You infect everything with your connections, your electricity, your neon sizzle and creepy shadows. You make intertextuality inevitable. I’m sure you were excited to notice that
Danielle Vogel wrote an essay as an epistolary dialogue with a character in Renee Gladman’s novel The Ravickians. (If you have time, you can read the entirety of Vogel’s “Letters for Renee Gladman’s The Ravickians: an ekphrastic companion” online, or bookmark it for later. When you’re not destroying my life, I mean.)
What intrigues me about it is how Vogel’s epistolary raised questions about translation across genres that upend the hard border between fiction and nonfiction.
Luswage Amini is the Great Ravickian Novelist who narrates the first section of The Ravickians. Vogel quotes him directly:
“If you are engaged in translation and discover that a quality you need to convey does not exist in your language, the language into which you are moving, do not pick up the next best thing. Sometimes you have to put a ‘0’ there; this will indicate a hole […] you need nothing to see something, which is the theory behind white space.”
“Who will I become for you when translated?” Vogel asks Luswage. (“Who are you this time?” wondered Tom Waits.)
And then she imagines herself into the story with this character whom she addresses:
Luswage, I write because I miss you. Though, I’ve never met you. I write you here not to understand the nature of this anti-connection — or even the desire — but to, hopefully, somehow, meet. What is a book for? I want to talk about the body, but it so often eludes me. A book lets us lean toward an other through the throat. I am sometimes afraid of all intimacies, but I’m hungry for them. The body and its voice seem impossibly unreliable. I know this is a translation yet I want to be touched. A body leans against another. We put a language between us. A hallway. A skyway between buildings. . . I can’t get naked enough.
“We put a language between us . . . I can’t get naked enough.”