I'm reading Italo Calvino's Mr Palomar whenever I get a chance. Last night I read a chapter about his visit to ancient Mexican ruins, "Serpents and Skulls." While Mr Palomar has a verbacious close friend and tour guide who knows the history behind each fragment, he's entranced by a group of young school boys and their young teacher. The school teacher's refrain throughout is "We don't know what it means. (No se sabe lo que quiere decir.)" But this is why I bring this story up: Mr. Palomar's friend encounters and intercedes with the little boys, insisting that he knows the meaning of a certain ruin. And I quote:
The boys listen, mouths agape, black eyes dazed. Mr. Palomar thinks that every translation requires another translation, and so on. He asks himself: "What did death, life, continuity, passage mean for the ancient Toltecs? And what can they mean today for these boys? And for me?" Yet he knows he could never suppress in himself the need to translate, to move from one language to another, from concrete figures to abstract words, to weave and reweave a network of analogies. Not to interpret is impossible, as refraining from thinking is impossible. Once the school group has disappeared around a corner, the stubborn voice of the little teacher resumes: "No es verdad, it is not true, what that senor said. We don't know what they mean."
Once the school group has disappeared around a corner, the stubborn voice of the little teacher resumes: "No es verdad, it is not true, what that senor said. We don't know what they mean."
Once again the specter of my thesis haunts me.
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