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The Compulsory Power of American Dreams 美国梦的驱动力
  by Sven Birkerts
  Described by one commentator as "the modern master of the literary essay," Sven Birkerts has published a number of well-received volumes on literary and cultural topics. His major works include An Artificial Wilderness: Essays on 20th-Century Literature (Morrow, 1987); The Electric Life: Essays on Modern Poetry (Morrow, 1989); American Energies: Essays on Fiction (Morrow, 1992); The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age (Faber & Faber, 1994); Readings (Graywolf, 1998); My Sky Blue Trades (Graywolf, 2002). Birkerts' essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Atlantic, Harper's, the New Republic, the Nation, the American Scholar, and other publications.
  斯文·比克兹,被评论家称为"现代散文大师"。比克兹已出版多部探究文学和文化现象的文集,佳评如潮。主要作品有《人造的荒野:20世纪文学评论集》[ (An Artificial Wilderness: Essays on 20th-Century Literature), 翌日出版社(Morrow), 1987]、《激情生活:现代诗歌评论集》[(The Electric Life: Essays on Modern Poetry), 翌日出版社, 1989 ]、《美国的活力:小说评论集》[(American Energies: Essays on Fiction), 翌日出版社, 1992]、《谷登堡挽歌:电子时代阅读的命运》[(The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electionic Age), 费伯与费伯出版社(Faber & Faber), 1994]、《阅读》[(Readings), 灰狼出版社(Graywolf), 1998]、《走进蔚蓝色的人生》[(My Sky Blue Trades), 灰狼出版社, 2002]。 比克兹发表的散文和评论见诸于《纽约时报书评》(New York Time Book Review)、《大西洋月刊》(Atlanic Monthly)、《哈泼斯》(Harper's)、《新共和》(New Republic)、《国家》(Nation)、《美国学者》(American Scholar)等刊物。
   In The Gutenberg Elegies, he writes "Our growing immersion in interactive electronic communication" may be "cutting us off from the civilizing powers of the written word" and that "electronic books and interactive videos will leach away our capacities for reflection." Such a concern comes as no surprise from a literary intellectual who writes in the essay below how reflection and reading, of the most recondite nature, helped him discover his own identity and define his relationship to the American commercial culture that has surrounded him since he was born in 1951, the child of European immigrants, in Pontiac, Michigan.
  比克兹在《谷登堡挽歌》中写道:"我们愈来愈迷恋于电子互动式交流",可能"阻断书面文字对我们的熏陶","在电子图书和互动式录像制品的冲击下,我们的思考能力也会退化贻尽"。比克兹这样的文学评论家如此感慨并不足为奇。他在这篇专文中谈到他如何借助思考和阅读触及心灵的最深处,因此发现了自我,也为他与美国商业文化的关系找到了定位。比克兹为欧洲移民的后代,自1951年在密歇根州庞蒂亚克(Pontiac, Michigan)出生以来始终在这种文化环境下生活。
   Birkerts' awards include the Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics' Circle (1985); a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Foundation grant (1991); and a Guggenheim Foundation grant (1994).
   From 1994 to the present, Birkerts has been a member of core faculty at the Bennington Writing Seminars, and from 1997 he has been a lecturer at Mount Holyoke College. Literary journals with which he has had significant connections include Wigwag, Mirabella, Esquire, and, as editor, Agni.
