与沃尔特?惠特曼一起作时间旅行

  与沃尔特?惠特曼一起作时间旅行

  ――迈克尔?坎宁安新著《典型的日子》简介

  美国新锐作家迈克尔?坎宁安生于1952年,1989年处女作《末世之家》一经发表,便蜚声美国文坛。1998年,坎宁安出版了他的第三本小说《时时刻刻》,立刻获得了当年的“笔会/福克纳小说奖”,翌年又获得“普立策小说奖”。和他前两本作品不同的是,《时时刻刻》竟然是关于英国著名意识流小说作家弗吉尼亚?伍尔夫及其小说代表作《达洛维夫人》的一本实验性小说。虽然弗吉尼亚?伍尔夫在现代文坛上的地位已毋庸置疑,但其以杂乱无序的思维活动为线索的创作理念,即使在今天看来,仍然十分难以理解,无论在国外,还是在中国,都无法为大多数读者所接受。坎宁安采用这样的选题,无疑是个大胆的创新之举。《时时刻刻》中共有三条主线,叙述了三个女人的一天:20世纪20年代,作家弗吉尼亚?伍尔夫正在伦敦市郊的里士满休养,在治疗自己神经衰弱的同时开始构思创作其作品《达洛维夫人》,但对生活的恐慌时刻伴随着敏感的她;20世纪50年代,家庭主妇布朗夫人,怀孕在身,正在阅读《达洛维夫人》,索然无味的生活让她绝望,她试图以自杀来逃避生活;20世纪末,中年女编辑克拉丽莎(她恰巧与达洛维夫人同名,被朋友戏称为达洛维夫人),在为其好友理查德筹备举办晚会,却意外目睹了他的自杀。三个女人的一生看似彼此没有任何关系,却因为一本《达洛维夫人》而联系在一起,在全书的最后,作者笔锋一转,让人发现布朗夫人正是自杀的理查德的母亲,两条主线逐渐并成了一条,逐渐映入人们眼帘的是一部现代女性生存状态的文字交响曲。

  2005年,迈克尔?坎宁安出版了他的新著《典型的日子》。该书标题出自惠特曼的自传书名,这部三段式的小说也以惠特曼的诗句来加以结构,坎宁安沿用《时时刻刻》的创作手法,讲述了同一地点(曼哈顿)不同时代的三个故事,情节分别发生在工业革命高潮的19世纪的纽约、恐怖主义弥漫的后“9?11”之21世纪和150年之后纽约假想的未来,一个后寓意的社会,一个人类、机器和作为新移民的外星人共同生活于其中的令人不堪忍受的社会。这次,迈克尔?坎宁安是从美国伟大诗人沃尔特?惠特曼那里寻得了灵感,创作了一部包含三个不同类型故事的三段式作品――鬼故事、惊悚故事和科幻故事,其情节由惠特曼耳熟能详的诗句串连而起。

  小说第一章《机器时代》,主要讲述一个名叫路加的畸形男孩的故事。路加在一家钢铁厂工作,爱上了了死去的哥哥的未婚妻,但又怕哥哥会把她招回去。第二章《孩子的圣战》中的主要人物也是个畸形孩子,由一恐怖分子抚养成人,其生活被限制在一个公寓之内,四周墙上贴满了书有《草叶集》的纸张。第三章《宛若美人》探索的是科幻小说题材,主角是一个半人半机器的人物,与一异人类的伙伴相伴云游泄有放射物的世界,似乎讲述的是一个跨越人类的浪漫故事。

  作品触及当下一个世界性的主题,即人类对抗机器,呈现的是抑郁、破裂甚至无望的未来。小说带着读者走上一个萧瑟的旅程,穿越三个不同阶段,历经混乱、不安和骚动,让人感到,未来的社会绝非是乌托邦世界。

  这部精湛、奔放的小说浸透了迈克尔?坎宁安对人类现状和死亡的深切思考和探索,作者旨在探索人类的连续性、人性与技术、恐怖主义以及完全机器化了的世界之间的关系将会走向何处。和惠特曼一样,坎宁安深信,我们其实只是“比我们想象之中更为浩瀚、更为非凡的那物之中的一小部份而已”,但坎宁安似乎比惠特曼要悲观得多。

  以下是澳大利亚广播公司(Australia Broadcasting Cooperate)国家广播电台“书籍与写作”(Books and Writing)栏目记者罗蒙娜?库法尔主持的节目中,邀请林恩?加拉赫就《典型的日子》对迈克尔?坎宁安所作的访谈。

  采访原文

  Michael Cunningham: Specimen Days (transcript available)

  Michael Cunningham's new book Specimen Days is a surprise. It's a book in three genres. But because of the success of his previous book, The Hours, about Virginia Woolf, he seems to be able to get away with it.

