Tuesday, November 7, 2017

What does the universe look like? V: 2 - 6

Song of Songs: Timeless love poetry in contemporary calligraphy.

Every step of this design was really hard to get right.  The translation desperately needed modernizing; the intense emotions it described went from pleasure to despair; the fiery central glow had to be created from pen strokes; the lettering should follow curved guidelines.  
I'll describe how I made some of these decisions.  
1. Several words from the King James Version clearly needed re-translation.  When the woman hears her lover at the door, she says that "my bowels were moved for him." It's a real mood-killer.  Of course the modern reader, startled, can figure out the idea, but this phrase that was routine 500 years ago is unpleasant today. I substituted words from a later version, which also convey a visceral reaction but without any unwanted associations, "my heart trembled within me."*  

Translating the Bible for calligraphy is like rendering it for musical performance; you want the meaning and the art to reach the viewer or listener without any distraction.  

*The 50-some translations I consulted ranged widely to describe this gut feeling of anticipation: from "I was thrilled that he was near" to "my heart began to pound for him" to "I felt excited inside" to "my inmost being yearned for him."  

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