Translating the "No Man"
On the premise that language is untranslatable a priori into another (Ricoeur), this essay suggests that the task of the translator is not only to translate what words express, but likewise what they do not express. The translation of the expressionless word (Benjamin) leads the translator into the realm of the self, imagined vis-à-vis language and culture. It is through the imagination that the self encounters the non-self (Fichte), i.e. the expressionless self that complements the expressed self. The ultimate task of translation—it is thus argued—equally requires the translation of the non-self, i.e. the poetization (Novalis) of the human confined in exact language. Poetization—the dynamic act of overcoming oneself—discovers the untranslatable, irrational, non-self uttering the expressionless word. Translation as poetization frees language from being deceived by itself, and the self from being confined in language.