Translating the Untranslatable: Elfriede Jelinek in Translation

(Hearty congratulations to translator Aaron Sayne, whose translation of Elfriede Jelinek’s “Ahörnchen und Behörnchen” appears as “Chip ‘n Dale” in the most recent edition of the University of Iowa’s journal of literary translation, Exchanges. In his translator’s note, Aaron mentions my Emory lecture on translating Jelinek and cites this blog as his reference, but since I have so craftily squirreled this nugget, buried in the subterfuge of uncomfortable truths…I’ve decided to dig it up and make it more accessible to readers who may go in search of it. Hat’s off to Aaron Sayne who ranks among the finest translators of German-language literature I know and who also happens to be one of the best writers of original fiction I have read in a long time!)

Lilian Friedberg©2006

Invited Lecture, Emory University, November 9, 2006

(Note: this lecture was presented at Emory when my translation of Jelinek’s Bambiland was still a work-in-progress. A print version of the play appeared in Yale University’s Theater magazine in November, 2009, and the piece first appeared on Elfriede Jelinek’s website. In 2017, director Peter Lorenz and his team put on a brilliant stage production of the piece which has received far too little notice, in my opinion. A trailer is available for viewing here. )

When the 2004 Nobel Prize for Literature was announced, I wasn’t much more familiar with this  radically feminist author than the rest of the international literary community that was sent scrambling to its web browsers and library catalogues in search of an answer to the question “Who is Elfriede Jelinek?”

I completed my first translation of Jelinek about a year before the Nobel decision—it was the essay, “Ein Volk. Ein Fest.” “One People. One Party”– Jelinek’s 1999 published response to the re-election of proto-fascist rightwing politician Jörg Haider as governor of Carinthia. Like most of Jelinek’s writing, this op-ed is peppered with allusions to current events–to local, regional and specifically Austrian political currents; it is peopled by literary figures and figurations, interlaced with fictions and facts often rendered indistinguishable as they are interwoven in a complex tapestry of wordplay and puns, many of them delivered in a uniquely Austrian dialect—so the “translator’s note” and footnotes turned out to be three times the length of the piece itself.

Last year, I established contact with her agent at Rowohlt. then completed sample translations which were enthusiastically received by the author and her agent. Last November, my translations of “Rosamunde” were on display on six-foot panels in an exhibition at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York—and there were staged readings from Bambiland at Scena Theater in Washington DC, sponsored by the Austrian Embassy. Another staged reading from Bambiland is scheduled for the HotInk Festival in New York in January 2007. The full text of Bambiland is slated for completion by mid-February, 2007, commissioned by the Goethe Institute in New York.

Several commentators have stated that this author’s work is so culturally-specific that it must first be translated into German. In interviews conducted upon receipt of the Nobel prize, Jelinek commented on the essential “untranslatability” of her work. Asked whether any reader unfamiliar with the uniquely Austrian backdrop of her writing could even begin to grasp it, she said: “Certainly, that is the biggest problem. It is one reason I am so baffled by the receipt of this award—because I am actually a provincial author, working in a very specific way with a very specific language that is incomprehensible even in Germany! I am firmly rooted in the tradition of the Vienna Group, in a line running from the early Wittgenstein through Karl Kraus to the Vienna Group, a literature centered on language that works less with meaning and more with the phonetic power of language, with the sound of language. And that cannot be translated. […] I play with the sound of language,” she said. “That can hardly be translated into another language. Each language has its own face and its own fingerprints, which are not identical with any other language.”

In “The Task of the Translator,” Walter Benjamin addresses the issue of translatability: in his reading, “translatability” is contingent on two factors: whether an “adequate translator will ever be found among the totality of readers” and (more pertinently) whether the nature of the work lends itself to translation. He goes on to say that a work may be essentially translatable even if the task of translating it lies beyond human capacity, which is not to say that it is essential for an essentially translatable work to be translated.

By the author’s own assessment, Jelinek’s works are essentially untranslatable—but at the same time—if for no other reason than by virtue of the imprimatur of the Nobel Prize–it is essential that they be translated. When interviewed by the New York Times in November, 2004, she was asked whether she’d like her work to be more widely read in the United States:

“Yes,” she said, “that would be very nice. Americans would understand my irony and wit because, well, there is still a Jewish culture. Here, and especially in Germany, people hardly understand me because this Jewish world was destroyed by the Nazis. So I’m falling between all stools, as we would say here. People no longer understand my wit, and people in America don’t understand the language in which I am writing.”