  比克兹曾获全国图书评论社(National Book Critics' Circle)1985年"优秀评论奖" (The Citation for Excellence in Reviewing)、1991年莱拉·华莱士暨《读者文摘》(Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Foundation)基金奖和1994年古根罕基金奖(Guggenheim Foundation grant)。 从1994年至今,比克兹担任本宁顿写作班(The Bennington Writing Seminars)的主讲人,从1997年起兼任霍利奥克山学院(Mount Holyoke College)讲师。他与《信号》(Wigwag)、《米拉贝拉》(Mirabella)、《绅士》(Esquire)、《阿耆尼》(Agni)等文学刊物联系密切。他还担任《阿耆尼》(Agni)的编辑。
  For the past four years I have been working on a coming-of-age memoir, the original point of which was to explore from a number of vantages how I factored my way through the ancient Freudian equation of love and work to arrive at a sense of my vocation as a writer, but which turned out, far more than I could have imagined, to be an account of my struggle with my sense of heritage, an exploration of how my densely grown Latvian root-system could have produced a growth so yearningly American. And if I felt, when I recently finished, that I had at last come to grips with the major issues of identity formation, I also discovered as soon as I let my parents and siblings read the result that however much I had achieved resolution on the page, in the family realm -- the force-field of origins -- I had only confirmed my troubled apostasy. The question of how being an American informs my life as a writer remains in many ways as charged as it has ever been. 过去这四年,我埋首书稿,写一部青少年时代的回忆录,讲述我初涉人生的故事。撰写回忆录的初衷是试图从各种不同的角度思考我走过的路,打算从体验佛洛伊德关于兼顾爱情与工作的老生长谈开始,到自己对写作生涯的感受收笔。然而,结果远远超出我所有的想像。书稿记录了我与自己的传统意识搏斗的故事,回顾了我脚下密密匝匝的拉脱维亚根系如何在我长大成人的道路上加深我对美国的向往。如果说在回忆录最近脱稿时,我自忖对形成归属感的诸多基本问题终于有些领悟的话,那么在父母亲和兄弟姊妹看了我写下的体验后,我倏然发现,面对家庭关系和祖籍观念的制约,无论我通过文字描述了多少化解之道,只不过证实了我背离这一切的艰难曲折。至于我身为美国人的写作生涯会受到什么影响,从很多方面来说这从来就是一个永恒的话题。
  Some background: I was born in Pontiac, Michigan, in 1951 to Latvian parents, both recently immigrated from displaced-persons areas in Germany where they had found themselves at the end of the war. Both sides of the family claimed artistic pedigree. My mother's father was a landscape painter trained at the Moscow Academy, while my father's parents were both literary intellectuals -- his mother a folklorist, philologist, and teacher, and his father the author of many books of psychology, sociology, and folklore studies. 先说一段往事:1951年我在密歇根州庞蒂亚克(Pontiac,Michigan)出生,父母为拉脱维亚人,来自德国,刚移居美国不久。战争结束时,他们在德国的居住地满目苍夷,随处可见颠沛流离的百姓。据说父母双方家学渊源,才华出众。我外祖父是一名风景画家,曾就读莫斯科学院。我父亲的双亲同为文化学者。祖母研究民俗学,还是语文学家和教师。祖父著述颇丰,涉足心理学、社会学和民俗学诸领域。
  While Latvian culture -- and the Latvian language in particular -- were sacrosanct in our household, my parents themselves were not, unlike many of their fellow Latvian-Americans, cultural preservationists. Rather, they saw themselves as riding the wave of emancipated modernism and were keenly attuned to the contemporary. My father, a highly ambitious young architect, worked at Eero Saarinen's legendary firm in Bloomfield Hills, sitting elbow to elbow with young designers like Kevin Roche, Robert Venturi, Cesar Pelli, and Charles Eames. Here was the gospel of the new, of an international language of form, even as, in my father's case, it was cut across with, if not at some level contradicted by, a deep rootedness in the powerful folk culture of the homeland. 拉脱维亚文化,尤其是拉脱维亚语言在我们家具有至高无上的神圣地位,但我的父母并非文化保守主义者,与许多美国拉脱维亚裔截然不同。我父母自视为时代精神的热切追随者,投身于摆脱了羁绊的现代派浪潮。我父亲当时是一名踌躇满志的年轻建筑师,在布鲁姆费尔德山(Bloomfield Hills)富有传奇色彩的艾罗萨瑞农公司(Eero Saarinen)任职,与凯文·罗克(Kevin Roche)、罗伯特·凡杜雷(Robert Venturi)、西萨·佩利(Cesar Pelli)、查尔斯·埃姆斯(Charles Eames)等年轻设计师平起平坐。这是新的福音,以外国语言表达的福音。即使对我父亲而言,母国坚实厚重的民间文化根深蒂固,如果他的经历没有因此在某种程度上受到冲击的话,原因即在于他已从中求得一份超脱。
  Myself, I knew no division of loyalties-not consciously, anyway. My ruling obsession through all the years of my growing up was to shed every trace of foreignness -- otherness -- and to become a full-fledged American. And in this I suffered deeply and decisively. I knew so clearly what I wanted. I wanted to be cut to the pattern of the kids around me, in the neighborhood, at school. I wanted to be an easy athletic guy named Bob or Mark, or nicknamed "Chip," with a normal crewcut (I was cursed with thick curly hair) and acceptably normal-acting parents; I wanted the shine of a new Ford (my parents bought foreign cars), and an oiled mitt for playing catch in the yard with my Dad (who after all these years -- he is in his late 70s -- has never to my knowledge had a hand inside a baseball glove). 当年我并不知道,也从未意识到归依某一方有什么非此即彼的界线。在我成长的岁月里,我最热衷的是抹尽外域的痕迹,避免与他人格格不入,成为完全的美国人。我为此备尝艰辛,毫无回旋余地。我非常清楚自己向往什么。我希望能与身边的孩子一样,与邻居和学校的孩子一样,由同一个模子浇铸而成。我设想自己能态度随和,身体健壮,取名Bob或Mark,外号Chip,留着普通的平头(我受够了满头浓密的鬈发),父母的言谈举止能如同常人,让人欣然接受。我盼望有一辆铮亮的新福特(我父母买外国车),戴着搽过油的棒球手套,与父亲在院子里练习接发球(父亲已年近八旬,我知道他的手从未接触过棒球手套 )。
