Thursday, October 23, 2008

German smoke screens

FATE |fāt|
1 the development of events beyond a person's control, regarded as determined by a supernatural power : fate decided his course for him | his injury is a cruel twist of fate.
• the course of someone's life, or the outcome of a particular situation for someone or something, seen as beyond their control : he suffered the same fate as his companion.

DESTINY |ˈdestinē|
noun ( pl. -nies)
the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future : she was unable to control her own destiny.
• the hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future; fate : he believes in destiny.
ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French destinee, from Latin destinata, feminine past participle of destinare ‘make firm, establish.’

At night, tired, in front of a bookshelf in the library, a short discussion with Wall of Time’s sabbatical researcher Dr. David Woodard on a feasible translation for the word «Schicksalszeit». A very Jüngerian subject, of course. Somewhat handwavingly, I argued that neither «destiny time» nor (not at all!) «time of destiny» would capture the German connotations of the word at all.

The more I think of it, the clearer it occurs to me that «Schicksalszeit» is a veritable smoke bomb: As if there would be any other time than the one that is identical to your destiny, your fate. The destiny as in destination and the passing of time are one thing alike, as Dr. Woodard with the more rationale, less aetheric, no-nonsense angle of the English language had grasped immediately.

To me, now, it sounds almost banal to claim such thing as a Schicksalszeit, although Jünger might have felt very superior when introducing the term. Jünger really knew how to drop these irresolvable «Vexierbilder»:

«Der Wechsel von meßbarer und Schicksalszeit verwirrt den Betroffenen. Beide sind schwer unter einen Hut zu bringen, wie im Großen Astronomie und Astrologie, auch Naturwissenschaft und Theologie. Und doch ist das seit jeher möglich gewesen und wird immer wieder möglich sein.»

[The alteration of measurable time and time of fate confuses the involved one. They are difficult to pair, like in the big scale astronomy and astrology, also science and theology. But still it has forever been possible and will always again be possible; translation not by W.o.T.]

It is this side of Jünger which I despise: Jünger getting a bit lost in too big a scenario, not having the clarity of thought, more a feverish sound; like us here at the Wall of Time sometimes, admittedly. It is the sound somebody like Gottfried Benn, for example, did not particularly like, and, in attempting to translate German thought to English lingo, I begin to see why.

Dieser Beitrag ist auf Englisch, doch einiges an der Zeitmauer gibt es auch in der hervorragenden Kultur- und Verwaltungssprache Deutsch zu lesen.

1 comment:

  1. Nun... Jünger meint offensichtlich den Unterschied zwischen CHRONOS und KAIROS. "Schicksalszeit" ist seine Übersetzung von KAIROS.


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