Janko Polić Kamov – Prelude

kamov psvoka coverJanko Polić Kamov – Prelude

translated by Martin Mayhew

I will rape you, blank paper, virginal paper;
my passion is huge and you will barely stand it;
you flee my fury and you are pale with horror;
a kiss on your pallor – my kisses are black.

There is no law above you and for me the laws are dead;
I run from them and my escape is speedy;
I passed that way, where bowed napes grovel,
where dogs celebrate orgies and licking is their lechery.

You flee, shy doe, and you tremble like the first shame;
innocence is bewitching and madness is its echo;
I am wild, oh paper, and anger burns in my eye.

The people are pious and their tails are between their legs;
there is no sincerity in their eyes and their walk is drifting;
their job is sniffing around and their wages are rich;
there is no place amongst them and my word is punishable;
I swallow my thoughts and shame will choke me.

Stop, my love, listen to my pain;
you accept the word of man and the ass has not yet understood man;
oxen pull a plough and servitude brings them hay;
a little horse carries a boyar and its hair is shiny;
a hog is being fed richly and its meat is appetising:
the laws are slight and strict and the barns are crammed with oats.

Do not flee, kissed girl, there is no woman for me;
they don’t give themselves up for nervous kisses and tense complexion;
oh I have no gold, nor is there any diploma without it.

I love you, paper, and my love is warm;
warm like my blood and wild like my anger.
Give yourself to me forever – my kisses are black;
black are my kisses, and ruddy is the blood in them.

****

Translation – all rights reserved © Martin Mayhew

‘Preludij’ was first published in ‘Psvoka’ in 1907.

U potrazi sam za sponzorstvom ili drugim oblikom financijske potpore kao i prikladnog izdavača (za tisak knjige ili e-book verzije) kako bih završio svoj prijevod svih djela Janka Polića Kamova. Na prijevodu sam njegovih djela s hrvatskog na engleski jezik radim od 2012. godine. Tijekom tog procesa stvaram jedinstveni rječnik fraza i arhaičnih riječi koje Kamov koristi u svojim djelima, kao odraz i osobnog autorskog stila ali i vremena u kojem je pisao. Taj bi se rječnik mogao koristiti od strane budućih prevoditelja zainteresiranih za ovo značajno razdoblje hrvatske književnosti.
Molim vas, kontaktirajte me ako ste zainteresirani.

Janko Polić Kamov – Lacerba, 1913

In the 15th June 1913 issue of the Italian literary journal ‘Lacerba’ there appeared a page of maxims entitled ‘Accenni’ attributed to one ‘Gian Paolo’.

‘Lacerba’ was published in Florence from 1913-1915, edited by Giovanni Papini and was associated with the emerging Futurist movement. This particular issue amongst others also featured pieces by leading figures such as Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Ardengo Soffici, Max Jacob and even an illustration by Pablo Picasso.

Kamov’s text appeared alongside the works of Pablo Picasso, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Ardengo Soffici.

Vladimir Čerina, an exponent of Kamov, was also a contributer. It was most likely under his auspices that these fragments of Kamov’s maxims were included under the pseudonym of ‘Gian Paolo’, in ‘Lacerba’ in 1913 three years after his death. Čerina had alluded to their publication in his study of Kamov published earlier in the same year, although they were not properly authenticated until the mid-1980s by Tonko Maroević and Dragutin Tadijanović.

***

Gian Paolo – Accenni

translated by Martin Mayhew from the Croatian translations of Tonko Maroević

A good way to forgive someone who is angry at us because of some non-existent insult is to really insult them.

If a man just wants to grow old and remain permanently healthy there is no more useful exercise nor better exposure to the fresh air than begging.

The greatest number of fatherly and nitpicker’s advice resembles the sign on certain entrances: “Closed”, and which cannot be read when the door is open and the doorframe is up against the wall.

Within human contradictions there already exists man’s belief that there are none.

I was infuriated by of the noises that people were making below my window and I only fell asleep again when I found out that they were horses.

On one foot life wears a cothurnus, whilst on the other a clown’s slipper.

The one who is carrying the lamp will stumble sooner than the one who is following him.

The wheel of fortune transports the upright but breaks the bones of the recumbent.

I cannot imagine anything more insane than our life, our Earth, our people and our comprehension of this insanity.

The ancient, incurable cancer of philosophy: contrary to the misconception of ordinary people who believe that they understand something just because they see it, it, however, assumes that it sees something just by thinking about it.

At the moment of death there is no more extravagance because death is the ultimate extravagance.

Dying one doesn’t recognise the present only the future and the past.

In their most sublime notions philosophers always describe a single circular line; I however happily note their arrangements as architects mark the lavatories on the ground plan of some building, it’s like a circle with a dash… Each one has a dash which serves as a handle.

I (perceived empirically) detest myself (perceived absolutely), the dreadful demagogue who resides inside me.

If decapitation did not deprive life, nobody would worry about it.

Man’s eternal hunger, the insatiableness of his heart, does not seek more abundant food but more varied, in other words, it wants a meal instead of just grazing.

To a dumb animal the world represents a unique impression, and in the absence of two it doesn’t even know to count to one.

Spiritual beings are similar to the physical who, according to the opinion of ancient Romans, had to touch the Earth in order to learn how to speak.

It is easier to sacrifice oneself for people than to love them.

Clothes are a weapon which beauties fight with; and, like soldiers, they discard them as soon as they are defeated.

Great spirits begin to despise themselves first of all.

Rather than his duty man does more than his duty.

The greatest blessing of philosophy is not that it makes us happy when we are in distress but when we are happy.

If Miss Robinson Crusoe found herself on a deserted island with no one else but her own reflection in the water, she would nevertheless make and wear the latest fashionable clothes every day.

****

Translation – all rights reserved © Martin Mayhew

Note: The 15th June 1913 issue of ‘Lacerba’ can be found for sale on the Internet and I have only come across the front page and not the page featuring Kamov’s ‘Accenni’. If a copy is available I would very much like to see it in order to compare and back translate the Italian versions with the Croatian, and therefore improve my English versions.

Janko Polić Kamov – Edgar Allan Poe

Janko Polić Kamov – Poe

Translated by Martin Mayhew

Turgenjev brings tears to our eyes; Maupassant tickles our lips; Poe makes our hair stand on end: the first grabs us by the heartstrings, the second by the spirit, the third by the nerves.

Tears, a smile and a chill – those are their comments, and not erudition. Because erudition is just the comment of comments and one hair of a sensitive intellectual is more competent in the understanding of Poe, than all the dissertations of bald professors.

To me Poe appears like an ominous bird, which has flown over the mute field of our inner self; and when it plunged somewhere into space, it left a shadow of its great, black wings behind itself. Or even like the memory of a cat’s eyes in the dark; of a dog’s tucked under tail on a deserted road; of a snake’s tongue on a scorched cliff; of the ridge of a dolphin on an oily surface and of the shadows of the deceased that pull us by the legs in a dream.

And this is why Poe is mysterious – because of the fear irrational like all beauty and mysticism, living buried in the hands of our psyche, where in the glory of the Absurd they were also born.

Poe’s life was quite miserable so even a Croatian literate could envy him. He was born in Baltimore[1], in the North American state of Maryland[2], which we only know about because of tobacco. He was educated in England; he attended university in America, causing trouble, until they drove him out. He went to Greece, to fight for freedom like Lord Byron, and some would say that he also went Saint Petersburg like Stjepan Radić. He returned to America and enrolled at the war academy, but instead of a general he just became – a journalist. His foster father died not leaving him two pennies to rub together, because on account of his boozing he was not worthy of his charity. He published a collection of poems – which went unnoticed. He became well-known only with the tale ‘MS. Found in a Bottle’, which secured him the prize as “the first of geniuses, who had written legibly”. From then on he worked at other people’s journals always imagining an independent newspaper, about which we know not, whether he had in mind to call it The Rooster or something else. He married his cousin Virginia, who then died of consumption.

Whereupon he hit the bottle, even joining the “temperance society” like all alcoholics. He was engaged for a second time, however the engagement was called off, and aged 40 they found him at the door of one drinking den penniless, with no baptismal certificate and incoherent. And as such he died in hospital in a state of “delirium tremens”.

