Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Trope in the 'Dictionary of Untranslatables'

 This may be the indispensable book.  I have said that poetry is what is lost in translation and that what cannot be translated is not philosophy.  Does dipping into this book cure me as I watch for semantic churning?  There, I have uttered a trope, but not a trope as philosophers know it.  In my naive way I see the polymorphic perversity of the development of it.  Tropein/to turn as in heliotrope, heliotropic, ‘entropy’ - en trope/ a transformation.  A figure of speech by an alteration captures our attention.  In philosophy our head is turned as we attend to a quality, an attribute, and generally instances.  This, in the charming French manner of the faintly invidious, is referred to as Anglo-Saxon philosophy.  Sweet the Anglo-Saxon primer.  Press that bulb 12 times, pull the cord  5 times and  you will chain out ‘quality bits’, ‘individualised forms’, ‘unit properties’, ‘particularised qualities’.  There is more, much more and are we to regret this trope on trope?

“Williams’s initiative, further extended by K. Campbell, is clearly unfortunate and all the more inexplicable in that the word “trope,” n English just as in French, refers to a figure of speech. But today it ould be impossible to go against this usage, given the currency of the expression in the philosophical literature.” (Alain de Libera on ‘Trope’)

My last point is pronunciation:  Is it trope/dope or trope/prop to rhyme.  The second is more Greek and correct by the S.C.R.  Both have possibilities as limerick stuff.

As a prop the book could be carried about with tassel-like post-it notes with question marks on them, ‘quite so’, ‘hmm but’, ‘moral idiot’ (Proust).  Flann O’Brien’s Buchhandlung service has advanced reader notes which might be appropriate but dangerous in the wrong hands.  ‘Dismal sciolism’ in red ink on the margins of a note on theory?  Tricky but not impossible.

No comments: