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(2011-03-19 13:14:21)



分类: 生存生活





That afternoon, he had another interesting encounter. He was washing the display window of a large shoe shop when a young man came to a halt right next to him, leaned up close to the window, and began scrutinizing the prices.




Prices are up, said Tomas without interrupting his pursuit of the rivulets trickling down the glass.


    那人看看托马斯。他就是托马斯在医院时的同事,曾经以为托马斯写了自我批评的声明而加以讥笑的那个人。我曾经把他称为S。托马斯很高兴见到他(如此天真,正如我们对没有料到的事情感到高兴一样),但他从老同事眼中看到的(在S面前,他有机会使自己镇定一下),是一种不甚愉快的惊讶。 “你好吗?”S问。


The man looked over at him. He was a hospital colleague of Tomas's, the one I have designated S., the very one who had sneered at Tomas while under the impression that Tomas had written a statement of self-criticism. Tomas was delighted to see him (naively so, as we delight in unexpected events), but what he saw in his former colleague's eyes (before S. had a chance to pull himself together) was a look of none-too-pleasant surprise. How are you? S. asked.




Before Tomas could respond, he realized that S. was ashamed of having asked. It was patently ridiculous for a doctor practicing his profession to ask a doctor washing windows how he was.




To clear the air Tomas came out with as sprightly a Fine, just fine! as he could muster, but he immediately felt that no matter how hard he tried (in fact, because he tried so hard), his fine sounded bitterly ironic. And so he quickly added, What's new at the hospital?


    “没什么,”S回答,“还是老样子。” 他回答得尽可能不失分寸,但也显得极不合适。两人都知道这一点,两人都知道他们都知道这一点。他们中的一个正在洗窗户,怎么能说“还是老样子”呢? “主治大夫怎么样?”托玛斯问。 “你是说你没有见过他罗?”S问。 “没有。”托马斯说。


Nothing, S. answered. Same as always. His response, too, though meant to be as neutral as possible, was completely inappropriate, and they both knew it. And they knew they both knew it. How can things be the same as always when one of them is washing windows? How's the chief? asked Tomas. You mean you don't see him? asked S. No, said Tomas.




It was true. From the day he left, he had not seen the chief surgeon even once. And they had worked so well together; they had even tended to think of themselves as friends. So no matter how he said it, his no had a sad ring, and Tomas suspected that S. was angry with him for bringing up the subject: like the chief surgeon, S. had never dropped by to ask Tomas how he was doing or whether he needed anything.




All conversation between the two former colleagues had become impossible, even though they both regretted it, Tomas especially. He was not angry with his colleagues for having forgotten him. If only he could make that clear to the young man beside him. What he really wanted to say was There's nothing to be ashamed of! It's perfectly normal for our paths not to cross. There's nothing to get upset about! I'm glad to see you! But he was afraid to say it, because everything he had said so far failed to come out as intended, and these sincere words, too, would sound sarcastic to his colleague.




I'm sorry, said S. after a long pause, I'm in a real hurry. He held out his hand. I'll give you a buzz.




During the period when his colleagues turned their noses up at him for his supposed cowardice, they all smiled at him. Now that they could no longer scorn him, now that they were constrained to respect him, they gave him a wide berth.




Then again, even his old patients had stopped sending for him, to say nothing of greeting him with champagne. The situation of the declasse intellectual was no longer exceptional; it had turned into something permanent and unpleasant to confront.





He went home, lay down, and fell asleep earlier than usual. An hour later he woke up with stomach pains. They were an old malady that appeared whenever he was depressed. He opened the medicine chest and let out a curse: it was completely empty; he had forgotten to keep it stocked. He tried to keep the pain under control by force of will and was, in fact, fairly successful, but he could not fall asleep again. When Tereza came home at half past one, he felt like chatting with her. He told her about the funeral, about the editor's refusal to talk to him, and about his encounter with S.


