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华莱士第一次发表的文章

(2008-10-06 20:26:56)
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美国作家

华莱士

文化

华莱士第一次发表的文章

“单纯,怀旧,不追逐潮流的烦恼和情感”

(译自英国《星期六卫报》评论2008年9月20日,作者:乔纳森. 弗兰生)

 

美国作家大卫.福斯特.华莱士(David Forst Wallace)上星期逝世。他是同代美国作家中最才华横溢的一个。这里是他第一次发表的一篇演说,他回顾了日常生活中遇到的困难,是活到30岁,或是50岁,而不想开枪打你自己的脑袋。

 

两条小鱼在向前游着,它们碰巧遇到一条大鱼在往另一个方向游,它朝它们点点头说:“早安,孩子们,觉得水咋样?”

如果你担心我打算在这里扮演聪明的大鱼的角色,解释水如何如何,请别这想,我可不是聪明的大鱼。这个鱼故事的直接观点是:最明显,最普遍存在和最重要的现实,常常是那些最难以看到和谈论到的。当然用一句英语句子来阐述,只是些陈词滥调——但是事实上,在成年人存在的日常鸿沟中,陈词滥调可能很重要,它可以决定你的生死。这似乎听上去很夸张,或者就像抽象的胡言乱语。所以让我们说得具体一点....

很大比例的废话,我倾向于可以肯定的是:它被证明是完全错误的或是具有欺骗性的。这里有一个例子,是某一件我可以完全肯定是错误的事情:我自己所有直接经历的一切都支持了我这个深刻信念,即我是宇宙中的绝对中心,是现实中最真实,最有生气和最重要的人。我们很少谈论这种天生的,基本的自我中心论,因为它是如此地被社会所排斥,但是深入地说,它对我们所有的人来说都是一样的。这就是我们的归零程序,我们生来就被电线牢牢连接在电路板上。想想看,在你所有的经历中,没有一次你不在绝对中心。你所经历的世界就在你的面前,或在你的背后,在你的左面或右面,在你的电视机上,在你的监视屏幕上,或任何别的东西上。别人的思想或感情必须以某种方式与你交流,但是你自己的思想和感情却是如此直接,紧迫和真实——使你有了主张。但请不要担忧,以为我正准备向你就同情,指导他人或所谓的“美德”布道。这不是“美德”的问题——它是我的选择,以某种方式去做工作,改变或释放我那天生的,牢牢被电线连接住的归零程序,它被深刻地文学性地定义为自我中心,通过这个自我的镜头去观察和解释每一件事情。举一个例子,让我们假定这是平常的一天,你早上起床,去做你那充满竞争的工作,你努力工作了9个或10个小时,在一天结束之后你疲倦了,你被压垮了,你想要的是回家,吃一顿丰富的晚餐,可能还要放松几个小时,然后早早睡觉,因为你第二天必须起床,将所有的事情再做一遍。但是你记起来,家里没吃的了——因为你那充满竞争的工作你这个星期都没时间去购物——所以现在在下了班之后,你必须开上你的车到超市去。这是一周工作日的最后一天,交通非常繁忙,去超市比往常需要更长的时间。当你终于到了超市,发觉那里十分拥挤,因为那当然是一天中最忙的时候,其他所有的上班族也在试图挤进某个杂货铺,百货柜台上亮着吓人的荧光灯,刺人神经的莫扎特或流行歌曲声音震耳欲聋,这很可能是你想到的最后一个地方,但是你却进不去,也不能很快脱身:你只能在巨大而灯火辉煌的挤满人的商场通道里到处游逛,去找你要的东西,你不得不操纵你的金属购物车,穿过其他那些推着购物车的疲倦而匆忙的人们,当然这里还有动作出奇缓慢的老人和把通道都堵住的孩子们,你不得不咬紧牙关,强装礼貌,请他们给你让出一条道来。终于,最后你拿到了所有晚饭所需要的物品,只是现在你发现没有足够的付款通道开着,尽管这已经是一天高峰结束时候,所以付款通道的队伍排得长得难以置信,这真是愚蠢之极,令人光火,可是你不能把火发在那在检出口工作的忙乱的女士身上。

