Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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July 05, 2006
Viktor Shklovsky, auteur

Context No. 19 includes 2 awesome Shklovsky translations, including his 1927 notes for an imagined film about the deaths of Sacco and Vanzetti. He had some striking ideas about how to render visible involvement in the impending execution across social classes:

Now we depict American industrial machinery. Electric power plants along the Niagara, power lines, all of it terminating in the electric chair.We don’t want to film industrial machinery in general -- just evil machinery, class-oriented machinery.

The life of the city can be depicted through telephones. Telephone receivers feed off of accumulators in a circuit including ammeters: whenever anything happens in the city the number of phone calls increases, and the needle in the ammeter goes sharply to the right. . . .

[T]hroughout the city or in a given neighborhood, with the inclusion of a stage-set as powerful as the electric chair and the electrical circuit, the light flashes, showing how different class-oriented individuals respond at that instant.

It is these minor details that shed light on the human factor in the events.

The same issue includes a chart that demonstrates that for an Anglophone literary fiction reader in the USA, it is (if I have my math right) 1740% easier for her to find a book translated from French than from Albanian.