  It was not a tall order, as dreams go, but I might just as well have asked to be a Ninja warrior or a gaucho from the Argentine pampas. For whatever things may have looked like from the outside, from my tyrannical perspective we could not even begin to fit in. We were strangers from a strange land. My father's name, not Jack or Ted, was Gunnar, my mother's, Sylvia. I was, God help me, Sven, though I contested the roll call every year on the first day of school and announced that I was Peter -- "Pete" -- which was my middle name. I could do nothing about the fact that we spoke Latvian at home, and that my parents had no qualms whatsoever about speaking the language when we were all together in public. I went through every family outing preemptively tensed against the inevitable eruption of the mother tongue. As for our house, it was all edges and glass inside, without a single concession to coziness. I kept my friends away. 我有自己的梦,称不上远大理想,说不定就当一名忍者武士(Ninja warrior),或者象加乌乔牧人(gaucho)驰骋阿根廷大草原也行。不论从表面上看可能会发生什么变化,我可以武断地说,我们甚至还无法开始适应环境。我们是陌生人,来自一块陌生的土地。我父亲的名字不是Jack,也不是Ted,而是Gunnar。我母亲叫Sylvia。天啊,我的名字是Sven。每年新学期第一天我总会在点名时声称可以叫我Peter── "Pete"──我的别名。我们在家都说拉脱维亚语,我无法改变这个现实。至于我们在公共场合使用哪种语言,我父母抱无所谓的态度。每一次随家人一起外出游玩,我总是提心吊胆,生怕一不小心母语就自然而然从嘴里蹦出来。至于我家住的房子,室内处处棱角分明,清冷如水,没有一丝舒适感。所以我从不请朋友来我家。
  As I ached with all my being for an American normalcy and blazed with ill-concealed shame at the slightest mark of our difference, I went through my days playing a role, imitating my fortunate friends, wearing one mask after another, simulating in my least mannerism, my every slangy turn of phrase, a belonging I never felt for a moment. "Hey Rick, are you guys gonna hang around here?" And: "Naw, I can't, my dad wants me to do some stuff around the house -- see ya." It was a complete charade, and it persisted, changing only its subtler inflections, well into my late teens, when the counterculture explosion suddenly made it permissible, even desirable, to be "weird" and "different." 我经历种种苦痛,渴望能达到美国的规范,如发现自己稍有差异,则汗颜不已,却又无以言宣。我成天在演戏,模仿那些天生交好运的朋友,摘下一个面具又戴上一个面具,在避免矫揉造作的同时,用俚语表达每一个意思,但我从未感到这是属于我的角色。" Hey Rick, are you guys gonna hang around here?"(嗨,雷克, 想不想在这儿多呆一会儿?)回答则是:"Naw, I can't, my dad wants me to do some stuff around the house--see ya."(那可不行,老爸要我在家干杂活儿呢。再见吧)。这纯粹是在演戏,除了音调有些微小的差异以外,周而复始从不间断,直到我快20岁的时候才发生转变。那时,反主流文化运动异军突起,"怪诞"、"特别" 转瞬间可以被接受,甚至受到推崇。
  From the first, then, my deepest sense of what it meant to be American was shaped by these fantasies of the unattainable other. There was nothing ecumenical, nothing remotely melting-pot, about any of it, no place for anything beyond stick-figure simplicity: the limber gods of the baseball diamond, their booster dads station-waggoning to games, their pert mothers hanging fresh-looking sheets on the line in the yard and filling shopping carts with hamburger buns and corn. 对于身为美国人意味着什么这个问题,当初我笃守不疑的信念完全囿于上述种种迷恋。我处处效仿他人,却无法如愿以偿。当时还完全不知普世精神为何物,大熔炉的观念也不见踪影,只有一成不变、容不得丝毫偏离的简单模式:棒球场上的偶像人物生龙活虎,他们的父亲开着客货两用车赶来球场助威。他们的母亲手脚利索,在后院的绳子上晾上刚洗过的被单,在购物车上堆满汉堡包和玉米。
  I was startled, years later, when I read Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint (l969), to feel a deep jolt of recognition in Alex Portnoy's fantasies about the essence of goyishness, embodied here in his fantasies of the perfect shikse ice-skater: 多少年后,我阅读了菲利普·罗斯(Philip Roth)的作品《波特诺伊的怨言》(Portnoy's Complaint, 1969)。主人公艾莱克斯·波特诺伊(Alex Portnoy)对完全属于shikse(非犹太族女孩)的滑冰姑娘情意缠绵,表现了他对异族特质的向往,在我内心引起强烈的共鸣。
  "But who wants character? I want Thereal McCoy! In her blue parka and her red earmuffs and her big white mittens -- Miss America, on blades! With her mistletoe and her plum pudding (whatever that may be), and her one-family house with a banister and a staircase, and parents who are tranquil and patient and dignified, and also a brother Billy who knows how to take motors apart and says "Much obliged," and isn't afraid of anything…""但谁想要什么人物角色? 我想要活生生的真人!她身穿蓝大衣,戴着红耳罩,双手套上白色的连指大手套 ── 美国小姐,冰上女孩!她以槲寄生灌木的枝叶为装饰,她能做葡萄乾布丁(不论做什么都行),她家独门独户的房子有带栏杆的楼梯,她父母温文尔雅,举止端严。她的老弟Billy会拆卸马达,常说'承蒙关照',他天不怕地不怕......"
