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他说要美国恢复伟大荣光,我们希望恢复它的爱

更新时间:2016-12-13 10:22:17 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Trump Is a Great Storyteller. We Need to Be Better.
他说要美国恢复伟大荣光,我们希望恢复它的爱

My son is 3 years old. Every morning and evening I read to him. I love the joy he takes in learning new words, immersing himself in stories, seeing himself as the characters, and acquiring a moral and ethical sense. He lives in a fictional world of good and bad, of threat and rescue, of the choice between doing good or doing harm.

我儿子三岁了。每天早晨和晚上,我都给他念书。我喜欢他在学习新单词时,沉浸在故事带来的欢乐之中,以及把自己当作其中角色时,形成道德伦理感时获得的乐趣。他生活在一个善与恶、威胁与拯救、在行善或作恶间抉择的虚构世界中。

In Harrisburg, Pa., of the mid-1970s, I was a refugee and the child of refugees who had fled Vietnam. My parents had neither the time nor the ability to read to me in English. So I took refuge in the local public library. It became my safe space and books my constant companion.

20世纪70年代中期,在宾夕法尼亚州哈里斯堡,我是一名难民,是两名逃离越南的难民的孩子。他们既没时间也没能力用英语给我念书。所以,当地的公共图书馆成了我的避难所。那里是我的安全港湾,书籍成了我永远的伴侣。

I imagined myself amid the wonders of Manhattan, the bucolic splendor of Midwestern farms, the stirring and dreadful times of the American Revolution and Civil War. Even if there was no one who looked like me or had a name like mine, through these stories, I became an American.

我跟随书籍想像曼哈顿的繁华,领略中西部农场的田园美景,感受美国独立战争和内战的激动与恐怖。虽然这些故事中的人物在外貌和名字上跟我都不像,但通过它们,我成了一个美国人。

As I remembered this during our presidential election, what became clear to me was that the contest for our American identity wasn’t strictly a political affair. It is also a matter of storytelling. Those who seek to lead our country must persuade the people through their ability to tell a story about who we are, where we have been, and where we are going. The struggle over the direction of our country is also a fight over whose words will win and whose images will ignite the collective imagination.

在总统大选中,我想起了这一点,我清楚地意识到,对美国身份的争夺不完全是政治事件。它也是一个故事讲述问题。那些想要领导我们国家的人必须凭借讲故事的能力来说服民众——讲述一个关于我们的身份、过去和未来的故事。对国家领导权的争夺也是关于谁的话语占上风、谁的图景能点燃集体想像力。

Donald J. Trump won barely, and by the grace of the Electoral College. His voters responded to his call to “Make America Great Again,” referring to a past when jobs were more plentiful, incomes more stable and politicians more bold.

唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)得益于选举团制度而勉强获胜。他的选民响应了他的“让美国恢复伟大荣光”(Make America Great Again)的号召,它指的是工作更充裕、收入更稳定、政治人士更大胆的旧时光。

That kind of nostalgia is powerful and visceral, but it’s hard to ignore the subtext. America of the golden age, if it ever existed, kept women out of the workplace, segregated and exploited minorities and restricted immigration by race.

那种怀旧情绪是强大的,发自肺腑的,但你很难忽视它暗含的意思。黄金时代的美国——如果它的确存在过的话——不允许女人工作,隔离和剥削少数民族,根据种族限制移民。

It’s hardly surprising that the population of much of the literary world is terrified by Mr. Trump’s vision of good-versus-evil, us-against-them. At the recent National Book Awards and Dayton Literary Peace Prizes, most of the speeches proclaimed opposition to the values that Mr. Trump espoused.

文学界的很多人对特朗普的善恶观和敌我对立情绪感到害怕,这并不令人意外。在前不久的国家图书奖(National Book Awards)和代顿文学和平奖(Dayton Literary Peace Prizes)颁奖礼上,大部分获奖感言都表达了对特朗普支持的价值观的反对。

That opposition isn’t just political but literary: His story contradicts the idea of literature itself. Great literature cannot exist if it is based on hate, fear, division, exclusion, scapegoating or the use of injustice. Bad literature and demagogues, on the other hand, exploit these very things, and they do so through telling the kind of demonizing stories good literary writers reject.

这种对立不仅是政治上的,而且是文学上的:他的故事与文学本身的概念相矛盾。伟大的文学作品不可能是基于仇恨、恐惧、分裂、排斥、找替罪羊,或采用不公正的手段。相反,拙劣的文学和煽动者利用的正是这些,他们讲述的是优秀文学作家所摒弃的那种妖魔化的故事。

The cast of “Hamilton” sought to remind Mike Pence, the vice president-elect, of this when he attended the show recently, imploring him directly to defend American diversity. When an offended Mr. Trump tweeted that the theater “must always be a safe and special place,” he missed their point: America itself should be a safe and special place.

