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美国人的空间观念和中国人的地域观念

(2010-11-15 16:56:32)
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翻译

分类: 博主翻译练笔

American Space, Chinese Place

                              by Yi-Fu Tuan

 

Americans have a sense of space, not of place. Go to an American home in exurbia, and almost the first thing you do is drift toward the picture window. How curious that the first compliment you pay your host inside his house is to say how lovely it is outside his house! He is pleased that you should admire his vistas. The distant horizon is not merely a line separating earth from sky, it is a symbol of the future. The American is not rooted in his place, however lovely; his eyes are drawn by the expanding space to a point on the horizon, which is his future.

By contrast, consider the traditional Chinese home. Blank walls enclose it. Step behind the wall and you are in a courtyard with perhaps a miniature garden around the corner. Once inside the private compound you are wrapped in an ambiance of calm beauty, an ordered world of buildings, pavement, rock, and decorative vegetation. But you have no distant view: nowhere does space open out before you. Raw nature in such a home is experienced only as weather, and the only open space is the sky above. The Chinese is rooted in his place. When he has to leave, it is not for the promised land on the terrestrial horizon, but for another world altogether along the vertical, religious axis of his imagination.

The Chinese tie to place is deeply felt. Wanderlust is an alien sentiment. The Taoist classic Tao Te Ching captures the ideal of rootedness in place with these words: "Though there may be another country in the neighborhood so close that they are within sight of each other and the crowing of cocks and barking of dogs in one place can be heard in the other, yet there is no traffic between them; and throughout their lives the two peoples have nothing to do with each other." In theory if not in practice, farmers have ranked high in Chinese society. The reason is not only that they are engaged in the "root" industry of producing food but that, unlike pecuniary merchants, they are tied to the land and do not abandon their country when it is in danger.

Nostalgia is a recurrent theme in Chinese poetry. An American reader of translated Chinese poems may well be taken aback, even put off, by the frequency, as well as the sentimentality of the lament for home. To understand the strength of this sentiment, we need to know that the Chinese desire for stability and rootedness in place is prompted by the constant threat of war, exile, and the natural disasters of flood and drought. Forcible removal makes the Chinese keenly aware of their loss. By contrast, Americans move, for the most part, voluntarily. Their nostalgia for hometown is really longing for childhood to which they cannot return: in the meantime the future beckons and the future is "out there," in open space. When we criticize American rootlessness we tend to forget that it is a result of ideals we admire, namely, social mobility and optimism about the future. When we admire Chinese rootedness, we forget that the word “place” means both location in space and position in society: to be tied to place is also to be bound to one's station in life, with little hope of betterment. Space symbolizes hope, place, achievement and stability.

 

 

美国人的空间观念和中国人的地域观念

 

作者:段羲孚      博主译

 

美国人有空间观念,没有地域观念。到郊外的美国人家里做客,你做的第一件事很可能就是,情不自禁地移步到落地窗前,赞叹窗外的美景。这是你对主人的第一句恭维话,说的不是屋内的摆设装饰,而是屋外的景色,奇怪吧。可主人却满心欢喜,你竟懂得欣赏他精心设计的远景图。展目遥望,远在天边的地平线不仅是天地间的分界,更是未来的象征。美国人不固守一个地方,不管这个家园多么美好;他的目光总是越过辽阔的空间,投向遥遥地平线的某一点上,而那,就是他的未来。

再看看传统的中式房屋,情况正好相反。光秃秃的围墙四面环绕,进入围墙,你就会置身于一个静谧温馨的私家小院,院子里的某个角落也许有个小巧玲珑的花园。房舍、亭子、假山,花草,井然有序,俨然一个美哉悠哉的小天地。然而,你却看不到任何远景,眼前没有任何开阔的空间。四季变换是唯一人工未施的自然风景,头顶那片天空是唯一可见的开阔空间。中国人深深地扎根于他的家园。一旦离去,不是飘往远方的乐土,而是满怀虔诚的信仰进入另一幽冥的世界。

中国人心系乡土,不喜远游。道家经典《道德经》形象地描绘了中国人这种“根”的意识:“邻国相望,鸡犬之声相闻,民至老死,不相往来”。理论上而不是现实中,中国农民的地位是相当高的。究其原因,他们不仅从事生产粮食这一“根基”行业,而且他们与唯利是图的商人不同,总是扎根于一方土地,即使国难当头也绝不肯背离家园。

    思乡是中国诗歌中反复出现的一个主题。美国读者也许会对英译汉诗中那过多的绵绵乡思感到吃惊,甚至反感。要理解这种情感,我们需要知道,中国人对安居乐业、扎根一方的渴望实际上源于战乱、流离失所和旱涝天灾的不断威胁。迫不得已的颠沛流离使中国人更深切地感受到失去的东西。相反,美国人迁移常常出于自愿。他们思乡大多是对一去不复返的美好童年的追忆。而同时,未来在向他们频频召唤,未来就在“那儿”,在辽阔的远方。我们批判美国人的“无根”性,却往往忘了它实际上源于我们钦羡的一种品质,即社会流动性和对未来的乐观态度。我们赞赏中国人的“根”的意识,却忘了“地域”这个概念不仅指地方,还指社会地位,即扎根于某个地域,也就是在生活中取得稳固地位,并不渴求改变。空间意味着希望,地域昭示着成就与稳定。

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