  And: 他还写道:
  "I too want to be the boyfriend of Debbie Reynolds -- it's the Eddie Fisher in me coming out, that's all, the longing in all us swarthy Jewboys for those bland blond exotics called shikses…" In my case the energy of longing was identical -- it simply had as its target a whole imagined thing called Americanness. Though of course the imagined, the fantasied, is as real in its effects as any set of concrete circumstances. "我还想成为戴比·雷诺兹(Debbie Reynolds)的男友 ──这是我崇拜埃迪·费希尔(Eddie Fisher)的外在表现,我们这些肤色黝黑的犹太男孩梦寐以求的就是这些性情温和、金发碧眼的shikse......" 我的渴望亦同样强烈 ── 目标无非是寻求完全来源于想象中的所谓"美国化"境界。 当然想像也好,迷恋也好,实际效果与任何现实环境的情景同样真实。
  What a drama of self-hatred -- Roth's ethnic, mine -- what, cultural? Where did it originate? For me it was less a matter of overtly despising my origins -- though for many years I believed this to be the case -- than it was of somehow believing, "buying," the rightness of the images beamed at me from all directions -- from billboards and magazine ads, from our newly acquired black-and-white TV set with its streaming constant revelation of effortless American perfection, what we now all recognize as the kitsch of Ozzie and Harriet, The Donna Reed Show, My Three Sons, and the like. Through my daily jarring collisions with what I was not, I built my picture of authentic exalted Americanness. 这幅自暴自弃的景象多么生动 ── 罗斯的种族背景,我的种族背景 ── 原因何在,文化吗?其渊源又是什么? 对我而言,如果说根源在于我明显嫌弃我的背景 ── 尽管多年来我曾自认事实如此 ── 不如说我多少相信,或者说"接受"了从四面八方映入眼帘的形像均属天经地义,无可置疑 ── 这些形像来自广告牌和杂志广告,也来自我们新近添置的黑白电视机。屏幕上播出的影像川流不息,展现轻松自如的纯粹美国式生活,例如我们今天称为通俗剧的《奥齐与哈丽雅特》(Ozzie and Harriet)、《唐娜·里德》(The Donna Reed Show)、《我的三个儿子》(My Three Sons)等。我每时每刻与我所不具备的方面发生尖厉的冲突,为自己描述了一个展示纯正美国特徵的崇高境界。
  This desire to assimilate could not have served for much in my literary formation, as a writer, except insofar as it deepened my self-evolved intuition of difference, of being somehow deeply alien, of not truly possessing those "inalienable" rights advertised in the Constitution. And certainly this latter awareness became the seedbed of various writerly longings. But the sense of difference, especially when one is young, does not exult in itself. It looks for connections, corroborations, anything that will cut against the feeling of being separate. And when that is not immediately available in the surrounding world, one searches by proxy. I found what I needed in books -- almost right from the start. First via escapism and fantasy projection -- living vicariously the perfectly American lives of the Hardy brothers, Frank and Joe, or the various athletes and heroes who bulked up so convincingly in the boys' books I devoured. 在我动笔写作的文学生涯形成期,这种渴求同化的欲望本不会有多大的作用,只不过加深了我内心产生的直觉,对有别于他人的差异,对自己身上某种深刻的异族烙印,对无法真正享有美国宪法的"不可剥夺"的权利感慨良多。当然,这种感慨催生了动笔写作的种种欲望。然而,感到与别人有差异不可能让人喜笑颜开,对青少年尤其如此,于是总想与别人建立关系,希望得到认可,寻求任何有助于摆脱格格不入状态的良策。一个人如果无法从自己周围的环境直接获得这一切,就会寻求寄托。我在书本中找到我需要的寄托,几乎从小就是如此。最初曾避开现实,浮想联翩 ── 完全凭想象体验真实的美国式生活,这些想象来自哈代家的弗兰克和乔(Frank and Joe)两兄弟,也来自我如饥似渴阅读的儿童读物,其中一个个运动员和英雄人物的形像活龙活现,令人目不暇接。