*

Aubrey Beardsley’s portrait of Poe.

Poe’s drunkenness has already become universally known and is more popular here today than his works. However this is does not surprise us, being that the English breed is also very well-known for its “totality of inebriation”. It is known that Shakespeare was a drunk, about whom it is still not known today whether he “as such” even existed at all. And maybe the actor Edmund Kean too was a drunk just because of an anecdote, which they circulated about him.

However, Poe himself also wrote somewhere: “science has not yet shown nor proven, whether all of this is eminently and deeply the consequence of mental illness”.[3] Whilst his exponent Charles Baudelaire: “A part of that, which today makes up, when we read Poe, our pleasure, killed him”. Did therefore this poet of the death rattle and horror, of living graves and corpses look into the glass for inspiration or oblivion – the enjoyment of vulgarity or the pleasures of the aesthetes?

It is a question, which can quite duly remain a question. However, this alcoholic has not one rakija drinker’s, compassionate little tear; not one shouter’s tendency of our tendentiously moral and drunken Croatia.

And even if his stories are like an event of fantasy, nevertheless they are narrated with a devastating logic and realism, which also makes up – at least for us – the essence of Poe’s art: i.e. Poe also uncovers the logic of the absurd – and hands us his fantasies like a verist.

Alphonse Legros – Illustration for ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’ 1861

How and why did Berenice’s teeth become ideas? Because Egaeus sees only them, he senses only them and thinks only about them. Is this not really the palpable logic of all fixed ideas?… Yet when that prisoner (‘The Pit and the Pendulum’) sees, how the deadly scythe descends to cut him in half like a saveloy, he is amused with the thought, what kind of sound might be produced in his auditory nerve – the slitting of the cloth… But this is such a simple psychological verism that really each and every man is able to experience it. Because you don’t exactly have to be under the pressure of a deadly scythe, to come to such a thought: you could also be under the pressure of diarrhoea, that drives you down the street and you are afraid of its effect like a prisoner is of death… So, you count the windows and storeys or you are entertained by the smell, that is already touching your nose…

Illustration for Poe’s ‘The Black Cat’ by Aubrey Beardsley, from Brighton, England. Click on pic for link to all his drawings.

The hero of ‘The Black Cat’ starts an evil deed, for which Poe has just a couple for lines; yet one feeling or thought before the act or after the act he describes over pages… Just as every deed (we can identify that with our most ordinary loves) – has its “maximum” of the spiritual life and psychological analysis in that “ante” and “post” – in motives and reflections – whilst in the very act – its “minimum”. However, when the same hero of ‘The Black Cat’ or ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ considers on the spot all the circumstances, he proves just that, that in great moments our intellect (like reasoning and calculation) in momentary ecstasy and tension just so, because our soul is, like emotion and feeling, absent. And so intellect can act and work – unconscionably.

 

 

Beardsley’s drawing for ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ Click on pic for more.

And the sounds, that manifest in the howling of the whirlwind, that swirls around Usher’s house – the sounds of darkness, mysteries and graves – and the beating of a heart buried in a carcass under the wooden floor (‘The Tell-Tale Heart’), which is getting stronger, always stronger – all of these sounds in all of their monstrous potentiality to us as to normal people are also all too well known. That the silence echoing in our ears like the clatter of cargo wagons and that that echo gets noisier the quieter we are – everyone knows, who has tried to listen to – the silence. And the man, who sings in seclusion at night at the top of his voice, thus drowning out only the echoes, which they fear with his sense of hearing coming from our bottomless soul. So that one also sees the fantasy, who looks into the darkness and inevitably reveals the logic of the absurd, if he has not absolutely peered into Đuro Arnold’s ‘Logic’ and ‘Psychology’.

These few random examples (and the book is full of all of them) become even more remarkable, when we place them under Poe’s artistic credo: that “modern – educational fiction” is namely the main heresy. And because Poe also had an artist’s conscience and an artist’s disposition, he did not infect his stories with tendentiousness and instructiveness, which makes a street poster of art, where that painted monkey with the painted bottle makes an advertisement for Volani Refosco and lye.

