For a year, I wrote by hand on paper, a haiku-a-day. Then I translated the haikus to Norwegian, using Google Translate. Of course, these translations are not accurate and likely make little to no sense at all. This was part of the fun, in that sometimes a bad translation can be funny. Sometimes it can also be considered rude (beklager), but I also underwent this project to expand my sense of humor. I was just coming out of graduate school, and had more than my fill of serious theories. Plus, I am always looking for more reasons to laugh. I don’t enjoy frustration at all, so if I can transform a frustration into something so ridiculous I can laugh, then I am glad for this. Also, translating from English to Norwegian breaks the rules of the haiku, no longer making the words a haiku. This rule breaking being of a micro and utterly benign transgression-also something to laugh about. I’ve observed people breaking rules of the sake of breaking rules where harm can be done-but sometimes taking a course a little bit off path, that’s utterly safe, is just as much fun without the risk.
The idea to do this haiku project started with a desire to learn Norwegian; not because I had to since so many people speak English in Norway, but because I wanted to because my husband and his family’s native language is Norwegian-and I want to be a part of this new part of my family. Plus, I have always wanted to learn a new language.
The classes didn’t go so well for me, where I was confronted with dyslexia. I never noticed this when I was learning English, but in a formal classroom setting, I kept catching myself writing the letters out of order, and because the grammar is different, writing words out of order. Over several months, I became frustrated and surely doubtful I would ever speak Norwegian. Add to this, I was in school again after an incredibly arduous two-years in graduate school. Though I maintain nascent desires of taking to deeper study of Embodied Cognition or Cultural Studies, my brain was at max capacity, multiplied by confusion.
After taking some months off, a funny thing began to happen. I was starting to think of replies in Norwegian. It felt funny and then fun, even when people were speaking English to me, I had this new inner voice på norsk. I have read about latency and and became interested in understanding latency in learning through studying photography-in that the latent image shares some resemblance to how the human body imprints memories within it’s nervous system. This project has been the first time I was aware of this latency on a practical level. And I found this latency to be a great ‘aha’ in that when people talk about having faith that things are working themselves out, I was always skeptical. What is this thing people call “faith”? I have too many religious connotations to the word, and being a skeptic and not religious myself, preferred to banish such a word from my vocabulary. But now I realize faith as a part of the creating process. In that if I want to learn something, I can put a lot of effort into it, and whether I believe it will work or not, over time, through latency, I will eventually learn.
Such experiences reinforce the tendency I have to never give up on something I really care for. So in this year of writing haiku, failing at learning, then realizing I have learned, I’ve also had to learn to take it a lot easier on myself. As my husband always is volunteering to remind me I get caught up on details too easily, I have to learn to unwind a bit and practice more of the flow I attempt to create with my artwork-save the strenuous attention to detail for things like….well, I don’t know, perhaps beaucratic paperwork. But even then, all of this haiku project, struggled learning and past years have had me come to face myself in the mirror and let my shoulders relax even more. To gå sake.
Exhibition Note: This haiku project I envision as an interactive exhibition, where people can write-in their haikus in their language, and people can translate them as part of playing/learning new cultures. I would like to see a world where things are not all in English, but rather where different languages and cultures can be celebrated for and tolerated in their differences.