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Translating Ghalib

Translating Ghalib

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Published by Vivek Iyer

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Published by: Vivek Iyer on Feb 13, 2012
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Prof. Shamsur Rahman Faruqi and translating Ghalib’s UrduGhazals 
Vivek Iyer
 Peri Hermêneias
, is usually called
'On Interpretation' 
or '
 Dei Interpretatione
'. I call it'
 About Translating' 
comes from
(the messenger god). In Xenophon's war stories,when a city is conquered, a
translates between the conquerors and the conquered
Prof. Steve Wexler. (Quoted from his web-site)'The origin of 
, amongst the ancient Greeks, may plausibly be traced to the delegationsscattered communities sent to witness the religious festivals of their more or less distant neighbours andthe spirited discussions that arose, upon their return, as to the meaning of what they had witnessed andthe light it threw upon their own hoary observances. It was from these simple origins that, like Athenain full armour from the brain of Zeus, the Panhellenic ethos sprang forth as the unsightly & highlyfucking annoying availability cascade of mindlessly putting up statues of naked dudes all over the placelike
was the solution to every problem. The pederasts, lurking in the vicinity of these statues,naturally got round to arguing about how to objectively compare dick sizes, thus inventing Geometry,Pythagoras, Plato and so on. Hermeneutics, however, was about war and colonization and acquiringslaves. The great service of 
to hermeneutics is that it first infantilizes a conquered people beforelicensing local pedants to like stop hanging round the playground already and go fuck 
in theass.'Kulapati A.K.47 Munshi. (Quoted from his Facebook page)'Our task is Metatronic not Hermeneutic- to command what is writ, not to uncover what was written-and, like Enoch, to have walked with the Logos to such good effect that, raptured by its irresistibleTranslation, twinned with Elijah as its 'wheel within the wheel', one is thereafter ever unanimous withevery
or even, mere, but thereby more ruinously dear, Bibliolatric indent or quotation'.Rev. Patti Obaweyo Golem. (Quoted from her Twitter against Pelosicare)‘The Indo-Persian Ghazal- metatronically instrumentalizing Ghazalli Major’s doxology of occassionalism and metaphorically orchestrating Ghazalli Minor’s orthopraxis of causationlessaetiology- renders, by such laser lighting up, the qasida’s
detemporalised and holographic suchthat though the Prophet gain the golden bough, all pious are idolators now .’Swami Vivek Ayyaar Ananda. (Quoted from his toilet paper
.)‘Ibn Arabi’s notion of 
- meditation on which might lead the student of Semantics, frominflationary but relativist bordism, through intensional but restive cohomology, to tremble upon thebrink of Reverse Mereology as the true
of Hermeneutics’ harvest sheaf- nathless, is but, at leastfor the sort of functors found in Ghalib’s Urdu Divan, intellectually quite bankrupt coz it hasn’t, like,bought me a drink already or showed any fucking sign of doing so any time soon .’Umer Sharif Liaqatabadi. (Quoted from a bootlegged ‘best of’ Video compilation circa 1997)‘The ethos of the Classical Ghazal, by reason of its delinquent and run-away status from a proper
divorce with respect to the thymotic
, derives ever thereafter from, the not virilelament, but raptured velleity of its author. Thus, what, following Aristotle, we might
its pathos isin fact logos.What sort of logos? One that defeats every merely self-consistent ordering principle whosediegetic tale of individuation cashes out as
drasanta pathein, pathei mathos-
all intentionality so tragic,Sorrow habilitates as Wisdom
Thus, our Mirza’s baroque and but patrimonially credentializing sabak-e-hindi ghazals affirm
 Ma’ni Afrini 
as a techne of ecstacy, the more truly proletarian for pauperising itsprogeny in advance.’Some-sad-M.F.A-fuckwit-or-other. (Quoted from said fuckwit’s Dissertation thesis on Scribd or otherequally dire & definitional cyber-topos of abject loserdom.)
Presentment of Englishry
I passed an exam, I paid a fee, I took an oath, I now am English. Yet, I feel, something is missing.Some clinching ‘presentment of Englishry’on my part.I know! How bout this?
 و ںیکست ٔاوخ جب لغ  ِ شح ن وی
ہ ہ ہ 
پ ب وخ م ِ صخ و فت ٔش
ہ ہ 
I’m sorry, perhaps I’m not being clear. Stupid me. (Apologizing is an English trait and assumingClarity to be a
thing, an English vice.)What I meant to say was-
kyūñ nah vaḥ shat-e ġhālib bāj-ḳhvāh-e taskīñ hokushtah-e-taġhāful ko ḳhaṣm-e ḳhūñ-bahā pāyā
Love-mad I evince, by Indifference murdered to be heardPeace hath a Prince! Tender weregeld She the WordStill not clear? I do most humbly apologize! (Shit, that’s a bit Babu, isn’t it? But, no, now I’m aBrit, I don’t
to apologize for my humble apologies except to show I just naturally
such agreat big gosh darned Brit, innit?)Look, to be as plain as possible, what I’m doing is quoting a coulet, rejected from Ghalib’s Divan,which, taken literally, means- 
Why shouldn’t Ghalib’s Madness turn out to be a 'Crowner' (levying fines to raise revenue) for the King of Tranquility? The one slain by the beloved’s indifference was found to be an enemy of thecustom of exacting blood-price.
