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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

March of the Tiny Sea Turtles

The way the sun said goodbye every night, with a pale green explosion upon entering the liquid red of the Pacific west, made me aware that it ushered in the hour of magic.

It was the hour when there was still light in the horizon, and yet you could still feel the starshine start to sparkle.  A march of tiny turtles... and then there was the trembling of dreams just about to flood your head and your heart.

(March of the tiny turtles....)

I love walking along the beach in the "magic hour" - the hour when the skies assume pinks, grays, and then indigo tones.

Last night, I watched 30 or 40 newly hatched turtles scramble toward the wet part of the sand where they would quickly meet the tide coming in.

March of the tiny turtles...  endangered sea turtles scampering to sea...
Children cheered and urged them on in what had become a heartwarming tradition to combine nature's processes and visiting children's desire to become little guardian angels. The turtles bobbed in the surf, looking all the world like tiny corks, and I wondered how hard their little shells were, and which predators gathered in the darker waters just outside the buoys and the nets and waited for the shower of tiny swimmers.

The skies turned from indigo to a color I could never name, and the moon rose oddly pale and distant. As I continued to walk, I smelled smoke from fires, and the salty warm breeze of a tropical depression far offshore.

The turtles would swim. The waters would move in tides, currents, and waves. And I would return home, my face glowing, my eyes sad, my smile volunteering to be that probably mainly ornamental outer layer to tell the world I mean no harm; I mean to bring joy.

And, I would wonder about what it means to move into the darker waters with only a fragile shell to protect me.

How can we protect each ourselves and each other?  I would do it with memories and beautiful interpretations of the small things we experience every day in our lives. 

And every morning, after witnessing and wishing on the sun setting in the ocean, I awakened to dual, even triple perceptions:

First, I was in the moment, "I'm here and this is my routine; I love drinking cinnamon-infused coffee, eating thick lumpy oatmeal with nuts and raisins, and the tropical fruits that appear in the fruit basket every morning."

Second, I fast-forwarded to the future as I looked back on the moment I'm living now. I will remember always as a special time (although how it is "special" I have not yet determined -- that will be manufactured by the still-life collages and the selfies I'll snap today).

Lo de Marcos, Nayarit, Mexico
 Third, I took an "outside, looking in" approach, "How does this open patio, with its sheer curtains moving like deep inhalations and exhalations in the breeze, the leaves of the bananas and mango trees dipping as geckos and iguanas scamper across in search of fruit, trigger a primordial desire in those who see the scene to come to this garden in search of whatever in their lives they perceive as lost, or at least, riddled with duality?" I am, after all, looking at things from a tourist perspective, and as such, I'm desperate to create meaning (and in doing so, obliterate the interpretive possibilities that make me uncomfortable).

Toward the setting sun, Lo de Marcos, Nayarit, Mexico

Sometimes I wake up dogged by existential angst and doubt. Don't let it show, I think. But, by not sharing, I further cut myself off, and feel sad and disconnected. 

I dare not say anything. My friendships (precious and few), have been hard-won. Sometimes I think they are predicated upon my power to imbue a space with warmth and happiness. Even my best friend tells me he likes me when my voice is cheerful and sweet, and my eyes radiate joy.

Well, I like myself when I'm feeling that way, too. 


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Interview with Karolina Kolmanič, Slovenian Author

It is very inspiring to read how and why writers began to write and how they developed and maintained their passion. Their circumstances may differ, and they may have had different experiences, but there are always a few things that seem to appear with some consistency. They include formative experiences in childhood, a fascination with nature, and a persistent need to observe and explain the world.

Welcome to an interview with Karolina Kolmanič, a Slovenian writer whose work spans several decades, and who has won many awards and inspired numerous writers to explore the human condition.

1.  What is your name and your relation to writing. What is your background? (where born? where did you go do school?  what were your favorite things to study?)
   My name is Karolina Hari, and my married surname is Kolmanič. I was born in an idyllic rural place, my birth house sits amid fields and meadows - a world of freedom without fences and boundaries.

Karolina Kolmanič, Slovenian author
2.  When did you start to write and why?
I went to elementary, middle and high school in G. Radgona. I graduated from the Teachers’ College in Maribor and then from the Higher School of Education in Ljubljana. My favorite subjects were Slovene and Foreign Languages. In addition to German, I also learned Russian in school and Hungarian passively (from my mother).

My father, 25 years my mother’s senior, traveled a great deal and read a lot of newspapers, which helped me get into the habit of reading. In school, I already had the children’s paper Lučka in naš rod. We would all read. Thus, I was from an early age tempted by reading and writing. I was inspired and encouraged more seriously at the age of fifteen by my professor of Slovene, in my fourth year of high school. I am interested in the social sciences, less so in the natural sciences.

