Translator's Afterword (or Middle-word)

It says ‘afterword’ but I hope this is not the end... I love reading Tomoko's diary (although I could not always admit this when I was stuck with translation) and hope that she will continue to write till the end of this year -- please, Tomoko! I will keep up with my job, too.

Although it took much longer than I thought and it was not always easy, I really enjoyed translating Tomoko's diary. Her stories are funny (I tried to keep the sense of funniness in the translation but it was difficult), and I found her idea very interesting and sharp.

I was often struck by the way Tomoko sees things around her. It is a painter's way of seeing (so it appeared to me) but at the same time, it is not myopic, something which only interests painters. It is always opened to us and something we can share with her. That is why I admire Tomoko so much. Her writing changes the way we relate ourselves to paintings; they are not something out there away from our everyday life. Painting starts from ‘seeing things’ and our lives are full of ‘seeing things.’

These days, I often come across with works which can only be ‘interpreted’ within the context of art history. When I am looking at these kinds of works, I feel as though I am being taught. I am afraid that these works do not excite me, and I do not feel related to them. Tomoko does not talk about why she paints -- but I feel that there is something very basic, something close to us in it.

I said Tomoko's texts make us feel that painting is part of our lives and it is something close to us; but this does not mean that everyone can be a Picasso! Once you see her paintings, you will see how talented she is! Her paintings tell her energy and her passion. She is a real artist, a genius (and you are less likely to think her a genius if you only meet her in everyday context -- for instance, her hobby is to pick things up on the street -- but this may be a sign of genius?).

It was easier for me to translate the things about her everyday life, for example, about cats and dogs, or about the place she visited; but when my husband checked the draft of the translation, he said these parts were not very easy to read. He found the parts in which she talks about works of other artists are better-done. How strange. I do not know why... it may be because I try to digest what she says before translating when the text appears to be more complicated. It may also be because I am more used to a ‘formal’ kind of writing.

Tomoko introduced me to the writings of Michio Hayashi (series of lectures called Paintings Die Twice or Never Die, published by Art Trace), and his text inspired me to write an essay which compares J. M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello with the works of Cy Twombly. I do not know how valid this comparison is yet; but I sensed some similarity in their works -- somehow both of them are struggling to make flat surfaces alive, to make them ‘an event.’ I am more and more interested in the relation between paintings and novels particularly of the latter half of the twentieth century. I will keep up with this topic, along with the translation of Tomoko's diary.