Serious and silly

Am reading a ton at the moment, and loving the feel of a brain alive. On the serious side of things, I started reading Susan Sontag’s collection Against Interpretation. I have only read bits and pieces of Sontag over the last ten years or so, I’ve never concentrated on her work in a systematic way and so begins a nice journey through her brilliant and critical mind.

From her essay “On Style” I’ve been highlighting left and right, but the following phrases/sections have stayed with me now for a few days:

“Art is seduction, not rape.”

“A work of art is a kind of showing or recording or witnessing which gives palpable form to consciousness; its object is to make something singular explicit.” (I love this. I have been repeating this to myself over and over.)

“Usually critics who want to praise a work of art feel compelled to demonstrate that each part is justified, that it could not be other than it is. And every artist, when it comes to his own work, remembering the role of chance, fatigue, external distractions, knows what the critic says to be a lie, know that it could well have been otherwise. The sense of inevitability that a great work of art projects is not made up of the inevitability or necessity of its parts, but of the whole.”

On the sillier side of things, I received a gift in the mail yesterday. Ella Frances Sanders’ Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World.

This book, which is both funny and profound, is the way to a translator’s heart.

Here are some I love:

COMMUOVERE (Italian) – v. To be moved in a heartwarming way, usually relating to a story that moved you to tears.

MÅNGATA (Swedish) – n. The road-like reflection of the moon in the water.

KOMOREBI (Japanese) – n. The sunlight that filters through the leaves of the trees.

MAMIHLAPINATAPAI (Yaghan). n. A silent acknowledgement and understanding between two people, who are both wishing or thinking the same thing (and both unwilling to initiate).

You can see more about this book here.