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Eduardo Zeind Palafox

With a simple reasoning we could explain the theory that sustains the great book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, hoisted by Edward Gibbon. That reasoning is: a society unavoidably subjected to material conditions can be described in terms of tragedy; a society ruled by reason, that is, one that is free, can be described in terms of epic; but a society compounded by rational beings that is deceived by material accidents and psychological illusions deserves to be described in terms of satire. The said book is a methodic, philosophical, elegant and perdurable jeer against irrational beings, whose pretext was Rome. The famous sentence of Gibbon, quoted here and there as a slogan of the said work, thus gets a meaning, and it says: history is “the register of the crimes and follies and misfortunes of mankind” (1).

The philosophy of Immanuel Kant is useful to knit literary readings. With some Kantian principles and without ancient erudition we have attained hermeneutic conclusions on Homer, conclusions which coincide with the Homeric opinions of masters like Matthew Arnold and Alexander Pope. Homer says (The Iliad, book three, translated by George Chapman):

A translator is just a field worker, and not an artist. A translator must have in mind the next axioms, namely: 1) the perceptions of the average man are singular; 2) the reproductions of his imagination are subjective; 3) his words belong to the common sense of his society. With such axioms and with some examples we will analyze four modes of translation.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica poorly affirms that Melville's Moby Dick (1) admits “numerous, if not seemingly infinite, readings” (2), and that the keys to understand it are the biblical verses and names. This suggestion is based in the old hermeneutics, whose three mainstays are: “mystice”, “allegorice”, “symbolice”.

In the last days I read the American press, and I remembered an old, classic problem between the Humanities and the Natural Sciences, which I can formulate in the next fast question: are the Humanities useless for Natural Sciences? Leon Wieseltier says[1] (1) that the Humanities, in the technocratic world, without solid reasons have been accused of having a “nonutilitarian character”. With criticism he remarks, besides, “the essential inability of the natural sciences to offer a satisfactory explanation” of human concerns, such as Soul, God, World, Freedom, abortion, euthanasia, etc. He argues that “the character of our society cannot be determined by engineers”. He says that “no distinction between human and machine”, as a director of engineering at Google wants, is nonsense.

Los predicados usuales en matemáticas, es decir, en geometría y en aritmética, dice Kant que son útiles al estudiar objetos físicos, que se “conocen”, mas no al hablar de ideas, que sólo se “piensan” y que carecen de objeto sensorial correspondiente. Aplicar dichos predicados en ideas, sugerimos, es causa de supersticiones, que provocan o contradicción moral, es decir, hipocresía, o indiferentismo cultual.

Se admite que la “Biblia”, que el “Quijote”, que “Hamlet”, que “Moby Dick”, son obras literarias clásicas. El grecocomplutense doctor Carlos García Gual (1), filólogo, asevera que la palabra “clásico” procede del latín “classicus”, “con clase”. Luego, sólo la gente “con clase” lee, desbroza, interpreta tales obras. Dice, además, que los libros clásicos parlan de los “aspectos esenciales de la condición humana”, que son, según los libros que hemos leído, el lirismo, el romanticismo, el utilitarismo, el gremialismo, el legalismo, el moralismo, asuntos todos planteadores de cuestiones metafísicas.

Traducción:Eduardo Zeind Palafox

El socialista de hogaño está en la postura del médico que procura tratar un totalmente descorazonador caso. Cual doctor, debe mantener vivo al paciente, por lo que admite que el paciente, al menos, tiene oportunidad de sanar. Cual científico, debe arrostrar los hechos, por lo que admite que el paciente podría fenecer.

En el penúltimo artículo (Four Modes of Translation Without Inspiration, Diario judío, 6 de agosto de 2021) que redacté dije que hay cuatro maneras de traducir textos, a saber: la orientada a transmitir información, la enderezada a transformar mentes, la meditada para imitar estilos y la enfocada en modernizar la lengua.

The “logical thinker”, as Borges affirms (1), can find “patterns” in poetic metaphors. I will try to indicate some logical patterns in eight books.

Technique is the main concern of an artistic writer, and subject-matter is the general anguish of a propagandistic writer, says G. Orwell[1] (1). Art is possible in quiet moral ages, he says. Propaganda, therefore, is the fruit of unquiet moral ages, in which the “whole scheme of values is constantly menaced”. Such constant moral fear transforms the literary criticism, which is “judicious, scrupulous, fair-minded”, into something impossible. Objectivity, that is, “intellectual detachment”, is the origin of the universal masterpiece. Is the Defoe's Robinson Crusoe a technical and objective book or is it mere English propaganda? Four thesis extracted from our propagandistic experience will test the famous book of Defoe.

[1] See The Frontiers of Art and Propaganda, published in the Listener, April 30, 1941. I offer Spanish translation in Don Palafox: donpalafox.blogspot.com/2018/12/fronteras-del-arte-y-la-propaganda.html

On Twitter there are hundreds of comedian memes, and seeing them constantly habituates the masses to the apodeictic, that is, to what is recognized in the distance (“apodeictic”, from Greek “apodeiktikos”, from “apo”, far, and “deik”, to show). On YouTube there are hundreds of bricolage instructors, and seeing them constantly accustom the masses not to conceiving (from Latin “complexus”, a scientific notion today), but to assembling (factory notion) concepts.

Kant, en famoso soapuntamiento (1), quéjase de que los alemanes, al proferir la germánica palabra “Ästhetik” (lo captable sensorialmente), “estética” en español, signan con sinonimia también el término “Geschmacks” (lo agradable), “gusto” en español, que es ambiguo quehacer que estorba el escrutar científicamente la humana sensibilidad y el arte, vía hacia lo bello.

Contraviniendo la popular creencia, el pasado no fue más dinámico que el presente. Parece serlo porque cuando se mira retrospectivamente, los hechos son juntados al modo telescópico, y porque pocos recuerdos son allegados realmente sin mácula. Lo tal es, sobre todo, porque libros, filmes y reminiscencias se entreveraron en la guerra de 1914 a 1918, por lo que se conjetura que tuvo tremebundas, épicas características inexistentes en la actualidad.

Traducción: Eduardo Zeind Palafox

Desde muy temprana edad, tal vez desde los cinco o seis años, supe que creciendo debía ser escritor. Entre los diecisiete y veinticuatro años de edad procuré abandonar tal idea, e hícelo consciente de que zahería mi verdadera naturaleza y que tarde o temprano tendría que asentarme y redactar libros.