  Transcript

  This transcript was typed from a recording of the program. The ABC cannot guarantee its complete accuracy because of the possibility of mishearing and occasional difficulty in identifying speakers.

  Ramona Koval: Michael Cunningham's new book Specimen Days is a surprise. It's a book in three genres, but because of the success of his previous book The Hours, about Virginia Woolf, he seems to be able to get away with it. The Hours won Cunningham both the Pulitzer prize and the PEN/Faulkner award, and as I'm sure you're aware, it was adapted into an Academy award-winning film. So how does a writer follow up on success like that, particularly if he's living in New York and feels the need to reflect on life after 9/11.

  Michael Cunningham is in Adelaide as a guest of Writers' Week, but on his way, he visited our Melbourne studios to speak with Lyn Gallacher. He begins his conversation by describing the structure of the book and reading a passage from Specimen Days.

  Michael Cunningham: Specimen Days is written in three parts. The first is a ghost story set in New York City in the mid-1800s. The second is a thriller set in present-day New York just after 9/11; and the third is a science-fiction story set in the future. And it specifically involves-well I'll just have to say it-an android who falls in love with a lizard woman from another planet. All right, there it is. And this sort of manufactured man has a chip implanted in his brain that causes him to spontaneously quote from Walt Whitman.

  Lyn Gallacher: So let's hear a passage, about why poetry...

  Michael Cunningham: He has travelled to Colorado and met his maker, essentially, the scientist who actually designed him and implanted this poetry chip in his brain. And this is the scientist speaking at first.

  [Reading from: All right. In the third protocol I gave you poetry... to ...I do not know what it is, any more than he..]

  Lyn Gallacher: Michael Cunningham, reading there from Specimen Days. Michael, welcome to The Book Show.

  Michael Cunningham: Thank you.

  Lyn Gallacher: Now what we heard there was characters who keep spouting poetry. Now it's a wonderful literary device, that, to actually be saying something you don't yourself want to say. So how much fun was that to play with, as a writer?

  Michael Cunningham: It was great fun, up to a point. I'm sorry to say that I feel that, as a writer, if you're having too much fun you're probably not working hard enough. But yes, it was great fun to write about androids and lizard women from other planets, and people with poetry chips in their brains.

  Lyn Gallacher: And the idea of saying something you can't control, that spurts out of your mouth. And yet it happens to be Whitman. Why Whitman?

  Michael Cunningham: I added Whitman in the first section of the novel, which is the ghost story set in the 1850s. I wasn't going to put Whitman or any great writer into this book, if for no other reason than the fact that it's the book that follows my novel The Hours, which concerns Virginia Woolf, and I didn't want it to look like...

  Lyn Gallacher: This is a formula...

  Michael Cunningham: Yes, like I've made a fortune out of Virginia Woolf and let's see if I can make a few bucks out of Walt Whitman. But as I researched New York City in 1850, where the first story is set, among poor Irish immigrants, I came quickly to understand that it was a truly terrible place if you were poor and Irish. Think Calcutta; it was filthy and noisy and dangerous and there were dead dogs lying in the streets that no-one bothered to take away. And I was struck by the fact that out of that terrible and squalid place rose Walt Whitman, to my mind the greatest American poet and our great ecstatic visionary Rumi, the 12th century Persian poet who praised everything in the world, and out of that came Walt Whitman saying, essentially, I find it all magnificent, and strange, and marvellous, all of it, all of it-it's all part of a vast poem too big for any one man or woman to write. And I thought, I can't leave that out.

  Lyn Gallacher: And it's a celebration of himself, a celebration of America. But you've not done that. In your inclusion of Whitman you've not celebrated America. You're fairly down on America, so it's interesting to have these characters spouting this poetry, almost in a non sequitur kind of fashion. And there's this idea of beauty that doesn't really go anywhere, because your vision is much darker.

  Michael Cunningham: Well Whitman is there in part for contrast. And the America that Whitman praised, though it had its problems, was a nation that looked, 150 years ago, like it might very well be going through certain growing pains on its way toward becoming the most abundant, democratic, peace-loving nation the world had ever seen. It has not, in my opinion, turned out to be that sort of nation at all. I can't imagine living in America now and feeling all optimistic and happy about the way things are. So Whitman is there in part for contrast, as a voice of an old America that has gone terribly awry.