    “布拉格近来变得这么丑恶了。”特丽莎说。 “我知道。”托马斯说。 特丽莎停了一下,温柔地说:“最好的办法是搬走。” “我同意,”托马斯说,“但是没有什么地方可去。” 他穿着睡衣坐在床上,她也过来坐在他旁边,从侧面搂住他的身体。 “到乡下去怎么样?”她说。 “乡下?”他感到惊讶。


Prague has grown so ugly lately, said Tereza.
I know, said Tomas.
Tereza paused and said softly, The best thing to do would be to move away.
I agree, said Tomas, but there's nowhere to go.
He was sitting on the bed in his pajamas, and she came and sat down next to him, putting her arms around his body from the side.
What about the country? she said.
The country? he asked, surprised.


    “我们可以独自在那里过日子,你不会碰到那个编辑,或者你的老同事。那里的人是不一样的。我们回到大自然去,大自然总是原来的样子。” 正在这时,托马斯又一阵胃痛,感到全身发冷,感到自己渴望的莫过于平静与安宁。


We'd be alone there. You wouldn't meet that editor or your old colleagues. The people there are different. And we'd be getting back to nature. Nature is the same as it always was.
Just then Tomas felt another stab in his stomach. It made him feel old, feel that what he longed for more than anything else was peace and quiet.


    “也许你是对的。”他艰难地说,疼痛使呼吸都很困难。 “我们会有一所小房子,一个小花园,但要足够的大,给卡列宁一个象样的活动场地。” “是的。”托马斯说。


Maybe you're right, he said with difficulty. The pain made it hard for him to breathe.
We'd have a little house and a little garden, but big enough to give Karenin room for a decent run.
Yes, said Tomas.




He was trying to picture what it would be like if they did move to the country. He would have difficulty finding a new woman every week. It would mean an end to his erotic adventures.




The only thing is, you'd be bored with me in the country, said Tereza as if reading his mind.




The pain grew more intense. He could not speak. It occurred to him that his womanizing was also something of an Es muss sein! —an imperative enslaving him. He longed for a holiday. But for an absolute holiday, a rest from a// imperatives, from all Es muss sein! If he could take a rest (a permanent rest) from the hospital operating table, then why not from the world operating table, the one where his imaginary scalpel opened the strongbox women use to hide their illusory one-millionth part dissimilarity?


    “你的胃又捣蛋了!”特丽莎这才意识到有些不对头,叫了起来。 他点了点头。 “打针了吗?” 他摇了摇头:“我忘了给药箱补充药品。” 她顾不上嗔怪他的粗心大意,摸了模他的前额,那里有因为痛楚而冒出来的密密汗珠。


Your stomach is acting up again! Tereza exclaimed, only then realizing that something was wrong. He nodded.
Have you had your injection?
He shook his head. I forgot to lay in a supply of medication.
Though annoyed at his carelessness, she stroked his forehead, which was beaded with sweat from the pain.
I feel a little better now.
Lie down, she said, and covered him with a blanket. She went off to the bathroom and in a minute was back and lying next to him.




Without lifting his head from the pillow, he turned to her and nearly gasped: the grief burning in her eyes was unbearable.


    “告诉我,特丽莎,怎么啦?最近你有心事,我能感觉得出来,我知道。” “没有,”她摇摇头,“没有什么事。” “你否认也没有用。” “都是些老事情。”她说。 “老事情”意味着她的嫉妒和他的不忠。


Tell me, Tereza, what's wrong? Something's been going on inside you lately. I can feel it. I know it.
No. She shook her head. There's nothing wrong.
There's no point in denying it.
It's still the same things, she said.
The same things meant her jealousy and his infidelities.


    但托马斯不愿意收场:“不,特丽莎,这一次有点不同。以前从没有这样严重。” “那好吧,我来告诉你,”她说,“去,洗洗你的头发吧。” 他不明白。


But Tomas would not let up. No, Tereza. This time it's something different. It's never been this bad before.
Well then, I'll tell you, she said. Go and wash your hair.
He did not understand.