Poster for Volani’s Lye (Volanijeva-lužina)

So, today Poe is more modern than ever. His “art of nerves for nerves” has perhaps paved those paths where French poetry has gone with such elegance, which is generally called “symbolism”. That poetry, namely, full more with sensitivity than feelings, more taciturn and less emotional, which being scared and crying has written verses pale, gentle and hazy like the mists, that obscure our eyes, our mountains and our universe… However, Poe spent more time being scared than crying.

Poe was frightening. And so he also paved newer ways, down which that dramatist André de Lorde is going, this – what’s his name Albert Sorel – “the distiller of anxiety and the alchemist of uneasiness”, and Henri de Régnier “the terrorist”. And in this frightening and terrifying Poe’s tears probably drowned in a torrent of deathly sweat.

Poe has remained the poet of fear.

So as Silvije Strahimir Kranjčević captured a tear with the vulgar alcoholics and everyday spinsters of literature for those who still have no moustaches nor stomachs; as Chekhov captured laughter with the Auguste clowns and cinema of literature for those, who long ago had already grown both moustaches and a stomach – so Poe captured the horror in religion and the circus and from it made an artistic sensation, which everyone might enjoy, if they have that “artist’s ability”, which “ages” our old and young – as they consciously and arrogantly only emphasise – they don’t have!

Punat, 7.IV.1910

[1] Boston
[2] Massachusetts
[3] “science has not yet taught us if madness is or is not the sublimity of the intelligence”.

Translation – all rights reserved © Martin Mayhew

NB: Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898) was an illustrator and author, born in Brighton, England.

Janko Polić Kamov – Beneath the aeroplane


BENEATH THE AEROPLANE

(impressions)
Translated by Martin Mayhew

Italy is flying: in Turin, Milan, Verona, Naples, Bologna and – on page three of the newspapers. Horse, automobile and cycling races (all of these are a daily occurrence, and the cycling one has been annoying the whole peninsula for a week, or two) are interesting, but they aren’t thrilling. The ground is dust, when it isn’t muddy, even if it is asphalted. Humanity, symbolised as a reptile, is now looking for a symbol in the bird, and the 20th century is beginning to spread its energies into the air, as the 19th had spread them on the ground and beneath it.

Bleriot’s monoplane

On seeing the first aeroplane, Blériot’s elegant, light and I would say slender monoplane, which passed over the top of my head with the racket of an automobile and the ease of a white bird with spread wings – I had the impression of simplicity, harmony and naïveté. And an impression of piousness. I did not flinch not even for an instant: it would fall on my head; as I believed, when it rushed past, white, on the green grass, to take off. Faith is great, because it is young, as in those who were watching the Assumption, as the old painters particularly the mighty Titian show us. Even the scene is the same.

That man, dressed from head to foot like a diver who dives into space, gives the impression of a captain, of the greatest absolutist and a solitary autocrat on board and at sea. When he climbs into his aeroplane, the whole audience fixate their eyes on him, wondering: ‘Would we do it? Wouldn’t we? Is it the right time? Isn’t it?’ When this one man flies, everyone around flies. His ‘passion for space’, his craving now for height, for the caper, for speed, for the battle with the wind – the throng also senses it, in the eyes that are rising. And this throng of aristocrats to plebeians, of old men to little boys – is just a single child in front of the same wonder with the same emotion. And if the aeroplane cannot take off, the throng suffers just like the aviator; to us it seems: ‘we’re not able to fly – the machine has broken down and we are denied a joy’. And when the machine is damaged, everyone cries inside…

Frenchman Louis Paulhan.

It is not like that at the circus: a chilling sensation, curiosity and astonishment. In front of the birdman the audience is a child; our spirit senses the height, the clouds, space; we are elated, not irritated; something cools us down, like a midnight breeze, when we watch the stars; we are sad and glad, like when we lie on our backs, with our eyes immersed in the deep blueness: and above all: we sense the bliss of a smile, innocence, freedom.

