Translating Recipes 12: Recipes in Time and Space, Part 6 – BETWEEN

By Carla Nappi

(This is part of an ongoing series of posts exploring prepositional attitudes and their translation in recipe literature. For the previous posts, check out this link.)

In the most recent posts of the “Translating Recipes” series, we have been exploring various ways that recipe literature creates relationships among bodies in space and time. (The premise undergirding this experiment is that material experience emerges from these relationships.) We have been looking specifically at the ways that prepositions and related kinds of terms function as grammatical and linguistic technologies that create proximities among bodies in time and space: with-ness, if-ness, afterness, etc. Today we’ll consider another of these tools: between-ness. Returning to the spirit from which the “Translating Recipes” project initially emerged – considering the literary form of the recipe as a vehicle for storytelling – this entry and the next will explore the way between works by looking at a storytelling genre that embodies the spirit of interaction, conversation, and between: the dialogue.

The dialogue format integrates a number of key elements. Typically, a dialogue is understood to be a conversation, an oral or written rendering of speech among characters. The dialogue might center on a problem and take the shape of an argument or debate: we can see this in some classic examples of the form that are familiar to many historians of science and medicine, including Plato’s dialogues and Galileo’s Dialogue upon the Two Main Systems of the World. This exceptionally brief description of dialogue makes reference to some important basic components of the form: character, speech, and problem. Let’s consider what these might look like in the context of a medicinal recipe.

Character. There are several ways to think about the centrality of character in the context of a recipe. We might imagine the drugs, patients, and other material actors in a recipe as they are embroiled in a drama, for example, or consider them more allegorically as characters in a fairy tale. In the context of a dialogue, the interaction of the characters is of paramount importance, and so they should explicitly be involved in some sort of a relationship. There are clear relationships in an anti-poison recipe: between poison and the drug used to treat it, poison and the patient’s body, the body and the drug. And so a translation of the recipe in this spirit would need to reflect at least one of these character relationships. (Ideally, in order to maximally explore the importance of relationships, more than one would be reflected in the translation: in that way. the relationships themselves become characters and we would be able to explore a dialogue among the relationships themselves.)

Speech. Fundamental to the nature of a written dialogue is its ability to embody and convey speech in some form: the text itself becomes a kind of vocalization, and – importantly – we as readers can imagine that the characters are not just interacting with one another, but are also performing their speech for the benefit of the audience of readers. As a result, in our translated recipe it would be important to convey this aspect of textual oratory. The form of the text would be crucial to this: each of our characters, as they explore their relationships and the problems emergent therein, would be given an opportunity to take the page and have the floor.

Problem. In many textualized dialogues, the speakers are not merely speaking, but are speaking with each other in an effort to debate or resolve something: a problem, an argument, a disagreement. There should be a sense, by the conclusion of the text, that some issue has been resolved. Our translation would need to convey this sense of dramatic conflict and ultimate resolution. In the case of the Manchu recipe that we’ve been focusing on for the “Recipes in Time and Space” series, this is a natural fit with the conditions from the which the recipe emerges: a crisis wherein a body has been poisoned and demands an immediate remedy (or as close to it as can be managed). At the successive stages of the recipe there are multiple points of possible resolution or the marked absence thereof, and these points of resolution (or not) motivate further action on the part of the readers/users of the text.

In the next post, we’ll continue these reflections and look closely at a new translation of our Manchu medical recipe that embodies a spirit of between in its form and mode of storytelling, in light of the reflections above. Tune in next time!

Translating Recipes 11: Recipes in Time and Space, Part 5 – …A Flowing Oil…

By Carla Nappi

(This is part of an ongoing series of posts exploring prepositional attitudes and their translation in recipe literature. For the previous posts, check out this link.)

In my previous post, we talked about the importance of the sense of after in the experience of reading and using medicinal recipes, and wondered what it might look like to translate our (now multiply-translated) Manchu recipe for eradicating poison in a sense that honored and celebrated the importance of after. What might that translation look like?

