... in TRANSPOSING: ... the story between translation and adaptation - Отражение Spiegelt Reflection

Отражение Spiegelt Reflection

Text by Alex Azazeal

Photos by Koen Douterloigne, Sarah Hampelmann, John Campbell, Lea Winkler

Click on / hover over text to see images

Chapter 1: New York

Will you have a roof over your head and food no matter what?

When we think of gentrifикации,

one picture that comes to mind is

writers, and then
the middle class

moving into neighborhoods previously occupied by urban romantics, i.e

the working class

“It’s too expensive here.”
The word gentrify comes from England and describes a similar development in the past, albeit with the word for middle class at that time – the gentry.

It has been adopted in German and Russian,

in the essentially English form


Another aspect we might think about is who these gentrifiers are:

they must come from somewhere;
they must be gentrified themselves.

In New York

we see this taking place in Brooklyn.

Who is gentrifying?

The college educated middle class that can no longer afford to live in Manhattan.


Because central banks and investors have lifted the cost of living in Manhattan to

an unaffordable level.


Federal Reserve policy and finance, i.e. Wall Street, are gentrifying the educated middle class.


something lies below this as well:

the system.

The dynamic of Gentrifizierung requires

an upward bias,

that is,

rising prices,
wages, etc.

Just like you want

a promotion and
a raise

rather than

to remain in the same position you have,

policymakers prefer

a steady rise over stability.

As pools of death in Lower Manhattan

recall the gone World Trade Center, and
reflect the new Freedom Tower,

along with a different cityscape,

whatever place is being gentrified, be it

Newport Beach

has not generally been there forever.
In New York,

neither on the Lower East Side
nor in Bushwick

had Latinos been living prior to the change in immigration law in 1965 (Hart-Celler Act);

neither in the East Village
nor on the Upper West Side

had the Euro-American middle class been living prior to the hippie movement.

Kapitel 2: München

The Olympia tower resembles its reflection in the water below. We hope there is some correlation between our conception of our impression and our actual impression.
In Germany, we live in a small


world of expertise –

at least in terms of work,

where we spend most of our time and
expend most of our energy. For the rest,

we may not have much left,

but we try to be polite and considerate.

It’s true that

we enter into this Modus when

we are seated in a place for a period of time, let’s say a

beer garden,
café, etc.

You won’t see us being attentive in

an elevator,
U-Bahn, etc.

We aren’t interested in small talk.
And we aren’t gut at it.

But when we sit down,

we perceive dass we

ask our interlocuters questions,
listen to their answers,
comment intelligently or
ask follow-up questions,
relate what our conversationpartner
has said to our eigenes life.

The relationship between our perception and die Realität may differ due to

our speech,
tone of voice,

but I’ve noticed dass

some guests from other countries don’t respond so well to this

Perhaps they want

more Spontaneität,
less complete, komplexe, лоgical propositions.

Vielleicht they want speed.
Or, может быть, our impression deviates from realьность.

Глава 3ая: Санкт-Петербург

If you create too many rules for


it becomes impossible to keep track of them all.

This may well contribute to our refusal to obey anything but the most basic ones, which

usually coinсоответствует
with common humanity.

Contracts are еще another case of this.

Such agreements in Russia

attempt to reguлировать more details

than comparable German or английские agreements,

often define each terмин used in the doкументе and
include substantially more clauses.

Evidently, the parties are optimистичны that a Dokумент can rule out any possible ambiguity or contingency.

This idealизм is oddly reinforced in the rental Markt,

but by exactly the opposite approach:

The parties essentially confess
in a one page document
that their relationship is


As my landlord said on signing:

“This is worthless.”

Then values and praкtики come into play.

For a period of time
it was possible for
cars with sirenами
to drive
on the wrong стороне
of the road.

So private citizens покуpurchased

sirenы and
placed them

in or on their машине.

It isn’t altogether по-different in places like

New York or München.

In the 90s

the mayor of New York signed a decree that called for the ticketing of j-walkers,

pedestrians who
cross at red lights.

The police department refused to enforce it.

In München

there is a fine for urinating in public;

Polizisten who have caught me have never issued a fine,

just a warning for
a fine next time.