The American translator is thus presented with an impossible, but nevertheless essential task: translating the untranslatable.

Already in the early 90s, when the feminist literary journal Trivia published my first translation of Ingeborg Bachmann, I had begun speaking in terms of “trans-posing literature,” and today I realize that this resonates very closely not only with Benjamin’s remarks on translation, but, more importantly, with Jelinek’s statements on the significance of the sound of language in her work. While the sound of language may be untranslatable, it may be possible to trans-pose it–as one might transpose a musical score from one key to another.

In some circles, it is considered bad form for a translator to leave footprints all over an author’s text. In others, however, the opposite is true: for example, the French Canadian feminist translator, Barbara Godard, advances a theory of “womanhandling” a text in translation, stating that:

The feminist translator, affirming her critical difference, her delight in interminable re-reading and re-writing, flaunts the signs of her manipulation of the text. […] The feminist translator immodestly flaunts her signature in italics, in footnotes—even in a preface.

The Canadian feminist translator Luise von Flotow similarly advocates footnoting and prefacing as feminist translation strategies, but I am not especially beholden to translators’ notes, and certainly not to prefaces: footnotes introduce a disruptive element to a literary text not present in the original, and I find little more laborious than commenting on my own translations, as, for example, in a preface—so my strategies for “womanhandling” tend to avoid extraneous commentary in these forms—I flaunt my signature, my fingerprints, my footprints–at times boldly, at times more timidly—between the lines of the text itself.

The nature of Jelinek’s writing is hard to define—she shifts between prose and poetry, incantation and hymn, paean and polemic, dialogue and diatribe. She is a flagrantly, flamboyantly, and—since 2004 at the latest—now famously feminist author: one whose own comments on translation invite the feminist translator to womanhandle the text, to immodestly re-configure it with fingerprints, footprints, signatures and keystrokes. Based on what I have seen of this author’s works, I am convinced that even the most “liberal” of translations is an inadequate vehicle for transmitting their sound and their sense. Radical translation, radical feminist translation is required.

Any act of radicalism involves the perpetual risk of “going too far,” so the act of radical translation must be tempered by some sort of tether. The guidelines I have put in place to temper the radicalism of my translations of Jelinek are the author’s own statements and, equally as “authoritative,” the words of the Swedish Academy. In its announcement for the Nobel prize, the Academy cited the “musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society’s clichés and their subjugating power.”

I see my translator’s task, then, in reconstructing this musical flow, these voices, those counter-voices with the same extraordinary linguistic zeal that compelled the Swedish Academy to award this author the most coveted form of acknowledgement available to any artist. Harking back to Benjamin’s “task of the translator”: my task is to liberate Jelinek’s language from its provincial confines, to set it free so that it may reveal the absurdity of society’s clichés and their subjugating power to audiences outside Austria. If Jelinek is correct in stating that each language has its own “face” and its own “fingerprints,” then any translation of her work must involve a radical facelift and the translator must be willing (and, by Benjamin’s account, able) to leave fingerprints, footprints and imprints all over the scene of the rhyme.

What I mean by this is perhaps best illustrated by examples from the translations.

The Princess Plays: “The Wall” and “Rosamunde”

“The Wall” and “Rosamunde” are two in a series of 5 dramoletts titled the “Princess Plays,” subtitled “Death and the Maiden,” all of which deal with the constraints placed on women’s lives by the stereotypes—straitjackets, if you will—of corporate consumer culture’s fairytale version of women’s lives.

Let’s begin with some examples from The Wall.

The two main protagonists in The Wall are Ingeborg Bachmann and Sylvia Plath, performing ritual slaughter on a male ram from the underworld. One of the  play’s “invisible” protagonists is Marlen Haushofer, the Austrian author of the 1961 novel, The Wall, present in voice alone and solely by allusion to this novel whose female protagonist awakes one day to find herself cut off from the rest of the world by an invisible wall. The characters of “Inge” and “Sylvia” are spattered in blood, and the play chronicles their conversation as they “work up” this male ram. Much of the dialogue revolves around woman’s traditional role of cleaning up messes and other housewifely tasks, mostly with reference to Haushofer’s invisible glass wall.

