10 January 2006
Honors 303: Translation
Yes, it’s an undergrad class. No, I’m not getting graduate credit for it. I don’t care. As previously mentioned, I enjoy grappling with problems of translation, and I love Old English, which is the language I’ll be translating for my class project.
Before going to this class, I was thinking about dropping it. It kind of comes down to a question of pragmatism versus ... well, hedonism might be a little strong, but I’m really only taking it for fun. Anyway, having been to the class once, I am determined to keep it on my schedule. The professor’s enthusiasm is infectious, and I’m very excited about the prospect of reading Anglo-Saxon poetry again. There are about a dozen students in the class, and at least ten different languages intended for translation, including the usual (French, Spanish, German, Latin) and a few that are more exotic (Old Spanish, Korean, Arabic, Latvian, Chinese).
English 641: Drama
I’ve been looking forward to this class at least as much as the others I’ve signed up for, but when I saw the syllabus I almost gave up and left. I am expected to write and produce/direct an original 5-10 minute theater piece for the class, dealing with some aspect of “ritual.” I’m terrified by this. There’s a reason I’m not in the creative writing emphasis, and that reason is that I’m not a good creative writer. Non-fiction I can do. Analytical work I can do. Translation I can do. And I love acting. But creative writing? No can do. I suppose many children read books that really inspire them, and then want to write stories of their own; I know I did. And I have a fairly vivid imagination. But somewhere along the line, I realized that a vivid imagination does not necessarily translate to good creative writing. (Fortunately, I realized that before I started showing my work to other people, thereby avoiding a great deal of unpleasantness.) I am seriously thinking about dropping this class.
I had an interesting conversation with Brook just after class let out. She is going to Africa this summer, and talks about how she wants to travel the world doing humanitarian work (admirable) even after she gets married and has children. She’s currently investing in real estate in order to finance this proposed career; she feels that really, everyone could do this kind of thing if they wanted to, but people just don’t make it a priority. Spending the rest of her life in suburbia, she says, would drive her to suicide. She drifts into another conversation, and I am left to ponder my lack of both hip-ness and ambition. I can’t afford to travel the world; I can’t afford to invest in real estate; I can’t even afford to buy a house like the extremely suburban model I currently rent. My husband works a 9-to-5 in order to finance my expensive tastes (like education), and his employer declines to pay people who don’t show up for work, regardless of what other admirable or noble activities they may be performing in the interim. I freely admit that I am not nearly as cool as Brook - she’s a modernist, after all, and I’m a Romanticist - but I’ve never felt that bad about enjoying my quiet suburban life. Am I too boring/selfish to make humanitarian work a “priority”? Apparently so.