The translation would have several qualities. In a very important sense, after creates the possibility of defining events in terms of cause and effect. In the space of after, in fact, there are only causes and effects: nothing exists outside of its being a cause or effect of something else. If we translated our recipe in light of that aspect of after, we might be interested in preserving a sense of constant movement from word to word and action to action, where everything flows into the next thing (and every action into the next action) without giving us a chance to pause and consider it on its own terms.

Our translation would also emphasize and embody the importance of a particular way of thinking about ordering and sequence. When there is an after, there’s also a before. In a sense, then, after creates a before, and in doing so it helps create the past. A text in the spirit of after erases the present: in a text inspired by after, there is no now, there is only procession and movement forward and back.

So how does one give a reader the experience of flow of one thing into another, and the experience of the absence of now? The text has constantly to move. There can be no punctuation, no pausing. There should be some disorientation and discomfort, while simultaneously having a clear order. How might one create a feeling of sequential, orderly disorientation, where everything is just what it is insofar as it is a cause and/or an effect of another thing? Well, in the spirit of starting somewhere, let’s give it a shot!

This translation will begin with the same Manchu recipe used in Translating Recipes 2, 6, 8, and 9, but proceed instead in the spirit of after. Here goes…

…a flowing oil eliminating poison one kind can be used immediately after a poisoning has happened then take a floury drug described earlier in the text and after that drug causes the patient to vomit up the poison then the oil should be spread on their stomach but after that if there’s so much poison that the condition is getting more and more serious then about 15-20 drops of the poison should be mixed with fatty broth made after meat is boiled or buttery milk and after that is mixed then drink it and after that then smear the oil on the stomach again after two hours and then after that on the next day smear it again two times and after that if there’s no improvement and the poison hasn’t been eliminated then another drop or two of the oil should again be taken according to the prescription and smeared on the stomach again and if you do that everything will improve because this is a flowing oil eliminating poison one kind can be used immediately after a poisoning has happened then take a floury drug described earlier in the text and after that drug causes the patient to vomit up the poison then the oil should be spread on their stomach but after that if there’s so much poison that the condition is getting more and more serious then about 15-20 drops of the poison should be mixed with fatty broth made after meat is boiled or buttery milk and after that is mixed then drink it and after that then smear the oil on the stomach again after two hours and then after that on the next day smear it again two times and after that if there’s no improvement and the poison hasn’t been eliminated then another drop or two of the oil should again be taken according to the prescription and smeared on the stomach again and if you do that everything will improve because this is a flowing oil eliminating poison one kind can be used immediately after a poisoning has happened then take a floury drug described earlier in the text and after that drug causes the patient to vomit up the poison then the oil should be spread on their stomach but after that if there’s so much poison that the condition is getting more and more serious then about 15-20 drops of the poison should be mixed with fatty broth made after meat is boiled or buttery milk and after that is mixed then drink it and after that then smear the oil on the stomach again after two hours and then after that on the next day smear it again two times and after that if there’s no improvement and the poison hasn’t been eliminated then another drop or two of the oil should again be taken according to the prescription and smeared on the stomach again and if you do that everything will improve because this is…

Translating Recipes 10: Recipes in Time and Space, Part 4 – AFTER

By Carla Nappi

(This is part of an ongoing series of posts exploring prepositional attitudes and their translation in recipe literature. For the previous posts, see here, here, and here!)

Last time we met, we talked about the importance of recipes for situating bodies and their possibilities in time, and we looked at the ways in which if did this kind of work. Today, we’re going to maintain that temporal focus but turn our attention to another time-making technology: after.

After is the friend (or enemy) of all storytellers and crafters of narrative. When we read, we read in time. Even the most self-consciously non-linear and a-chronological of narratives is ultimately constrained by the experience of the reader who reads one word (or line, or page, or chapter) and then reads another, and then another, and so on. This comes after that. Unless you’re Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen, it’s probably going to be the case that you feel time (and thus narratives in time) as a succession of experiences or events. Here is where after comes in: it describes and enacts this aspect of temporal experience.