Karolina Kolmanič, Slovenian author
3.  What was your first book?  How did the first book impact you?  what made you want to continue to write?
My first book was selected [izbrana] at a 1968 Yugoslav festival and then immediately published and is called Sonce ne išče samotnih poti (The sun avoids dark roads). I translated it and it was published in the German magazine Europapublikation in 1978. Srečno, srebrna ptica (The silver bird, rejoicing) was also a success because I actually for the first time saw white parachutes gliding through the air like butterflies from beneath the plummeting, damaged plane (in Graz). In writing the book, I allowed myself some literary and artistic liberties.

5.  What were some of the formative experiences that shaped the subjects you write about? How did they tie to the plots of some of your work?
 My works enjoy a positive reception. Particularly well known is the novel Marta (circulation 5,000). The story centers on the problems of an expatriate working at a Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg. I was allowed to be an honoured guest there, so I was able to observe this worker in her work.

6.  What are you writing these days? 
 I write short works of prose for various magazines at home, in Germany, Austria, the Hungarian Porabje and [the Italian] RAI.    My latest book came out on 12/5/2015 with the title Lahko noč, ljubezen moja (Good night, my love).

7.  How has history shaped your view of the world?  What do you predict for the future?  
The notion of a sunny future for humanity is an illusion. Human cruelty through conflict is         timeless and has encompasses religions and all of history as well. The world is happy        when it invents a something for killing - science is not a successful weapon for the destruction of people, animals and nature. Once a person’s feelings, soul and heart die, a demon awakens inside. And where are you, man, to enrich yourself with boldness? Hope remains optimistic; melancholy and reality might be overcome by reason, love and light.

Karolina Kolmanič at a party for her 85th birthday.   


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Cantinflas: Genio del Posmodernismo en Soy un prófugo (1946)

Mario Moreno Reyes, mejor conocido por su personaje, "Cantinflas," es un genio de posmodernismo. Así, sus obras contienen y demuestran una energía subversiva y interrogación de las estructuras del modernismo que existían en la primera mitad del Siglo XX con sus los vestigios del colonialismo que todavía impusieron jerarquías y límites en la sociedad mexicana. A través de su personaje, Cantinflas, Moreno privilegió la cultura populista mexicana de las clases humildes, y así mostró que el pueblo mexicano se constituyó una tremenda fuerza y fuente de vida, creatividad, ingenio, y el espíritu emprendador, y una anarquía capaz de producir una sociedad que vibra con vida.

Las primeras películas de Cantinflas ilustran muy bien una reacción al modernismo, con sus ideas monolíticas y las dogmáticas y rígidas ideas de sus líderes, especialmente los de los "cultos de personalidad" que florecieron en varias partes del mundo.

Mario Moreno Reyes, "Cantinflas"
En las películas antes de 1950, la manera de Cantinflas de subvertir todas las formas autoridad fue y sútil y multifacética. Se destacó por la yuxtaposición de caós y libertad a una epistemología del absolutismo, que se manifestó como despotismo político, elitismo cultural, y simplemente las ideas de realidad que se ubicaban en el modernismo (especialmente la tecnocracia).

El modernismo en los últimos años del siglo XIX y los primeros décadas de siglo XX se cuadró muy bien con los dictadores que utilizaron la tecnología para establecer su propio elitismo. También, el modernismo aprovechó de una ontología que incorporó las jerarquías del colonialismo.

Pero una sociedad viva y sana tiene que tolerar (hasta fomentar) la resistencia; ejemplos abundan en las épocas fructíferas de la literatura y el arte: la novela picaresca (Lazarillo de Tormes; El diablo cojuelo, Huckleberry Finn, etc.); la novela satírica (Pantagruel y Gargantua de Rabelais, Candide de Voltaire, Gulliver's Travels por Jonathan Swift). Se puede decir también que para tener una sociedad sana es también necesario que haya la presencia de lo dionisio que deja entrar la fecundidad, no sólo de lo físico sino también que deshace la idea de orden. La presencia de desorden en la literatura y cine abre nuevas posibilidades de expresión y creatividad.  Posiblemente la idea más poderoso en todo ésto es el concepto de un dialecto entre el orden y el desorden, que resulta en una desintegración de las estructuras rígidas que, si nadie las perturbe, pueden paralizar la sociedad y quitar su esencia.

