From The Falling Latitudes
Between 2006 and 2012, I dedicated much of my time and attention to From The Falling Latitudes. However, I ultimately abandoned work on this project for several reasons.
1) I could never secure the kind of material support or resources (grants, residences, etc.) I needed to realize my ambitions, best summarized in this language from one of the last proposals/applications for assistance I submitted: “I have taken to describing From The Falling Latitudes as a ‘fictional anthology of fake translations of nonexistent texts by imaginary authors.’ Less ‘high-concept’ and more specifically, From The Falling Latitudes is a proposed novel in the form of an anthology meant to celebrate/memorialize the otherwise unrecognized work of a loosely affiliated, international (although mostly Latin American) literary movement known as Translationism. Via poems and supplementary materials (contextual documents, a critical introduction, contributor bios, etc.), From The Falling Latitudes will tell the larger story of how the English-speaking of North America views, and has long viewed, our ‘neighbors to the South’ in terms of both political problems and cultural opportunities. Simultaneously, From The Falling Latitudes is an exploration of how English has been shaped by the power it and its speakers wield, and how deformations of English might suggest ways to reconfigure relations around concepts other than domination, appropriation, colonization, and resistance; in short, that, in mistranslation, some other and much more equitable truth might emerge.”
2) The 2008 US Presidential Election (and the concurrent financial crisis) prompted a major shift in American political discourse. A project that had felt entirely contemporary in August of 2008 was rendered historical by year’s end.
3) Devising a frame in which I might position myself—as author, as monolingual subject, as American, as ventriloquist, as gate-keeper, as heteronym, as other—vis-à-vis From The Falling Latitudes proved beyond my present abilities.
4) Roberto Bolaño.
5) Members of the literary translation community offered me sage advice about how From The Falling Latitudes might be received—advice that, after much deliberation, I chose to heed.
6) I began work on three new writing projects that soon consumed my time and attention.
In assembling these materials, I’ve chosen to take a purely documentary approach. I’ve not endeavored to substantially revise any of these writings or make them less anachronistic. They are presented here as-is—or, if you prefer, in a state of suspended animation. These are not fragments of a lost (or ruined) whole. Nor has anything here been finalized. These are drafts, some more fully conceptualized than others, none of them indispensable to anything except an idea I seem to remember I once had.
Finally, by making From The Falling Latitudes available under a Creative Commons license, I sincerely hope other creators will consider translating these writings into languages other than English, thus producing new “originals”—works that fully reveal all that is derivative, chauvinistic, and tongue-tied about these efforts.
— Joe Milazzo, March 2020