不管怎样,你最后到了付款队伍的前面,为你的食物付钱,被一台机器确认付款后,你拿到了发票或信用卡,然后得到一声�祝您愉快�的问候,这声音绝对是发自死人的声音,然后你还得把薄得令人毛骨悚然的塑料袋里的杂物放到你的购物车内,穿过拥挤不堪,崎岖不平,杂乱无章的停车场,试图将塑料袋放入你的汽车,还得设法在回家的路上不让任何东西掉出塑料袋,在汽车行李箱内滚得到处都是,然后你还得在整个回家路上开慢车通过下班高峰时的塞车道路,等等,等等。

我想强调的要点是:像这样的细小的,使人沮丧的费话正是决定我该选择什么工作。因为塞车,拥挤的走廊和长长的付款队伍给了我思考的时间,如果我对如何思考,对什么予以关注做出有意识的决定的话,那么每次我不得不去买食品的时候,我就会尿裤子,搞得狼狈不堪,因为我的归零程序是肯定,像这样的情况确实是关于我,关于我的饥饿,我的疲劳,我马上想回家的愿望,因为整个世界,像每个人一样,正挡着我的道,这些挡我道的人是谁?看看他们中大多数人在付款队伍中显得多么令人厌恶,愚蠢,像母牛似的,长着死人眼睛,简直不是人,或者看看队伍中的人在手机上高声说话,显得那样讨厌和粗暴,再看看这有多么不公平:我确实努力工作了一整天,我饿坏了,累极了,我甚至回不了家吃饭和放松了,就是因为所有这些愚蠢的该死的人们。

“Plain Old Untrendy Troubles And Emotions”

(From Review Saturday Guardian 20.09.08, by Jonathan Franzen)

David Foster Wallace, who died last week, was the most brilliant American writer of his generation. In a speech, published here for the first time, he reflects on the difficulties of daily life and “making it to 30, or maybe 50, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head.”

There are these tow young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

If you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise old fish explaining what water is, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The immediate point of the fish story is that the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude -----but the fact is that, in the day-to-day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have life-or-death importance. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. So let's get concrete.

A huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. Here's one example of the utter wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe, the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely talk about this sort of natural, basic self-centredness, because it's so socially repulsive, but it's pretty much the same for all of us, deep down. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you've had that you were not at the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is right there in front of you, or behind you, to the left or right of you, on your TV, or your monitor, or whatever. Other people‘s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real you get the idea. But please don’t worry that I’m getting ready to preach to you about, compassion or other directedness or the so-called "virtues". This is not a matter of virtue, it's a matter of my altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting, which is to be deeply and literally self-centred, and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self.

By way of example, let's say it's an average day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging job, and you work hard for nine or ten hours, and at the end of the day you're tired, and you're stressed out, and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for a couple of hours and then hit the rack early because you have to get up the next day and do it all again. But then you remember there's no food at home  you haven't had time to shop this week because of your challenging job, and so bow, after work, you have to get in our car nad drive to the supermarket. It's the end of the workday, and the traffic's very bad, so getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there the supermarket is very crowded, so getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there the supermarket it very crowded, because of course it's the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping, and the store's hideously, fluorescently hit, and infused with soul-killing Muzak or corporate pop, and it's pretty much the last place you want to be, but you can't just get in and quickly out: you have to wander all over the huge, overlit store's crowded aisles to find the stuff you want, and you have to manoeuvre your junky cart through all these other of course there are also the glacially slow old people and the spacey people and kids who all block the aisle and you have to grit your teeth and try to be polite as you ask them to let you by, and eventually, finally you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren't enough checkout lanes open even though it's the end-of -the-day rush, so the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating, but you can't take your fury out on the frantic lady working the register.

Anyway, you finally get to the checkout line's front, and pay for your food, and wait ot get your cheque or card authenticated by a machine, and then get told to "Have a nice day" in a voice that is the absolute voice of death, and then you have to take your creepy flimsy plastic bags of groceries in your cart through the crowded, bumpy, littery parking lot, and try to load the bags in your car in such a way that everything doesn't fall out of the bags and roll around in the trunk on the way home, and then you have to drive all the way home through slow, heavy rush-hour traffic, etc, etc.

 

The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing comes in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don't make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I'm going to be pissed and miserable every time I default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me, about m hungriness and my fatigue and my desire to just get home, and it's going to seem for all the world, like everybody else in my way, and who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem here in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line, and look at how deeply unfair this is: I've worked really hard all day and I'm starved and tired and I can't even get home to eat and unwind because of all these stupid goddamn people.

 

 

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