  But these immersions were as nothing compared with what happened in my early teens when the first reversal happened. My reading shifted, became literary. Through The Catcher in the Rye, then A Separate Peace, and Thomas Wolfe's Eugene Gant novels, I encountered the voice of alienated adolescence. Now the plots quite literally thickened, and I experienced a major, route-altering swerve in my orientation to things. Hearing the voice of Holden Caulfield was like coming home. I understood that I was not alone in my view of the world. The universe of print was suddenly alive with possibility. Reading, and by extension writing, became a mission of rescue. 但是,沉浸于种种想象的时期与我十二、三岁时的情形已不可同日而语,当时我经历了第一次大转变。我阅读的对象转向文学。我读了《麦田守望者》(The Catcher in the Rye)、《单独媾和》(A Sperate Peace)和托马斯·沃尔夫(Thomas Wolf)以尤金ܯ甘特(Eugene Gant)为主人公的系列小说。我从中听见了被视为离经叛道的青少年发出的声音。这些作品的情节走向厚实凝重,我对世间万物的思考也经历了一番巨大转折。每每读到霍尔登·考尔菲尔德(Holden Caulfield)说的话,我仿佛有似曾相识的感觉。我发现我对世事的看法并非独此一家。蓦然间,书本上的世界栩栩如生,充满希翼。阅读,进而提笔写作,成为拯救人生的使命。
  My feelings of disaffection and difference connected directly with the expressed outsiderness of my new literary heroes, and when this combined with the tectonic shifts in American cultural life -- the bourgeoning of rock & roll, of hippiedom, of protest, of everything that would get brewed together as the counterculture of the late l960s -- a very different take on what had been my American "ideal" resulted. Now, indulging my frustration, my accumulated rage at the years of perceived exclusion, I inverted everything. The square-jawed, right-thinking American, my former ideal, was abruptly recast in my mind as the embodiment of the "hawk" mentality -- he (my heroes had all been male) became the target of my most withering scorn. I mocked the very figures I had so fervently admired before. At the same time, I struggled to make a place for all of those I had formerly ignored -- the minorities, the poor, all of those apostrophized by Allen Ginsberg in "Howl," my revisionist American Bible. I was drawn to LeRoi Jones' Blues People and Franz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth -- if only for the suggestion of the titles. 我的疏离感和格格不入的感觉与我心目中新文学偶像表现的局外人状态直接相通。无独有偶,当时美国文化生活的结构也发生了变更。摇滚乐、嘻皮士风潮、集会示威,乃至所有酿成60年代末反主流文化运动的各种现像蜂拥而至,我以往憧憬的美国"理想"已面目全非。多年被排斥的感觉曾让我沮丧,愤懑之情日积月累,如今我开始颠扑过去的一切。以前我崇尚的美国偶像人物下颚宽大、头脑健全,这些形像突然在我心目中摇身一变成为"鹰派"心理的代表。他(我以前的偶像为清一色的男性)沦为我最不屑一顾的对象。我对曾经如此顶礼膜拜的人物极尽嘲讽,同时苦心孤诣为我曾忽视的一切 ── 少数族裔、穷人、艾伦·金斯伯格在长诗《嚎叫》中呼唤的一代人、我的修正版美国《圣经》 ── 争得一席之地。我迷恋勒鲁瓦·琼斯(LeRoi Jones)的《蓝调生灵》(Blues People)和弗朗兹·法农(Franz Fanon)的《大地的不幸者》(The Wretched of the Earth),哪怕只是为了书名。
  How has being American affected my thinking, my work as a writer? Better, maybe, to ask how being Latvian has affected my sense of what it means to be American. By young manhood, after the long frenzied interlude of the '60s, the most powerfully formative years behind me, I believed I had left that ancient vexation behind. I would even say I had stopped thinking in those terms, didn't question my Latvianness or Americanness. I had no room for the big generalities. I was too busy with the high-resolution immediacies of finding work, finding love, and trying to find a way to become a writer. The collapse of the counterculture and the prolonged sense of public ennui that followed had everyone tending their own gardens -- so it seemed. 如果问我,身为美国人对我作为一名作家进行思考和创作产生了什么作用,倒不如问我,身为拉脱维亚裔对我理解作为美国人意味着什么有哪些影响。60年代恰好是我长大成人的时期,当那一段长时间的狂热已成过去,人生最重要的定型阶段已一去不返的时候,我相信我久久挥之不去的烦恼也被弃之一旁。我甚至可以说,我不再重蹈旧日的思路,不再质疑我究竟具有拉脱维亚属性还是美国属性。我无暇参与泛泛的高谈阔论。我忙于找工作,寻求爱情,努力奋斗成为一名作家,完成这些实实在在的人生大事。反主流文化运动退潮以后,随之出现长期难以平息的社会厌倦情绪,人人只顾着照料自己家的后院,这似乎就是当时的写照。
