Robert’s Column

I am a final year Philosophy student, my primary interests being Walter Benjamin, Philosophy & Literature, and the Philosophy of Religion. Over the past few months my main concerns have been translation and notation.

Should translation be considered an art or a necessary consequence of literature? If we are to take the former consideration, then should the task of the translator be to reimagine a literary work? Should she be allowed license to re-interpret the written word, to resurrect it within the paradigm of another language (and subsequently the culture of such a language)? Or if we are to take the latter consideration, then should the translator instead be completely faithful to the original? This is the perennial dilemma with which translators have been confronted.  

With regard to Notation, I am mainly interested as to what extent our methods of taking notes (annotation, marginalia, sketchings) take part in the forming of our thoughts. And particularly how we can shape these methods in such a way that they better conform to our brain’s tendency to look for links and crossovers in our understanding (à la The Zettelkasten system).

Finally, in terms of literature I have been preoccupied with the works of Arno Schmidt – regrettably a fairly unknown German experimental writer from the mid to late 20th century. I urge anyone who is unfamiliar with Schmidt to read him for themselves, since his literary forms almost completely elude a thorough explanation. Yet his writing has a thoroughly philosophical and theoretical basis, which I am attempting to embody by way of short stories.