In America and России

we can ride bikes without lights at night and
we can cross intersections at red lights as pedestrians.

Chapter 4: London

The pubs in London pulsieren with human energы

on Thursday and weekend evenings.

The partiers reflect their daytime


selves as little as

the details of Russian contracts
correspond to the mindset of the people.

Unlike America

we also don’t need music to stimulate conversation –

although we do frequently rely on it,
especially for young people.

But our pubs are loud nonetheless.

Whether or not it is the lack of

damping material,
noise eaters,

they are so filled with chatter and laughter that you

are forced to elevate your voice,
shout your order to the barkeeper,
scream your questions and answers

to your friend

or talk in your partners’ ear.

I’ve speculated dass

this atmosphere has contributed to

the difficulty of sustaining groups
or even gathering them in the first place.

A logical place for a group to meet is a pub.

This is exactly what happens quite oft in Germany

where есть Stammtische,

a group of people who
meet in a place
at set intervals.

In England

we can’t do this:

Nobody is able to hear more than the person right next to them.

I’ve asked whether

we need the stimulus of noise to encourage speech.

Wouldn’t alcohol do it alone? But if that were the case,

wouldn’t there be more quiet pubs?
and what about restaurants?

They’re loud too…

Do we need zumindest noise to

forget about work,
jolt our train of thought,
focus on our friends…

Or are we the dumb middle class

as Bloomberg News implied about our American friends in Manhattan?

Chapter 5: Newport Beach (California)

New residents gentrifizieren the desert in Newport Beach.
But is the dynamic all that different in Californии?

Most of us are mainly concerned about costs here –

not like the Germans

we gather,

to minimize costs by

eliminating waste,
finding discounts,

special offers,
Скидки, and

insisting on fairness.

Yet we are interested in the cost of acquisition:

“Bet that isn’t cheap.”
“It must cost a million+ to live there.”
“I can’t imagine what that costs.”
“That’s John Wayne’s home.“

(The deixis for distance rather than

proximity is used)

In Russian

we use the verb “have” for physical objects.

In other words

you can’t “have” a house, car, etc.

To express this idea

you must say something like:

By me,
around me,
near me
is a/the house, car, etc.
(у меня есть дом, машина, т.д.).

Imagine if we didn’t have the word


in Newport Beach.

We wouldn’t be able to speak.

If you don’t know Newport Beach,

I hope to sum it up very simply:

we have

cars for transportation, and
the beach.

There is no downtown.

We live between these five places.
We live here because of the beach.
We all love the beach,


after the age of 30,

we can’t spend
more than two hours there
because our lives
are no less hectic than
our friends in New York or London.


economics deals with

the scarcity of resources;

our lives deal with

the scarcity of time.



We think so, but

like our retired friend in England

we also have a lot going on;

and when we don’t,

we are used to the motion of having a lot going on.

Kapitel 6: München

Many of us are quite shy and rather uncomfortable in public or with strangers.

confidence may conceal this until we get our bearings or feel comfortable.

In Bavaria

we seem to like the silent approach.

I suggest that it

wins us time to learn about the stranger(s), and
is neutral,

preventing us from making a bad impression or
acting in a way that has a negative impact over the long term.

I watch a few friends –

one arrogant to the point of instilling fear in even his closest acquaintances;
another preferring questions and facts to interaction,
a third who is basically an intellectual with long explanations, and
a fourth who is a relaxed elderly philosopher.

In the first two or three meetings,

like a fly on the wall,



It’s similar with our attitude toward speed and progress.

When we encounter something new,

we prefer to

consider it,
perfect it, and
slowly adopt the novelty

to ensure its ideal operation.

Essentially, we prefer silence to start.


by sitting, Sitzen, сидение

we think through the situation,
figure out a good approach (for greatest number),

without risking disaster on the way.

This would explain why

we have been able to remain relatively relaxed
in the face of rapid change
over the last twenty years –

at least in Bavaria.

Глава 7ая: Москва

The pace of life,
development is both incredibly fast and slow for us.

Part of it is that

we perceive the need to catch up.