The tone of her explanation was sad, unantagonistic, almost gentle. For months now your hair has had a strong odor to it. It smells of female genitals. I didn't want to tell you, but night after night I've had to breathe in the groin of some mistress of yours.




The moment she finished, his stomach began hurting again. He was desperate. The scrubbings he'd put himself through! Body, hands, face, to make sure not the slightest trace of their odors remained behind. He'd even avoided their fragrant soaps, carrying his own harsh variety with him at all times. But he'd forgotten about his hair! It had never occurred to him!




Then he remembered the woman who had straddled his face and wanted him to make love to her with it and with the crown of his head. He hated her now. What stupid ideas! He saw there was no use denying it. All he could do was laugh a silly laugh and head for the bathroom to wash his hair.




But she stroked his forehead again and said, Stay here in bed. Don't bother washing it out. I'm used to it by now.




His stomach was killing him, and he longed for peace and quiet. I'll write to that patient of mine, the one we met at the spa. Do you know the district where his village is? No.


    托马斯极难谈下去了,所能说的只是:“树林子……环绕的山……” “没有关系,这是以后的事。我们要离开这里,但现在别说了……”她还是一直摸着他的额头。两人并排躺在那儿,不再言语。慢慢地,痛感消退了,他们很快进入梦乡。


Tomas was having great trouble talking. All he could say was, Woods . . . rolling hills . . .
That's right. That's what we'll do. We'll go away from here. But no talking now . . . And she kept stroking his forehead. They lay there side by side, neither saying a word. Slowly the pain began to recede. Soon they were both asleep.






In the middle of the night, he woke up and realized to his surprise that he had been having one erotic dream after the other. The only one he could recall with any clarity was the last: an enormous naked woman, at least five times his size, floating on her back in a pool, her belly from crotch to navel covered with thick hair. Looking at her from the side of the pool, he was greatly excited.




How could he have been excited when his body was debilitated by a gastric disorder? And how could he be excited by the sight of a woman who would have repelled him had he seen her while conscious?




He thought: In the clockwork of the head, two cogwheels turn opposite each other. On the one, images; on the other, the body's reactions.




The cog carrying the image of a naked woman meshes with the corresponding erection-command cog. But when, for one reason or another, the wheels go out of phase and the excitement cog meshes with a cog bearing the image of a swallow in flight, the penis rises at the sight of a swallow.




Moreover, a study by one of Tomas's colleagues, a specialist in human sleep, claimed that during any kind of dream men have erections, which means that the link between erections and naked women is only one of a thousand ways the Creator can set the clockwork moving in a man's head.




And what has love in common with all this? Nothing. If a cogwheel in Tomas's head goes out of phase and he is excited by seeing a swallow, it has absolutely no effect on his love for Tereza.




If excitement is a mechanism our Creator uses for His own amusement, love is something that belongs to us alone and enables us to flee the Creator. Love is our freedom. Love lies beyond Es muss sein!




Though that is not entirely true. Even if love is something other than a clockwork of sex that the Creator uses for His own amusement, it is still attached to it. It is attached to it like a tender naked woman to the pendulum of an enormous clock.




Thomas thought: Attaching love to sex is one of the most bizarre ideas the Creator ever had.




He also thought: One way of saving love from the stupidity of sex would be to set the clockwork in our head in such a way as to excite us at the sight of a swallow.




And with that sweet thought he started dozing off. But on the very threshold of sleep, in the no-man's-land of muddled concepts, he was suddenly certain he had just discovered the solution to all riddles, the key to all mysteries, a new utopia, a paradise: a world where man is excited by seeing a swallow and Tomas can love Tereza without being disturbed by the aggressive stupidity of sex.
Then he fell asleep.





Several half-naked women were trying to wind themselves around him, but he was tired, and to extricate himself from them he opened the door leading to the next room. There, just opposite him, he saw a young woman lying on her side on a couch. She, too, was half-naked: she wore nothing but panties. Leaning on her elbow, she looked up at him with a smile that said she had known he would come.




