"'Look at us,' say Obama/Clinton and the EU satraps, 'we're doing good. We're on the side of the people.' The sheer cynicism is breathtaking."
Writing for the Guardian today, Tariq Ali delivered a damming interpretation of the motivation compelling the air strikes that continue to garner support from the international community and mainstream media:
We're expected to believe that the leaders with bloody hands in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are defending the people in Libya. The debased British and French media are capable of swallowing anything, but the fact that decent liberals still fall for this rubbish is depressing. Civil society is easily moved by some images and Gaddafi's brutality in sending his air force to bomb his people was the pretext that Washington utilised to bomb another Arab capital. Meanwhile, Obama's allies in the Arab world were hard at work promoting democracy.
Alain Badiou joins Tzvetan Todorov and Jean-Luc Nancy, amongst other intellectuals, in the debate over allied intervention in Libya sparked by Bernard-Henri Lévy's key role.
‘You wouldn't deny,’ my friend the street philosopher said to me the other day, ‘that the underlying principle of everything nowadays is profit—no one with any power in the world challenges that.’
‘Very true,’ I replied. ‘But what are you driving at?’
‘If someone openly says: "I only live for my personal profit, and I'd kill off any former friend if it was a question of keeping or improving my lifestyle," what are they then? ... Come on, make an effort.’
‘A bandit. It's the mind-set of a bandit.’
‘Exactly!’ exclaimed the street philosopher. ‘Our world very clearly is a world of bandits. There are hidden bandits and official bandits, but that's only a minor difference.’
‘Agreed. But what conclusion do you draw from this?’
In an article for The London Library Magazine, Shaun Whiteside, translator of Wu Ming's novel Manituana, counters the predicted demise of the linguist and imminent redundancy of the translator made by a recent caller to Radio Four's Any Answers. Insisting that there is more to the literary situation than Babelshot addicted iPhone users understand, Whiteside has detected a shift in the prestige of the role of the translator in the world of books:
I can't remember the world of literary translation ever being quite as confident and outgoing as it is right now - translation prizes attracting a lot of public attention, a rising generation of translators who aren't afraid of the spotlight, endless and lively public discussions. One might be forgiven for thinking that a law had been passed making it compulsory to read Scandinavian crime fiction on public transport. Even the Queen's speech last Christmas was about a translation, the King James Bible, which has, of course, just celebrated its 400th birthday.
Translation is also an art of constant negotiation, a demonstrably imperfect one, that attempts to convey the sense and the mood, the timbre and texture, of a piece of writing from one language to another. Different languages have different histories, of course, different references, different music. And that is where the mystery of translation comes in... As a translator one seeks to inhabit the author's voice, and when it works the effect is almost alchemical, the essence of the voice persisting through its transmutation.
This past weekend Toronto's Globe and Mail dedicated its non-fiction review to The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg with reviewer Irene Gammel praising the letters for the way they
challenge the stereotype of "Red Rosa" as a ruthless fighter by revealing Luxemburg's sensitivity and humanity, a woman who, even from the darkness of her prison cell, showered others with her warmth and caring, as in this letter to Luise (Lulu) Kautsky from Cell No. 7 at Wronke women's prison: "I would very soon get you laughing again, even though your last few letters sounded disturbingly gloomy," she writes, cheering her moody friend by evoking memories: "When we two were together you always felt a little tipsy, as though we had been drinking bubbly." She lifts her own spirits by singing the "Countess's aria from Figaro" to an audience of blackbirds.