I was thinking about how to maintain the balance between that kind of witty formality and high whimsy that occurs in Morimi’s prose. Thinking back on how I dealt with the small bit of Tatami Galaxy that I translated – I went into a full Romanticist style tone over there – which doesn’t seem to fit. Too many hardy Latinate words appeared and made it too stiff. There’s that kind of flavor in Morimi, but there’s also the other extent.
So, in order to prepare myself for the translation of this extremely somewhat beautiful, somewhat witty, somewhat kawaii, somewhat whimsical excerpt from YoruMiji – I studied up the prose rhythm of the masters. I flipped through Alice in Wonderland because Alice sounds slightly formal despite being totally childish – and I flipped through God of Lovely Prose Ray Bradbury – especially his story called The April Witch.
“Yes!” cried Cecy. “I’ve never danced. I want to dance. I’ve never worn a long gown, all rustly. I want that. I want to dance all night. I’ve never known what it’s like to be in a woman, dancing; Father and Mother would never permit it. Dogs, cats, locusts, leaves, everything else in the world at one time or another I’ve known, but never a woman in the spring, never on a night like this. Oh, please – we must go to that dance!”
I also poked out some of Harper’s Monologue from Angels in America.
Trying to balance out the formal Romantic style ornate prose, with the less formal whimsical Alice speech, with the even less formal tremendously poetic Ray Bradbury speech was quite a challenge – but I think that the intersection of those voices is where Morimi lies.
By the way, if there’s anyone who knows Chinese & wants to read it before the movie comes out – the Chinese translation is over here.
Reading back on the translation, I realized that if you say おともだちパンチ!! out loud, it sounds like something that you might hear an anime girl scream while waving her fist in the air. And ‘Friendship Fist’ totally doesn’t have the same feeling.
Perhaps you would know what a “❤ World Happy Punch! ❤” is?
If – that period comes about where a fine visitation of an iron-fist upon the soft muscular of a near human’s cheek must be realized, we grit our fists. I shall illustrate it for you. Kindly witness the thumb, left on the outside to enclose the fist – namely, the other four fingers… stuck together like metal fittings while locked in by that mechanism. The fact of this thumb is what charges up the fist, ensuring that this fellow’s cheek and pride shall undergo a full pulverization until not an unstained locale is left. There is that ever so important expression left to us in history that “violence begets violence” – and with this thumb as the starting point, may we find the flames of our hate spreading outwardly into the fields of the world, and in that soon forthcoming madness and despair – shall all of our most lovely and beautiful be placed into the gutters without a single exception.
But, witness here – that this fist may be released with the thumb caught within the other four. With this, our fist of manly braggadocio has changed in its character – pealing into the invitingly precious smile of a little kitten, striking out its little paws with lovable fancy. Such a fist is a playful jest, and the charged knuckles of hate are warmed into a state furthest from that meanery. Thus, we are freed from this noxious chain of cause and effect – Peace & Goodwill belongs back to men – and we have protected our loveliness ever more slightly.
“When you hide your thumb in your palm like this… Everything – all that tightness and brickness – becomes treasure. Do you know what’s inside that thumb? Curled so gently… it’s the smallest thing in the whole big world. It’s ❤LOVE❤.”
She explained it like that.
She a small girl when she was initiated into the ways of the ❤ World Happy Punch! ❤ by her big sister – who explained it like this:
“Listen closely. A maiden must NEVER swing an iron fist. But just look here – the world is so large and all saints & gentlemen fit into a space smaller than a thimble! And just look at the stinkroad immoralists and dunderheads that are left behind! And let’s not even talk about the dunderheaded immoralists! So, there may be times when you are just so tempted to sock them a good one… but here’s a secret for those hard pinches. Use it well. A tight bricky fist is a fist without Love, but a ❤ World Happy Punch! ❤ is a fist with ❤Love!❤. With this one punch full to the brimming with ❤LOVE❤ – striking out into the big bad world out there – we’ll knock them all – one two three – back into the prim & proper! We’ll be living with daintiness & elegance – And we’ll open the world – all the way up – up up into Loveliness!”
Opening the world back up into Loveliness. That idea stuck deep inside her heart.
And she held the power – the ❤ World Happy Punch! ❤ – in the palm of her hand.
For fun, I tried to translate over the first paragraph of the April Witch. Although I have less trust in my ability to write Japanese vs my ability to read it. And I don’t have that much trust in the latter already.
Into the air, over the valleys, under the stars, above a river, a pond, a road, flew Cecy. Invisible as new spring winds, fresh as the breath of clover rising from twilight fields, she flew. She soared in doves as soft as white ermine, stopped in trees and lived in blossoms, showering away in petals when the breeze blew. She perched in a limegreen frog, cool as mint by a shining pool. She trotted in a brambly dog and barked to hear echoes from the sides of distant barns. She lived in new April grasses, in sweet clear liquids rising from the musky earth.