The opening line sets the tone more readily in English than in German simply by virtue of a homophonic association not present in the original:

Oh just settle down. It’s not like you’re pulling balls out Uranus, ripping rungs from the ladders of upward motility, those tumescent tubes teeming with sperm cells ready to jump at the chance to finally knock some fertility into us!

Reg dich ab. Das ist nicht Uranos, dem du da den Samen mitsamt seinen Leitern wegreißt, auf denen er steht, um uns endlich fruchtbar zu machen.

This is a classic example of Jelinek’s strategy of “associative streaming”: the “Leiter” to which she refers are the “spermatic ducts”— “narrow muscular tubes” that transfer sperm from the epididymis to the ejaculatory ducts to release sperm in the climax of ejaculation in a process described in medical terms as “motility.” But a “Leiter” in German is also a “ladder”—a homograph called to the fore by Jelinek’s use of the phrase “auf denen er steht.” Here, I have reconstructed Jelinek’s associative streaming by utilizing the play on words in “ripping the rungs from the ladders of upper motility” along the lines of “tumescent tubes teeming with sperm cells.”

Another example:

Double back salto over the fence, up and over the wall you go, and before you know it, you’re falling fast—in any case, it’s the usual case for any case that would fall from the face of the earth should it land in a court anywhere outside the field of psychiatry. That thing we’ve been lusting after all these centuries has itself become obsolete, just as the notion of cognitive dissonance went out of fashion long before the cog ever got stuck in the wheel.

Ein Flic-Flac über den Zaun, rauf auf die Wand, im Fallen dann, wie üblich, alles was der Fall ist, für niemanden sonst ein Fall, außer für die Psychiatrie, so einfach geht das. Das Ding, das wir so lang suchten, ist doch längst überflüssig geworden wie die Erkenntnis an sich schon längst überflüssig geworden ist, bevor sie stattgefunden hat.

My formulation, “just as the notion of cognitive dissonance went out of fashion long before the cog ever got stuck in the wheel” departs radically from the content of the German original. However, it manipulates the “epistemological theory of cognitive dissonance” and alienates idiom much in the same way that the source text does with “Erkenntnistheorien.” The content is essentially irrelevant, but the “aphoristic” nature of the formulation also establishes a connection to the tradition of Wittgenstein and Kraus and participates in the same kind of deconstructive performance and punning present in Jelinek’s original.

Bullshit. You can only look into something once the thing itself is in view. And it’s not necessarily always the same thing! That is to say, if I can describe the thing, let’s say, a wall, as if it were actually there and designed to act as a tool for making some sense of something, as a sort of a tack to take or a tool to tackle some problem, no, as a tack to tackle, no, a tack to be taken to the taxidermist’s rack. Then we could go out and stuff ourselves all by our ourselves.

Blödsinn. Die Anschauung kann doch nur stattfinden, sobald uns ein Gegenstand dafür gegeben ist. Und zwar nicht immer derselbe! Beziehungsweise wenn ich den Gegenstand, die Wand, so beschreiben kann, als wäre er vorhanden und als Gerät bereitgestellt, daß man sich ein bissel Denken abzwacken kann, als Zweck, nein, als Reißzwecke, nein, zum Einwecken. Da können wir uns selber einwecken gehen.

This is a radical facelift on Jelinek’s free-associative play with the sound of language. There is nary a taxidermist in sight in the source text, but the taxidermist’s rack introduced to the text solely on the basis of its phonetic compatibility with the alliterative string of tools, tacks, tackling and takes is a felicitous fit for the German idiom “uns einwecken gehen”—to go “stuff ourselves.”

Another example which is absolutely essential to the task of translating the untranslatable because the “soup” analogy is re-cast and reappears later in the text:

Oh puh-lease, you think I just fell off the turnip truck? Or, as we say in Austria, you think I just floated in here with the noodles in the soup? Squeaky clean windows are so clear you can see right through them. But it beats being clear as noodles swimming in a can of Campbell’s soup with our fate hanging in the ladle if our hungry man husbands can’t handle the taste. Don’t forget, that’s one thing we do have a handle on! And while you might drown in a sea of sorrows, you’ll never land on your can in a can of Campbell’s soup!

