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意义的伪装----曼德拉葬礼的手语翻译其实是个伟大的艺术家

(2013-12-18 20:46:33)
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杂谈


齐泽克:
我们的日常生活总是一成不变,间或有些令人不甚愉快的惊喜——然而,不时有些意料之外让我们感到生活尚值得过下去。这一次的意外就发生在上周,就在纳尔逊·曼德拉的追悼会上。

当时,成千上万之众正在倾听世界各国领导人的陈述。然后…意外发生了(或者,更准确地说,在我们发现之前,持续了好一会儿了)。在包括巴拉克·奥巴马在内的世界政要旁边,站着一个身着礼服的肥胖黑人,一个手语翻译,他将口语翻译为手语。但那些精通手语的人逐渐意识到一些不对劲的地方:这个人是个骗子;他在自己编造手势;胡乱地挥舞手臂,但却没有任何意义…

一天之后,官方的调查披露了这个黑人的情况:Thamsanqa Jantjie,34岁,一名由非国大雇佣自南非口译公司的合格译员。在约翰内斯堡的一家报纸《the Star》对其采访中,Jantjie对其行为的解释是精神分裂症状突发,由于患有幻听和幻觉的症状,他一直在接受相关的药物治疗。“我当时什么都做不了。我独自处在一个危险的境况下。”他说:“我尝试着控制自己并且向世界隐瞒正在发生的事情。我很抱歉。但我就处在这样的情况下。”尽管如此,Jantjie仍坚持对自己的表现表示满意:“我绝对的满意!绝对的!我所做的,我想能够算得上金牌的翻译了。”

第二天又出现了出人意料的转折:媒体报道称,Jantjie自20世纪90年代中期以来至少被捕过5次,但据说他又因为精神问题得以躲过牢狱之灾。他曾被指控的罪行有:强奸、盗窃、闯入民宅以及恶意毁坏财产;他最近一次侥幸逃脱法网发生在2003年,当时他面临着谋杀、预谋谋杀和绑架的指控。

对这幕荒诞插曲的反映混杂着搞笑(由于不体面而越来越受到抑制)和愤怒。当然,还存在对于安全问题的质疑:在如此严密的安保措施措施下,这样一个人居然能接近世界政要,这究竟是怎么发生的?这些质疑背后,实质上隐藏着这样的感觉,即Thamsanqa Jantjie的出现是一个奇迹——似乎他来自于一个虚无,又或者来自于现实的另一个维度。由于聋人组织一再地强调他的手语没有任何意义,这一感觉得到了进一步的强化。聋人组织的这一强调,似乎是在回应这样一种疑问,即或许他在用一种未知的语言向外界发出某种信号?Jantjie的表现似乎指向了这一点:他的手势毫无活力,没有任何被卷入一个恶作剧的痕迹——他面无表情地打着手势,几乎像一个机器人一样冷静。

Jantjie的表现并非毫无意义——而这正是由于它并没有表达某种特别的含义(手势本身是没有意义的),它直接地呈现了意义——意义的伪装。我们这些听力正常并且不懂手语的人假定他的手势具有意义,尽管我们不能理解这些手势。而这一点让我们意识到问题的关键:手语译者的翻译真的是对那些聋人发挥作用么?手语译者不是更多地为我们准备的么——他们的存在让我们(这些能听到的人们)感觉良好,让我们自我满足于我们正在做正确的事,照顾那些弱势群体和残疾人。

我记得,1990年在斯洛文尼亚的第一次“自由”选举中,在一个左翼政党的电视广播中,政治家的信息是如何通过手语翻译的(一个温柔的年轻姑娘)。我们都知道她翻译的真正立场并不在于服务聋人而在于服务我们,这些普通的选民:真正的信息是这个政党站在边缘人群和残疾人一边。

这就像那些华丽的慈善活动场面,它并不真正与患有癌症的儿童或洪水的受害者有关,而是为了让我们,公众,意识到我们正在做一些伟大的事情,表现出我们的团结。
现在我们可以知道,为什么一旦我们发现Jantjie的手势毫无意义之后,产生了一个多么可怕的结果:他使我们不得不面对手语翻译的真实情况——它并不真正关心公众中那些需要翻译的聋人们;译者站在哪里是为了使我们,这些不懂手语的人们,感觉良好。

