On foreign language translation…

“The best translations into English do not, in fact, read as if they were originally written in English. The English words are arranged in such a way that the reader sees a glimpse of another culture’s patterns of thinking, hears an echo of another language’s rhythms and cadences, and feels a tremor of another people’s gestures and movements.”

— Ken Liu, Translator’s Postface to The Three Body Problem (via as-if-falling)

I love this. It goes straight to the heart of language and highlights why so much translation is so poor.

Hat-tip to Je t’aime / N’arrete pas.

Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

Echoes through time: I accord you the privilege

Perhaps you think the Creator sent you here to dispose of us as you see fit. If I thought you were sent by the Creator, I might be induced to think you had a right to dispose of me. Do not misunderstand me, but understand fully with reference to my affection for the land. I never said the land was mine to do with as I choose. The one who has a right to dispose of it is the one who has created it. I claim a right to live on my land and accord you the privilege to return to yours.

Chief Joseph (1840 – 1904), Speech from 1876 rejecting demands to lead his people onto a reservation.

Image: Edward S. Curtis/Library of Congress

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser

This looks interesting, a new exhibition at the V&A exploring the influence of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The Times’ Ben Macintyre has some theories on the book’s inspirations, here.

Here are a couple of fine songs inspired by Alice…

… and, of course…

The books themselves – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass – are worth a read, too. It’s good to go straight to the source.

Image: John Tenniel’s illustration from the original publication (Source: British Library: https://www.bl.uk/alice-in-wonderland/articles/alice-at-150#)

New tools for timesheets and blogs – @TimeCamp and @NewsBlur

I have new tools to play with.

Timesheets

I’m a writer and I work, almost exclusively, on a value basis: we agree a price and I deliver.

Charging by the hour/day or, worse, per word is a killer for both quality and trust.

However, I’ve always kept timesheets for my own analysis, so that I can see how much those value-based projects actually cost me in bloody, sweaty, teary hours. They used to be simple Excel spreadsheets, one for every project, so I could work out the actual cost per hour arising from either my poor estimating or delightful rat-holing. But, I always knew that created hidden gaps.

Continue reading “New tools for timesheets and blogs – @TimeCamp and @NewsBlur”

A 373-year-old bond still paying interest

Yale holds a 1648 bond that still pays annual interest. It was issued by a Dutch water board to finance improvements to a local dike system and is still valid. Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library must make the trip to the Houten in the Netherlands every few years to claim the interest.

That’s a remarkable, long-term investment.

But, will it buy you a table at Milliways?

All you have to do is deposit one penny in a savings account in your own era, and when you arrive at the End of Time the operation of compound interest means that the fabulous cost of your meal has been paid for.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Douglas Adams

Read the full story (about the bond), here.

Hat tip to Benedict Evans’ newsletter.

Photo by Emiel Molenaar on Unsplash

Echoes through time: the lure of popularity

You cannot hope to be a scholar. But what you can do is to curb arrogance; what you can do is to rise above pleasures and pains; you can be superior to the lure of popularity; you can keep your temper with the foolish and ungrateful, yes, even care for them.

Marcus Aurelius (AD 120 – 180), Meditations (8.8)

Photo by Gary Ellis on Unsplash

Too scared to sell yourself? – @SPressfield

An excellent post from author Steven Pressfield about the painful, self-marketing aspect of being a writer. It’s relevant for all independent professionals.

For the past few months I’ve been working full-time promoting my just-published novel, A Man at Arms, and I have to tell you … I am waaaay out of my comfort zone. 

But, Steven offers an alternative mindset to the usual reluctance we feel.

Here’s how I feel about it. I don’t see it as selfish (though no doubt there are self-interested elements in there.) For me, it’s about fidelity to the book and, especially, to the characters.

It’s about fidelity to the work.

If you do good work, it deserves to be shared.

Read the rest, here.

Steven, of course, wrote The War of Art, an essential guide to getting things done. I’ve just replaced my copy. He also coined the mantra,

Put your ass where your heart wants to be.

Photo by Andreas Rønningen on Unsplash

Echoes through time: the man who lies to himself

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821 – 1881), The Brothers Kamarazov

Hat tip to Je t’aime / N’arrete pas.

Photo by Andre Mouton on Unsplash