Ich bitte dich, gutgeputzte Fenster sind schließlich immer klar wie unsichtbar. Das ist doch viel besser als klar wie die Nudelsuppe, auf der wir jeden Tag unter dem Tosen und Brausen der Maggi-Gischt dahergeschwommen kommen! Ertrinken kann man in der nicht. Unser Schicksal liegt in einem Löffel, wenn es dem Mann nicht schmeckt. Da kennen wir uns doch aus, erinnere dich! Erinnere dich, daß es wenigstens uns Menschen klar sein muß, daß etwas unsichtbar sein kann.

The operative element here is the Austrian idiom: “Mit der Nudelsuppe dahergekommen sein”; in English, “just fell off the turnip truck.” The matter is complicated by Jelinek’s introduction of the brand name “Maggi”—a manufacturer of instant soups that has since merged with Nestle and is also available in the US under the same name. However, a closer “cultural equivalent” of Maggi in the US would be Campbell’s, whose advertising slogan for its “Manhandler” product line was [SING] “How do you handle a hungry man? The Manhandlers” seems tailor-made to accommodate the idea that a woman’s fate hangs in the balance if the dinner served does not suit her hungry man’s tastes. It is at the same time an ideal vehicle for incorporating the image delivered by the Austrian idiom, and thus allows me to incorporate the specifically Austrian flavor of the text without the disruptive element of a footnote.

Another example:

She scrubbed that wall so clean no one could see the thing. ShineRite through and to thine ownself be true! Don’t forget the Ajax, the Comet and the Lysol-Basin-Tub-and-Tile Cleaner, just steer clear of the Soft Scrub, dear.

Sie hat ja diese Wand geputzt, so lang, bis man sie nicht mehr gesehen hat. Tuklar und scheue niemand. Auch Ata, Vim und Zisch, ich meine Cif nicht.

Here, Jelinek comments on the absurdity of a consumer culture that would offer its women more “freedom of choice” with regard to household cleaning supplies than career options: Ata, Vim, Zisch and Cif are brand name cleaning products, as is “Tuklar.” She manipulates the proverbial saying, “Fürchte Gott, tue Recht und scheue niemand.” famously cited, among others, by Friedrich Schiller.  The Shakespearean reference reconstructs this literary allusion, and the brand names have been replaced by their American equivalents. But the dialogue also reveals that one of the protagonists has used the wrong product for scrubbing her wall squeaky clean, presumably because she failed to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label. In English, I suppose it would amount to using SoftScrub instead of Windex to clean a window.

            I understand there is a volunteer in the audience willing to sing the German version of this line from a well-known German children’s song? [ASK VOLUNTEER TO SING]

Die Affen rasen durch den Wald, der eine macht den andern kalt, wer hat die Kokosnuß, wer hat die Kokosnuß, wer hat die Kokosnuß geklaut?

Felicitously, there is an English-language equivalent ready at hand:

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree, merry, merry king of the bush is he. Stop, Kookaburra, stop Kookaburra, save some scum for me!

Rosamunde:

Already the title of this third in the series of “Princess Plays,” presented the first problem in translation: Rosamunde refers, on the one hand, to the character of “Rosamunde, Princess of Cyprus” in Franz Schubert’s famous Rosamunde Overture.

[PLAY AUDIO SAMPLE]

But “Rosamunde” is also the title of the Czech folk song, composed in 1927, with words written in 1934, a German text in 1938, and finally, later, in English assigned the title “The Beer Barrel Polka.”  Famously recorded by the Andrews sisters in 1939 and by Bobby Vinton in 1991—perhaps less famously by the Grateful Dead in 1974, by Willie Nelson in 1999, Billy Holiday in 1956, and Luciano Pavarotti in 1994, I’m sure you’ll recognize it even in my rendering:

SING: Roll out the Barrel.