He went up to her. He was filled with a feeling of unutterable bliss at the thought that he had found her at last and could be there with her. He sat down at her side, said something to her, and she said something back. She radiated calm. Her hand made slow, supple movements. All his life he had longed for the calm of her movements. Feminine calm had eluded him all his life.




But just then the dream began its slide back to reality. He found himself back in that no-man's-land where we are neither asleep nor awake. He was horrified by the prospect of seeing the young woman vanish before his eyes and said to himself, God, how I'd hate to lose her! He tried desperately to remember who she was, where he'd met her, what they'd experienced together. How could he possibly forget when she knew him so well? He promised himself to phone her first thing in the morning. But no sooner had he made the promise than he realized he couldn't keep it: he didn't know her name. How could he forget the name of someone he knew so well? By that time he was almost completely awake, his eyes were open, and he was asking himself, Where am I? Yes, I'm in Prague, but that woman, does she live here too? Didn't I meet her somewhere else? Could she be from Switzerland? It took him quite some time to get it into his head that he didn't know the woman, that she wasn't from Prague or Switzerland, that she inhabited his dream and nowhere else.




He was so upset he sat straight up in bed. Tereza was breathing deeply beside him. The woman in the dream, he thought, was unlike any he had ever met. The woman he felt he knew most intimately of all had turned out to be a woman he did not even know. And yet she was the one he had always longed for. If a personal paradise were ever to exist for him, then in that paradise he would have to live by her side. The woman from his dream was the Es muss sein! of his love.




He suddenly recalled the famous myth from Plato's Symposium: People were hermaphrodites until God split them in two, and now all the halves wander the world over seeking one another. Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.




Let us suppose that such is the case, that somewhere in the world each of us has a partner who once formed part of our body. Tomas's other part is the young woman he dreamed about. The trouble is, man does not find the other part of himself. Instead, he is sent a Tereza in a bulrush basket. But what happens if he nevertheless later meets the one who was meant for him, the other part of himself? Whom is he to prefer? The woman from the bulrush basket or the woman from Plato's myth?




He tried to picture himself living in an ideal world with the young woman from the dream. He sees Tereza walking past the open windows of their ideal house. She is alone and stops to look in at him with an infinitely sad expression in her eyes. He cannot withstand her glance. Again, he feels her pain in his own heart. Again, he falls prey to compassion and sinks deep into her soul. He leaps out of the window, but she tells him bitterly to stay where he feels happy, making those abrupt, angular movements that so annoyed and displeased him. He grabs her nervous hands and presses them between his own to calm them. And he knows that time and again he will abandon the house of his happiness, time and again abandon his paradise and the woman from his dream and betray the Es muss sein! of his love to go off with Tereza, the woman born of six laughable fortuities.


    他一直坐在床上,看着躺在身旁的这位女人,在睡梦中还抓着他的手。他觉出一种对她无法言表的爱。这一刻她一定睡得不沉,因为她睁开了双眼,用疑虑的目光打量着他。 “你在看什么呢?”她问。


All this time he was sitting up in bed and looking at the woman who was lying beside him and holding his hand in her sleep. He felt an ineffable love for her. Her sleep must have been very light at the moment because she opened her eyes and gazed up at him questioningly.
What are you looking at? she asked.




He knew that instead of waking her he should lull her back to sleep, so he tried to come up with an answer that would plant the image of a new dream in her mind.


    “我在看星星。”他说。 “不要说你在看星星了,你骗我。你在往下看。” “那是因为我们在飞机上,星星在我们下面。” “哦,飞机上。”特丽莎把他的手攥得更紧了,随后又昏昏欲睡。托马斯知道,特丽莎正从飞机的圆形窗户往外看,飞机正在群星之上高高飞翔。

I'm looking at the stars, he said.
Don't say you're looking at the stars. That's a lie. You're looking down.
That's because we're in an airplane. The stars are below us.
Oh, in an airplane, said Tereza, squeezing his hand even tighter and falling asleep again. And Tomas knew that Tereza was looking out of the round window of an airplane flying high above the stars。




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