In the end, I am not sure what this anthology will have cost us or whether there will be any way to measure the cost or whether it’s even worth trying to measure it. What I do know is that the time and effort needed to research, select, and translate our texts has been so much more than I could possibility have anticipated, and that the small triumphs here and there have been as exhilarating as they have been exhausting.
Here is a case in point. I just spent the last hour translating this paragraph of Edmundo O’Gorman’s “Art or Monstrosity,” which I am co-translating with my brilliant amiga Cecilia Beristáin in Mexico City:
The hermeticism of these perfect statues which, otherwise and engaging our desperation, we know have been inspired by men who nurtured petty hate and municipal rivalries, challenges us to leave them in their rarified and solitary atmosphere, interjecting between them and us a saving hatred. This is what the Middle Ages did, allowing time to bury [sculptures], decapitated and mutilated, condemning them to oblivion as a complete expression of pride. And all this is of an exemplary paradoxical nature: man is man’s only and essential problem, and in the fine arts, the pursuit of maximum perfection in the human form, when it is reached, produces a portentous world that is so absolutely sufficient [unto itself] that it leaves one entirely empty-handed. And one has to begin again.
Perhaps because my Spanish (and/or English) isn’t good enough, I can honestly say that each sentence felt like a small battle that could bring the whole thing crashing down, and me along with it. At the same time, though, each sentence felt como un pequeño triunfo that reminds me what philosophy is and why we committed ourselves in the first place.
This anthology is by far and at once the most taxing and most rewarding (and exhilarating) intellectual endeavor I’ve undertaken so far. Even more so than that summer I spent learning the entire Latin grammar.