I guess it’s because of the communist era now,

but this is a common theme in our history –

the Kommunisten said it about the the Russian empire,
Российская Империя said it about the Tsardom of Muscovy.

This desire to catch up meets


with a lack of resourcы and
an immense amount of confusion and

due to the

unsystemaтический introduction of new technoлогии.

It’s so overwhelming we stop.
But when we pick это up again, начнемся,

whether “это” involves


we have fallen еще further behind and

must rush even more.

This might sound awful to

our Ameriканские,

or especially,

German friends,

but we have a





It’s essentially the essence.
The существо of life:
we are always behind –
lurching forwärts,
careening backwärts –
that’s what makes life
worth living;
das ist part of
what separates us
from a machine.

Chapter 8: London

If gentrification is

visible in New York,
less очеvisible in München und Санкт-Петербург and Newport Beach и Москве

we certainly

observe it in London.

A few years ago

we were moving to Brick Lane,


we’ve headed further to Dalston, Hackney and beyond.

It’s Brooklyn on

speed or
crack or

but definitely not heroine or marijuana.

Have you

thought about speed recently?

Not the drug,
but the concept?
And its Relevanz to our lives?

I know a womженщину,

in good shape,

who never sits still:

She has

day care for her grandchildren;
dinner with friends
gardening in the morning
lunch with husband
choir rehearsal in the afternoon
homeless dinner in the evening
Day after tomorrow:
church meeting in der Früh
shopping afterwards
обед with friends
performance with second choir am Nachnoon
dinner with husband’s colleagues вечером
Two days after tomorrow:

Day care for her grandchildren…

But even if it looks like I don’t lead such a hectic life.
Looks deceive.
It’s only because of work,

which is a vortex of activности itself,

that leaves no time for

additional projeкты,
development, etc.

And god forbid you have a problem.
Recently I paused for a minute.
A question came to mind:

What is the alternative?
What if there were a crisis?

Not a financial crisis,

but a crisis in life?
One where there was

no more work;
no more income;
no recovery.

Chapter 9: New York

We seem to share the elements of speed and chaos with our Russian friends.

Our speech also reveals this.

I sat in a room with prospective jurors.

At first, the Latinos, Afro-Americans and Euro-Americans were


Half asleep

they listened to

the prosecuting lawyer’s explanation of the case,
the desire for objective jurors

(and they really believed in objective,
even arguing with me about it).

When the prospective jurors warmed up

after speaking about themselves in questioning,

it was hard

for the lawyers to settle them down.

Clipped speech became long monologues about how

just because he was drunk,
does not mean he didn’t deserve
help since I have many friends who
ride the subway drunk;
as a security guard I am required to
wait until the last parent has picked
up their child
I often ride the subway drunk,
that's why we have a subway.


we need to activate our minds

then we forget the impression made on others.
Then it’s all about

our world,
our worldview,
what we know better than anyone else.


I am capable of offering illumination

– nothing else matters:

no politeness,
no consideration.

Everyone else is wrong,

but they are lucky enough to have me.

In America

we don’t just have apartments, cars
we also have people.

Erich Fromm has argued that

no culture has ever developed the linguistic ability to have

(in the sense of possess)

and relinquished it,

returned to the pre-have formulations

similar to those in Russia.

Although I think it unlikely,

the intensity of gentrification

in England and America

might correlate with more widespread use of have, although

in German

it is also possible to possess, i.e. have people, eine Frau, usw.


“having” contributes to speed
and speed to gentrification,
I know another kooky linguistic theory that

also contributes to speed in English speaking countries.

Without speed

you will have a roof над головой and Essen to eat.

Figure in chapter 1: New York © Lea Winkler
Figure in chapter 2: New York © Koen Douterloigne
Figure in chapter 3: Санкт-Петербург © Lea Winkler
Figure in chapter 4: London © Koen Douterloigne
Figure in chapter 5: Newport Beach (California) © John Campbell
Figure in chapter 6: München © Sarah Hampelmann
Figure in chapter 7: Москва © Lea Winkler
Figure in chapter 8: London © Koen Douterloigne
Figure in chapter 9: New York © John Campbell