For a blog with only a handful of albeit deeply appreciated comments, I have certainly had quite a few visitors over the last week or so. The Supreme Search Engine tells me I'm not at the top of the game page-wise yet, so somehow punters at some point have made a choice. Thank you. Some have commented on the Socials (thank you), and I'm trying to oblige: I have changed the background colour - no problem; I am trying to write shorter posts - bear with me; I will immediately quit musing over a cosmeticized representation of the world and get down to business, like fees, conditions of work, techniques and my ten favourite dictionaries - simply...no.
Forget it. I will of course respond to questions as per my Ouverture manifesto-post, but even then I will do it in my own little way. Why? Well, lack of alternatives for one, and really lack of any incentive to do it differently as the other reason. But that is not to say I won't tell you what I think. And I will do so through a real-life example.
Sometime in the middle of the last decade a big fuss was made in the United Kingdom about Christmas lights. Yes, the flashing ones in the street, and their appendages of verbal wishes and greetings. The common view the media fed us was that some unidentified cultures were feeling a little left out as we Christians enjoyed the yuletide spirit, and we really should not make them so sad. Response from all the official channels was immediate and unanimous. All parties, the Islamic groups in the lead, said they did not care a tinker's and we could go on with the fun unhindered.
Yes, said someone at the top, but it just isn't right. The winter festival is at the end of the day an adaptation of a preceding pagan ritual, so let's call them Winter Lights!
Soon afterwards the BBC got involved, asking their listeners and viewers what they thought. Among the responses they received was mine, posing as a disgusted Australian. I was hurt, I said, that no consideration had been give to the fact that in my Country it was in fact summer, and why not just call the damn things "Lights", so we could all be happy. Whether the BBC reacted to this I do not know, but had they chosen to, my next trick would have been to pretend I was blind and found the word "light" offensive - let's change it to a glottal stop such as "Ugh", I was going to say.
You see the point, of course. It's all about salience, as we do our job or challenge an organisation or move up in the pyramid of needs and belonging. Salience is the key to existing at peace, or the door into psychosis, a recent job of mine teaches me.
Life is not in fact a silent score or a white canvas - rather a wall of painted-over graffiti, an only apparently muted organ, a rock gig going strong where all the controls on the mixer have been turned down. But it's all there. The worries about money, the tiff we had this morning, the train being late, the future of our industry, the late night client request...it never goes away. We turn everything down, when we can, if we can. And who better than an spoken word translation specialist, riding that narrow edge existing between input and output signals, on the crest between disruption and meaning?
Sure, I'd be perfect if clients spoke slowly and clearly following their text and came through the fine-tuned insulation of my booth enabling my recently-awakened and breakfasted person to elegantly serve up their message. And please don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with wanting and even fighting for this. Yet it is a bit like prospecting for gold in a jewellery store - not entirely exclusive, nor always real, and not even that interesting. You need to play to win, and playing means walking a path. Getting there, including all the points in between.
They say a true gentleman is able to imagine and blend into the most sophisticated of environments whist not missing it or feeling out of place when this does not materialize (just pick your favourite spy movie). Again, please don't misunderstand me - I am as far as can be from this, or I wouldn't be writing about it.
In the metaphor above it is, quite simply, my chosen soundtrack. To know what you want from the beginning, but currently to be engaged in getting there. "Apologies for our appearance as we put up our...Lights". Yours are on already? Great!
It's just a background inspiration, my way of getting through the day.
About this blog
A sideways glance at conference interpreting, living bilingual and balancing the composite identity. The poetics of a craft and a repository of past thoughts. (Some links may no longer be active).
Copyright Martin Esposito - All rights reserved