  But of course the issues, the questions never went away. I simply stopped seeing them. When they resurfaced, it was covertly, and it would be years before I realized what was happening. 当然,种种问题,种种疑问不可能永远销声匿迹。我不过眼不见为净罢了。即使往事重新浮现,也是不知不觉悄然而至,直到多少年以后我才觉察到发生了什么。
  The change, the awakening, came when I was in my late 20s. I was living in Cambridge, barely supporting myself working as a bookstore clerk, profoundly depressed by the collapse of a long relationship, and utterly stalled in my efforts to write fiction. If there was any light, any sanity, in my life, it was reading. Always a reader, I went at it with a genuine fervor during this period. Days, weeks, months marched by outside the window while I sat in a cheap sling chair in my little room in the apartment I shared with a young would-be poet, smoking cigarettes and reading novels. More specifically, I read foreign novels, novels in translation, European novels. I read Knut Hamsun and Thomas Mann and Max Frisch and Heinrich Böll and a dozen others, the more obscure the better. I found myself powerfully drawn to the settings of these novels, the moods, to everything that made them different from the domestic fiction I had been reading for years. I had no sense, though -- none that I recall -- of being drawn toward anything that felt like my own culture of origin. I just read and steered my daydreaming self through these strangely kindred atmospheres. 在我快30岁的时候,变化出现了,我茅塞顿开。我当时住在康桥(Cambridge),靠在书店当店员勉强维持生计。一场漫长的恋情破裂,我痛苦万状。我写小说的尝试也惨遭失败。我的生活中如果出现过亮光,或有过片刻清朗,完全归功于阅读。这段时期,我一本接一本地阅读,如饥似渴,全神贯注。我当时蜇居某公寓,与一位梦想成为诗人的年轻人共居一室,临窗坐在简陋的躺椅上一边吸烟,一边看小说。不知有多少个日夜、多少个星期、多少个岁月从窗外流逝而过。说得更清楚些,我读外国小说,经过翻译的小说,欧洲小说。我读了克努特·哈姆森(Knut Hamsun)、托马斯·曼(Thomas Mann)、马克斯·弗里施(Max Frisch)、海因里希·伯尔(Heinrich Boll)和其他十多名作家的著作,内容愈晦涩愈好。我对这些小说的故事背景、氛围如痴如醉,如果发现其中与我多年阅读的国内小说有任何不同之处,我都会产生强烈的迷恋。我当时并没有感到,也不曾记起,对感觉上与我本身文化渊源类似的任何描述情有独钟。我只是不停歇地阅读,铺展充满梦幻的遐想,在这些似曾相识的奇特天地引缰徐行。
  Then I had my breakthrough. In the course of my peregrinations, I fell into the extraordinary world of Robert Musil's great epic of pre-war Viennese life, The Man Without Qualities. And now, along with the more familiar sensations of psychological kinship came something new. Reading began to tip me back toward writing. Only now it was not fiction that compelled me, but reflection. I experienced a deep compulsion to get closer, to annex my various feelings and reactions by writing about them. 于是我获得了自己的突破。我漫步书林,欣见罗伯特·穆西尔(Robert Musil)的《没有个性的人》(The Man Without Qualities)。读了这部讲述维也纳战前生活的宏篇巨著,恍然置身于当时的绮丽世界。于是心理上出现更为熟悉的亲近感,某种新的意念也应运而生。阅读重新使我回归写作,只不过此时让我激动不已的不再是小说,而是思考。我受到强烈的驱动再往前走一步,用手中的笔捕捉我的各种感受和灵动。
