This, that and the other


I have been doing a bit of research for the notes to a new translation of an Hélène Cixous book, and it has led me to Proust's unfinished Contre Sainte Beuve, just now a draft essay on Baudelaire. It made me want to translate Baudelaire, but realize what an impossible project that would be: the relationship between content and form is too tight. Translating poetry that is metred and rhymed, something has to give: either the content or the form: there is no way to translate Baudelaire without significant loss. Maybe a poem or two, no more. 


Thinking about France's beef farmers, who are fighting back against industrial-scale production. France, as the New York Times editorializes today, is attached to its family farms, but they can't compete with the industrial farming going on elsewhere. It's the corner store problem all over. It seems to me less and less clear that "European" (meaning North American too) commerce is evolving in the right direction. Everything is increasingly in the hands of fewer people, jobs are disappearing, owners of the means of production are in a position to determine who will be the candidates for the 2016 US presidential election, and to set the agenda. I see that industrial-scale farming is efficient, but it must be time we considered what is being lost. One could, of course, and has said the same of companies like Amazon and what they are doing to book-selling, but the production of food worldwide is clearly a more general problem.

The other

We were up on Vancouver Island for a family occasion last weekend, and found the house my grandparents built on the edge of Georgia Strait. They bought a big chunk of land, cleared enough of it to build a house (in the postwar ranch style) and a garden, and left much of it forest. Now there are several houses and only a screen of trees on the edge of the very steep bluff above the Strait. A public stairway wound down to the cove, where I used to play as a child, still wild, overgrown with blackberries, with a flock of Canada Geese gazing out to sea.