I watch the film unfold with a mixture of admiration, bewilderment, and, for purely selfish and private reasons, disappointment. My potentially global work has been made local. It is now locked into Germanic culture. It portrays the German media world, a distinctly German sensuality, a concrete Tyrolese. Well, haven’t I written frequently in admiration of the artist happy to engage with his local community and ignore the global? Indeed I have. But this local is not my local. And of course, thanks to the complex laws of film rights and copyright, something else I have recently expressed a few opinions about, it will now not be easy for English or American producers to make their own version of the film. Like it or not, Cleaver, Cleaver, really has expatriated. He’s Cliewer now.
Parks has a very interesting blog post in the New York Review of Books on the German film adaptation of his novel Cleaver. It raises a number of the issues I hope our ACLA panel can address.
Park’s essay is about film adaptation, cultural adaptation, and the specificity of the local (a phrase that I believe I have stolen from Seamus Heaney’s nobel lecture). It falls squarely into the concerns I hoped to address when I proposed the panel, but it also touches on issues of accessibility that I think are too rarely discussed in literary circles. Park’s essay is not about disability, but the disabling nature of copyright. I want to push his questions to disability, regardless of whether he wants to go there.
I think we might find these same concerns raised in debates about sign language and the potential for cultural erasure in body modification (Drury University has a quick, if somewhat dated summary here). I have previously reblogged two striking posts by others about braille as part of my own ongoing reflections about what accessibility means in the worlds I inhabit as a writer, academic, and teacher, and I hope to recruit a few presenters for our panel who might consider how translation interacts with ongoing debates about accessibility. If this is your field and you’d like to participate, you can submit here anytime before Nov. 15th.
Parks, Tim. “My Novel, Their Culture.” Nybooks.com. The New York Review of Books blog. 3 Oct. 2012. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.