Y así entra Cantinflas -- que emplea todos los tácticos y estrategias para restaurar vida y energía precisamente porque sus actos y manera de hablar precipitan una cáscada de disrupciones --


Soy una norteamericana quien acaba de descubrir a Cantinflas, la creación de Mario Moreno Reyes, gracias al hecho de que alguién mencionó su nombre en una ocasión, y se me picó la curiosidad para buscar árticulos y comentarios en línea. Después descubrí una colección sus películas disponible en el Internet y que las películas han sido restauradas y que aparecen en "definición alta." Muchas de las películas están accesible por

He empezado a mirar las películas de Cantinflas, empezando con las más viejas, que me gustan muchísimo. Pienso que él merece en absoluto su fama y buena reputación por ser un genio cómico y un gran humanista que poseía un talento de unir la audiencia a pesar de sus diferencias. También se ve que es un satirista de la sociedad, pero no conozco suficiente de la historia de México, especialmente en la primera mitad del siglo XX para comentar con mucha autoridad.

Por eso, yo quisiera comenzar por pedir disculpas en adelante por los errores que haré por no conocer muy bien el entorno de todas las películas de Cantinflas.

Pero, de todos modos, aprecio la obra de Cantinflas y quiero escribir unos pensamientos y observaciones que me surgen después de mirar una de sus películas.  Quiero comentar de su trato posmoderno y también los elementos subversivos. En este caso mi enfoque es en Soy un Prófugo  (título alternativo: Bandido a Muque) (1946), dirigido por Miguel M. Delgado.

Resumen del Complot de Soy un Prófugo:
Cantinflas trabaja en la limpieza de edificios; en este caso, un banco.  Una banda de ladrones roba el banco, pero el "crédito" del crimen llega a Cantinflas y su compañero de trabajo. Aunque Cantinflas y su compañero se niegan de haber sido involucrados, la policia los meten en la cárcel. Ahí, al conocer a su compañero de la celda, que se llama Gargantúa (una referencia a Rabelais, supongo), fastidian tanto al gigante que él les ayuda a escapar.

Pero, su escape no sirve para mucho, porque Cantinflas y su amigo son seducidos y secuestrados casi inmediatemente por una rubia en un coche con conductor (al principio, los dos no pueden creer que una rubia tan elegante les está haciendo caso). Les lleva ella a un salón de apostar que forma el sede de una pandilla de ladrones / tramposos. Se nota que los ladrones se visten meticulasamente y con nitídez y pulcritud, en una moda idéntica a los banqueros y los privilegiados, que constituye un comentario subversivo en sí; es decir que los ladrones y los ricos se parecen en cada aspecto. Los miembros de la pandilla están enojados porque quieren que el mundo sepa que son responsables por el crimen, por el crimen fue realizado con elegancia y buena técnica. 

En estos momentos, Cantinflas parece obtener el poder de hipnotisar a los de más por manipular sus ojos y cejas; y él usa su nuevo poder con mucha frecuencia.  Entrega la pandilla a la policia, que aprecian a la oportunidad de detener a los delincuentes verdaderos. La policía explica al banquero principal que Cantinflas y su compañero son inocentes, y de hecho, merecen una recompensa. El banquero llena un cheque para $5 mil pesos, pero bajo la influencia hipnótica de Cantinflas, lo cambia a $20 mil. Cantinflas está ahora con fondos suficientes para comprometerse, y invita a una bonita empleada de la tienda de la vecindad. Cuando entra Cantinflas, la bonita chica está hablando a su novio, pero Cantinflas usa sus poderes para hipnotisarles para convencer a ella (y al rival) que el rival ya está casado, con 8 hijos y una señora que necesitan sus recursos.  Al final, Cantinflas y su bonita novia estaban contentísimas, y todo sale bien.

Cantinflas y sus subversiones de lenguaje:
Cuando Cantinflas habla a su manera particular y cuando entra en una conversación extensa, él habla mucho pero no dice nada. De hecho, es una subversión de lenguaje, o por lo menos, en la idea que las palabras representan la realidad. Si es cierto, entonces la realidad no tiene forma absoluta, y que su forma preferida es de caós y desorden. Para mí, es absolutamente postmoderno, y que en un solo tiro Cantinflas subvierte y erosiona el poder de las autoridades y del poder de lenguaje de producir significado. Me hace recordar el famoso dicho de Wittgenstein: "About which we cannot speak, we must consign to silence."

Cantinflas reduce el lenguaje a una especie de silencio, y destruye el poder de que tienen las autoridades. También, su manera de hablar significa que en la ausencia de un significado seguro, existe la posibilidad de interpretar. Es decir, en la presencia de un idioma que falta la habilidad de significar, existe la posibilidad de invención y de re-invención -- de significado, de identidad, y de la realidad.

Para Cantinflas, la destrucción de la capacidad de lenguaje de producir signficado predecible es un proceso de liberación. Es posible crear y recrear la realidad porque por desatar el idioma de todos sus reglas y normas, lo pone en flujo, y el mundo es, de repente, un lugar de infinitas posibilidades.

