A few days ago, I spent the day contemplating digital physics and the Ultra Deep Field; today, it is the marvelous Translation Party to which the bloggers at Boing Boing have directed my attention.
Translation Party is basically Fun with Babel Fish, repeated over and over again. The user inputs a phrase, the embedded script translates it into Japanese, then back into English again, then back to Japanese, then back to English . . . until a stasis is achieved, where two consecutive results are the same.
And the results are exactly what you'd expect, like Dutch Schultz' last words, like the most fractured bits from Ulysses, like the old game of telephone taken to the umpteenth power, like those instructions that come with the cheap Chinese toys.
The comments that followed the post invariably were of the form, look at the clever quote I submitted! And look at what the page spat out in response! Things eventually got to the point where someone had input the chorus to "Every Breath You Take."
Well, fuck that Sting shit, I thought. What we need to do here is to think big, and big in this case means running the entirety of Eno's "Dead Finks Don't Talk" through this Party machine.
It can be risky to think big like this, I know. And it's not, to be honest, the way I'm normally used to thinking. But if you can't bring yourself to take part in protracted silliness in reference to an Eno song, just what would it take?
Alright, don't answer that. 'Cause I'm not gonna do "Close To The Edge."
Anyway, let us proceed with the jollity. If it is not immediately apparent, Eno's original and somewhat surreal lyrics (or at least the lyrics as interpreted by the blessed acolytes at Enoweb) are on the left, the hilarious (and even surreal-er) output from Translation Party on the right.
Oh cheeky cheeky
Oh cheeky cheeky
Pretty sure this exercise would have been worth it for the
Differentiation and death
Focus on the zombies.
It's all pretty strange, but perhaps the strangest part is how the parentheses get unhooked and thrown all over the place. It ends up looking like concrete poetry, or like particularly bad prog-rock lyrics.
For those looking to replicate my results, I input the song by couplets, "Oh perfect masters They thrive on disasters" all together, for example.
Sometimes there will be no stasis reached. You get instead an endless two-part loop, the Japanese translator returning one thing, and the English tranlsator returning the other ad infinitum until the script cuts the ribbon. From the comments at Boing Boing, it happens fairly frequently, but it only happened once during the compiling here. In the last line, the cyber-translators couldn't agree whether it was "not being killed" or "is not killed."
Eno was never one to put too much stock into his lyrics. He often arrived at them randomly, he frequently sought to obscure them, and in the end, he quit rock and roll because he thought the importance placed on them was so distorted.
So something makes me think that if Eno was aware of the Translation Party, and of these efforts here, he'd approve of the efforts made to decouple his lyrics even further from the oppressor meaning he'd always fought.
And maybe he'd think it was as funny as I do, too.
Brian Eno - Here Come the Warm Jets - 08 - Dead Finks Don't Talk.mp3
192 kbps mp3, up for six weeks (or more) (Right click and save as target)
File Under: A Shaky Sense of Diction