Rob van Kranenburg on "The Café Lafayette"
The poem narrates (at least, I hope it does) the politics of translation. The Aboriginals could not adequately translate Cook's boat into their ways of seeing (as the Americans mistook drama for news on Halloween eve 1938 when Orson Wells aired his version of 'The War of the Worlds'), Blanqui's parade raised the frightening possibility that marching soldiers and strolling men might be interchangeable and the Fukeshu built themselves on masks. Meaning occurs at the threshold of translating unknown procedures into your own. And in doing this you make sense, but lose the opportunity to let that other way of seeing stand on its own. What I tried to narrate in this poem is my own fear of not being able to read the London territory I visited as I feared that my mental map would not get me where I wanted to go. You don't have to go far to get lost. But sometimes the map is the territory ("the map becomes the territory", Paul Michael Perry) and the boat the Seacat and the lorry marked Cowlands Ltd got me where I wanted to go, a quick visit to an American friend, Naomi Conn Liebler, who was there for a couple of days.
Rob van Kranenburg
Contents copyright © 1999 by Rob van Kranenburg.
Format copyright © 1999 by Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087, Volume 2, Number 2, Spring 1999.
Van Kranenburg: Explication