  Lyn Gallacher: And that's one of the other interesting things, because you've got this idea of optimism within the pessimism, the situation that in all three parts of the novel is pretty bleak. And yet you're saying that inside this kind of terrible situation people find hope. But the hope's still so kind of self-annihilating. The hope doesn't actually lead to revolutionary social change. It doesn't improve the world.

  Michael Cunningham: Not in this book. But I will say that most of my books are fairly dark and I think of them all as profoundly optimistic. My books always end-or have until now-with life going on, even if it's one man who's not exactly a man riding out into the wilderness to see what he can find. I'm only interested in the sort of optimism that can survive the worst that can happen to people.

  Lyn Gallacher: Now that optimism is based on emotions. Now the man who in this story rides off into the wilderness (on a horse rather than a spaceship) is an android who is learning his own experience of emotion; he has to learn them rather than have them programmed. So it's almost as if the moral of the story is, become human by experiencing your emotions.

  Michael Cunningham: Absolutely, yes.

  Lyn Gallacher: Except for your aggression inhibitor. Now apparently we want to also experience even aggression.

  Michael Cunningham: Oh absolutely. I think that what we're here to do is experience the full range of emotions. And there is in America right now a sort of epidemic of cheerfulness.

  Lyn Gallacher: You say that with gritted teeth.

  Michael Cunningham: Because I think it's false. I think it involves sweeping ... 'Have a good day...have a good life...' I am not in any way opposed to human happiness. I'm entirely in favour of human happiness. But if you fixate on happiness to the exclusion of every single one of the darker, more difficult emotions, I think you miss a great deal of the richness of human life.

  Lyn Gallacher: And it's as if that happiness is a goal in itself. So long as you're happy, that's the main thing.

  Michael Cunningham: Yes. I can't tell you how many people came up to me after I would read from The Hours and say something to the effect of, I wasn't going to read The Hours because I was afraid it would be depressing, and then 75 of my friends told me that it wouldn't be that depressing and so I decided to take a chance. And I would look at these people and think, so your purchase on wellbeing feels so precarious that you think a book is going to topple you over into some kind of pit from which you won't be able to return? That doesn't feel like a healthy state of mind to me.

  Lyn Gallacher: Especially for you as a writer. Your writerly self must somehow know that you have to kind of experience all those emotions in order to be able to put them down on the page.

  Michael Cunningham: Absolutely. And I'm writing for a reader who is unafraid to experience a wide range of emotions.

  Lyn Gallacher: All right. Now the other thing we have to discuss is that you wrote this after September 11, and it's a very brave book to write in the wake of that terror, because you've got a suicide bomber who you make the audience feel sorry for, or feel sympathy with. That is very courageous.

  Michael Cunningham: I think it is the job of the novelist, and I think the novelist is probably uniquely qualified to do this particular job, to help us all understand what it's like to be whoever one is in the world. If it's the job of the politician and the citizen to prevent terrorism, it's the job of the writer to try to penetrate the mind of a terrorist and understand how everybody is the hero of his or her own story. Whatever you do in the world, you go home at night and think, well, another day's good work done.

  Lyn Gallacher: The terrifying thing about these particular bombings was that they appeared to have no meaning. Now is that so, is that what scares people?

  Michael Cunningham: Yes, I think certainly part of what was so terrifying to Americans about 9/11, apart from the fact that it was the first time America had ever been assaulted except Pearl Harbor in Hawaii at the start of world war two. People didn't get it. People didn't understand why anyone would want to do something like that.

  Lyn Gallacher: Whereas if it was your mother-in-law that wanted to kill you, you could understand that. You've had horrible Christmases for the last 20 years.

  Michael Cunningham: Right. Why did she decide to kill me? Oh, well, last Christmas...

  Lyn Gallacher: But a random act is too hard for the human mind

  Michael Cunningham: It is. Absolutely. And it implies that you're not safe anywhere. It implies that there is nothing you can do. There are no virtuous acts that make you invulnerable. It's much more frightening.

  Lyn Gallacher: Now these children that are on the children's crusade and do the random bombings, they're also motivated by Whitman and the detective, in order to solve the crime, has to understand Whitman's message to the reader. Now this is a little bit of reader response theory for our listeners, because the academic who the copper turns to says, well you can read Whitman any way you like. And there is no point in which Whitman can be read to advocate children becoming suicide bombers, is there?