这正是《汉密尔顿》全体演员想提醒迈克·彭斯(Mike Pence)的,他们向近日前去观看此剧的候任副总统发出直接的请求,要他捍卫美国的多元化。当觉得被冒犯的特朗普发推说,剧场“应该永远都是一个安全而特殊的地方”,他是没抓住重点:美国本身就应该是一个安全而特殊的地方。

Part of the fault is ours; too many writers are removed from the world of our readers. After my novel, “The Sympathizer,” was published, I would get letters from people who accused me of being “ungrateful” to the United States. The places where the book was most popular were the Northeast, West Coast and big cities. A vast section of rural Americans in the Deep South, heartland and North were not buying the book.

我们自己也要负一定的责任,太多作家已经从读者的世界搬了出来。在我的小说《同情者》(The Sympathizer)发表后,我收到一些人的来信,指责我对美国“缺乏感恩”。我的书卖得最好的地方是在东北部、西海岸和大城市。生活在“深南”、“核心地带”和北方的大量乡村美国人不会买这本书。

The day before the presidential election, an obscure novelist attacked me on Twitter. I was “NOT an American author (born in Vietnam).” As for my Pulitzer, it was “An American prize that shuns the real America. We long for the Great American Novel. When?”

总统大选前一天,一位声名不彰的小说家在Twitter上攻击我。我“不是一个美国作家(生于越南)”。至于我的普利策,那是“一个置真正的美国于不顾的美国奖项。我们渴望看到伟大的美国小说。何时能有?”

Despite that criticism, this election reminds me of the necessity of my vocation. Good writers cannot write honestly if they are incapable of imagining what it is that another feels, thinks and sees. Through identifying with characters and people who are nothing like us, through destroying the walls between ourselves and others, the people who love words — both writers and readers — strive to understand others and break down the boundaries that separate us.

尽管面对这样的批评,这场选举还是提醒我,我是肩负着使命的。一个好作家要诚实地写作,首先要能想他人之所感、所想、所见。通过体认与我们截然不同的角色和人,通过捣毁我们与他者之间的墙,热爱文字的人——无论是作者还是读者——会奋力去理解他人,打破将我们分隔开的边界。

It’s an ethos summed up by the novelist Colson Whitehead in his acceptance speech at the National Book Awards last month: “Be kind to everybody. Make art. And fight the power.”

上月在国家图书奖的获奖演说中,小说家科尔森·怀特黑德(Colson Whitehead)就总结了这样一种精神。“与人为善。创作艺术。反抗强权。”

After election night, during which my partner, my graduate students and I drank two bottles of Scotch, I renewed my commitment to fight the power. That was always my mission. I was thinking of it when I named my son Ellison, after the novelist Ralph Waldo Ellison, himself named after the philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. Making my son a part of this lineage, I wanted him to understand the basic paradox at the heart of literature and philosophy: Even as each of us is solitary as a reader or a writer, we are reminded of our shared humanity and our inhumanity.

我和我的伴侣、我的研究生们在选举夜喝了两瓶苏格兰威士忌,在那之后,我再次坚定了自己反抗强权的承诺。这从来都是我的使命。我正是出于这个想法给儿子取名埃里森(Ellison),那是取自拉尔夫·沃尔多·埃里森(Ralph Waldo Ellison),而他的名字本身是取自哲学家拉尔夫·沃尔多·爱默生(Ralph Waldo Emerson)。我把我的儿子放进了这种传承之中,希望他能理解位于文学与哲学中心位置的一种基本的奇特之处:作为读者或作者,我们每个人都是孤立的,然而我们会意识到我们共有的人性以及我们的非人性。

My son need not become a writer, but he will become a storyteller. We are all storytellers of our own lives, of our American identities. I want my son to rise to the challenge of fighting to determine which stories will define our America. That’s the choice between building walls and opening hearts. Rather than making America great again, we should help America love again.

我的儿子不一定要成为作家,但他会成为一个故事讲述者。我们都是我们自身生活故事、我们的美国人身份的讲述者。我希望我的儿子能迎接挑战,要奋力去明确用什么样的故事来定义我们的美国。这是筑起高墙和打开心扉之间的抉择。与其让美国恢复伟大荣光,我们更希望帮助美国恢复它的爱。

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