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Tag: death

NORTH OF REALITY TRANSLATION PROJECT: THE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL LABYRINTH

Godafton. That’s Swedish for “good evening.” How quaint. Welcome back to the North of Reality Translation Project. Tonight’s translated piece is called: The Roosevelt National Labyrinth. Translation notes are found below the story, and they are in English so that most people who are looking at this website can read them. All entries in the project are found at the following link: /tag/the-north-of-reality-translation-project/

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NORR OM VERKLIGHETEN: ROOSEVELT NATIONALLABYRINT
    av Uel Aramchek
        översättning: Johannes Punkt

Roosevelt nationallabyrint börjar nära staten Selimas östligaste gräns och tar aldrig slut. Stundom är den som en skog, då dess tegel ändrar färg med årstiderna och många av murarna fäller sina tegelstenar under månaderna innan vintern. Stundom är den mer som en fängelsehåla, då murarna växer så höga att solen syns inte som en skiva, utan snarare en tunn, enslig linje. Det djupa brummandet från stridulerande jättesyrsor får benen att skallra på alla som är vilse här inne.

Den är det första federalt erkända livet efter detta, ämnat att överbrygga det uråldriga gapet mellan exil och dödsstraff. Det var inte så att labyrinten byggdes – snarare antyddes dess existens väldigt tungt av prejudikat med vikten av hela rättssystemet. ”De sade att den behövde finnas till,” skrev Eisenhower i sin dagbok efter att han underättats om dess förekomst, ”för att fylla tomrummet mellan rättvisans vågskålar. Amerika existerar nu bortom det blott rationella, och alla våra institutioner måste finna sätt att anpassa sig till detta, även de som påstår sig vila på blint förnuft.”

Din advokat försökte så gott han kunde att få dig dömd till döden på ett mer ortodoxt vis, men ditt fall var ganska dystert från första början. Det var meningen, först, att du bara skulle anklagas för att ha försökt fly från fängelset; det vill säga, tills det visade sig att det var den enda anklagelsen på ditt register. Lögndetektorns spikiga skrivstil bevisade att du alltid hade varit i fängelset och avslöjade dig som en institutionsparadox.

Din sista måltid serverades på en papptallrik som smälte sönder från den såskletiga måltiden. Det fanns ett berg av pannstekta getingar med lönnsalsa till dippa, nektarinsyltsglaserade flodhästrevben, genomstekta gelébönor, pisangmos dränkt i sågverkssky och majsmunkar injicerade med vispat tabascosmör. De gav dig varken kniv eller gaffel, så du åt hela middagen med händerna. Du var noga med att spotta ut gaddarna. Sedan sköljde du ner allting med ett glas björnbärsvin.

Dock har allt det sedan dess tagit sig igeom ditt matsmältningssystem och du har aldrig känt dig tommare. Efter två veckor veckor här inne har du äntligen funnit labyrintens minotaur, som står och betar ensam i en glänta stor som ett stadion. Han verkar tämligen förvånad över att du letat upp honom med flit. Hans fyra bisonliknande huvuden höjer sig över det långa gräset som någon primitiv variant av Mount Rushmore och när de ser dig brölar var och en ett strupvrål som avviker lite i tonart från de andra. Du antar ditt öde under hans hovar och undrar vilket liv efter detta som väntar dig härnäst. Du har hört bra saker om Valhall på senaste tiden.

Nästa gång dina ögon öppnar sig är du likväl tillbaka i fängelset i Arizona. Än en gång verkar det som att ditt försök att fly undan systemet har misslyckats.

~

Notes

I modelled the name of the Roosevelt National Labyrinth after the Swedish rendition of Yellowstone National Park, which seems like the most sensible way to translate it. It did not become a very shocking name in Swedish but I did have to take five minutes to remember any other name for a thing in the US which follows the formula of [name] National [area of land]. I found a lot of forests that no-one has translated into Swedish, though.

The difference between “capital punishment” and “death penalty” is mostly flavour, but it felt like important flavour. Capital punishment seems to me to be the category, whereas death penalty is more a specific instance of someone being sentenced to death, or the death penalty as it exists in some specific form in some state or legal system. The two are translated the same into Swedish, so I took the liberty of loosening the translation a bit for the second one, turning it into a verb to make it feel more immediate and personal: “dödsstraff” vs “dömd till döden.”

For “implied into reality” I had a lot of trouble – because we have no equivalent of “into reality” or “into existence” – and ended up inventing a metaphor based on “heavily” implying something with the full weight of the justice system.

The Swedish rapper Pst/Q once remarked in an interview that the punchline-heavy style that he rapped in at the beginning of his career was “not really Swedish” (I’m paraphrasing and translating from memory here, forgive any misrepresentations) and that people were often baffled by the barrage of wordplay present in his music. Now, basically anyone who talks to me knows wordplay is my thing in any language I’m speaking, but I feel a bit like that when trying to translate the culinary tastes of Uel’s fictional subjects – for example, how do I Scandify “refried jellybeans”?

