Literature in Unlikely Places. Every Word Matters.

When thinking about the word Literature we often only think of books. What we forget is that Literature is the art of written work. Written work can be anywhere, not just in books and although contradictory to its definition, it does not even have to be written.  Written work can be expressed not only on a piece of paper, but also through sound. Whether it is the script to a movie, video game, lyrics to a song, the written words still exist and should be considered literature. The reason I bring this up is because recently I was watching a remake of an anime (animated show) that I loved when I was in high-school. The original anime was called Hellsing. The show has been re-made it into a version called Hellsing: Ultimate.  One of the episodes of the newer version had a song playing in the background that I fell in love with. It was in Japanese and I had no idea what was being said or what was going on, but I fell in love with the sound and I could tell by the way it was being sung that it related to an intense emotion.  I searched YouTube and was able to find the episode with English subtitles that included the subtitles to the song. Unfortunately it was only for about the first half of the song. If you’re interested it can be viewed here Hellsing: Ultimate Song  The song starts at 30:00, and you will have to be signed in into your YouTube account in order to see it because the show is rated M. The lyrics that are presented on this video are:

“I want to cut into you and see for myself

I want to see

There, on the polished paulownia shelf

Sliced up

Lined up

Is that where I live now?

Is my other half alive?

Are you afraid to be held down?

It’s okay I’ll take it slow

I only want to cut you open

And run my tongue along your heart

Outside is the alluring; see-through skin

The inside tinged with dark purple fervor”

This song is by a Japanese band called Suilen and the name of the song is Zakuro (Pomegranate in English). I wanted to see what the rest of the song said and stumbled upon this translation online: http://pipxseras.livejournal.com/67564.html

This translations are not vastly different, but different enough to bother me. It made me think about how much is lost in translation and what a critical job translating literature is.

Pomegranate

I want to cut you in order to ascertain
I want to see
On top of the polished paulownia shelf*
Torn
Standing side by side
Do I really inhabit there now?
Does my other half live?

Do I scare you if I hold you down?
I’ll do it little by little so,
I’ll carve your chest open and
only wish to crawl my tongue over it.

The Outside is like a spellbinding transparent membrane.
The Inside is tinged with the black purple color of passion.
I am a pomegranate that’s about to burst.
Let me spill!
Peel me off!
Gathering the Fiber…
I’ll unravel for you.
I’ll (go) bury for you.
I’ll boil for you.

What kind of voice cries in your blood?

I’ll turn you liquid. To smear you and to taste you.
I’ll mix (us). To stitch and to caress.
(Let’s) Entwine together.
Turn you into powder. I paint and lick you.
Turn you into mist. I paint and lick you…

I want to suck you in.**”

My point is not to talk about merely how much gets lost in translation, how big of a part sound has in poetry and literature and how little acknowledge, or how literature can be found anywhere. I wanted to focus on how much of a difference one word can make to a sentence, or even to a whole poem. A piece of written work can be made or ruined by one, or a couple of words. Personally I do not speak Japanese so I do not know which translation holds truer to the original. I do prefer the translation that is given by the show, and wish it had translated the rest of the song. This also makes me think more about myself as an editor and how scrupulous one should really be when judging a piece of literature. I was not aware that the word “Paulownia” was referring to a type of tree that girls in china plant when they are little, and turn into a piece of furniture later on in life when they get married. When I found this out from the link to the secondary translation this one word gave this whole song a much deeper meaning and allowed me to understand it a lot more as a whole. I think that when judging other people’s work we should take the time to read and understand the piece word for word very carefully because it is so easy to misinterpret things by not reading them carefully, or miss an amazing thought that is being conveyed. Specially when dealing with something like poetry where every word should be so carefully selected. I just wanted to post this as an example and remind everyone to not just read a piece of work one time and decide if it is good or not. I usually read things one time without stopping just to get the general feel of it, and then I go over it over and over and over to make sure I did not miss anything. I encourage everyone else to do the same and to acknowledge every word and see how it fits, or doesn’t fit into whatever you are reading.


5 thoughts on “Literature in Unlikely Places. Every Word Matters.

  1. Besides Dragon Ball Z and Pokemon I was never a huge fan of anime, but I gotta admit—that was intense! I thought it was going to be peaceful, but was I in for a surprise. People eating each other? People with crazy tattoos?

    Interesting….

    But the whole aspect of one word making a difference is something I totally agree with. Writers submit work for publication all the time, and often the difference between getting accepted or rejected can be one word. I consider myself more of a poet, and if someone told me I had to change three words for publication, I’d probably tell them to shove it (depending on who it is actually).

    This article reminded me of a poet named Taylor Mali. I love this guy! He’s brilliant and funny and has a bunch of youtube videos. He’s been featured on HBO’s Def Poetry a couple times and is also a teacher, pretty cool. HERE IS A GREAT YOUTUBE OF TAYLOR MALI THAT RELATES TO TATIANA’S ARTICLE.

    1. I had never heard of Taylor Mali but I am so glad you brought him up. He is hilarious! I love dark humor and I love how although he used every other word incorrectly I still understood what he said. So clever!!! I <3 IT!! thanks so much for bringing that up :). Also I completely agree, although I am not really defensive to criticism towards my poetry and really appreciate other people’s input. I am stubborn about changing things. I am the type of stubborn that would rather not have something publish than change it to something I do not agree with. I mean I choose every word very carefully, and honestly although I may “finish” a poem, to me a poem is never really finish, merely abandoned. I spend months working on a 10 line poem before I abandon it, and when I do although the original thought or image is still there, it is very different from what the very first draft was like. Sometimes I twirl around it and come right back to the beginning and only change like two words that I feel like elevate the poem to a much higher level. thanks so much for your input! 🙂

  2. Everything published made a ton of sense.
    But, consider this, what if you added a little information?
    I mean, I don’t wish to tell you how to run your blog, however suppose you added something that grabbed folk’s attention?
    I mean Literature in Unlikely Places. Every Word Matters. | Long River Review is a little boring.
    You should look at Yahoo’s front page and note how they write post titles to get people interested. You might try adding a video or a related pic or two to grab people excited about what you’ve got to say.
    In my opinion, it might bring your posts a little bit more interesting.

    1. Although I agree with what “cheap homeowner loans” is saying, and my title probably is found boring by most people, I do take under consideration the sort of people that come to the LLR Blog. Yahoo is a place where anyone who has a Yahoo e-mail account goes to. Their audience is a really broad group of people, therefore they probably put more effort into the title of their articles than the articles themselves. The people who come to LLR are probably more interested in literature than the average public. If you have any suggestions for what might be a better title to grab people’s attention please let me know! I am open to suggestions from anyone. Also I am not sure if you are a spammer or not, either way thanks for your input spam bot, or real person.

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