Monday, May 17, 2010

Cover - Preface/Introduction

Today I inaugurate the delivery of my coolaboration with Prof. Steiner: the Phantazoologicum: book of ancient beasts and beings. Although I have placed myself as translator in the initial credits, my work embraces the re-writing of the original texts and, as the Professor would say, "adding the needed lyrism to the otherwise cold, hard data".

It's been two years since I began working on this and this is the first time it will be shown to the public, as publishers here in Mexico have not found it a viable publication. I would like to tell you, dear reader, a bit about the project so you may know the background of it:

It was the year 2008, I was working as translator and style corrector for a couple of publishers and independent writers. My trips to Guanajuato were frequent, the bohemian nature of the city relaxed me and helped me get acquainted with many people. It was because of a conversation during these café reunions I had with a friend that knew of my tastes and fascination for fantasy, surrealism and oneirism that I was invited by Prof. Steiner to coolaborate in this project. This friend had spoken of me to the Professor and he in turn, wrote to me, detailing the idea he had for the book. Of course, I was more than happy to comply and join in, seeing as it was something right up my alley. After a few formalities, I was able to meet this tall, blonde man. His Germanic roots where easily recognizable due to his appearance and his peculiar accent. Chatting with him, I learned he had come to Mexico many years ago (he never said the date), and had fallen in love with my country. He teached philosophy in the University and led a comfortable life. By the looks of his house and the frequency of his travels, I assumed he had inherited a considerable ammount from some relative. I cannot imagine any other way to work on this ambitious project he had in mind, paying the expenses on such long trips around the world and purchasing such large quantities of books.
He had already been working on the Phantazoologicum for 8 years, so he simply needed someone to catalog and synthetyze his texts for most of the creatures. His Spanish was almost perfect, but his compositions were somewhat complicated, too much for the occasional reader. I had a rough time deciphering some of his texts due to the number of quotes and complex ideas proposed in them. My work consisted on fixing this, shortening the texts to make them "readable" and cutting the overly difficult parts. I did research on some of the creatures, using the books in his personal library, but they are the minority.

The Prof. left us on December of 2009. It was after he came back from a trip to Brazil. He just went to sleep and never woke up. I then learned he had no family. Only his colleagues and friends mourned him. I proposed some of his friends and/or acquaintances to finish what he had started, but no one wanted to help with it. It was, as someone said, "an old man's obsession", not worth wasting time on. Perhaps it's because I saw myself reflected on Prof. Steiners hopes, in his illusions, that I insisted on continuing his work. What you read will be that man's work and my desire to share it.

I must note that the preface has been reduced by two and a half pages in which Prof. Steiner delves in certain reality/imaginary issues. Among them, there is an interesting analysis on Castoriadi's beliefs of the imaginary (going as far as proposing both histories, real and fantastic, should be teached the same, as both have formed our modern thoughts and beliefs). There is more, but not so much that would serve the objective of the Phantazoologicum, hence (and by recommendation of editors and friends) I've edited it. Same goes for future texts that were too extense in the original form.

I'm very proud of this project and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did while working on it.

- Javier Romero