  I labored for long weeks over an essay on Robert Musil and his unfinished masterpiece. I read everything that had been translated; I read books about the culture of Vienna in the early decades of the century. I projected myself at that world with great intensity, imagining the narrow streets, the public gardens, the cafes, the ritualized social lives of the Viennese bourgeoise. I seemed to see it all so clearly, the rituals and tonalities of that old world. The only thing I didn't see was the obvious, and this did not come to me until, decades later, I was in the last stages of writing my memoir. 为了写一篇文章,评论罗伯特ܫ穆西尔和他未完成的杰作,我苦苦煎熬了几个星期。我查看了所有经过翻译的资料;我还翻阅了一些介绍20世纪最初几十年维也纳文化的书籍。我展开密集的想象,设想自己生活在当年的世界,置身于狭窄的街巷、公园、咖啡馆,体验维也纳市民恭行如仪的社会生活。旧世界的习俗和繁文缛节纷纷映入眼帘,我似乎清清楚楚目睹了一切。我唯一没看见的是平淡显见的一面。直到几十年后我撰写回忆录接近尾声时,才如梦初醒。
  I mean: In living for so long inside this vividly imagined world, I was, in essence, connecting with the story-world I had grown up with. Musil's Vienna -- the times, the culture, the brooding baroque mise en scene -- was in many ways a filter for Riga, for the lives of my grandparents and, to a lesser degree, my parents in the childhoods I had dreamed for them. The images I drew upon were the images I had, in spite of myself, stored from the earliest days of my childhood. There was, I realized, a continuum, a direct flow of energy between everything I had absorbed of family lore, the photographs and postcards I had pondered (never mind my insistent desire to assimilate as a regular American boy), and the settings and atmospheres that held me in thrall in Musil's novel. That Europe was deeply familiar to me; it was an intimate saturation that compelled me in every way. 我的想法是:我圄于生动想象中的世界为时已久,本质上与我成长时期耳濡目染的故事天地休戚相关。穆西尔笔下的维也纳 ── 特定的时代、特有的文化、浓郁的巴罗克式场景 ── 从很多方面来说以精心筛选的方式映现了里加(Riga)的风貌,折射了我祖父母的生活经历,也或多或少显露出我梦想中父母童年时代的情景。我以往的种种憧憬不由自主地来源于我自幼储存的记忆。我发现我得到的任何家庭教养、引起我沉思的照片和明信片(尽管我执着地渴望被同化,成为一个普通美国男孩),与穆西尔小说中让我着迷的情景和氛围保持着延续相通、生命力直接传递的关系。我对他笔下的欧洲耳熟能详;我浸润其间,亲密融洽,正因为如此我才处处受到促动。
  The writing of that first essay led to others, many if not most of them on European subjects, and one day -- ever slow about these recognitions -- I saw that I had staked out a particular literary terrain: I was the critic who would broker between American literary culture and the great richness of literature in translation, mainly European. My first book was An Artificial Wilderness: Essays on Twentieth Century Literature, followed, two years later, by The Electric Life: Essays on Modern Poetry. It was not until my third collection, American Energies: Essays on Fiction, that I was ready to take on the writers of my own culture. 这篇处女作完成后,又有多篇作品问世,其中许多作品,甚至可以说大部份作品都以欧洲为主题。尽管认识过程漫长迟缓,有一天我终于发现自己闯出了一条具有特色的文学道路:作为一名评论家,我在美国文学传统与以欧洲为主的丰富灿烂的翻译文学之间游刃有余。我的第一部专著是《人造的荒野;20世纪文学评论集》,两年后,《激情生活:现代诗歌评论集》面世。直到我出版第三部文集《美国的活力:小说评论集》之时,我才准备评介来自我本身文化的作家。
  I linger thus over my literary resume because it makes what suddenly seems like an obvious point, though one that I was oblivious to for years: that the whole path of my life -- writing life included -- has been profoundly conditioned, first by the determined rejection, and then the veiled acceptance of my culture of origins, and that this dynamic has been conditioned at the deepest root level by a very powerful, if distorted, sense of what it means to be American. 接着我始终笔耕不辍,因为写作使我在转瞬间明白了一个似乎显而易见的道理,尽管多年来我对此浑然不觉:我整个的人生道路,包括写作生涯都因种种境遇受用不尽。首先是斩钉截铁地拒绝我本身的文化,然后又默然接受。这股力量最深层的原动力则来自一种威力强大的,甚至受到扭曲的意念,即作为美国人意味着什么。
