At the Forum, Post 2

Posted on June 26, 2010


A. The many things that have, even at this late age, given me reason to be hopeful about the world:

—-Superhuman Degree of Difficulty: Simultaneous interpretation is difficult. Yes, of course, its difficult. I think most monolingual people have been astonished that such a thing is even possible. Technically, physically? Difficult. The concept of hearing, understanding, translating and speaking while continuing to hear and keep track of what both you and the speaker are saying…yes, it’s exactly that hard. But at the same time, effortless. There really does seem to be an automatic process that occurs. I mean, I have no idea who I am while I’m interpreting, there’s no me there. Its more akin to a pure out of body experience, and when its finished, I have no idea of what I’ve said, I remember nothing. It’s as if all I am is the primal processing power of my brain.

The Beauty of Growing Old with Integrity Intact: I was one of the interpreters assigned to the opening ceremony. As I wrote in an earlier post, a group of tech-activists came together to develop a cheap interpretation system using five dollar radios and a home-made radio transmitter, replacing what is generally a tens of thousands of dollars set of gear. These people–autodidact techies with a purpose—are really my heroes. My oldest friend is one of them, part of the tech brigade that makes the forum possible. Backstage, while furiously spitting the Spanish language version of a local indigenous creation story into a microphone, I looked over and saw my friend there, managing the homemade hardware and software that was simulcasting the Spanish language version of the opening ceremony on to the internet, waving to me. That, alone, was worth the price of admission.

….I’ll write the more critical stuff, of which there is a depressing plenty-of, later.