16 September 2009

Brenda Cardenas

Here's a portion of an article about poet Brenda Cardenas:

"Listening to Brenda Cárdenas is, on its own, an exercise in crossing borders. She has adapted ideas from interdisciplinary arts into a philosophy for interlingual literature. It's very important to distinguish interlingual versus bilingual texts. The difference between bilingualism and interlingualism is the same as the difference between 'either' and 'both.' Biligualism is using either of two languages in turn, but sticking to one discrete language or the other for an entire expression. Cárdenas, on the other hand, is an advocate of interlingualism, which is blending or mixing two languages in-line, within sentences, as they're used organically and naturally by people who speak both languages fluently. ...

"Sometimes when languages blend, and stay mixed in certain ways, they create whole new ways for people to express themselves. Grammars change rules. Fresh words appear that carry tell-tale signs of their parent languages. Old words pick up new meanings. Artists often want to rush into these circumstances to take advantage of the fresh creative opportunities that a still-forming language permits. However, critics and historians often resist this situation, and insist that serious literature is written in well-defined languages such as English or Spanish, but not a blend of both. So there's always a battle among the people who describe language as-is, versus the people who prescribe language as it should be, when interlingualism is in effect. ...

"The delicious ironies, warm blends, and pointed contrasts of commingled languages are Brenda Cárdenas' incentive to keep crossing frontiers. Listen to her poetry, songs, and stories, and cross the frontiers of the Américas." (I placed in bold letters what I want to emphasize.)

This is as good a description as any of the resistance most literary critics have towards taking the mother tongue into account when reading a work done in a second or foreign language. Perhaps I should change my word Wikcriticism to interlingual criticism, as suggested by a follower, if only to take advantage of the long history of the 17th-century term (though, of course, qualifying it by expanding it to include our concerns). "Interlingual" is used quite often in different contexts in various disciplines (including computer science, would you believe?). There might be a need, though, to have a catchphrase (similar to Russian Formalism's defamiliarization and Derrida's deconstruction), if we want to spread the gospel of interlinguality. Let me think about that a bit more.

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