El vestido posmoderno: La moda particular de Cantinflas y el significado

Posiblemente la primera cosa que se nota en Cantinflas es su manera de vestirse, en una camisa blanca (o que era blanca, ahora es de un color más o menos gris), un sombrero raído rollado para dar un aspecto muy sugeriente de algo indecente, y pantalones caidos con muchos remiendos, que se están cayendo hasta el punto de ser también indecente. Una soga sustituye por un cinturón, y sobre un hombro lleva algo que parece una toallita y que se llama su “gabardina.” Lleva zapatos demasiado grandes, también raídos.  No obstante, se ve muy orgulloso de su propio "uniforme" -- y hace una yuxtaposición llamativa cuando habla de personas de la clase alta or media, que se destacan por cuidar los detallitos en su aspecto.

También, se nota una gran diferencia cuando Cantinflas mismo se cambia de traje; el cambio es muy abrupto y la audiencia se consciencia del impacto de lo visual, y la importancia de las aparencias en la producción del sigificado.  En su trabajo de limpieza, Cantinflas tiene a un compañero de trabajo (un empleado y colega) y los dos se visten en harapos, pero con cierto "estilo particular."  Obviamente, la moda y la manera de vestirse es un poderoso símbolo, y aún más cuando los rangos de la sociedad son tan bien delineados, y que son impenetrables; es decir la mobilidad social no es posible, excepto en casos extraordinarios.

Al mismo tiempo, se nota que en Soy un prófugo, Cantinflas es, más o menos, un pelado (aunque se puede decir que representó más el concepto de “pelado” en la película El Portero y también en Ahí está el detalle). Le gusta su vida, y no tiene ni aspiraciones ni deseos de subir de estado social. De hecho, expresa su punto de vista cuando  explica por qué no quisiera ser banquero. Ser banquero le quitaría su libertad.  

Después de ser secuestrados por la banda de ladrones "profesionales," Cantinflas y su compañero tienen la oportunidad de conseguir nuevos trajes; el líder de la banda dirige que venga el sastre particular para vestir a los dos. La moda sugerida por el sastre no cae bien -- y dos puntos inmediatamente se surgen, por mi visto, por lo menos. Primero, Cantinflas rechaza en absoluto las normas de la sociedad, y su manera de vestirse. Segundo, un subtexto homosexual sube a la superficie; cuando el sastre menciona que Cantinflas posee un "cuerpo divino" y le toca, sugeriéndos, Cantinflas hace una mueca y lo rechaza. Encima, insiste en modificar el "esmoquin" y el chaleco para conformarse a su propio estilo.

El encuentro con el sastre, que es posiblemente, una parodia del homosexual con atributos femininos, funciona a aliviar a la audiencia, y asegurarles y afirmar que aunque Cantinflas y su compañero viven como pareja, hasta en la misma cama, y que comparten de la misma cuchara -- viviendo "como una sola persona" -- su subversión de los roles masculinos no implica que se adhiere a un estereotipo de la homosexualidad, sino que Cantinflas amplia el rol masculino para incorporar más posibilidades emotivas.  Así, el personaje de Cantinflas abre un panorama de posibilidades, y, sobre todo, remueve barreras sociales; y en cambio, en su rol de "trickster" bastante juguetón, fortalece la aceptación.

Yuxtaposiciones: Alto y bajo
Para mí, es sumamente divertido mirar todo de Cantinflas, y cómo todo sale muy cómico, no solo por su manera de hablar en absurdidades, sino también en su manera de moverse -- sus movimientos, sus acciones, su comedia física.  Surge una alegría tan profunda en mirar sus movimientos que no se puede dejar de sonreir.

La manera en que baile Cantinflas es muy divertida.  Contrasta el baile formal, con buena técnica clásica, y la yuxtaposición causa que se destaque la manera suya de ser, y es un tipo de liberación de los valores burgueses.

Por supuesto, la yuxtaposición de lo absurdo con la "cultura alta" constituye precisamente lo absurdo y el "carnivalesco" en la manera que lo describe el pensador ruso Mikhail Bakhtin. Lo más importante de todo es que significa una subversión de las normas sociales, y así libera a la audiencia.  Por mirar una versión, realizada con mucha alegría, energía, y picardía, la audiencia se siente autenticada -- es decir, valorada y legitímada.

Otras yuxtaposiciones aparecen en la obra de Cantinflas:
-- la clase alta y la clase más humilde, con el resultado que los ricos parecen absurdos
-- el trabajo de los privilegiados y los que no privilegan - siempre resulta que las personas en los puestos más humildes demuestran sus dones y habilidades; y en una manera que afirma la inteligensia de los del campo.

