Basic Feelings 1997

(5 parts)


Emily Apter, On Translation in a Global Market, Public Culture, Duke University Press, 2001:

Rainer Ganahl, for example, is interested in the cultural capital of languages in a global market. Many of his videos and critical writings emphasize how foreign language acquisition has historically functioned within the power politics of global communication and capital flow. In the video "Basic Feelings (which takes the utter banality of the language lab exercise as its point of departure), the speaker's flat, synthetic repetition of the phrase "I feel strange today" in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Korean, Japanese, Russian, and Chinese - languages he has been studying - causes language to become uncannily denaturalized and "unhomed" (unheimlich). the speaker's loss of affect, even as he cites the vocabulary of affect, serves to negate "basic feelings," and this negation is then reproduced in the spacings and gaps between the verbal repetitions. Each phrase signifies the same thing, but the incommensurability of meaning becomes increasingly obvious with each enunciation in a "foreign" language. Each language is apparently assigned equal weight, but the differential power relations of Western and non-Western languages in the marketplace of language learning become more and more apparent. Linguistic nonidentity is brought to the fore, with ambiguous implications. Is globalization in language studies a gateway to enlightened cosmopolitanism? Or is it simply a system of treaties or "vases communications" that permit limited semantic transfers between nations? The auditory effect of multilingual utterance has an uncanny, double-edged quality as well: on the one hand, it suggests a corporate, global United Nations-speak, in which every message is beamed in simultaneous translation around the world, devoid of context and deceptively "value free"; and yet, on the other hand, this auditory effect reveals how politically unneutral the rules of grammar and translation are, depending on how and where they are used.




Basic Feelings, not good today, 1 min 50 sec., 1997

video clcik here

other video of that short serie:

Basic Feelings, not good today, 1'30 1997

Basic Feelings, good, 1'30 1997

Basic Feelings, stupid, 1'30 1997

Basic Feelings, excited, 1'30 1997

Basic Feelings, confused, 1'30 1997

Basic Feelings, strange, 1'30 1997