Men in Aida, Book II, David Melnick

P. 416:

David Melnick composed Men in Aida by sounding Homer’s Iliad. That is, Melnick listened to the Greek text as if it were English, translating the sound rather than the sense and drawing out the modern language he heard embedded in the ancient (see David Antin’s attempts in Novel Poem to hear one genre embedded in the forms of another).

At the same time, Melnick contorts English to the strictures of the Greek phonetic sequences, working from the syllable rather than the word. Rather than render the content of Homeric Greek in English, Melnick Grecizes English from within. In doing so, he undertakes the kind of translation that Walter Benjamin famously called for in “The Task of the Translator” (Selected Writings, vol. 1, 1913–1926, ed. Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996], 253–66). Articulating “a theory that strives to find, in translation, something other than reproduction of meaning” (259), Benjamin argued that

“translation must in large measure refrain from wanting to communicate something, from rendering the sense, and in this the original is important to it only insofar as it has already relieved the translator and his translation of the effort of assembling and expressing what is to be conveyed (260).”

Alloy, men! Rot the 'I,' take Guy and Harry's hippo-core (-rust) tie.
 You don't panic? He idea'd Duke an 'aid-'em-us' hoop nose.
 A low gay murmur is a cat tap. Prayin' a hose sock 'll lay ya,
 Timmy say 'Oh les' see de polyosophy' (new sin: a guy own).
 Hey Daddy (yoik!) got tattoo, moan, a wrist tap. high net taboo, lay

Kenneth Goldsmith’s work is reproduced here with the blanket permission he has publicly given with his “usual arguments against creativity and for copyleft, file-sharing, and free culture” (2013). As he says in UbuWeb, his huge online archive of conceptual writing, avant-garde, ethnopoetics, and outsider arts: “For the moment, we have no competition, a fact we’re not happy about. We’re distressed that there is only one UbuWeb: why aren’t there dozens like it? Looking at the art world, the problem appears to be a combination of an adherence to an old economy (one that is working very well with a booming market) and sense of trepidation, particularly in academic circles, where work on the internet is often not considered valid for academic credit. As long as the art world continues to prize economies of scarcity over those based on plentitude, the change will be a long time coming. But UbuWeb seeks to offer an alternative by invoking a gift economy of plentitude with a strong emphasis on global education.” ForBoredom aims to be that competition!