But, this literal meaning also means Ghalib was some reprehensible species of wog, sand-nigger, or towel-head, rather than a perfectly gentlemanly and loyal subject of the Queen like wot I is.So- remember all this is still part of my ‘presentment of Englishry’- consider Deuteronomy 22-
If one be found slain in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it, lying in thefield, and it be not known who hath slain him:
Then thy elders and thy judges shall come forth, and they shall measure unto the cities which areround about him that is slain:
And it shall be, that the city which is next unto the slain man, even the elders of that city shall takean heifer, which hath not been wrought with, and which hath not drawn in the yoke;
And the elders of that city shall bring down the heifer unto a rough valley, which is neither earednor sown, and shall strike off the heifer's neck there in the valley:
And the priests the sons of Levi shall come near; for them the LORD thy God hath chosen tominister unto him, and to bless in the name of the LORD; and by their word shall every controversyand every stroke be tried:
And all the elders of that city, that are next unto the slain man, shall wash their hands over theheifer that is beheaded in the valley:
And they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it.
Be merciful, O LORD, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel's charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them.
So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when thou shalt do that which
is right in the sight of the LORD.
The longest chapter in the Holy Quran, the Surah Al Baqara- which for the followers of IbnArabi has a special ‘intermediate’ (
) status- takes its name from a heifer sacrificed on anoccasion where one present had falsely foresworn. The dead man, commonly believed to be theProphet Esdras, being struck by a part of the perished beast, came back to life to accuse his slayer.
And (remember) when Musa (Moses) said to his people: "Verily, Allah commands you that youslaughter a cow." They said, "Do you make fun of us?" He said, "I take Allah's Refuge from beingamong
(the ignorants or the foolish)."
They said, "Call upon your Lord for us that He may make plain to us what it is!" He said, "Hesays, 'Verily, it is a cow neither too old nor too young, but (it is) between the two conditions', so dowhat you are commanded."
They said, "Call upon your Lord for us to make plain to us its colour." He said, "He says, 'It is ayellow cow, bright in its colour, pleasing to the beholders.' "
They said, "Call upon your Lord for us to make plain to us what it is. Verily to us all cows arealike, And surely, if Allah wills, we will be guided."
He [Musa (Moses)] said, "He says, 'It is a cow neither trained to till the soil nor water the fields,sound, having no other colour except bright yellow.' " They said, "Now you have brought the truth."So they slaughtered it though they were near to not doing it.
And (remember) when you killed a man and fell into dispute among yourselves as to the crime.But Allah brought forth that which you were hiding.
So We said: "Strike him (the dead man) with a piece of it (the cow)." Thus Allah brings the deadto life and shows you His
(proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) so that youmay understand.
Then, after that, your hearts were hardened and became as stones or even worse in hardness. Andindeed, there are stones out of which rivers gush forth, and indeed, there are of them (stones) whichsplit asunder so that water flows from them, and indeed, there are of them (stones) which fall downfor fear of Allah. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.One final point- Ibn Arabi hints we ought to read this Surah with the intention of ‘joining theextremities to the center'- which is why it is relevant that, in English law, ‘Presentment of Englishry’refers to evidence proffered the Crowner that the murdered man was English, not foreign, thusniether slaughter of kine nor pecuniary fine is meet for the World to wag on as before.
Concerning Wogs
Why, just now, right at this moment, is it vital we demotically translate, or at least deracinatedlytranscreate, Ghalib's Urdu Divan- that literary conspectus, but also Vulture Fund prospectus, of adoomed dialect's facility for centrifuging concinnity- that too, today of all days?I mean, to Iraq and Afghanistan, the last few hours have just added Libya.So, why fucking bother?There is a good answer to this question.Indubitably there is. Definitely.Well, okay, for all I know, sure- why not?- there might be..What is certain is you won't find it here.Try this instead. The film 'Babe' has shown how the winsome charm of a wannabe sheep-pig can rescueProgressivism from its own Animal Farm. This changes our reception of 
- the Indo-Persian poetic sty- emboldening us to ask if, like Master Ramachandra's contribution toMathematics, Ghalib's Urdu Divan was not merely a vernacular algebra's supple mimesis of theheavy machinery of a foreign calculus whose forced importation, that too at punitive cost, wasthereby rather eased than forestalled?

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