  I am talking here about the primitive, almost pre-logical compulsion I felt as a son of recent immigrants to merge myself with the world I saw around me, a world which, owing to accidents (or fates) of place and time, took on an absolute aspect. Interestingly, though, it was not just my chimera. This America I sought mapped almost perfectly to the stereotype that is to this day prominent, if not dominant, in the global image culture: the prosperous, athletic, decent, white all-American. In buying the American Dream, which I did with such zealous intensity, I was really buying a fantasy spun for me by Madison Avenue. 我以上所谈的属于我作为新移民之子的原始状态的激情,几乎可归于超逻辑的范畴。我希望融入亲历其境的世界,由于时空(或命运)适逢其会,这个世界以绝对的形态呈现在眼前。然而有趣的是,这并非仅仅我个人的遐想。人们通常想象美国由清一色的白人组成,他们生活富裕、体格健壮、有良好的修养。我以前向往的美国与这个标准模式几乎严丝合缝。如今这种标准形像即使未能独步天下,也已成为风行全球的时尚。在我如此孜孜不倦追求美国梦的时候,我实际上接受了麦迪逊大道(Madison Avenue)为我编织的幻景。
  It took the '60s to jolt me from those complacencies. Then, driven by the contrarian emancipatory energies of the counterculture and the encounters of experience, as well as by the recognitions of an ever-widening grasp of domestic and global reality -- I set myself against the tyranny of that stereotype. I fought to reject these most deeply planted residues, and flattered myself -- don't we all? -- that I had succeeded. And indeed, I like to think that whatever I now comprehend as American has everything to do with notions of ethnicity and diversity (obligatory buzz-phrase though it is), and that transformed awareness exerts pressure on my thinking and writing at every turn. But, truth be told, it is not formative in the same way; it is laid on top of the other, the visceral. I might wish this otherwise. A different core awareness, a less obsessive investment in these fantasies of WASP normalcy might have made my passage easier, less painful. Alas, intriguing as these surmises can be, they lead us exactly nowhere. We are shaped by what we dream, and there we have no control. 直到60年代,我才受到震撼,不再对这些津津乐道。由于当时反主流文化运动以叛逆的力量摆脱束缚,加之人生的种种际遇以及我认识到对国内和全球现实有了日益广泛的理解,我受到驱动,开始抗拒原有模式的专横跋扈。我抵御这些最根深蒂固的遗风,为此我自诩有幸 ── 难道我们不都是如此?── 因为我已如愿以偿。不论我现在如何解读美国人,我可以确定无疑,我的想法与种族观和多样性(姑且从俗引用这个时髦用语)有着千丝万缕的联系,同时我的翻然醒悟也为每一个转折阶段的思考和写作增添了难度。但是实事求是地说,醒悟的过程没有重复过去,而是达到超越直觉的境界。或许我可能希望出现另一种结果。如果我内心曾产生另一种意念,不消耗那么多的精力迷恋典型中上层白人的生活,我走的路可能比较平坦,没有那么苦涩。然而这样的臆测不论多么令人神往,都不可能让我们有什么作为。我们梦想什么,就会潜移默化情随事迁。我们只能顺其自然。
  菲利普·罗斯(Philip Roth),1933~, 美国小说家
  戴比·雷诺兹(Debbie Reynolds),1932~,美国女歌手
  埃迪·费希尔(Eddie Fisher), 1928~,美国流行歌手
  弗兰克和乔(Frank and Joe),美国系列侦探小说《哈代兄弟》(Hardy Boys)主人公
  《麦田守望者》(The Catcher in the Rye),1951年首次出版,作者杰罗姆·大卫·塞林格(Jerome David Salinger,1919~)
  《单独媾和》(A Sperate Peace),1959年正式出版,作者约翰·诺斯(John Knowles,1926~)
  托马斯·沃尔夫(Thomas Wolf),1900~1938,美国小说家
  尤金·甘特(Eugene Gant),沃尔夫自传体系列小说主人公
  霍尔登·考尔菲尔德(Holden Caulfield),《麦田守望者》一书主人公
  勒鲁瓦·琼斯(LeRoi Jones),1934~,又名阿米里·巴卡拉(Amiri Baraka),美国黑人作家 弗朗兹·法农(Franz Fanon),1925~1961, 精神分析家和社会哲学家
  克努特·哈姆森(Knut Hamsun),1859~1952,挪威作家
  托马斯·曼(Thomas Mann),1875~1955,德国作家
  马克斯·弗里施(Max Frisch),1911~1991,瑞士作家
  海因里希·伯尔(Heinrich Boll),1917~1985,德国作家
  罗伯特·穆西尔(Robert Musil), 1880~1942,奥地利作家
  麦迪逊大道(Madison Avenue),美国纽约市主要商业区之一,以广告业著称


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