  Michael Cunningham: No. Not according to my reading of Whitman. I do think that all great art is enormously powerful and can be interpreted any number of ways. Hitler was a great fan of Wagner. Many of the monsters of history were also patrons of the arts. And I think it's a kind of dark tribute to the power of art that it can be interpreted in so many ways-including some very twisted and destructive ways.

  Lyn Gallacher: So the children who are carrying out these crusades, they talk about the machine, which makes sense in the first part of the novel, because the machine is clearly the industrial age. But in the second part, which is present-day New York, what is the machine?

  Michael Cunningham: The machine that these poor, deluded children are talking about is simply the machinery of the 21st century, this kind of vast, technological, industrial society, in which it is difficult to feel like a meaningful member, in which it's difficult to do work that feels like it matters. They are trying, in their deluded way, to bring down this vast, inhuman, corporate mechanism.

  Lyn Gallacher: And is that something you feel yourself?

  Michael Cunningham: Not really. I love cities.

  Lyn Gallacher: They don't disempower you...

  Michael Cunningham: No. I feel if anything they provide a constant reminder-I live in New York, one of the larger, nastier cities in the world-and I feel like it constantly reminds me of my place in the world, which is what it is. I think if as a writer I lived in a little cottage in the country, it would be easy to overestimate what I'm doing. It's important to remember that books are hugely important and they are simply part of a much bigger picture, and you should keep that in mind.

  Lyn Gallacher: All right. So bearing that in mind, then the machine in the third part of the novel, which is set in the future, the machine is almost us. You've got an android character, and then as you were saying, the role of poetry in that is slightly different.

  Michael Cunningham: Yes. The three stories follow a chain of progressive dehumanisation, until we end with a future in which our protagonist is literally a machine, and is trying to learn humanity.

  Lyn Gallacher: So what is the role of religion in all this, because you've called your characters very religious names; Luke, Simon and Catherine. And some of the characters have prophetic wisdom; they can predict the future. Then you've got re-occurring mystical symbols, like the china bowl. And you've got this kind of ecstatic belief in life after death coming from one of the characters. You say an orgasm is only kind of a hint at the loss of our self-awareness that we'll experience after death. Where does all that come from?

  Michael Cunningham: You know, I'm not especially religious myself, though I do feel drawn to-how to put this-something in people that wants to worship at least as much as it wants to shop. The religious impulse is fascinating and commendable to me. Its actually playing out is often disquieting. Bottom line really is that I can't quite imagine setting a novel in America right now, America being run as it is by religious fanatics, without including religion. It simply belonged in there.

  Lyn Gallacher: So you don't think you've been influenced in a more obvious way by some of the religious right's belief in a better world comes from the idea that the better world will come after this one is completely abandoned. So that really conservative view of, well everything here is rubbish but we hope for a better life after death; the second coming-all that kind of apocalyptic thinking. Are you influenced by that?

  Michael Cunningham: I'm certainly influenced by it. I don't feel particularly sympathetic toward it. I might like it better if the members of the religious right didn't insist so obdurately on salvation for themselves and the active persecution of anyone who is in any way different from them. If it felt genuinely kind and genuinely like a good force in the world, I'd be right there with them. I might even join. No, I actually think religious fundamentalism-and not just Christian fundamentalism-is probably the most dangerous force at work in the world today. But again, as a writer of fiction, I'm interested in how that feeling resides in people. And so I did produce a character who is a genuinely religious person and who finds great solace and a kind of ecstasy in it.

  Lyn Gallacher: And who also importantly abandons this world in order to start up another one, which is what I'm wondering about you. Have you given up on this world? It does seem to be a pretty miserable heap. It always was kind of pretty rooted in the industrial age. The current age is not much chop. And you abandon this for another planet.

  Michael Cunningham: In the book, yes. I am really kind of a sap when it gets right down to it, and if anything I probably write the way I do to offset my own sentimentality. I deeply believe that as long as there is one person alive, there is hope for a better future. Of course I worry. Look at the world. Of course I worry about where it's headed and what we and our children and our children's children may live to see. But I'll be right in there until they take me away.

  Lyn Gallacher: And is that part of the poetry?

  Michael Cunningham: Absolutely. Whitman, and any great poet, any great artist, is producing something that I believe survives, and has a kind of holiness about it, a kind of immortality about it. A great poem is still here, long after Keats, and Yeats and everyone who knew them are dead. It is our way of speaking to each other from generation to generation.

