Lost in Translation
A while back I posted, for interest's sake, some of my responses to questions sent by the German translator of VELLUM, Hannes Riffel. Now, Hannes is working on INK and has kindly agreed to let me do the same again. I think it's a neat way to give an insight into the intricacies of the translation process and cast a little pen-light on some of the details without too much blather and self-importance (some of those "details" being, after all, fuck-ups and follies on my part.) Though anyone who hasn't read INK yet might want to beware of spoilers. Anyway, all page numbers are from the UK edition.
p 30: "We only tried to give you what you want ... the meaning of fiction in your factual lives." I don't understand the second half.
It's a nihilist/existentialist thing. Facts have no "meaning". Life has no "meaning". Only fiction has meaning. So the bitmites have reshaped the factual world so it has the meaning of fiction -- heroes, villains and all that jazz.
p 35: "strands of skandas" Hindu god? But what are the "strands" (dto.: "skanda strands" on page 38)
In Buddhist philosophy the five skandas (with a small "s") are what makes up the self. See this link:
I'm not clear on some of the distinctions a Buddhist would make between "physical form", "sensation", "perception", "conception" and "consciousness" (like between sensation and perception or conception and consciousness), but the idea here is of the self being separable into strands (streams, the discrete but interwoven, linear *experience*) of feelings, thoughts, memories, ideas, and so on. The idea is that in the post-Evenfall Vellum it's not just the world that's been deconstructed; humans have too. So you get these wraithike scraps of torn-up identity, strands of skanda.
And (just as an add-on) you get some of those strands that have woven themselves back together into the semblance of agency, the sylphs. But it's a multiple perspective agency, skanda strands of memory from multiple origins -- hence the shift from third person to first-person plural. And you get other skanda strands which have attached themselves to a semblance of form but remain, to all intents and purposes, lacking in that agency, bereft of any real consciousness; those are the shabtis.
p 36: "faun" -- is that a colour as well?
Oops. That's meant to be "fawn", which is, yes, a shade of brown. Bollocks, I always get the baby deer and the mythical creature confused.
p 36: "king" among all those animals means what?
Exactly what it says. King's are just another "noble beast" to be skinned and stitched into the harlequin's suit, far as Jack's concerned. The logic is sort of: well, kings claim the divine right to rule, claim to be distinct from common humanity, with their "blue blood" and all; so, if they have *different colour blood*, they're, like, a different species altogether; so that makes it OK to hunt them down, kill them like the animals they are, and wear their hide like you'd wear the leather of a cow. There's a sort of whimsical notion of hubris at play there, in the idea that the very act of setting yourself up as a king is an invitation to be slaughtered as a beast. It's also a foreshadowing of Pentheus's death at his mother's hands, the way she sees him as a lion to be hunted.
p 37: "city known as Themes" -- any allusions in this name I should know about?
Thebes >> Themes in the rewrite of THE BACCHAE, as an allusion to "theme" in literary terms. It's part of the whole wordplay-system, like Rome becoming Rhyme, Greece becoming Verse and so on, in the historical texts excerpted in the faery chapter of VELLUM.