Maybe it is because, that by looking at the aeroplane, we are looking at the sky? That because of it we have begun to observe the unspoilt beauty of space, where not even the birds leave a trace? That inside us it awakens stories about transparent fairies that emerged from the mist of Slavic fields, like a Greek goddess from the foam of the sea? Or even because it reminds us of an eagle’s flight, envied by the captive of Sarajevo, the worldly spirit Silvije Kranjčević?… Or because the aeroplane is a white traveller in the heights, like a cloud, which returns to the earth? And like a cloud it can be likened to a sigh, and sighs fly either in the sky or its reflection – the sea…

A gondola endures the most intense embrace and kiss; an automobile, as well as a train, is irritating like an animal with its rough friction, contact and throwing about; but in an aeroplane lovers will probably only have the grasp of hands, the most sublime, deepest and finest expression of love. Yet the kisses are an illusion, the embrace a moment, like lust, and eyes the more deceptive, the more beautiful they are.

II

Aerial navigation (and flight is navigation!) has spread nationwide, since international contests have been more frequent.

Today the automobile is just a servant to the aeroplane and actually performs the duty of a lackey, a male nurse, an assistant. And look, after just a few years it has become the public ‘omnibus’, vulgarised and democratised. Le Matin newspaper, which had initiated that Peking-Paris trip, will now initiate one across France, but – by aeroplane. A year or two ago the Itala and Barzini’s automobile travelogue thrilled us, but now – we’ve already forgotten about them. Centuries are becoming years and we live by the second.

Luigi Barzini and Scipione Borghese won the 1907 Peking-Paris race in an Itala automobile.

Italy has four aerial contests at the same time, and for the duration of the international exposition, as a celebration of Italian unification, there will be a flight from Turin to Rome and back. Reading the less up to date Italian newspapers, you sense, how national megalomania or patriotism is suffering, because in Verona Cattaneo (an Italian) lags behind the Frenchman Paulhan, whilst in Bologna Vivaldi is behind the Belgian Olieslagers.

French aviator Louis Paulhan

Aviator Ugolino Vivaldi was killed in an aeroplane crash in August 1910

The Italians are feverishly moving, to reach and overtake the others, and sport generally has its largest audience there today, and La Gazzetta Sportiva has the most captivated readers. Milan will even open a school for aviators, whilst – the style poets call their poems: Aeroplani. As did the young Buzzi, a follower of Marinetti’s ‘futurism’ or Bazarov’s nihilism: ‘Let’s destroy the past!’, – which has also already given a nihilistic title to one collection of poems: Revolverate

‘Aeroplani’ and ‘Revolverate’ – click on links above to read the full editions online.

So, the author of the novel Forse che sì forse che no (Gabriele D’Annunzio) who in the aeroplane saw the Latin bicep and – imperialism and described flight, having readers with the sought after phrases, in place of a harmonious, charming and graceful impression of a Latin monoplane left the impression of an unwieldy, tasteless, German Zeppelin.

‘Forse che sì forse che no’ by Gabriele D’Annunzio, published in 1910.

However, besides the entertaining aerial literature, the Italians also have an aviator periodical (L’aviatore italiano) and as everything else aerial – disappointments. I will not mention the names, although the beginnings recall the exploits of Petrica Kerempuh.

Petrica Kerempuh had, to wit, told the Zagreb burghers, that he ‘for the highest price would jump over the steeple of the cathedral.’ Pertica, having collected the ticket money, took a run-up as the crowd looked on once, twice, thrice, but didn’t go… The burghers wanted to beat him because he had deceived them, nevertheless, Petrica had nothing but ingenuity, and so said: ‘I want to – but I cannot…’

Every piece of history starts with a story; the history of inventions, however, begins with anecdotes and jokes and King and Kaiser Wilhelm, who looked at a Zeppelin through binoculars, yet what came up close to him was a common insect – the history of contemporary aerial navigation begins. From the beginning the first audience was either the one, that was afraid, or the one, that was mocking, and today as there is already a sufficient audience, which has begun to get bored, it is the clearest sign, that man is also conquering the air. In Bologna at the last contests there was the least amount of people and – enthusiasm… Nobody was injured or killed…

Italian aviator Bartolomeo Cattaneo.

