Become a Member

We are a public forum committed to collective reasoning and imagination, but we can’t do it without you. Join today to help us keep the discussion of ideas free and open to everyone, and enjoy member benefits like our quarterly books.

{Photo Caption and Credit} Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.

From “The Apparatus”

Excerpted from “The Apparatus,” from the forthcoming DMZ Colony.

Don Mee Choi
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on print
In the penal colony:

“Does he know his sentence?” “(the explorer)”

“No” “(the officer)”

“He doesn’t know the sentence that has been passed on him?” “(the explorer)”

“No” “(the officer)”

“There would be no point in telling him. He’ll learn it on his body” “(the officer)”

“Whatever commandment the prisoner has disobeyed is written upon his body by the Harrow” “(the officer)”

honor thy superiors!” “(the Harrow)”

In the neocolony:

(honor thy sky!) “the old wisdom”

(you evil bitches!) “the neocolonial wisdom”

(honor thy king!) “the old wisdom”

(you scums of society!) “the neocolonial wisdom”

(honor thy husband!) “the old wisdom”

(you!) “the neocolonial wisdom”

(honor thy son!) “the old wisdom”

(Before the woman was released, that is to say, after she was clubbed nonstop for an entire month, she received orders to bathe at a creek in a remote area. When she took off her clothes, the same ones she was wearing the day she was captured for no apparent reason and put into a so-called “mind-heart-soul” reform camp under the command of a new commandant [one more US-backed dic-tator, a.k.a. “Your Excellency”] [for there is never a shortage of them]–after all the police had to fill a certain quota of women [300 out of 60,000]–the woman went into shock from what she saw. Her whole body was blue! There wasn’t a single part of her body that was not blue from the savage beatings. She thought she was the only blue one, but the woman next to her was also blue! The woman in front of her was, again, blue! And the woman behind her was totally blue!) “the investigator”

(blue x 300!) “the translator”

In the penal colony:
(The batons energized by muscles alone lack the technol-ogy and sophistication of the Harrow but nonetheless they should be understood as instruments of writing) “the translator” (Are you saying blue can be translated?) “the USA” (Yes, blue can be translated as “blue x 300,” without the exclamation mark, if need be) “the translator” (“lost in translation” is an old wisdom) “the translator” (“translator, traitor” rhymes yet is undoubtedly an old wisdom) “the translator” (“we don’t want to forget about home” is entirely universal and therefore remains untranslatable) “the translator” [who was terribly homesick even at home—the translator is without a uniform, mind you] (“In order to advance the theory of the [neocolonial] State) (I shall call this reality by its concept: the [neocolo-nial] Ideological State Apparatuses”) “Althusser” (And in order to advance the theory of translation I trans-late “the State” as “the [neocolonial] State” and “the Ideological State Apparatuses” as “the [neocolonial] Ideological State Apparatuses” and “the USA” as “the united status of apparatus” considering ample “reality” has already been offered to the curious reader [not to dismiss “the USAs”] [plurality of reality propels translation] [difference propels theory] [memory propels art] [which may all be beside the point]) “the translator” (“But now for what is essential. What distinguishes the ISAs from the (Repressive) State Apparatus is the fol-lowing basic difference: the Repressive State Apparatus functions ‘by violence,’ whereas the Ideological State Apparatuses function ‘by ideology’”) “Althusser”

Excerpted from “The Apparatus,” from the forthcoming DMZ Colony. Some lines are from Franz Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony,” translated by Willa and Edwin Muir in The Complete Stories (Schocken Books, Inc., 1971); others are from Louis Althusser’s “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses,” translated by Ben Brewster in Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays (Monthly Review Press, 2001).
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on print

About the Author

Recipient of a Whiting Award, Lannan Literary Fellowship, Lucien Stryk Translation Prize, and DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Fellowship.

Boston Review is nonprofit and reader funded.

Contributions from readers enable us to provide a public space, free and open, for the discussion of ideas. Join this effort – become a supporting reader today

Readers Also Liked

Donate Today!

Similar Content

Boylan coastline

Julian Barnes asks: How much of what we think makes us special is only a trick of memory?

Roger Boylan