M. Williams Gamaker
- Towards a Babel Ontology
- European Journal of Women's Studies
- Volume | Issue number
- 18 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
This article presents a few issues in the making of our film A Long History of Madness that pertain to the ‘Babylonic’. Spoken in 12 languages, ranging across six centuries, and shot in five countries, the film possesses an inherent Babylonism. It makes a case for a multilingual mode of communicating. Yet, beyond the obvious need for verbal communication, for which subtitles are necessary but insufficient, the film presents other reasons for extending the concept of translation. The knot of potential confusion and the need for ‘translation’ are the ontological uncertainties surrounding ‘madness’ itself. The key questions are: are people mad? Do they perform madness, or do others perceive them as mad because they are too dissimilar from them to be accepted as ‘normal’? This fundamental uncertainty affects all forms of alterity. Translation becomes, then, a tool to negotiate alterity under the terms of the acceptance of this ontological uncertainty.
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