La Subversión de la masculinidad y la pareja convencional
En su trabajo en la limpieza, Cantinflas tiene a un compañero de trabajo (un empleado y colega) y los dos se visten en harapos, pero con cierto "estilo particular."

En su trabajo, no es de ninguna manera evidente que ganarán suficiente para sobrevivir, aunque el banco luce muy elegante, y los banqueros son evidentemente "cómodos" (es decir, ricos). Cuando el banquero pregunta a Cantinflas, cómo puede tener él un empleado, responde por explicar que están viviendo como una persona, compartiendo de todo (hasta una sola cuchara, una sóla almohada, etc.).

No sé como suena a un mexicano, para para mí, suena como una forma muy simpática de referencia de vivir como pareja, y, a la vez, subvierte los valores platitúdinos y perogrullescos del matrimonio, y también borra la definición precisa de la masculinidad.

Aunque tiene un trabajo humilde, no se porta como si aceptara su rango bajo en la escala social. De hecho, juega mucho con los privilegiados y con la autoridad.  En una escena al principio de la película, Cantinflas se seinta en el escritorio del presidente del banco, y habla en un dictafono. Su conversación tiene que ver con la compra de acciones y lo que suele hacer un jefe de una institución financiera. Cuando le pregunta su compañero de trabajo, el responde que lo hice para demostrar que él es preparado y capaz de ser el presidente del banco, pero que su vida así como es más le conviene.

Se supondría que por ponerse en una posición subversiva frente a la sociedad, Cantinflas estaría dispuesto a unirse con la delincuencia y que se uniría con una banda de ladrones a la primera oportunidad.

Pero, no puede ser más lejos de sus deseos. Al ser secuestrado por una banda de ladrones organizados (con salones de apostar, emprendimentos de robar bancos).

Siempre pícaro, siempre ajeno ...

En Soy un Prófugo, aunque Cantinflas recibe una gran cantidad de dinero como recompensa (aún más por su manera de convencer al banquero que le dirija un cheque más generoso), no se incorpora ni en el mundo de los banqueros ni en el mundo de los ladrones. Su éxito representa la afirmación de los deseos de los de un rango social bajo de subir, y efectuar la mobilidad social.
Cantinflas quede libre de las pretensiones de clase - adapta cuando le conviene, y disfruta, con gusto, las posibilidades de auto-expresión y auto-realización. Con mucho amor propio y picardía sigue siendo “pelado” y sigue subvertiendo los valores de la clase media y las actitudes burguesas.

También, mantiene su picardía, y el mundo sigue siendo un gran lugar para jugar con la expectativa social.

Aunque no he mirado muchas películas de Cantinflas, observo que en las primeras películas, mantiene su rol de "forastero" o "el ajeno" de la sociedad alta o privilegiado, y juega mucho con ellos.  En otras películas que filmó más tarde, como la película, Sube y Baja (1958), el deseo no es de quedarte aparte. En cambio, cuando teine éxito, con mucho gusto se abandona su vieja vida y abraza su entrada, sin cuestionar los valores y actitudes. En Sube y Baja, se enamora de una millonaria que es bella, a pesar del hecho de que es muy mercenaria, y abraza su nuevo rol de gerente de una compañía que vende productos para deportistas, aunque está muy evidente que menosprecian a los de orígenes humildes, y seguramente, eventualmente crearía un conflicto interior en Cantinflas, por ser de origen humilde.

La subversión y la satisfacción del lector / la audiencia:
Por eso, pienso que los desenlaces de las películas iniciales son generan una satisfacción con más concordancia a la persona que mira, especialmente en cuanto a su sentido de identidad, los sueños (auque pueden ser todavía no expresados), anhelos y aspiraciones. La manera en que Cantinflas celebra la cultura populista y honra la experiencia particularmente mexicana es y una subversión de las jerarquías colonialistas y también una afirmación del espríritu democrático. 

Article written by Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D., Tulsa, OK, September 2015
Please contact me with suggestions, thoughts, impressions.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Interview with Buket Başören, Certified Translator. Innovative Thinkers Series.

The ability to translate a literary work can seem absolutely magical. It requires so much more than simply being a dictionary. It requires the translator to open his or her mind, heart, and ways of perceiving the world, and to search for the best ways to take the magic within an artistic / literary production to a reader who may be from a very different context.

Welcome to an interview with Buket Başören, a certified translator, who works in the Turkish and English languages.

1.  What is your name and your background -- how did you become interested in translating?
My name is Buket Başören. I graduated from Istanbul University, American Culture and Literature department. I started working as a certified translator as soon as I graduated, although I did some more work on project basis in my studentship years. My interest in languages and in literature goes back to as far as I can remember. I honestly never thought about becoming anything else. Many would say that translation is not a form of art simply because you do not create anything. You copy another person's work. I find some truth in this statement, especially when it comes to technical or more scientific translations since they mostly require word-to-word translation techniques. However, when you move into the world of literature, your role as a translator changes drastically. A literary work may enliven in another language through the words picked meticulously by its translator or die and be forgotten if it is done wrong. There is power in translation and it feels like magic to me. I think it might be the reason why I chose this.

