Would you be startled to learn that Ecuador has something to save the Swiss from committing suicide? Would you be surprised to read about seeking happiness in Cuba without any discussion of politics or economics? Or how about understanding a way to see gray structures, rubble, and a jungle of weeds as teeming with life and potential in Mexico? These examples from various emblems on instability show what we can learn about generally ignored sides of life in our global community.
Our means for gaining such knowledge of other people’s lives are limited in general. We can talk to people in our circles or communities. It is also possible to read stories, reports, fiction, and non-fiction to learn about these other lives – either abroad or in the past. Finally, we have various forms of media – from television to the internet and print publications – which cover certain aspects of these societies, unfortunately, as is often the case with the mainstream media, this coverage usually comes only during exceptional times of civil unrest, natural disasters or political turmoil.
There are a few fundamental problems with understanding life abroad through these filters: one primary problem is the materialist bias of the publishers and authors. This means that wealth, prosperity or other materialist standards are used to judge the conditions of life in the society that is the subject matter of the publisher’s or author’s report. Another issue is that these reports – either in person, in stories or in the media – must be presented in a manner that is acceptable to the readers of the publication. In the case of large-scale publishing houses or media companies, there is also immense stakeholder (political, investor) pressure to censor the work released – either by informally vetting the decision-makers in advance to ensure conformity or by discouraging the composition of texts that could consistently lead audiences to question their ingrained worldview. Finally, for the sake of brevity, there is the issue of American professional writers and journalists attempting to grasp the lives of ordinary foreign citizens within the inescapable context described above – it is a chasm too wide to cross.
The “Emblem of Instability Transposed” (2017) and the “Codex of Uncertainty Transposed” (2018) as well as other work at perypatetik have attempted to find a way to give the international community an unconstrained voice. By being a completely independent organization consisting of freelance translators and engaging primarily local translators and writers abroad to compose texts on a certain topic, instability in 2017 and uncertainty in 2018, we are able to both learn about and compare experiences within a certain context stretching from South America to Asia, from North America to Europe. The authors generally do not have English as their native language.
Furthermore, as eccentrics, these non-professional professionals are familiar with acting as mediators not only between two cultures, but also between ordinary citizens and readers. In their emblems, they speak directly from their culture to international readers. As they present their view of a pre-defined topic (instability, uncertainty), they allow all of us to see the creative orientation of every individual. And, in turn, we can take this knowledge and use it to cultivate an understanding of life based on artistic, artisan, literary, musical, creative standards rather than materialist or monetary ones.
Real: Postcard emblems in The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed and The Anthology of Global Instability Transposed on display at 1080
Virtual: www.perypatetik.org and www.transposing.net
Social/Movie: Cinemblem (cine emblem) at www.facebook.com/Perypatetik