但这就是曼德拉追悼会的全部真相么?所以那些贵宾们流下的眼泪都不过来自于沾沾自喜的锻炼,而 Jangtjie十分恰当地将他们翻译出来了:彻底的废话。这些世界政要们不过是在庆祝对真正危机的成功推迟,而当南非那些贫穷的黑人们真正成为一个集体的政治代言人时,危机将彻底爆发。他们正是那个大写的缺席者,也正是Jantjie的信号所指向的,Jantjie发出的信息正是:这些政要并不真正关心你们。通过他的虚假翻译,Jantjie将整个仪式的虚假性彻底呈现了出来。

Our daily lives are mostly a mixture of drab routine and unpleasant surprises – however, from time to time, something unexpected happens which makes life worth living. Something of this order occurred at the memorial ceremony for Nelson Mandela last week.
Tens of thousands were listening to world leaders making statements. And then … it happened (or, rather, it was going on for some time before we noticed it). Standing alongside world dignitaries including Barack Obama was a rounded black man in formal attire, an interpreter for the deaf, translating the service into sign language. Those versed in sign language gradually became aware that something strange was going on: the man was a fake; he was making up his own signs; he was flapping his hands around, but there was no meaning in it.
A day later, the official inquiry disclosed that the man, Thamsanqa Jantjie, 34, was a qualified interpreter hired by the African National Congress from his firm South African Interpreters. In an interview with the Johannesburg newspaper the Star, Jantjie put his behaviour down to a sudden attack of schizophrenia, for which he takes medication: he had been hearing voices and hallucinating. “There was nothing I could do. I was alone in a very dangerous situation,” he said. “I tried to control myself and not show the world what was going on. I am very sorry. It’s the situation I found myself in.” Jantjie nonetheless defiantly insisted that he is happy with his performance: “Absolutely! Absolutely. What I have been doing, I think I have been a champion of sign language.”
Next day brought a new surprising twist: media reported that Jantjie has been arrested at least five times since the mid-1990s, but he allegedly dodged jail time because he was mentally unfit to stand trial. He was accused of rape, theft, housebreaking and malicious damage to property; his most recent brush with the law occurred in 2003 when he faced murder, attempted murder and kidnapping charges.
Reactions to this weird episode were a mixture of amusement (which was more and more suppressed as undignified) and outrage. There were, of course, security concerns: how was it possible, with all the control measures, for such a person to be in close proximity to world leaders? What lurked behind these concerns was the feeling that Thamsanqa Jantjie’s appearance was a kind of miracle – as if he had popped up from nowhere, or from another dimension of reality. This feeling seemed further confirmed by the repeated assurances from deaf organisations that his signs had no meaning, that they corresponded to no existing sign language, as if to quell the suspicion that, maybe, there was some hidden message delivered through his gestures – what if he was signalling to aliens in an unknown language? Jantjie’s very appearance seemed to point in this direction: there was no vivacity in his gestures, no traces of being involved in a practical joke – he was going through his gestures with expressionless, almost robotic calm.
Jantjie’s performance was not meaningless – precisely because it delivered no particular meaning (the gestures were meaningless), it directly rendered meaning as such – the pretence of meaning. Those of us who hear well and do not understand sign language assumed that his gestures had meaning, although we were not able to understand them. And this brings us to the crux of the matter: are sign language translators for the deaf really meant for those who cannot hear the spoken word? Are they not much more intended for us – it makes us (who can hear) feel good to see the interpreter, giving us a satisfaction that we are doing the right thing, taking care of the underprivileged and hindered.
I remember how, in the first “free” elections in Slovenia in 1990, in a TV broadcast by one of the leftist parties, the politician delivering the message was accompanied by a sign language interpreter (a gentle young woman). We all knew that the true addressees of her translation were not the deaf but we, the ordinary voters: the true message was that the party stood for the marginalised and handicapped.
It was like great charity spectacles which are not really about children with cancer or flood victims, but about making us, the public, aware that we are doing something great, displaying solidarity.
Now we can see why Jantjie’s gesticulations generated such an uncanny effect once it became clear that they were meaningless: what he confronted us with was the truth about sign language translations for the deaf – it doesn’t really matter if there are any deaf people among the public who need the translation; the translator is there to make us, who do not understand sign language, feel good.
And was this also not the truth about the whole of the Mandela memorial ceremony? All the crocodile tears of the dignitaries were a self-congratulatory exercise, and Jangtjie translated them into what they effectively were: nonsense. What the world leaders were celebrating was the successful postponement of the true crisis which will explode when poor, black South Africans effectively become a collective political agent. They were the Absent One to whom Jantjie was signalling, and his message was: the dignitaries really don’t care about you. Through his fake translation, Jantjie rendered palpable the fake of the entire ceremony.
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