By Sanford Budick, Wolfgang Iser
Those essays—which think of a large choice of cultures from historical Egypt to modern Japan— describe the stipulations less than which cultures that don't dominate one another could but in attaining a restricted translatability of cultures.
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Extra resources for The Translatability of Cultures: Figurations of the Space Between (Irvine Studies in the Humanities)
Syncretistic translation renders the com mon background visible. It presupposes a fundamental unity beyond alll cultural diversities. A s far as theology is concerned, this unity is guaranteed! by the oneness of the w o r l d . The world or cosmos serves as the ultimate] referent for the diverse divinities. We may compare the unity of syncretism, which is founded on the cosmos, with the unity of anthropology, whic is founded on "human nature" ("die Einheit des Menschengeistes," as T h o m a s M a n n called it).
Yet the experience of this potentiality by individuals, alone and side by side, is an impelling force of w h a t w e call culture. It may be that a crisis experience of such secondary differentiations is implicit in Coleridge's famous description (in Biographia Literaria, chap ter 13) of an ideal "primary imagination"—identified with the divine, ab solute Self or "infinite I A M " — w h i c h must in effect be set aside for the secondary imagination" by which w e live. Whatever Coleridge meant by the relation of "primary" to "secondary imagination," it is clear in his re marks on the functioning of a secondary imagination that its divestiture of the self's projections of symbolic wholeness—as if in the creation of an other—amounts to a crisis theory of imagination.
8 We can distinguish three types of cultural translation: "syncretis-| tic translation" or translation into a third language/culture; "assimilatory translation" or translation into a dominating language/culture; anc "mutual translation" within a network of (economic/cultural) exchanges. " T h e different divinities are not just "translated" into each other but into a third and overarching one which forms some thing like a c o m m o n background. Syncretistic translation renders the com mon background visible.