Month: April 2015

Notes on Gregory Rabassa’s Memoir, “If This Be Treason”

I suppose that to be considered a memoir, Gregory Rabassa’s If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents should have a tighter narrative, but it doesn’t nor did it ever intend to. Instead, the book revolves around a loose series of anecdotes; most importantly, reflections on his relationship with the mythic roster of Latin American authors that he has worked with over the years. If you want, you can gloss the makings of a philosophy on translation, though these thoughts only come in passing. The profession does not define nor does it dominate his perspective, but rather provide context for someone that seems to take life as it happens. Rabassa’s famously does not read a book before translating it, preferring to do so as he goes along. He alludes to this by comparing translation to nothing more than a reading, one that avoids the dogma of criticism, but remains preserved in print nonetheless. This instinctual approach to translation is more interpretation than anything else. In regard to the title, this idea of treason defines the …

Notes on Better Call Saul: Season 1, Episode 9

The story arc for the first season of Better Call Saul is not too different from its predecessor. Take an average, down-on-his-luck protagonist and watch as he tries to change his fate. But whereas Walter White is a dynamic character, going from Ned Flanders to Scarface; Jimmy McGill is static, a victim of circumstance. However, his descent does not seem inevitable until the penultimate episode of this first season. So what was the deciding factor in establishing this narrative? Were we supposed to hold on to a glimmer of hope that Jimmy McGill could be a decent and honest lawyer? It only takes nine episodes until we are given a definitive answer. Earlier in the season, we are given a glimpse of this realization. As with Breaking Bad, the characters in Better Call Saul are not scrutinized through the traditional lens of good or bad. Their actions can belong to either side, but the rest is open to interpretation. Jimmy McGill can only get so far through legitimate means. Here’s a quick overview: he doesn’t …

Notes on Divergent Narratives: Louie Season 5, Ep. 2 ‘A La Carte’

After watching “A La Carte,” the second episode of the fifth season of Louie, I want to begin this essay with the premise that Louie CK is a pretty enlightened individual…especially for the last few years. I say that because I take for granted that the quality of his writing, like many others before him, will be subject to the law of diminishing returns. In other words, Louie should be more stagnant at this point, but it’s not. Somehow it resists complacency and finds ways to adapt without sacrificing an aesthetic that his audience has come to appreciate as distinctly louie-esque. It’s a resolute melancholy, a rawness that stays grounded in both beauty and despair. This perspective, however grounded in reality (disregarding the occasional surreal and/or absurd sequences), is what offers insight into the human condition…or at the very least, provides a few laughs. It is a lack of a shame coupled with a lack of sympathy for his character. Yet it is often the characters around him that keep him honest. Pamela is the …