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.

Seiseinyū and secrets: problems of recipe attribution in early modern Japan

In my last post, I looked at the problems faced by early modern Japanese doctors trying to figure out how to manufacture a new mercurial drug called seiseinyū, which had first appeared in the Chinese doctor Chen Sicheng’s Secret Record of Syphilis (1636). Yet although Japanese doctors eventually found ways to produce seiseinyū, the complicated movement of books and ideas between China, Europe and Japan during this period meant that even doctors who knew how to make the drug could be confused about where their recipes had come from.

The syphilis doctor Tokujitsu Junchoku, hero of Funakoshi Kinkai’s “Illustrated Syphilis War Tales” (Ehon baisō gundan, 1838). Courtesy of Waseda University Library.

One of the most detailed manuscript recipes for seiseinyū was written down in the late eighteenth century by a doctor called Haruhi Gen’an. Gen’an claimed this recipe had been passed down in his family since the time of his ancestor Haruhi Genryō, who in turn had received it from a Dutch doctor called “Seirukettan” in Nagasaki in 1711. Gen’an believed that the Dutch themselves were reluctant to share this secret recipe, and he took great pride in his lineage’s knowledge of it; imagine his surprise, then, when he discovered that Chen Sicheng’s Secret Record of Syphilis, which had recently been reprinted in Japan, contained a recipe identical to the one his family had for generations been treating as secret.

After some thought, Gen’an came up with an explanation for what had happened: just as his ancestor had learned the recipe from the Dutch doctor Seirukettan, the Chinese had also learned about the recipe from European visitors in the early seventeenth century, and Chen Sicheng had tried to pass the recipe off as his own. Indeed, it is curious to note that Chinese and European doctors started using mercurial drugs to treat syphilis quite soon after the disease’s arrival, and difficult to rule out the possibility that maritime contacts might have allowed one medical culture to learn the idea from the other. However, European and East Asian mercurial therapies for syphilis differed in their details, and it seems safer to conclude that they developed independently.

An army of antisyphilitic drugs defeats the syphilis demons. Funakoshi Kinkai, Illustrated Syphilis War Tales (1838). Courtesy of Waseda University Library.

But why did the Haruhi lineage attribute their seiseinyū recipe to the mysterious Dutch doctor “Seirukettan”? It isn’t possible to offer a definitive answer to this question, but a little background knowledge concerning the circulation and uses of medical texts in eighteenth-century East Asia is enough to suggest a plausible hypothesis.

Patients seeking treatment for syphilis tended to seek out specialists in “wound medicine” (yōka), a field that included the application of topical cures as well as surgical techniques. Eighteenth-century Japanese doctors were highly receptive to learning about European surgery and anatomy, which were much more developed than their East Asian counterparts at that time; it would thus be unsurprising for a Japanese practitioner of wound medicine to think of a cure for syphilis as more likely to be European than Chinese.

Nevertheless, Japanese practitioners of wound medicine would also have known about the Chinese surgical tradition and probably would have kept some classic Chinese treatises on surgery in their library. One such treatise was the Complete Book of Proven Remedies for Wounds and Ulcers (Chuangyang jingyan quanshu 瘡瘍經驗全書): the first edition of this book was produced in 1569, and an expanded edition published in 1717 included an additional chapter entitled “The Secret Record of Syphilis” – this was none other than Chen Sicheng’s book, incorporated into the new edition without attribution.

Early modern Japanese doctors often made their own manuscript copies of such medical treatises, especially if the only available printed versions were expensive editions imported through Nagasaki. Sections of multiple books could be copied into a single manuscript volume or a single book could be copied into several separate volumes; as a result, authorial attributions and the status of chapters as sections of larger works could easily become unclear. If something like this had happened to the Haruhi family’s copy of the Complete Book of Proven Remedies for Wounds and Ulcers, the original source of their recipe for seiseinyū could easily become forgotten, giving rise to a family legend that the recipe derived from a Dutch doctor in Nagasaki.

Translating Recipes 8: Recipes in Time and Space, Part 2 – WITH

By Carla Nappi

This is the second post in a multi-part mini-series on Recipes in Time and Space. For previous installments in this mini-series, see here.

One of the most important aspects of a recipe is the work that it does to bring elements together. This can happen in many different ways. A recipe combines ingredients and objects, it combines bodies (human with nonhuman, living with inert, sick with healthy), and it combines directions and rules of practice, among many other kinds of combination that a recipe enacts.

