Thursday, January 6, 2011
"blowin in the wind" Bob Dylan
what to do with Dylan's texts? translate? but translate how? literallly? metaphorically? by a sensation excited in the person listening, in me to be precise? I have thought about this problem for some time and it seems that there is no one "way." Some images may work, but then dim, they lose their lustre/luster; others are seemingly compelling, but do they really correspond to "the idea"?
The idea is a moving target, witness the variations that Dylan extracts from the original text and the initial rendering of the music. While the text remains intact apparently, sound does not. Tempi, inflections, musicians, and so forth change over time and each change inspires new reflections and responses. She ages, he ages; the musician is not petrified nor is the listener--we hope--but living causes change and its effects are apparent in accumulated residues, in strata. And so it will be for those who hear a piece of music for the first time.
Translation is not the thing itself. a visual artist drawing a mountain does not move the mountain to the paper; she does not move the sitter to the canvas. Translation is a re-presentation of observation and perception, of idea above all. First came the idea or was it first came the sensation or first came a color or a note?
To take the line I selected, one that is beyond reproach, that is iconic, is so very difficult.
What agency set the choice in motion; it was a natural form observed. Nothing should be made of the choice of this plant. The image is not a translation but one of innumerable ways of translating this phrase. while it may work for me today, I do not know if I will perceive it the same way at a future date. Time alone will authenticate it or not.