Of course, you’re meant to feel weird about the food. Go on, feel weird about it.

Anyway, in what was news to me at least, it turns out that the re- in refried beans doesn’t mean again, it just means well. So I simply translated it literally, because there is no equivalent – we barely have these two kinds of beans in Sweden.

The last problem area here is what on earth to do with the phrase “When your eyes open again.” The easiest way to say it is to just say “När du öppnar dina ögon igen” (When you open your eyes again) or even “När du vaknar igen” (When you wake up again). But those alternatives miss the fact that there’s agency in the eyes here, not in the person. The way I read the story, the fact that it’s not the peson themselves doing the waking up is actually very important.

If one were to write that a door opens, for example, to circumscribe the problem here, the way to translate it into Swedish would be one of three options, each working fine on their own but in the context of eyes opening they all feel odd to me. I can write “dörren öppnas,” which is the passive voice and obscures the agent, or I can write “dörren öppnar sig,” making “open” a reflexive verb, or I can write “dörren öppna[s/r sig] av sig själv,” which foregrounds the autonomy of the door. Passive voice is out, because we want to focus on the agency here. Foregrounding the autonomy is also out, because it’s too heavy-laden. Our Goldilocks option seems to be “öppnar sig,” which is a phrasing I can only recall from Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, where it’s used as a command and in second-person. And, actually, thinking of it like that, that’s not a bad phrasing, and certainly not a connotation Uel would object to.

~

Next week the translated piece is Choking Hazard, which, if you read it, seems untranslatable. Feel free to speculate wildly about how I will have solved this.

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NORTH OF REALITY TRANSLATION PROJECT: THE GLORIOUS DEAD

Good! You’re here. Just in time. Today’s story is one of ethereal awesomeness in the full sense of the word, The Glorious Dead.

I’ve received two of Uel Aramchek’s secret fictions now, and they’re amazing. There is a nowness to them. These are not things meant to go down in history, but they are experienced now and then sunk. It is a bit like going to poetry readings five hundred years ago. There is some power in the secrecy. You can join the exclusive club here: patreon.com/uelaramchek?ty=h

Translation notes in English, as usual, are to be found at the bottom of the post. If you would like to contact me about translations or stories or ideas, my email is johannespunkt at gmail dot com. You can find the rest of the translations in this project at this link: /tag/the-north-of-reality-translation-project/

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NORR OM VERKLIGHETEN: DE UNDERBARA DÖDA
    av Uel Aramchek
        översättning: Johannes Punkt

Inte mer än minuter efter det att viruset tog deras liv började offren växa sina första fjädrar. Varje plym var gyllene och genomskinlig och skimrade violett och smaragdgrönt. Metamorfosen ägde rum ögonblicken efteråt; deras pupiller virvlade utåt tills de var avgrundslika spiraler, deras lockar vällde fram i lejonlika manar, och all färg i deras blod avtog tills det var klart som regnvatten.

Vi föreställde oss aldrig att zombierna skulle vara vackrare än oss själva. Det svåraste med att slåss tillbaka var hur de sjöng när de närmade sig, ljuva och främmande psalmer i ett språk som bara kunde talas med flera röster åt gången. Varenda en av dem var en änglakör i sig själv. Det var svårt att tro att det fanns något värde i att vara vid liv ifall döden kunde se så här ut, men likväl stod vi på oss.

De som såg på dem med avund i blicken var de första som gav vika. Vad gäller överlevarna tog vi upp våra vapen, våra pilar och våra svärd och vi tog isär dem. De var perfekta från insidan och ut – benen vi hämtade från liken kunde till och med användas som prismor. Nu när allt är över finns det samlare som köper och säljer deras fjädrar på marknaden. För någon som mig finns det dock bara skam i att ens titta på dem.

Jag hemsöks av sånger jag aldrig kommer höra igen. I mina drömmar låter jag deras kristallina tänder sjunka ner i min vanliga dödliga hud och då, då kan jag godta att bli någonting fulländat snarare än förruttnat.

~

Notes

The word “centered” (especially in comnbination with “accents”) posed a problem here, because I found no real equivalence in Swedish. I didn’t find this meaning in the dictionary either, but to me that sentence seems to mean that the feather’s centre area (spol in Swedish, apparently, if you were curious. Or maybe spole; I’m extrapolating from other terms) is golden and there are hints and accents of violet and clover (which I rendered as smaragd, “emerald” to keep the feeling more than the exact colour) at the tips of each featherbarb. I wrote this instead as the feathers shimmering with the accent colours, I imagine like the rainbow you can see in oil leaks and such.

I added the word “vanliga,” usual/normal, to “mortal” to suggest the right kind of mortality, because otherwise it seems the flesh is deadly. “Vanliga dödliga” is a common idiomatic phrase meaning “‘mortals.”

