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I must confess to you something: I no longer remember your face. I remember, vividly, every moment that passed between us, all the expressions which must have passed across that face, all the backdrops which framed it. The wind which tugged the hair across that face’s forehead. The shadows which crossed it, obscuring features I once feared, then knew, then forgot. In every memory your face is obscured. My attempts to summon you are an infinite gallery of redundant portraiture, one study done over and over until the colours bleed together. This is where my mind lives. I can see all the frames, but it is as if someone has scrubbed out every face. I cannot make it cohere, the whole picture. What did your eyebrows look like? Your nose? Your chin, did your chin stick out far? I cannot say. I glimpse small impressions from which I lack the faculty of mind to be able to reconstruct the whole. I glimpse a caution in your eyes gradually dissolving into ease over the course a mile of talking; an endearing twitch in your nose that gave me the impression you must experience smells more vividly than the rest of us; a pale collage of bruises dripping blood. Even excluding this last, I cannot for the life of me make these glimpses add up to a face. I remember there was no trace that ease left in your eyes the last time you told me you would be okay. It had become a mantra, the assertion. You told me you would be okay, which proved misleading. This frantic attempt to regain the image of your face consumes most of my hours, a whirlwind in my mind always. I remember you smiling, and my leaning in and halting that smile, warmly. I remember knowing the exact dimensions of your face, the smile and everything else. I cling to the memory of knowing. I remember holding your hand in the quiet buzz of the hospital, though you know nothing of this, in essence you were already gone, you had already written your letter. At the wake I remember speaking to people I did not know, whom I could not believe you knew, telling them with alternating numbness and hysteria that I would always remember your face. Which proved misleading.

Added by Édouard U.
Updated 10 minutes ago

Torn from one culture to another:

  • At the center of many of her narratives is a young woman straddling two cultures, unsure which to call her own. (NYT)

  • Anh is stateless in the sense that most thinking persons are stateless today

  • Rather, she merges and fluctuates, blends in and survives, rather like a creature that takes on the color of her environment—only to remain finally distinct and vulnerable in the keenest sense.(Brooklyn Rail)

  • Why write in two languages? When Ms. Tawada writes in Japanese, she says, she feels that she is writing in translation. Yet when writing in German, her daily spoken language, she suddenly feels restrained. If we take her word for it, both languages present difficulties unknown to monolingual writers. (NY Sun) note: forked tongues

  • ** She has a play, "Till," published in 1998 in German but performed in both countries, about Japanese tourists in Germany. They speak Japanese, while the people around them speak German — alternate halves of the cast are intelligible, depending on what continent the play is performed. Only a bilingual tour guide, apparently, keeps the play coherent. (NY Sun)

  • Several stories take up the problems of translation directly. "The Bath," translated from the Japanese, concerns a simultaneous translator, living in Germany, who suffers a breakdown. (NY Sun)

  • She calls two very different cultures home. Her finest stories dramatize the fate of the individual in mobilized world. (NY Post)

  • We travel not in order to find ourselves, but to sort out our multiples selves. (NY Post) Note: A. Kleeman re: the body

  • "I once read that the soul cannot fly as fast as an airplane," Schwartz quotes Yoko Tawada, writing of moving from Japan to Germany. "Therefore one always loses one's soul on an airplane journey, and arrives at one's destination in a soulless state." (LA Times)

  • neither one of them nor an outsider (YouTube Boston U)

  • "I'm looking for a language that does not exist. It's not J its not G but because they are so far away, there's a big space between the Japanese and German languages. I play within this space and looking for the language that's not existing..."

  • "the text is like a life. It must live longer and some texts need translations...the transformations."

  • "Why I like Kafka, he wrote about animals but also machines. M and aA are something related to human beings but different. Opp to see human beings from the outside. Identifying with animals is a challenge. I read in the newspapers about Polar Bears in Berlin that were so funny. Knut mother Tosca lost her maternal instinct because she worked in socialism in East Germany. Or when Knut died he has a genetic programming in the brain. Someone wrote that nature is not human. Mother does not accept the son when they are handicapped. that's all about us and society and how human beings understand themselves, not animals."

Added by Meg Miller
Updated 26 minutes ago