Roll out the barrel, We’ll have a barrel of fun

Roll out the barrel, we’ve got the blues on the run

Zing Boom Terrara

Join in a glass of good cheer

Now it’s time to roll the barrel

For the gang’s all here (Spoken: Take it away boys!)

So in my English translation, each time the character of Fulvio addresses Rosamunde by name, he says: “Roll out the barrel, Rosamunde.”

Here is another example of how nothing can be taken at face value in a Jelinek text. The character of Fulvio, Rosamunde’s “suitor,” says:

Fulvio: Also ich wäre froh, wenn die ganze Welt schnackselt, dann wären alle in a good mood.

Simple enough for anyone familiar with the Austrian verb “schnackseln,” which means “fool around,” “screw around,” “fornicate.”

What may not be immediately apparent, however, is the political allusion to a statement made by Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis in May 2001 on the nationally broadcast Friedman talk show in which she stated that the people in Africa are dying of AIDS “weil sie zu viel schnackseln, der Schwarze schnackselt gerne/ because they’re all too busy making whoopie, as the Negro is wont to do.”

I have attempted to re-construct this allusion by employing the euphemism “discussing Ugandan affairs” that was originally coined in the 1970s by the British satirical magazine Private Eye.

Fulvio: I’d just as soon see the whole world out there discussing Ugandan affairs—then everyone would be in a good mood.

One additional example  from Rosamunde I consider particularly successful in translation:

O my thighs, my ass, forgive me for making you what you are! Forgive me for having shorn a woman scorned! O the ground where women dare to tread, forgive the fluffs of her feet that missed their cue when the stage was set for her grand entrance! O martyred Maries foraging at my breast, forgive me! Forgive me first and foremost for the fact that you found nothing there! Foreign man, forgive me for becoming your one and only! Foreign man, forgive me for not being there to become your one and only! I’ve done it my own way, may the road I have taken forgive me for the fact that it has always already been a road already taken.

O meine Oberschenkel, mein Po, vergebt mir, daß ich was ihr seid aus euch gemacht hab! Abscheu über Verschmähtwerden, vergib mir! Boden, wo Frauenfuß auftritt, vergib ihm den verpatzten Auftritt! Martern, die mir die Brust durchwühlen, vergebt mir! Daß ihr dort nichts gefunden habt, vergebt mir erst recht! Fremder Mann, vergib mir, daß ich die deine werde! Fremder Mann, vergib mir, daß ich nicht da bin, um die deine zu werden! Ich habe meinen eigenen Weg genommen, der mir bitte vergeben soll, daß er immer schon an eine andre vergeben ist.

Bambiland: Professional Bush-Bashing at the Nobel Prize Level

Jelinek acknowledges Aeschylus’s The Persians  as an important literary antecedent to Bambiland, and she is not the first to have seen in this ancient Greek tragedy telling parallels to the Bush administration’s war in Iraq. In June of 2003, Ellen McLaughlin was commissioned by the National Actors Theatre to do an adaptation of Aeschylus’s The Persians in response to the Iraq war, and the National Theatre of Greece recently (September 2006) staged a production of The Persians at the City Center in New York. A reviewer in New York Theatre Wire writes, “watching the production, it is difficult not to hear criticism of the American presence in the Middle East.”  Charles Isherwood’s review in the New York Times reads:

The ruler of a rich and powerful empire leads his countrymen into a disastrous war on foreign soil […]. It seems the guy was acting on advice from bad counselors. And trying to finish some business started by papa, who ruled before him. Ring any bells?

The New York production was performed in Greek, with English titles projected above and to the side of the stage, and the reviewer writes: “you might expect the experience to be like listening to a long series of speeches in a foreign tongue.”

But one cannot come away from Jelinek’s Bambiland saying “It’s Greek to me,” for she does not satisfy herself with allusion and innuendo, and describes the play as the product of a “press that’s all dressed up like an emperor with no new clothes.”

Bambiland is a scathing indictment of the policies of the Bush administration—it cites Bush, Blair, Cheney and Halliburton by name—and at the same time implicates the international news media as co-conspirator in the crime of outrageous proportion that is the Iraq war.