Buket Başören, Istanbul, Turkey
2.  What are some of the works of literature that have influenced you most?
This is a very long list, As for my individual enlightenment, I have to name Sylvia Plath for bringing the darkness and loneliness out of me and teaching me not to fear it. She carried me through a troublesome time of my life. Anja Meulenbelt's The Shame is Over. I love science fiction because of Ursula Le Guin. I love Hemingway because he is able to make me really emotional and he is able to get on my nerves at the very same time. The fact that someone can make you feel so many emotions through written words is impressing. A friend of mine, who is a painter, once kindly took it upon himself to teach me how to read paintings. He made me look at a painting and asked me what it made me feel. I instantly told him that I didn't like the painting. As for why, I told him that it made me uncomfortable and that it is irritating and offensive. I remember not wanting to look at it at all. Enjoying my displeasure, he then assured me that it was precisely why this painting was a good one because it was meant to make me feel so. Art is not for our pleasure only. It is for us finding the truth. Whether you like it or not, if it leads you somewhere with more baggage than you had when you took off, if it contributed you somehow, then it is worth experiencing. As for me, there are so many works did that for me.

3.  Who are some of the thinkers / philosophers who have influenced you?
I would have to say Nietzsche. I relate to his frustrations about humanity and his unforgiving manner about the truth. I am perfectly aware that it is not a conventional way to back up this not so conventional thinker but he mostly keeps me humble, helping me understand true honesty - especially towards myself - and what may become of me in its absence. I think it is safe to say that I am nowhere near his confidence in such matters. Yet I'm learning.

4.  How does literature touch us now?
Literature is the diary of the history of man. Literature, regardless of genre, has the power to reflect humanity for what it truly is. Literature is the soul of mankind because it does not only show what is or what has been. It shows what we could have been, it reflects what we wanted to be, our ideals, our dreams and then again what we settle with. Literature all by itself shows the endless potential of man and all the possibilities. It takes us to the limits of both cruelty a man can demonstrate and then mercy of some more. It reveals our failings and celebrates our potential to be better. This is how literature touches us now, and how it always will. It is what we are both for good and ill. When I want to dig in a particular time of a particular land in history, I first visit the authors of that time and see what they had to say about what happened. I see what they thought was worth writing for. I know that they will not let me down and they will tell me what people were thinking when they did what they did along with all the possible outcomes of their actions. Literature, by its very nature, cannot be more or less than what man truly is. It is the perfect instrument to give you true references on our history.

5.  Are there concepts or ideas in the philosophy of translation that resonate most with you?
I believe what makes a translation most perfect is translator's ability to empathize, and I mean it linguistically. When you translate a piece of work, you don't bring your translating or linguistics to the table only. When you translate, you have to transcend the perception formed by the original language to reflect the same meaning, the same feeling in the target language. You have to keep in mind that man is only capable of understanding within the limits of his own language. We are restricted in questioning within the scope of our interrogative adjectives. This is an idea not easily understood by those speaking their native language only but I believe it is crucial for a translator to understand if you do not wish to have your intended meaning lost.

6.  What are the things that you try to do when you translate a work of literature? 
Ethically, what you do is to remember your responsibility both towards the author and towards the readers. Both parties rightfully detest the possibility that readers might be deprived from what the author intended for his or her audience due to translator's inability to convey the author's work. I remember my professor pointing out in a translation class that we simply do not have the right to slaughter Virginia Woolf. Obviously, it goes for all those trusted you to bring their works alive in another language. In technical terms, you do not abandon your linguistic skills, but I believe anyone should remember that while technique is crucial, in translation, it is more important to bring out the meaning and the feelings in the original work. You cannot indicate what it feels like or what the author meant in the original text. That's not how it works. You have to instill the same meaning, the same emotions into your translation.

Susan Nash and Buket Başören, Istanbul, Turkey, September 2014
7.  When would you advocate a "fluent" translation rather than a "faithful" one?
If you asked me which one I prefer in general, my official answer would be a "faithful" translation, although I use the word loosely. While my purpose and interest is to maintain the original text and its meaning in the target language, in cases where words alone cannot translate themselves into the meaning I strive for in translation language, I start to deviate to fluent translation. This is what I do when I want to stay true to the original text in literary terms instead of maintaining my faithfulness literally. If I cannot feel the anger, the despair, the madness or helplessness I read in between the lines of the original work within my "faithful translation", I prefer staying true to the meaning, for the sake of not depriving readers of all the feelings they would feel if they had read the original book. It is a translator's job not to steal from the readers, and eventually from the author by depriving readers from anything the book offers.

