Lost in Translation

From Day 0, we are taught to translate from one language to another. No newborn understands what “ma” means until the brain develops the connection to link the sound to the figure that provides us love and care.

And since day 0, we continuously learn to translate. We are asked (perhaps forced) to translate “1, 2 and 3” to the quantities we observe. We are asked to translate “Mary had a little lamb” to a imagination of a figure who possesses another figure of some shape. We are asked to address more complex translations, or translations of translations. Society teaches us how to translate, or more so, what the correct translations are.

Correct. We are lauded for proposing the correct translations of things. 1+1 = 2. A reading comprehension problem on the SAT. The most recent news on why Trump just tweeted what he tweeted.

So then the big question arrives one day: what is correct?

After an awkward moment of silence, some propose a translation for correct: “it’s what’s right,” they may say. It quickly becomes apparent this answer is unproductive, and so is every answer that is an attempted translation for correct. Maybe we can translate such situation as “running in cycles.”

This is a difficult question because we don’t really have an answer. Our entire lives have been based upon translations of ideas, ideas rooted in societal contexts and human observations. Science, as objective as it is claimed to be, is nothing but a human translation of universal observations agreed upon by a good chunk of the population. Thus, science does not hold the key, either.

We can direct our question, then, to what is actually being translated. When we count the fingers on our hand, we are making a “logical” connection. Objectifying and separating each finger first, then connecting it to the translation we learned to associate it with. When we learn to speak full sentences, we identify the subject and the object and establish a relationship. The only “logical” relationship that, again, we as humans have established.

That is to say, logic is entirely subjective. We may say that the particular logic that dominates the current era or even just the environment around us is the logic that determines how we make our translations. It is almost surprising how adherent we are to which logical ideal we entertain. I need say no more to describe the sorts of issues that arise with conflicting ideologies.

Disregarding what I claimed about science for a moment, let us suppose that our current biological viewpoint on the idea that the greatest necessity for most living organisms including humans is survival. Back to day 0, we need our motherly figure for survival. It was necessary to the very core that we learned how to say “ma” to survive. This is where I’d like to believe we have a commonality shared by all — no translation needed.

It is difficult to even hope that we can all agree on anything. At some point, the translations become absolutely meaningless and repetitive. Since we are creatures based on survival, if we feel as though others’ ideas are threatening to ours, instinct tells us to flee or fight; either way, create separation.

Therefore I leave this subject here, merely hoping that one day we can learn to understand why others think differently. Things lost tend not to be found.

Lost in Translation

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