Manchu medical recipes, specifically, combine much more than that. As we’ve seen, these texts function as translations that bring together object, terms, and bodily conceptions from several textual and medical cultures that don’t otherwise have the chance to meet and inform one another. Each Manchu medical recipe in our Si yang-ni okto-i bithe (Ch. Xiyang yaoshu 西洋藥書) [Handbook of Western Drugs] also functions in conversation with other recipes included in the text, and these recipes often reference one another in a wonderful inter-textual tapestry. In many ways, “with” – effecting combination, juxtaposition, conversation – is one of the key attitudes animating a Manchu medical recipe.

Future posts in this mini-series will consider the same recipe by zooming in on other attitudes (on, inside, etc.) to explore the ways that temporal and spatial orientations shape the kind of work that the recipe does to create relationships in the embodied world. We will conclude with a post that zooms back out to consider how these re-orientations can collectively help us read and experience medical recipes in general (and Manchu recipes in particular) in a new way, and ultimately generate new kinds of story-translations from them.

With that in mind, let’s return to the recipe that we’ve been variously translating over the course of this series and re-encounter and re-translate it in the spirit of celebrating the way that the recipe situates bodies in time and space in a “with” kind of a way. (You can find alternate translations of the same recipe from previous installments of Translating Recipes here and here.) This is appropriate to the nature of the recipe, which is (as you’ll recall) a remedy for poison. A poisoning, after all, is a relationship, and thus an event of with-ness: it is a meeting of substances and bodies whose coming-together creates an emergency. We might consider this a circumstance of being “with poison,” analogous to (and perhaps the inverse of) the way we describe pregnancy as being “with child”: in both cases, one body occupies another and transforms it. Both result from a with-ing of a body. Translation, like poisoning, accomplishes a roughly equivalent kind of work: the translators of a text, by joining with it, create an emergency that transform it into something new.

In the Englishing of the Manchu recipe provided below, I’ve emphasized some of the different sorts of combination, juxtaposition, and with-ness that animate the recipe in an effort to show how important this kind of relationship is to the work that the recipe does. There are also implied moments of with-ness that I haven’t called attention to, but that this re-orientation will hopefully help us be more sensitive to even when it’s not explicitly marked.

The Manchu text:

emu hacin. niyalma ehe horon bisire jaka de oktolobuci.  neneme ehe horon be geterembure ufa  okto be [gvsici fangdz de bi..] fangdz songkoi omifi. oksibufi. sirame ere nimenggi be guwejihe teisu bade ulenggu de iju.. aikabade jeke omiha  ehe horon umesi amba ofi. dolo wajime fathaxame gvwaliyaxame bucere de isiname ujen oci. ere  nimenggi okto be tofohon sabdan ci wesihun orin sabdan ci fusihvn gaifi. eici yali bujuha tarhv sile de. eici sun nimenggi suwaliyaha sun de suwaliyafi omi.. guwejihe teisu bade ulenggu de. ere nimenggi be juwe erin ome emgeri dasame ijume. jai inenggi geli juwe mudan iju.. aikabade ehe horon kemuni majige getereke akv oci. ere nimenggi okto be geli emu udu sabdan gaifi fangdz songkoi omifi fangdz songkoi ijuci sain..

The translation, in the spirit of “With”:

Here is a medicinal oil that will help a body part ways WITH the poison inside it. This should be used if a person is WITH poison. Before being WITHOUT the poison, after taking a flour-based drug that will interact WITH the one being prescribed here [and one which is found in the thirtieth prescription that is collected WITH this one in this text] in accordance WITH the prescription, and after that drug causes the poison to be vomited up and thus no longer WITH the body, spread this oil on the navel part of the stomach so that it interacts WITH the skin. If the poisoned person has consumed a lot of the poison such that it’s wreaking havoc WITH the body and the condition has become very serious WITH respect to what it had been earlier, combine 15-20 drops of the oil WITH either the fatty broth produced WITH boiled meat or butter combined WITH milk, and then drink the oil WITH the liquid. Having smeared this oil on the navel part of the stomach (blending oil WITH skin again) after waiting for one erin period WITH an additional erin period, the following day spread the oil two more times. If this has still not succeeded in removing all of the poison, take one or more drops of this medicinal oil and smear it on (blending oil WITH skin again) in accordance WITH the prescription. Good health will then be WITH you.