I had trouble with the combination of spiral as a verb and whorl as a noun, because the cognates of those – spiral and virvel/virvla – work best in the other configuration, until I realized I could just translate “spiral” into “virvla” and “whorl” into “spiral.” The rest was straightforward or things I’ve already gone over until the last three words, where some poetry had to be involved. According to this handy graph that I made, the words perfection and putrefaction are alike:

A hand-drawn Venn diagram with one circle containing the letter E, one side containing the letters UTA, and their intersection containing the letters PREFCTION.

This requires there to be at least some semblance between the two words. This proved a bit difficult. I initially wanted two noun phrases but the only two acceptable direct translations of “perfection” are perfektion and fulländning. There’s no noun, as far as I can find, that half-rhymes with either and means ‘rot.’ So I went over to verbs, for which fullända and förruttna work pretty well. I couldn’t separate them with just one word, which is a shame, but I think this translation holds up. As a final touch, I glitched the word “then” – – and had it repeat once in order to get the same sense of arrest right before the final clause.

Funeral Pyre

or, Letting the Rhythm Get Away with Me a Bit

     Funeral pyre, funeral pyre, dress this old corpse in its finest attire!
     Funeral pyre, funeral pyre, and then set his ugly damn body on fire!

     Funeral pyre! Funeral pyre! All the catharsis you’ll ever require!
     Funeral pyre! Funeral pyre! You don’t want a zombie apocalypse, sire!

     Funeral pyre!!! FUNERAL PYRE!!! Do burn, or the results will be DIRE!!!
   FUNERAL PYRE FUNERAL PYRE WHOEVER SAID DEAD MEN DON’T SPEAK IS A LIAR!!!

~

You get the drift. Please join in!

HOW TO SIGN A CONTRACT

after Uel Aramchek

You didn’t kill Kharon for the loot. You killed him because you could, because he let his guard down, and because you had a smuggled-in Herculean dagger. But his silver-dollar-laden pouch was right there. You wanted Napoleonic victory music, found a Corsican jukebox bar, tried to get a party started.

The jukebox does not accept your coins. After you’ve stabbed it in the heart, you become aware of two figures clad in togaedos waiting outside. They hand you your new name and title. One of them chuckles: “Did you think ferrymen lived forever? That this has never happened before?”

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This has been fanfiction, or at least fiction in the style of Uel Aramchek. You can find his work on Twitter: @ThePatanoiac, and on his site North of Reality: northofreality.com. Also there is a Kickstarter campaign right now with some gorgeous Tarot cards based on his work and you’ll probably not be able to get these cards another way: kickstarter.com/projects/775608568/uel-aramcheks-tarot-arcana.

Okay.

Okay: the best you will ever feel is “okay.” When I was little my grandmother smoked like a chimney and died. My mother couldn’t bring herself to say those words; she said grandmother “stopped breathing.” I was slow to grasp the full scope of that statement, okay. Grandmother once drew me a diagram about explaining smoking to me. Okay, she drew two sinewaves one under the other and she talked. She said you feel good and bad, smokers feel bad and worse. And when they feel okay they think they’re feeling good. Yeah? It’s not just smokers. Yeah. Okay? Okay.

Tsundoku

When you die, the room you’re in necessarily becomes a library. There are more shelves than you remember, and packed two layers thick on these shelves are all the books you promised to read but never got around to, each one you bought but forgot. There is wall where there used to be doors. Curtains fall over the windows. You sit down to read the books, one by one, until your thumbprint is on every page and you have lived all the lives you wanted. There will be a door where there were walls, and you are allowed to leave.

New Story about Augury

Dear readers! I have a new story up at The Thrusting Sensations’ blog: thrustingsensations.co.uk/blog/?p=47. You may recall earlier collaborations between me and The Thrusting Sensations resulting in a few stories (/tag/the-thrusting-sensations/). This is a continuation of those. There are more stories like this on their blog, and you should go read it. My story is reproduced below.

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Read the rest of this entry »

Sandcastle Man

Sandcastle man sits on a cold beach like something medieval. His hands vanish into the grey sand and it must be cold for him, stark naked. His skin has assumed the same colour as the sand itself. The water is beating at his legs, nibbling at his toes, and soon surrounding him. By unfocusing his eyes he can look at his arms as if they’re trees rising from the water instead of columns pushed down into it. He stays unfocused, and eventually he falls apart, and in but two tide cycles the sand is perfectly smooth where he once sat.

Murder

I have been spending a lot of time on my own lately; I want to be accused of your murder. I can see that you are about to crack and in my greed I want to be the prime suspect. I have been watching television, but only reruns. I have been reading books. When the officers in blue knock on my door I will express shock that is not quite right, and I will have no alibi. They will point to your lousy suicide note and say they have never seen a worse forgery. Yes, this is what I want.

Photography of Souls

She was a photographer of the dead. Her studio was morose and draped all black and matte. Before the lifewarmth of their deceased relatives had run out, people would rush, in hearses with special coffins made to preserve warmth without starting to smell, to her abode. There, the dead person’s last life was photographed out of them and printed immediately, onto sepia paper, and given to the relatives to frame.

But when she died, her equipment on standby, all her soul seeped out onto the floor and no-one took her photograph and she rolled away as fog the next morning.