In the context of a recipe, after is crucial: it orders our practices and physical actions in time. Thanks to after, a recipe becomes an architecture of activity, a way to choreograph time and sequentially relate bodies together. The use of a recipe becomes a kind of dance or ritual practice: directions dictate the movements of a body, the creation and consumption of substances, the intermingling of materials in time and space.

After takes us out of the simultaneous, creates the possibility of cause and effect. And the realm of cause and effect is precisely the realm of a recipe. Here, the flavor of after takes on a very particular cast: it’s not this comes after that and that’s that, but instead this comes after that and you need to pay attention to the ordering here because there are consequences, there are reasons for and outcomes that result from this particular ordering. By doing this, you lay the groundwork for that: part of the nature of this depends on that happening first. In this way, after becomes a technology for making this and that.

In a very fundamental way, after is vital to the existence of the recipe we’ve been translating and the larger group that it’s part of: here we have a recipe for a drug that is indicated in cases of poisoning. The act of poisoning (or rather, of being poisoned) is the kind of critical event that generates a before and an after: in other words, it creates after. Once that happens, the recipe moves into action. Though the prescribed practices that follow the recipe aren’t critical events in the same way, they still mark paths in time, and thus mark possible ways of being after.

With that in mind, since we’re in the business – here in this “Translating Recipes” series – of considering the creative possibilities of translation by creating multiple translations of our handful of Manchu medical recipes: what would a translation that emerged from and in the spirit of after look like? You’ll find it in the next post in this series. Stay tuned, and I’ll see you soon!

 

Translating Recipes 9: Recipes in Time and Space, Part 3 – IF

By Carla Nappi

(This is part of an ongoing series of posts exploring prepositional attitudes and their translation in recipe literature. For the previous posts, see here and here!)

One of the most important aspects of a recipe is the work that it does to situate bodies and their possibilities in time. One possible way for this to happen is by opening up pathways for the possible. If X happens, then Y. If A happens, then B. If you don’t see improvement, if a patient’s body is too far gone, if the treatment doesn’t work: if, if, if. If is the engine of the imaginable, the machine that generates multiple futures, the opener of windows. If reminds us that we are entities in time, and that time creates divergences and multiplicities.

Manchu recipes were full of ifs. Like other medicinal recipes, there was no guarantee that any of the cures transcribed within the Si yang-ni okto-i bithe would work for any individual patient. Instead, the recipes were instruments: users were invited to consider them, to try them, to try again, to find what worked for themselves, if they found the ingredients difficult to obtain, if the recipe wasn’t working the way it was supposed to. The authors assured their readers of the efficacy of individual recipes by claiming that a remedy had been shown to work in some circumstances – if a person had been stung by a venomous creature, for example, or if a woman were pregnant. If created a space, here, that integrated repetition and multiplicity into the process of using a recipe. If transformed failure into opportunity: if drinking a potion didn’t work, try rubbing it on the skin. If that didn’t work, try it again. If THAT didn’t work… well, ultimately the blame could be laid on time having run out before the ifs were exhausted. A recipe was essentially a collection of ifs, always opening out into the possibility, when all ifs in one recipe were exhausted, of moving on to another.

In this way, if was a kind of when: it located and moved bodies in time. The body to be treated by a recipe was a body that extended into the future and related back to the past in very particular ways, marked by the memory of a wound or poisoning, anticipating a reaction to a medicinal drug. Translators working to render a hybrid collection of materials, names, objects, illnesses, and rules into the medium of Manchu documentary language were rendering not just terminology, then, but also were negotiating ways of being in time. How does one translate if? In doing so, is a translator helping to create ways of being-in-time for a reader? If so, are translated recipes tools of time-travel?

In the Englishing of the Manchu recipe provided below, I’ve emphasized some of the different sorts of if-ness that shape the recipe in an effort to show how important this kind of relationship is to the text. As we saw with with in the previous post, there are also implied moments of if-ness that I haven’t called attention to. And with that, here is the if translation of our ongoing series of translations of this Manchu recipe. Follow the links, which will take you off the page!

IF a person has just been poisoned use this recipe. IF not, go here.