then you can’t be distracted. He said it was all a matter of perspective. An artist needs to see the world, otherwise, he doesn’t exist. He said he liked everything: Impressionism, Modernism, Concrete poetry. All of it. That everything in the world was very similar. Being ironic she said you could teach me about perspective. About the Renaissance. About all of it. She wasn’t being ironic. She thought about that verse from Drummond about how sad things are when considered without emphasis. She thought it but didn’t say it. She should have said it. She should have admitted that she stole this verse once because it has everything to do with desire, with a lack of desire. But to say the word desire would be too much. It would be too much to talk about desire, even if it was to talk about a lack of desire. Certain words should be left unsaid. Don’t pronounce it. He could have said this. Because they block vision. She doesn’t remember the details. She doesn’t remember what clothes he was wearing or the color of his shirt. Desire blocked out her vision. She only remembers that he arrived, spent two hours sitting on her sofa, and then left. And that he made ambiguous gestures, bridges that were never crossed, movements forward and back, which repelled any coincidence, like someone who never wants to reach the end of the poem.

 

***

 

He showed up smelling of beer. I made tea. He said my house was pretty. And that he really liked hotels. Clean towels, lots of towels, always there, at hand. I agreed, talked about the stretched white sheets. I couldn’t have agreed, I shouldn’t have agreed. We talked about the day, about each of our days. I’d had a full day. He’d had an artist’s day. An unproductive day, as an artist’s day should be. He talked about his wanderings, about the hotels he’d been to. They weren’t always hotels; sometimes they were fleabag motels in Chinatown. I asked if he was famous. He said that artists couldn’t be famous. I said they could be. But they shouldn’t be. I said it to disagree. He said poets, then. There aren’t any famous poets. I said there are. Uh-huh, he said. I asked about his life. About the life he’d left behind. He answered by accident and then said let’s talk about you. He said I asked a lot of questions. Too many questions. He said he liked to be distracted. He said if someone gets too close, it blocks your vision. And then you can’t be distracted. He said it was all a matter of perspective. An artist needs to see the world, otherwise, he doesn’t exist. He said he liked everything: Impressionism, Modernism, Concrete Poetry. All of it. That everything in the world was very similar. Being ironic I said you could teach me about perspective. About the Renaissance. About all of it. I wasn’t being ironic. I thought about that verse from Drummond about how sad things are when considered without emphasis. I thought it but didn’t say it. I should have said it. I should have admitted that I stole this verse once because it has everything to do with desire, with a lack of desire. But to say the word desire would be too much. It would be too much to talk about desire, even if it was to talk about a lack of desire. Certain words should be left unsaid. Don’t pronounce it. He could have said this. Because they block vision. I don’t remember the details. I don’t remember what clothes he was wearing or the color of his shirt. Desire blocked out my vision. I only remember that he arrived, spent two hours sitting on my sofa, and then left. And that he made ambiguous gestures, bridges that were never crossed, movements forward and back, which repelled any coincidence, like someone who never wants to reach the end of the poem.



View Original Work ↓

Ele chegou com cheiro de cerveja. Ela fez chá. Ele disse que sua casa era bonita. E que gostava muito de hotéis. Toalhas limpas, muitas tolhas, sempre ali, à mão. Ela concordou, falou dos lençóis brancos e sempre esticados. Ela não podia ter concordado, não devia. Falaram do dia, de como tinha sido o dia de cada um. Ela tinha tido um dia cheio. Ele tinha tido um dia de artista. Um dia improdutivo como deve ser o dia de um artista. Ele contou de suas andanças e dos hotéis que conheceu. Nem sempre eram hotéis, às vezes eram albergues pulguentos em Chinatown. Ela perguntou se ele era famoso. Ele disse que os artistas não podiam ser famosos. Ela disse que podiam. Mas não deviam. Ela disse isso para discordar. Ele disse os poetas, então. Não existem poetas famosos. Ela disse existem. Arrã, ele disse. Ela perguntou da sua vida. Da vida que ele tinha deixado para trás. Ele respondeu sem querer e depois disse vamos falar de você. Ele disse que ela fazia muitas perguntas. Perguntas demais. Ele disse que gostava de estar distraído. Disse que se alguém chega perto demais, bloqueia sua visão. E assim não se pode estar distraído. Ele disse que era tudo uma questão de perspectiva. Um artista precisa ver o mundo, caso contrário, não existe. Ele disse que gostava de tudo, do impressionismo, do modernismo, do poema concreto. De tudo. Que tudo no mundo era muito parecido. Ela foi irônica e disse você poderia me dar uma aula de perspectiva. De Renascença. De tudo. Ela não foi irônica. Ela pensou no verso do Drummond como são tristes as coisas quando consideradas sem ênfase. Ela pensou mas não disse. Ela devia ter dito. Ela devia ter admitido que roubou esse verso uma vez porque ele tem tudo a ver com desejo, com a falta de desejo. Mas dizer a palavra desejo seria demais. Seria demais falar de desejo, mesmo que fosse para falar na falta dele. Certas palavras não devem ser ditas. Não a pronuncie. Ele poderia ter dito isso. Porque bloqueiam a visão. Ela não se lembra dos detalhes. Não se lembra que roupa ele usava ou a cor da sua camisa. O desejo bloqueou sua visão. Lembra apenas que ele chegou, passou duas horas sentado em seu sofá, e foi embora. E que tinha gestos ambíguos, que eram pontes nunca atravessadas, que eram movimentos para frente e para trás, que repeliam qualquer coincidência, como quem não quer chegar nunca ao fim do poema.

