ce n’est jamais que décalé


Senior Member
UK English
I realise I may be at risk of posing two questions here, but difficult to split this. I'm also really just wanting a second opinion on this as I think I've probably got it right, but as neither the author nor the editor speak fluent English and this important text isn't going to be proofread by any other English speaker, I just want to make sure I'm not missing anything.

The context is a sculpture, in which the sculptor borrows forms from nature, but a previous sentence has said that this borrowing is never literal. Then, a bit later, we have this sentence:

Du coup, s’il y a dialogue avec la nature, ce n’est jamais que décalé.

My question relates to the construction 'ce n'est jamais que', but also to how to translate 'décalé' here. The word 'incidental' won't leave my head, but I'm not sure whether I'm stretching things too far! Here's my translation:

As a result, if there is a dialogue with nature, it is only ever incidental.

Any thoughts/corrections/confirmations welcome!

Thanks in advance.
  • Ce n'est jamais que décalé = c'est toujours décalé.
    Le dialogue est toujours décalé.
    Not sure to understand what it means in French so I would not venture to offer any translation.
    My understanding is that the sculptor borrows forms from nature but always represents them according to his own artistic vision. However his vision appears unclear, even awkward to many people.
    Thanks Son of a preacher man, those are good, too, especially the last one, I think.
    Thanks to all: safety in numbers, and these suggestions have helped make things a lot clearer.