Language Barrier

I’ve been reading Hideo Kojima’s The Creative Gene lately, because not only do I love this man’s video games, I love the brain of the guy that makes them. There’s a particular spark to his games and a love of storytelling that’s downright infectious, so a collection of essays about pieces of media that he likes is a joy to read. In it he discusses everything from classic science fiction to Agatha Christie (in the Socratic method, no less) to the I Spy series of books. It’s great, and I’m not saying it’s like reading his own version of this blog, but, I kinda am.

Anyway, owing to it being by Kojima, many of the books referenced are by Japanese authors. And only some of them are translated; too often the little blurb at the end of the essay about the novel reads “As of this writing, it has not been translated into English.” Which is a bummer, because some of the books sound like great reads. Hoshiyadori no Koe sounds like a great read, but I won’t be able to read it because I don’t read Japanese.

That said, I know I’m lucky: English is my first language; I fluently speak what’s become the lingua-franca of the world, a lingua franca that’s only spread more with the proliferation of the internet. This means that most media in the world is accessible to me; movies are either in English or available with translation, online articles are in English, and the dankest of memes are in English. Me complaining about being unable to read one novel is a man in the ocean complaining that the water in his glass doesn’t have enough salt.

And yet.

I still kinda wanna read that book.

I don’t have a neat answer to all this. Demanding Every Story Every be translated into Every Language Ever is silly, plus translation takes work, and getting the nuance right is a skill unto itself. Maybe instead of mourning a story that’s out of my reach, it’d be better to bask in the knowledge that there are so many stories out there told by so many people in so many stories. Maybe just celebrate that there are more stories than I could ever hope to consume, as evidenced by the novels lying in weight on my bedside table.

That, or, I dunno, learn Japanese.

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