Thursday, 12 January 2012

Lost in translation - part 2

A month ago, I posted a 1913 card sent from the US to Japan.,, 





Well, thanks to an old school pal (Rupert) and a friend from university (Fuyu) we've now got a translation (or two) .... 

I always feel a bit conflicted in finding out more about the cards. 

Walter Benjamin talked about us living in an age where everything is explained, where "no event any longer comes to us without already being shot through with explanation." He speculated about the impact this has on our imagination, and our ability to connect through storytelling.

I like to think the mysteries in old cards offer some resistance to this. But there's still that itch to find out more. 

And sometimes I give in. Hence the appeal for ideas about what was going on with this card. 

You'll remember I found it at a fair in London. And that the card had been sent from San Francisco in the US to Yokohama in Japan. That much we knew.

Now we know a lot more...



And to that we can add Fuyu's thoughts ...

"In the past, Japanese used to make a horizontal writing from right to left, which we never do in contemporary Japanese.
So I read this line from right to left then it makes sense.
The other part is written in vertical writing so it's different.
Although I cannot understand all of it, I can see it is not saying something happy but something sad/bad because I can see some words like "A year with dreadful Japanophobia" "suffered from devastating blow" "lonely" etc.
Does "Japanophobia" make sense? I can't really find a good phrase for this..
But the thing is I cannot connect all of these, so it may be saying something positive in the end..."

Thanks Rupert, Ai and Fuyu. 

Extra information, for sure. Extra painful information, that is. 

But the card isn't shot through, or is it?

3 comments:

  1. I guess we forget sometimes that these cards were bought and sent by people just like us ... with histories, sadness, happiness. We get caught up in the picture on the front! Very interesting post. Happy PFF!

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  2. Strangely, I actually started collecting postcards because I collected stamps...one day, it occurred to me to turn them over and start examining the images on the front a little more! The stories and postal journeys were the starting point for me though...

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  3. A touching story from the past, and good detective work from you and your friends.

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