Cleffed Pallette: When in Rome...

Contact Quarterly 1979English
Contact Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Winter, 1979): 41.

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In the interface between Italian and English we discovered some conceptual puzzles about the word, "imaginario ". Sandro Figurelli, an Italian film maker, was translating an article from LOTTA CONTINUA, a Roman newspaper. Giles and Antonella R. had interviewed Steve Paxton, published his essay on Contact Improvisation (in translation), and gone on to write the paragraph (printed below in Sandro's translation to English) which provoked us.

IN THE MASS IMAGINARY, incredible short-circuits emerge. In this perspective, the artist is a Hitlerm, and there are many Hitlers walking freely. This doesn't avoid that this amusement can be overcome easily, playing with the function of the studv of the air. The clear elements are the air and the body. The audience is inflating itself with the putrescence of guilt, but instead they could be happy. For now, information-exchange. The organization is widening, the gesture is a nice breath, sometimes it dening, the gesture in its return is a nice breath, sometimes its stumbling, after falling down, its continuing, it appears, vacillates, spins, as in the interview it is just glimpsed. The old ritual of newspapers is not even tranquilizing. These close encounters from which we take distance. Now they move incredibly fast. They are fast and unfolded. Participate. But first we need to exclude the old way. Your shit doesn't interest me. It could be said in a sweeter way, but die substance doesn't change. Now, enough of the substance, old way of losing ourselves, groping the mind on the ground.

“The dancer envies the marionette.” (Kleist)


In the conversation following we probed as far as  the first 3 words of the paragraph. The article, it was pointed out to us several times, could not be translated adequately. Reading the translation may dissolve hopes you have harbored for cross-cultural communication. How do U.N. translators deal with this sort of thing? And for the QUARTERLY, hw to solve problems of translation from kinetics to English.

S: In the mass imaginary.

L: The mass imagination.

S: No. It's really imaginary. It's not imagination. Imaginary is the process.

P: Imaginary is the material of thought.

L: Imagined.

S: No, it's not imagined. And it's not imagination. Imaginary is the activity. But it's a strange way of saying, even in Italian. It's like some kind of new language.

C: Imaginable.

S: No, it's not imaginable. It's also a psychological term. It's a precise term. It's like for when you talk about dreams, for instance. Imaginario is the activity of dreaming. But it's also the activity of dreaming being awake. It's like fantasizing. Or imagining. But it's still a bigger word.

L: You wouldn't just say fantasy.

S: No. Because otherwise you would say fantasy. It’s an activity that is putting you in relation to psychoanalysis, with a lot of forms.

C: I think we would say, in the imaginable.

S: No, because imaginable is the field of imaginable reality. It's the field of the imaginable. Where imaginario underlies a real activity. It's an activity that you can refer to madness, or to dreams, or to a specific activity that may be the unconscious. It's a process while the imaginable is not a process. It's somehow the process of imagining but it's different. We use the word, "imaginablio," but imaginablio gives you a sense of possibility. Whatever can be imaginable. Where imaginario is beyond even the possibilities. It's just the pure activity. And maybe can have NO image at all, but still can be imaginary.