Today, for example, the winners of the contest in Verona are still amazing: the young, little Paulhan, who reached the greatest altitude of 1,260 m, and who even took a bouquet of flowers in his aeroplane to the grave of the brothers killed at Solferino for the freedom of Italy; and Efimov, that herald, the aviator of the storm, as they call him, they say he resembles Gorky in that respect, because he speaks only Russian, then Cattaneo, the pride of all Italy, who is also known abroad. Whilst here in Bologna the strong and mighty Van der Born and the other Belgian Olieslagers, who left the most pleasant impression with his flights now similar to the flight of a swallow, now that of a seagull.

Mikhail Efimov

Belgian aviator Charles Van der Born

Belgian aviator Jan Olieslagers

However, in a few decades, when the aeroplane becomes a means of transport will not the aviator become a plain chauffeur, who today is not much different from a coachman? And when shopkeepers begin to fly, smelling like a shoe shop, a barber’s and sausage maker’s, – will they not reduce the flight of the eagle to the flight of the mosquito?

Behold man: he has left his dirty and tyrannical footsteps of desecration everywhere: in the forest, on the field, in the mountains, in the earth… Now a craving is driving him into the air… But there at least he will leave no trace. The azure-fair space will remain innocent, and aerial navigation ideal.

Janko Polić Kamov, Bologna, 31st May 1910

Translation – all rights reserved © Martin Mayhew
Aviator pictures source http://www.earlyaviators.com

Janko Polić Kamov – Farces and Novellas

Work in progress – 12 short stories, 58,550 words, 4 years’ work – the translations are going through final editing and the book cover is almost finished.

Painting by Martin Mayhew – all rights reserved 2017.

Janko Polić Kamov portraithttps://www.facebook.com/groups/jpkamov/

Rijeka Trails – website and brochure translations

Latest website and brochure translation for the tourist boards of Kastav, Klana, Viškovo, Jelenje, Čavle, Kostrena, Bakar, Kraljevica and Rijeka. Full of detailed paths and trails for all ages. It features the distances, difficulties, GPS coordinates, altitudes, walking times, sights and facilities of each route.

website: https://rijekatrails.com/en/
pdf brochure: http://www.visitrijeka.eu/docs/tzrijeka2013HR/documents/194/1.0/Original.pdf

Underground Secrets of Paklenica Centre

A new interpretation-educational centre was opened in 2016 in the former “secret” bunker tunnels in the Paklenica National Park of the Southern Velebit mountain range. It features 2 educational corridors, including exhibitions about the Velebit mountains, the history of the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service, a presentation centre, cafe, souvenir shop, interactive climbing displays and even an artificial climbing wall. Ideal for a family visit and also serious climbers who want to know more.
I provided all the English translations for the centre and the exhibitions in conjunction with Muze d.o.o.

Exhibition corridor – foto NP Paklenica

Interactive display of climbing knots – foto Muze

Presentation centre – foto NP Paklenica

Croatian Mountain Rescue Service display – foto Muze d.o.o.

Layout of Underground Secrets of Paklenica visitor centre.

More info via:
Paklenica National Park
Muze d.o.o.
Croatian Mountain Rescue Service

‘Routes of the Frankopans’ Cultural Route

  I am honoured to have been involved in the exceptional project ‘Putovima Frankopana‘, as the Croatian to English translator. It details the lives, history, stories and influence of this very important aristocratic Croatian family from 12th-17th centuries. It features 17 castles, 3 sacral buildings and a superb visitor centre in Kraljevica.

The route covers Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, including the island of Krk.

The visitor centre is housed in the Frankopan castle at Kraljevica.

All details can be found on the official website here, and via Muze d.o.o.

NEWS: 12.4.2017 The project received 47 million kunas from EU funds, info

 

MMSU 2016 exhibition translations

MMSU montageTwo exhibition guides I translated for MMSU (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rijeka). Milan Šober was a well respected photographer from Rijeka and this collection features images from the Rijeka environs in the 1950s – more info about the exhibition here. Ivan Marušić Klif is a modern experimenter in media using kinetic, light and video installations – more info about the exhibition here.

Milan Šober – Crtica iz riječke povijesti (A sketch from Rijeka’s photo-history) ISBN 978-953-8107-07-8
Ivan Marušić Klif – Novi radovi (New Works) ISBN 978-953-8107-10-8