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In Walter Benjamins The Task of the translator we are not simply given a theory of translation, a general theory of understanding

which comes about through the process of translation. In Benjamins distinction between good and bad translation and in his explanation of the reason for the endurance translation we see the translator elevated to an exalted status similar to the one in which the metaphysical tradition had reserved for the philosopher. Benjamin describes the goal of translation pire language in heavily philosophical terms, but pure language is not to be thought of as a form, as something which may be reached, it is rather an impossible utopia. But in bearing witness to the open-ended infinity of the process of translation Benjamins theory can be seen as a remedy in the face of the deconstruction of the metaphysical tradition. It is the process of translation itself and not its goal which gives it its substance. The process of good translation is one in which the translator allows himself to be powerfully affected by the foreign tongue, this--as opposed to bad translation, which is in effect the sterile equation of two dead tonguesis the process by which pure language is hinted at and it is the reason for the necessity of continuous re-translation. In explaning himself in heavily philosophical terms, and by elevating the translator to a similar position as that of the philosopher Benjamins theory of the translator can also be seen as a new way of understanding the ways of truth and of understanding other cultures and languages.

"Translation, is so far removed from being the sterile equation of two dead languages that of all literary forms it is the one charged with the special mission of watching over the maturing process of the original language and the birth pangs of its own." 73 For Benjamin there can be good translation and there can be bad translation. Bad translation can be seen as the sterile equation of two dead tongues. It is the process in which all that is sought after in translation is a literal translation of meaning into the translators own language while effectively preserving his own language all the while, without any attempt to expand it. This si the basic error of the translator that he preserves the state in which his own language happens to be instead of allowing his language to be powerfully affected by the foreign tongue (81). If this is all the translator seeks after his language will remain in an isolated, static, and exclusionary state. But this is not at all as it should be, language cannot come to a stand still, it is in a constant state of becoming, and thus we need a theory of translation which accommodates this.

Language is in fact very much alive and it is the act of translation which gives works an afterlife and lends to their exalted status. Benjamin writes that "[t]he idea of life and afterlife in works of art should be regarded with an entirely unmetaphorical objectivity" (71). In explaining translation in such terms, Benjamin seems to be suggesting that translation can somehow lead to objective truth and

that this process alone has access to it. But the truth which is hinted at through translation is not the same as the objective truth of the metaphysical tradition. The objective truth which Benjamin suggests can rather be seen as a replacement or a remedy to the ailing metaphysical form of truth. As some explains:
"literary theorists now suddenly find themselves in exactly the same foundational difficulty what once lead to the end of metaphysics, because the search for an ever-changing meta-observer falls victim to the logic of an infinite regress. And a fusion of the language of translation with interpretational theory -- as recommended by both Benjamin and Davidson -- seems to be a reliable remedy against this infinite regress of foundation (and hence substantiation)." 101

Explained in this way Benjamins view of translation can be seen as an accommodation to the elusiveness and constant becoming of truth and language. Rather than reserving truth to a meta-observer or to some objective form, truth is not seen as a goal but as something which is hinted at in the act of translation. It is no longer a question of what or why but of how. What Benjamin sees is how translation works suggests that its goal is undeniably a final, conclusive, decisive stage of all linguistic creation...[but that] it cannot live there permanently, to be sure, and it cetainly does not reach it in its entirety. Yet in a singular impressive manner, at least points the way to this region: the predestined, hitherto inaccessible realm of reconcilliation and fulfillment of languages (75). This realm of the reconciliation of langauages which takes the place of objective truth, but which is never reached is called pure language and how it is sought after is through the process of translation which is considered good translation if the translator allows himself to be powerfully affected by the foreign tongue.

Benjamin operates under the assumption that a translation always intends more than any one translation taken on its own can possibly convey. This is not merely a result of the methodical inadequacy of translation but rather, if seen as the search for an elusive and exalted goal, of understanding across cultures, it is this infinite inadequacy which gives rise to the possibility of understanding. To this effect Benjamin writes: all suprahistorical kinship betwen languages rests in the intention underlying each language as a whole--an intention, however, which no single language can attain by itself but which is realized only by the totality of their intention supplementing each other: pure language (74). If one goes about translation on the proper manner, if one considers deeply the intention of what he is translating, if he thinks of this meaning as something beyond what his own language as it now is can convey, and if he thus seeks to accommodate, supplement, and compliment the other language by coming up with novel and creative ways of expressing in his own language what the other intends, this is the proper form of translation and it lends to the gradual actualization of the potential of the translation.

Thus the translation is elevated to a position of the utmost exhaltation in that it is the one charged with the special mission of watching over the maturing process of the original language and the birth pangs of its own" (73). Translation is thus seen as the process by which a more true and pure language comes into being and is constantly coming into being. This is not merely a theory of translation but a theory of understanding itself. The Taks of the Translator, discusses the faculty of understanding, and more precisely: the understanding of an otherof another person, of another text, and/or cultural phenomena as translations. (guy, 98). It is in our earnest attempts to understand the other which enables us to go beyond the bounds of our own culture and language in an attempt to arrive at a new language which in bearing witness to the differences across cultures actually accommodates and supplements them and lends itself to a general language of understanding. This is why it is so important for the translator to allow his language to be powerfully affected by the foreign tongue (81). The nessecity to translate signifies a more exalted language than [the translators] own and thus remains unsuited to its content, overpowering and alien (75). A translation will always remain unsuited to its content, but it is the very notion that the translation is inadequate, that it intends more than can be conveyed, tat it is in a constant state of flux, that lends to its exalted status as something above us. It is a power over and above us so long as it remains alien to us, it is until the decaying barriers between languages have been broken down, until we have arrived at pure language that the process os translation must go on and must go on properly. Pure laguage will never be reached but in suggesting this as the goal of translation Benjamin provides us with a new theory of understanding which is defined by its process rather than by its goal.