8.  Are there any specific words of advice that you might have for people who want to do literary translations?
I qualify myself as an "ever-so-enthusiastic student" when it comes to literary translation. I have the deepest respect for this job, and I will not presume to have become one. Translation is about practice, which includes both writing and reading. Although both technical and literary translations have their own challenges, I believe the former requires more research, while the latter requires your own interpretation. This is why there are so many translations of the same literary works and none of them gives you the same taste. Last but not least, do it if only you'll do it wholeheartedly. Otherwise, don't do it at all because it will show on the paper.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Interview with Pat Wagner, Facts about Owning Property, Doing Business in Mexico

Visiting, studying, living, and establishing partnerships and great working relationships in Mexico is both a dream and a reality for many people. But, how do you get started? What are some of the recent changes that have taken place?

Welcome to an interview with Pat Wagner, who moved to Sayulita, Mexico (a brand new "Pueblo Mágico) more than 20 years ago, and who has been working as a realtor there since 1991. She describes Sayulita, her experiences in Mexico, and some of the recent changes which make it easier for foreign nationals to buy real estate property and to do business in Mexico.

1.  When did you move to Sayulita, Mexico and how did you choose Sayulita over other places?
We first visited Puerto Vallarta in 1982.  We eventually decided to to purchase a house in Bucerías through the original owner of this office. We had traveled via motor home through Mexico and decided on this area due to the international airport.  We were between Puerto Escondido and Puerto Vallarta area. Sayulita really wasn't a destination at that time. Bucerías was considered out in the boonies. Sayulita started to become slowly popular in the early 90s.  I was offered a full time position in 1991.
Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico -- new Pueblo Mágico
Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico: New Pueblo Mágico

2. Where exactly is Sayulita?  What is it known for?
Sayulita is on Latitude 22 * (coincidentally, there is a local restaurant which was named for location). It is located approximately 40-45 minutes north of the Puerto Vallarta airport.  It is 2 hrs by plane from Los Angeles, 2 hours from Dallas. With a layover, it takes about 5 hours to arrive here from the east coast of the U.S.  Sayulita was known for being a fishing and surfing town. Now it is a hippish town. I  sometimes say people are looking for Timothy Leary, but we don't tell them that he has died.

3. What makes Sayulita so desirable for foreigners as well as citizens of Mexico?
 When Cabo had the hurricane and earthquake recently guests, both Mexican nationals and foreigners had the option of going to Cancun or coming here. Once here, we spoke with several people who said they never realized Sayulita existed. The Mexican nationals said they would definitely return. Here are a few things they like:  The laidback attitude. The fact that friends and family are very important. Business can always be dealt with. Long drives are unnecessary here.

View of the Pacific Ocean - Sayulita, Nayarit

4.  What are some of the things that have changed to make it easier for foreigners to own property in Mexico?

susan smith nash, ph.d., dante ferrari, pat wagner - LifeEdge #24
Interview with Pat Wagner on YouTube (LifeEdge #24)
The Mexican government decided in 2000 to start to eliminate the ejidos and make all properties have a title. Once the title is issued the foreigner then may apply for a Bank Trust. Prior to that, the properties were held in name lenders (prestonombres or Mexican nationals for ejido which was illegal according the Mexican constitution. Yet many notaries would transfer possession saying it was an interpretation of the law.) So, things are much improved now.

5.  Please describe the way that people stay in Sayulita -- boutique hotels? their own home? renting a home or apartment? youth hostels? air BNB?

Accommodations have evolved from very rustic camping, parking on the beach, renting rooms in villagers' homes to what we currently have, which include hostels, BNB's, boutique hotels, renting either a private home or apartment, or staying in the luxurious rooms at the Four Seasons in nearby Punta Mita.
6.  What are a few tips that make living and doing business in Mexico successful?

Living in Mexico is a reality call. We were stepping into another time zone when we came in the early 90's. It honestly felt like the late 1800's. Children used their toys in the dirt and made bridges, race tracks whatever their mind designed. When we came there was just one phone in the entire town. You called the phone and young child would run to your house and tell you to come to the phone store for a call. Today everyone has cell phones. So we are stepping into the current world.

Most people maybe self business owners have to follow the following. The Mexican government has a rule that there must be only 1 foreigner to 10 Mexican employees.  That is for a foreign owner. To work you need to have working papers where the business sponsors you to work. 

