Delay, Estrangement, Loss: The Meanings of Translation in Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah (1985)


The common denominator of any translation is delay: this delay is a matter of time and space, a temporal displacement (which is one of the ways of defining “translation”), a delay that exacerbates the ontological differentiation process between sign and meaning.  Between the moment a text or an utterance is produced, printed and received (read, heard, understood by someone), the process through which it is engaged, and the moment it reappears, is re-uttered, reinscribed, translated, time necessarily takes place, something is displaced. Throughout this process of estrangement, which also entails a degree of loss, different intermediaries, institutions and medias (texts, speech, readers-listeners-translators, dictionaries, publishing houses, rights owners, international law, recorders, note pads) are engaged at different levels that very often, in the end process, tend to disappear as medias and intermediaries (as often medias should, according to a certain doxa), fulfilling a certain desire for communication transparency that is happily resigned to blissful blindness.

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