I freely concede that my interest in this piece is more political than literary. I stand together with the two penultimate recipients of the Nobel Prize in Literature in their critique of the current administration in Washington. Elfriede Jelinek, in a November 2004 interview with the New York Times stated:

I consider the current presidency dangerous to the world. I am really afraid of Bush, actually less of him than of the deputies standing in the shadows behind him. Compared to their activities, even Thomas Pynchon’s paranoid conspiracy theories are just children’s books.

Similarly, Harold Pinter, the 2005 recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature stated, already in 2003:

The US is really beyond reason now. It is beyond our imagining to know what they are going to do next and what they are prepared to do. There is only one comparison: Nazi Germany. […] Nazi Germany wanted total domination of Europe and they nearly did it. The US wants total domination of the world and is about to consolidate that.

So, I translate Bambiland with all the “extraordinary linguistic zeal” of political conviction, in the interest of revealing this society’s clichés and their subjugating power as we experience them today in “real time” here in America at “ground zero” of this utterly contemporary tragedy.  I have described this task of translation as “professional Bush-bashing at the Nobel Prize Level,” and conclude this presentation with a brief reading from that translation.

So where did all that oil go, unspent? Burning. Burning. Explosives set round the rigs where the oil wells up, where it goes up in flames and goes to waste. […]You can set fire to our homes, set fire to our icons, just keep your fires off our oil and our television sets, these are ours to keep, our altar—one that cannot disappear without a trace, for it is itself the trace! The tracer bullets that let us see in the dark. Let us see in the dark the way lightning strikes straight into the hailstorm of enemy fire.

Wo ist jetzt das ganze Öl hin, ungenutzt? Es brennt. Es brennt. Sprengstoff rund um die Quellen, wo das Öl sich staut und nutzlos verbrennt. […]An unser Haus können Sie den Brand legen, an unsere Götterbilder können Sie auch den Brand legen, aber nicht an unser Öl und nicht an unseren Fernseher, den behalten wir, unsren Altar, der darf nicht spurlos fort, der ist doch die Spur! Der ist unsre Leuchtspurmunition, damit wir im Dunkeln sehen können. Damit wir auch im Dunkeln sehen, wie  einschlägt der Blitz im Strom des feindlichen Heers.

[…]

They’re no longer content with dashing together the bronze prows of their cumbersome seafaring galleys. […] Those who believe in God. But it’s not enough for them. They’re out to free the fatherland. But they can’t because […] we question religion and we question the stones and we question the sand and we question the water, we alone know God and have realized that we want nothing to do with Him, we who can lead no one into temptation, we who are tempted by images alone. As soon as we walk in the door to the house, the first thing we do is turn on the tube. Seductive eyewash. The show must go on. And it does. Immediately. They never leave us without a trace, these images of our deity that we see, the ones only we can see there on the glowing screen. So we’ll just march in there and strip those people of their faith, and we’ll finally force these icons of ours down their throats, and that’ll be that. All’s well that ends well. Then those people will be washed up once and for all.

Schnabelstöße gegen unlenksame Schiffe, das spielen sie heute nicht mehr. […]Wo sie doch an Gott glauben. Das genügt ihnen aber nicht. Sie wollen das Vaterland befreien. Können sie aber nicht, denn nur wir halten dem Verführer, der uns nur aufhalten würde, stand und stellen die Religion in Frage und die Steine stellen wir in Frage und den Sand stellen wir in Frage und das Wasser stellen wir in Frage, nur wir kennen Gott und haben erkannt, wir wollen ihn nicht, wir Verführer von niemand, wir Verführer des Bildes allein. Wenn wir ins Haus gekommen, dann drehn wir das Bild sofort auf. Das muß funktionieren. Und es funktioniert auch. Sofort. Nie spurlos fort unserer Gottheit Bilder, die wir dort sehn, die nur wir dort sehn auf dem leuchtenden Schirm. So, wir entfernen dieses Volk vom Glauben, geben ihm dafür endlich unser Bild und aus. Dann wir es gut sein. Dann wird  dieses Volk vollkommen am Ende sein.

