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Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Can You Tell a Kook by His Cover?

Donald Luskin presents a comparison of US and UK covers for four books by left wingers. This has something to do with the lurid UK cover for Paul Krugman's book, The Great Unravelling. Scroll up and down on Luskin's site for more on that.

I must say I like the UK cover of Michael Moore's childishly-titled Dude, Where's My Country? better than the US cover. The UK cover shows Moore and Bush in boxing poses. There are cut lines around them, as if you could cut them out as paper dolls and put them on sticks and make them fight. This, to me, represents the momentarily - amusing - but - ultimately - pointless nature of Moore's oeuvre.

The US cover, on the other hand, shows Moore hauling down the statue of Saddam Hussein (except it has Bush's head on it). This is more in line with Moore's conception of himself, as the brave iconoclast and toppler of empires.

Speaking of which, here's a translation of a fun article from the German magazine[? newspaper?] Die Tageszeitung (or TAZ, for short). (Here's the original.)

Maybe it's just me, but Babelfish's German translations stink. It has a hard time with German verb order, and chokes on those long compound words. Of course, their translations aren't perfect in French, either, but I studied French for three or four seconds and can usually smooth over the rough spots. In German I'm helpless.

That said, here's the opening of TAZ's piece, titled "An American Martyr", just as Babelfish delivers it:

Michael of moorlands will die. The day will come, there raises a pistol against it or a precision rifle, perhaps a confused weapon fool, perhaps an CIA agent skillful by George W. Bush. Shots will whip, balls its grey XXXL t Shirt will penetrate, this ridiculous, sweated piece material. The balls will knock the dark baseball cap into its massive, fat body, it will backwards fall, fall thereby from the head, roll in a small semi-circle around the fallen body and remain lying. Michael of moorlands is dead.

(Hey. No cheering in the back there.)

Well. Dramatic, eh?

To continue in that theme:

The whole week it could have remained in Berlin, says Michael Moore, so many people wanted it to experience. After the Show may they to it questions place.

"One hears so much over it, what does the CIA. Don't you have a fear around your life?"

No, says Michael Moore. "The only opportunity, at which you fear is around my life to have had, if you see me going in in a McDonalds."

But later---and here's where my ignorance of German hampers me---the author (Stefan Kuzmany) says Moore is speaking in a falsetto, apparently making a joke about dying:

"Uuuuuuuuuuwir haben ihn doch noch gesehn! Er war so luuuuuuustig, so fr?????hlich. Uuuuuuuuuuuuund jetzt ist er toooot! Uuuuuuuuund er hat noch Witze darĂ¼ber gemacht!"

Naturally Babelfish cannot cope with that. But cleaning up the extended vowels only helps a little:

"Uwir have it nevertheless still gesehn! It was so merrily, so merry. And now it is dead! And it made still jokes over it!"

"Gesehn" might be a form of "gesehen", "seen" (a couple of web sites with the word show that it makes sense---or at least does not make nonsense---in context). "Uwir" is hopeless; a Google search turns up mostly gibberish. It might be archaic.

Anyhow, this sounds like Moore is making jokes about his own assassination, which is not only creepy, but a little egomaniacal.

Now, for those (like me) who like to become outraged at such things, here's some fresh meat (translation cleaned up very slightly):

Yes, it is terrible: the war, based on lies. The education system, intentionally ruined (this strategy calls Moore "enforced stupidity"). The social system destroys. The whole fraud and the exploitation. But like Moore reported of it, it does not to pain. And the Germans directly not at all. They laugh.

It becomes quiet, completely quietly, when on Germany comes to speak Moore. It does pain, if it says that we may not watch, how the social net is cut. That we may not lose the solidarity with those, no work, money to have, those nobody does not help and those completely to be moved therefore. Together with the Germans over the ignorance of the Americans is a thing makes itself merry...[But] earnest becomes it, if it concerns reforms here [in Germany].


He is only [a] guest [in Germany]. But: "I saw into the face of the devil. And I want to save you that. " What will the people do, which him belongs, its books to have read? Will they begin to resist? Will they change our system? Will Michael Moore be their leader?

Moore assures his German audience that his life is safe:

"Nothing will happen to me. Cola and frits will kill me...not the CIA. however now I [am] in Germany, me will healthy nourish, and each morning rise we early and run around the block", say Michael Moore on Sunday. At the Monday morning [he] did not run, but chauffiert with the car to the press conference.


Michael Moore will die, in the hand a Burger.

Because of the limitations of the translation software, I can't tell whether Kuzmany is mocking Moore, or agrees with him. He seems to be ambivalent. I can't tell whether the emphasis on martyrdom is Moore's, or Kuzmany's, and if the latter, whether Kuzmany is making fun of him.

It seems pretty clear, though, that Moore is telling his German audience what idiots Americans are, and how badly we've screwed up our country, and urging the pure and innocent Germans not to screw theirs up too.

With that kind of pandering demogoguery, it sounds as if Moore is running for Hitler.

It's probably just the translation.

Speaking of lurid covers, check out this cover for the German version of Bowling for Columbine, a special offer to TAZ subscribers.

TAZ link via Davids Medienkritik where there is much more.

[Corrections, context, and nuance welcome on those translations, by the way.]