The best advice is expect nothing and change nothing. Go with the flow and just relax and enjoy the beauty around you.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Interview with Dr. Janette Habashi, Child's Cup Full; Innovative Leadership Series

Welcome to an interview with Dr. Janette Habashi, who is working to build a sustainable business that employs women and benefits families in the West Bank.
Child's Cup Full: Women Hand-Embroidering Educational Toys
What is your name and the project you're involved in?
My name is Dr. Janette Habashi and I am the founder and executive director of Child's Cup Full (CCF). Child’s Cup Full is a non-profit social enterprise that creates sustainable economic opportunities for Palestinian refugee and impoverished women artisans in the West Bank. CCF’s projects enable some of the most vulnerable women in the region to make a career of their craft and design skills, producing high quality, handcrafted pieces, which CCF markets and sells abroad, focusing specifically on the US market.
Educational Alphabet Toys to promote literacy: In English and also Arabic

As stated in the Women’s Empowerment Principles published by UN Women, “Empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is essential to build stronger economies, achieve internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improve the quality of life for women, men, families and communities” [1]. CCF’s aim is to inspire lasting economic growth in the West Bank by building upon existing skills of low-income, welfare-seeking, refugee women artisans, and providing them access to the global marketplace through its artisanship advocacy initiative. Unemployment for both men and women is high across the West Bank, and the need to focus on economic opportunities for women in particular is clear.

Women’s participation in the labor force in the occupied Palestinian Territories was estimated at approximately 17% in 2010, and men’s participation was around four times that of women (Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 2013). Child’s Cup Full aims to break cycles poverty and dependency on aid by creating opportunities for women’s economic self-reliance, and opportunities for them to easily provide for their children and families. CCF’s strategy is to provide career-relevant artisanship training programs and sustainable employment to low-income women artisans who otherwise do not have sources of regular income.

2.     How did it get started?
Between 2011 and September, 2014, Child’s Cup Full ran its own artisan center as a small pilot project in Zababdeh, a village located in the northern West Bank. The program was managed under the auspices of the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa. In October, 2014, Child’s Cup Full received its 501(c)3 non-profit status in the US and also applied for registration with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Last October, CCF embarked on a new journey as an autonomous non-profit social enterprise, focused on building its brand in the US to one day become entirely self-sufficient through product sales.

3.     What are the main products?  Who is employed?
For the past four years, our artisans have been handmaking educational children’s toys using mostly surplus materials from local bedding and furniture companies. All of our toys are designed to support cognitive development and language learning for children ages three to seven. We have toys in English, Arabic and Spanish, as well as other toys such as memory games and puzzle balls. We well all of our toys on our online store

Starting this Fall, we also launched our new line of hand-embroidered shoes and accessories, called Darzah.  All of our shoes and jewelry are available for preorder on our online store

CCF takes a unique approach to tackling job insecurity in the West Bank by implementing a nonprofit social enterprise model that focuses on access to the global marketplace. We specifically target refugee and low-income women artisans in our training and employment programs. Our aim is to provide long-term employment so that these women have opportunities to provide for themselves and their families without having to worry about their next job opportunity.
Our team also seeks out professional design consultation along with strategic marketing techniques to ensure the CCF brand has a competitive edge. The funds generated from each sale are used to sustain and grow our artisan center in Zababdeh. CCF plans to increase its impact in the West Bank by eventually building a consortium of artisan groups across the region.

4.     What do you hope will be the final outcome?
CCF’s approach is a unique combination of artisanship advocacy, international partnership development and strategic marketing in the US, all of which open doors to the global marketplace. Once we have achieved a sustainable business model, one of our long-term plans is to allocate a portion of our sales revenue to support grassroots education programs for refugee children in the West Bank.

Interview with Dr. Janette Habashi

5.     How do you publicize and sell the products?  (please include links)
We are very active on Instagram and Facebook, where we regularly post updates about our products, promotions, and stories about our talented artisans in the West Bank.

We also sell some of our products in retail shops in the US, including:

-Middle East Books & More, Washington, DC

-Mediterranean Deli, Chapel Hill, NC

-One World Market, Durham, NC

-Lolly Garden, Tulsa, OK

-Salam Shop, Toronto, Canada [starting December, 2015]

6.  Do you have any new products?
Yes! We are very excited to announce the launch of our new embroidered product line called Darzah. In addition to our handmade children’s toys, some of our artisans in Zababdeh are also designing embroidered pieces for handmade shoes, bracelets and necklaces. We have partnered with a shoe manufacturer in Nablus, so our shoes are 100% made in the West Bank. All of our Darzah products are available for preorder on our website at

7. What are your future plans?
In 2016, we plan to increase our impact by creating a consortium of artisan centers across the West Bank. There is a huge opportunity for artisan groups throughout the region to work together to create jobs for women artisans who have a wide range of skills to offer. Our current areas of focus include Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem regions.

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