 

***

 

Ele chegou com cheiro de cerveja. Eu fiz chá. Ele disse que minha casa era bonita. E que gostava muito de hotéis. Toalhas limpas, muitas tolhas, sempre ali, à mão. Eu concordei, falei dos lençois brancos e sempre esticados. Eu não podia ter concordado, não devia. Falamos do dia, de como tinha sido o dia de cada um. Eu tinha tido um dia cheio. Ele tinha tido um dia de artista. Um dia improdutivo como deve ser o dia de um artista. Ele contou de suas andanças e dos hoteis que conheceu. Nem sempre eram hoteis, às vezes eram albergues pulguentos em Chinatown. Eu perguntei se ele era famoso. Ele disse que os artistas não podiam ser famosos. Eu disse que podiam. Mas não deviam. Eu disse isso para discordar. Ele disse os poetas, então. Não existem poetas famosos. Eu disse existem. Arrã, ele disse. Eu perguntei da sua vida. Da vida que ele tinha deixado para trás. Ele respondeu sem querer e depois disse vamos falar de você. Ele disse que eu fazia muitas perguntas. Perguntas demais. Ele disse que gostava de estar distraído. Disse que se alguém chega perto demais, bloqueia sua visão. E assim não se pode estar distraído. Ele disse que era tudo uma questão de perspectiva. Um artista precisa ver o mundo, caso contrário, não existe. Ele disse que gostava de tudo, do impressionismo, do modernismo, do poema concreto. De tudo. Que tudo no mundo era muito parecido. Eu fui irônica e disse você poderia me dar uma aula de perspectiva. De Renascença. De tudo. Eu não fui irônica. Eu pensei no verso do Drummond como são tristes as coisas quando consideradas sem ênfase. Eu pensei mas não disse. Eu devia ter dito. Eu devia ter admitido que roubei esse verso uma vez porque ele tem tudo a ver com desejo, com a falta de desejo. Mas dizer a palavra desejo seria demais. Seria demais falar de desejo, mesmo que fosse para falar na falta dele. Certas palavras não devem ser ditas. Não a pronuncie. Ele poderia ter dito isso. Porque bloqueiam a visão. Eu não me lembro dos detalhes. Não me lembro que roupa ele usava ou a cor da sua camisa. O desejo bloqueou minha visão. Lembro apenas que ele chegou, passou duas horas sentado em meu sofá, e foi embora. E que tinha gestos ambíguos, que eram pontes nunca atravessadas, que eram movimentos para frente e para trás, que repeliam qualquer coincidência, como quem não quer chegar nunca ao fim do poema.

 

“[díptico]: um artista precisa de problemas concretos” was first published in Revista Parênteses in 2015.

Translator Notes

A diptych is an artwork composed of two painted or carved panels, often joined by a hinge (especially in medieval times). The panels typically reveal similar or related images, which form a third image in their union. The word diptych comes from the Greek di, meaning “two,” and ptukhē, meaning “fold.” Since diptychs were able to be closed, and thus the inner works protected, many were used as portable altarpieces, exploring themes of religion and devotion. The technique has since been adapted to a wide range of themes in painting, sculpture, photography, and other artistic mediums, including the written word.

Julia de Souza constructs a diptych that is a near-perfect reflection, with only a subtle shift in perspective, from third person to first person. Upon first glance, this might seem to facilitate translation—it should only be half the work, after all! But it actually results in an unexpected challenge. In order to maintain symmetry, the language must hold in the more distant third person as well as the more intimate first person. While I started by translating in the logical, forward-moving direction (i.e., from start to finish), I soon realized that only the reverse would hold true. In other words, if it could be said intimately, in the “I”—by the person living the experience—then it could be said more distantly, in the third person—by someone observing the experience. Thus, the authenticity of lived experience—of what is lived firsthand—is protected in translation by the structure of the diptych itself. Translating such a piece reminds us that art should always be viewed from multiple angles, and that even the slightest shift in perspective can result in a richer, more nuanced reception.


Daniel Persia

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Daniel Persia

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