[…]

The British people, the American people, for example, who set out on their crusades. They’re the ones, hording the riches in their gold-gilded mansions. But of course they want even more. They always want even more. If you got it, you got it. If you got it, flaunt it. But not everyone who wants to will get some. Those who get some will not get it from the molly-coddled masses, and that is why they’ll get some. Winner takes all. Do you know the one I’m talking about? Have you ever heard the name of that corporation, Halliburton, and the name Cheney, the High Almighty Lord, scion of so-and-so or such-and-such, I know not what, son of a mother, or the mother of all sons I suppose, and he’s been battling the emotional whirlwinds of wishy-washy weal and woe since the day he was born. Dick Cheney. But his weal and woe won’t win. Halliburton will win, the corporation that can even build cages in Cuba, well, even I could manage to build a cage if I had to, but it would barely be built tough enough to contain a rabbit, if that; they managed to build Corpus Christi in Texas, too. And the place sure lives up to its name! He’s just going to rebuild everything, Lord of the Energy Industry, Lord Chairman of the Board, Lord of the Cooked Books, Lord of Cronyism. But Cronyism is an Arab thing. You can bet your bottom dollar on it: this company will come out the winner no matter who actually wins this war.

Die des Engländer- und Amerikanervolks, die auf Heerfahrt zogen, zum Beispiel. Sie sinds, reichen Horts, goldbergende Burgen. Aber sie wollen natürlich noch mehr. Sie wollen immer noch mehr. Wer hat, der hat. Wer kann, der kann. Nicht jeder, der will, der bekommt. Dieser bekommt, nicht aus verweichlichtem Volk, deshalb er bekommt. Der bekommt. Kennen Sie den schon? Haben Sie gehört den Namen der Firma Halliburton und den Namen Cheney, den heiligen Herrn, den Sproß von ich weiß nicht was oder wem, gewiß von einer Mutter, und seither kämpft er gegen die zahlreichen weichen Gefühle. Dick Cheney. Aber seine Gefühle werden nicht gewinnen. Es wird gewinnen Halliburton, die Firma, sogar Käfige auf Kuba kann sie bauen, na, das würde sogar ich notfalls noch schaffen, einen Käfig bauen, aber höchstens Kaninchen hielte der stand, Corpus Christi in Texass haben sie ja auch gebaut, das haben sie gekonnt. Das hat seinen Namen verdient. Er wird das alles wieder aufbauen, der Herr von der Energiewirtschaft, der Herr Vorstandsvorsitzende, der Herr der Bilanzfälschungen, der Herr der Vettern.  Aber Vettern gibts nur in Arabien. Drauf könnt ihr euch verlassen, daß diese Firma gewinnt, egal wer gewinnt.

[…]

They just hauled their asses on in there, like a walking mirage of the avenger incarnate, into a foreign land, where many of them bit the dust in the sands, and now you’re saying they’re not going to get anything out of it? Well. I told you so. They’ve got to get their contracts, and none too few. They haven’t gotten any yet. But they’re still negotiating hard. The construction companies will come running after the spectacular real estate, sister concubines and condominiums, two of a kind. They’ll come running, one after the other, with strict rules to determine who’s first in line. I told you so. They landed the deals, founded the fatherlands—by luck of the draw—no, it wasn’t luck, it was the law of the land: connections, lobbyists, family ties, tradition, who gives a hoot how, at any rate, the first ones in line got the fattest contracts. The purchase order is already blowing in the wind like a willow, but not a weeping one. First come, first served.

Da haben sie sich als leibhaft Trugbild des Rächers ins fremde Land, in dessen Sand sie zu mehreren beissen mußten, geschleppt, und die sollen jetzt gar nichts kriegen? Na eben. Ich künd es euch. Die müssen auch Aufträge kriegen, und nicht zu knapp. Noch haben sie keine. Aber sie verhandeln noch fest. An Schönheit sonder Makel, Schwestern gleichen Stamms, werden die Baufirmen antanzen. Eine nach der anderen, und welche zuerst, das ist streng geregelt. Ich künd es euch. Als Heimat hatten sie – durch Los erlangt – nein, nicht durch Los, durch Gewohnheitsrecht, Beziehungen, Lobbies, Verwandtschaft, Tradition, ist ja Wurst, also erlangt haben die ersten jedenfalls die dicksten der Aufträge.  Der Bestellzettel biegt sich schon wie eine Weide, aber keine, die trauert. Wer zuerst kommt, mahlt zuerst.