The GUTO: The Groundwork for an Unfolding Translatory Organon

The Groundwork for an Unfolding Translatory Organon includes texts from a variety of poets and writers that have been read, published and disseminated in various places and spaces. A working title for the various translations that I undertake from time to time. These can be of living or no longer living authors, found texts, texts of various genres and different lengths, and primarily of literary works. The directions are mostly into English but also into French. The GUTO is itself, as the name makes clear, an unfolding space of practice and theory, a creative/critical engagement with the past, present and, inevitably, the future of literary translation.

(From upcoming Polyglossophilia Bacchanale–UpSet Press, 2024)

O plurilingual fantasies of undaunted adventurers!
I’ve long dreamed of making a new anthology. The translation anthology within the plurilingual schema of literature-making. The anthology of the plurilingual universe! The Polylingual Translation Anthology!
Dreams of crazy madcap adventures in translational form—I should say…
The dream of a unique assembly of texts, from different persuasions and types, all under one ‘roof’ so to say…
From different languages, different time periods, different genres, different levels of anonymity and more. And that may not necessarily ever stop!
An anthology?
Yeah—an anthology…

But what would that be for the plurilingual writer?!
I’m not taking a bunch of authors from one place and creating a new volume. No more!
My anthology wouldn’t be an anthology derived from only one language, certainly, or a series of texts assembling authors grouped geographically! Or even linguistically—if from various geographies! Not in the Polyglossophilia Bacchanale! That space of linguistic orgies needs much more excitement!
Not an anthology of French or Francophone writers. No way not in the Bacchanale!
Not an anthology of Persian writers. Or of Afghan writers. Or of Farsi-speaking writers! No way not in the Bacchanale!
Not even a thematic one? No way! Not in the wild wild halls of the Bacchanale! Or a stylistic one? No, no, nohhhhh!
Not a utilitarian translation. No sireee no way no no! Not in the Bacchanale!
Not a propagandic piece, no matter how disguised? Nohhhh! No more! Not in the Bacchanale!

If anthology there is, for me, it will be…
Theory and practice all in one place!
Multiple languages all in one place!
Derived from multiple languages…
Into multiple languages—!
Yeah, into: and thus negating the uni-target-language poetics and politics of most anthologies.
And into plurilingual texts even!
I must repeat: an anthology that includes texts derived from different languages, including invented ones or mixed ones, and translated into different languages—existing ones, and invented ones, and plurilingual ones if we want it to be.
Writings in different languages translated into plurilingual texts or various Englishes or various Frenches. Our language to language frame would be quite fun and whacky.
And not just poetic or literary texts! A variety of texts! Plaques we see across the world! Posters! Writings found on monuments! Graffiti even! Little pamphlets with cool sentences on them. People’s cards. Clever puns thrown around. Names of stores. Slogans on trucks or on public edifices. Wherever there are words, in other words, words combined to make things.
Old newspaper clips. Old headlines. Old articles never translated. With whatever subject-matters interest us.
All curated. Curated cleverly and imaginatively, in some grand rhizomatic networked way.
From diverse geographies. From diverse times.
I was even pondering how I would deal with English-speaking writers of the Americas and figured I just won’t translate them. But then! Then… Eureka—of course I can! Of course I will! I will expose what it might mean to translate into the ‘same’ language—which I’m sure will lead to thinking about ‘sameness’. An easy solution would be a dialect or a Queneau-esque ‘exercices de style’ (stylistic manipulations). But there are other possibilities. I could: a/translate into a ‘different’ English; b/translate into different styles; c/translate into another language and translate back multiple times; d/translate into a different genre based on various factors.
I could also select the types of texts one could retranslate, that have affinities with the project and where the actual English is not the main thrust of the work or the translations. For example: a/translation of poetic projects; b/translation of ‘sound’ poems or visual poems; c/translation of conceptual book projects; d/translation of texts found within ‘book arts’ books, where I also try to translate other elements of the ‘book artist’s book’; e/translation of translations of texts into other languages and/or of texts into English even! Look at that mighty spectrum of possibilities!

Yes: the plurilingual paradigm taken all the way through!
And thus I will have implanted the Bacchanale as a space for a veritable plurilingual endeavor.
The plurilingual IS the language of our universe! Its own domain. Its own patria! It—plurilinguality itself—is the target language!
And it will contribute to the flowering of the Bacchanale. As a unique sphere, an irreplaceable literary frame!
The Bacchanale becomes more and more exciting. More passion and more desire and more actions and more celebrations!
The anthology could even look like a visual piece, with all these intersecting languages and… graphic design that does justice to the overall endeavor. An artistic enterprise after all!
And I will call it, for now: The Groundwork for an Unfolding Translatory Organon (The GUTO)
The GUTO as the anthology of the plurilingual universe!
The Cool GUTO. The Grand Complete, GUTO! The first of its kind.
The first of the kind where the plurilingual is the target language! With the poetics and politics described and hinted at throughout!
A multi-year project that involves the ‘translation’ of texts from a variety of poets/thinkers/philosophers/writers/uncategorizable folks. Along with writings and texts found in everyday life.

Hence the contesting nature of the practice in full display: outside of the national/translatory paradigm; outside of academia also; and even outside of a poetics that is dedicated to a country, a person, or a geographic region…
The key is that the labels are torn down, as I have made clear: the translations won’t be: within specific (artificial) genres (‘poetry’, ‘fiction’ etc…); derived from geographic regions (Modern European so and so, North Africa, Eastern Asia…); from one linguistic source: French this or that, American such and such, Arabic…
A range of translatory practice will be undermined: the academic anthological awareness campaigns, the empires’ ideological fabrications (‘Persian Poetry’, all made out to be Sufi!!), the lone writer’s œuvre…
What interests me are those œuvres that are somehow, someway, questioning these and other categories, wondering, breaking down, fearlessly attempting to fashion new forms: of texts, of being, of becoming.
The GUTO: a project that can organically unfold online and offline, and remain open-ended in terms of its final destination.
Where I would translate into multiple languages in one volume!—I repeat. One volume, that’s the whole point. Bringing together all these texts and thus connecting them…
And across platforms, possibly. Indeed, what I mean by ‘volume’ could be traditional, if adapted to the times. Because this project could be very realizable online. Tailor-made for it, in many ways, and it would also allow me to redefine what I mean by ‘volume’. It could turn into a book, into a forum, into some exhibit of some sort… Multi-year time-frame, where the web itself as a site of becoming, realization, and actualization, is explored in the framework of whatever it is that the ‘transcreations’ are meant to do. (Still, I do want a physical volume at some point! A massive volume! The big encyclopedic analog volume!)
In effect, the whole project—from conceptualization to implementation—is a theory/practice of the translatory enterprise as a whole: its motivations, its possibilities, its fashioning into other textualities. We have gone all the way! See what the plurilingual poetics has wrought! With and through translation! All the way!
Carrying on the tradition of translation, within the plurilingual universe—which feeds off my theorizing of the plurilingual manifesto! I translate by affinity, by love, interest, friendship, sometimes for political reasons, always for poetic. The online unfurling, the becoming of the translator, the engendering of series of translations, the cataloging of texts, these are in tune with my translatory project, with my translatory poetics.
The GUTO: gives me great lightness, rather than the heaviness that consists in assembling, separating, selecting, idealizing, eliminating…
And I will forge forth with the lightness embraced…
This radical enterprise of translation…
A grand celebration of translation.
So, that!
Possible only in the plurilingual universe.
Possible only in the Polyglossophilia Bacchanale…
Possible only at the Polyglossophilia Bacchanale…