  Lyn Gallacher: And becoming human.

  Michael Cunningham: Yes. It's part of what keeps us human.

  Lyn Gallacher: A question about the actual research that you did into the history of New York. You obviously had a good time researching the first part of the novel.

  Michael Cunningham: Yes

  Lyn Gallacher: How much of that affected your portrayal of the future?

  Michael Cunningham: Oh, very much. I was quite conscious of trying to imagine a future that was a logical extension of life in 1950. That's what the future is, it's a result of our past and present actions.

  Lyn Gallacher: So you even did detailed research that didn't make it into the book about what kind of underwear they were wearing.

  Michael Cunningham: This is one of the pitfalls of writing any novel that involves a great deal of research. You learn fascinating things that you are just dying to put in, whether it be the kind of underwear people had on, or the particulars of trash collection. And you have to be ruthless with yourself and remind yourself that the three-page section about how water travelled from Croton down to New York simply doesn't belong, even though you know it and are quite proud of it and find it interesting.

  Oh, here's a great chance to have a brief pedantic moment about things that I learned that I couldn't put into the book. One in particular, it took a full generation after the beginning of industrialisation to get the workers to understand that they had to show up at the same time every single day. They had been farmers. They had worked according to the seasons, according to their needs; and it was almost impossible to get them to understand that they had to come to work tomorrow even though they have enough money for now and they'd like to take a little time off. And there was a campaign-I'm not making this up-there was a campaign on the part of people who owned factories and other kinds of businesses, to equate poverty with shame. Until then poverty was a little bit like cancer, it just got some people. The rain didn't come, your crops didn't come up and you were afflicted by poverty, the way one is afflicted by a disease. But people who aren't ashamed of poverty can't be relied on to show up for work every day. And so the invention, about 150 years ago, of poverty as a shameful condition, and so the resentment of people on the street begging for change-damn you, if you'd been a better person you wouldn't be in this condition. That's a relatively recent thing, as it turns out.

  Lyn Gallacher: The implications of that, then, for also time, are astonishing, that that shame means that we have to also turn up and behave in this sort of way, and we are in fact becoming mechanised individuals with pre-programmed emotional responses to things.

  Michael Cunningham: Absolutely.

  Lyn Gallacher: Which is exactly the future that you foretold. But when you introduced this book you were a little bit hesitant about saying that the third section is science-fiction. Some of your readers have been caught a little bit short by that. Do you think it's because they weren't expecting you to change genres in the middle?

  Michael Cunningham: I think it's partly that. And I've also come to understand that many readers are perfectly willing to hear a ghost story or a detective story-that there is a kind of, if not honourable tradition in those genres, at least a certain unabashed interest. Science-fiction, on the other hand, is repellent to a surprising number of readers. I think the fear is that it will be inhuman, it will be just technological, it will be pure fantasy and have no bearing on actual human life. And ironically, I think some of the most interesting fiction being written today is in the field of science-fiction, which is being largely unread by many people, because it's in that section over there, where no-one ever goes.

  Lyn Gallacher: Michael Cunningham, thank you very much for joining us on The Book Show.

  Michael Cunningham: Thank you.

  Ramona Koval: Michael Cunningham there. Wasn't that interesting about poverty and shame. And having fun there with Lyn Gallacher about Specimen Days, and if you recognised the title as coming from Walt Whitman, you'd be right. Specimen Days is published by Harper Collins

  罗蒙娜?库法尔:迈克尔?坎宁安的新著《典型的日子》出人意料,他将三种不同的小说类型融于一部作品之中,但因此前他关于弗吉尼亚?伍尔夫的小说《时时刻刻》的巨大成功,此次尝试,似乎让他能成功得益于这样的冒险。《时时刻刻》曾获普利策奖和福克纳笔会奖,而且大家也肯定知道,根据它改编的电影获得了学院奖。那么,作家是怎样以这样的方式成功地采取适当的行动的呢?尤其是当他生活在纽约,感觉需要思考“9?11”之后的生活的时候。

  迈克尔?坎宁安前往阿德雷得市作“作家周”的嘉宾,途中访问了我们在墨尔本的工作室,并接受林恩?加拉赫的访谈。他已描述该书的结构、阅读《典型的日子》中的一个段落开始了他的交谈。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:《典型的日子》分三个部份,第一个部分是发生在 19世纪中期纽约市的一个鬼故事;第二部分是“9?11”之后纽约当下的一个惊悚故事;第三部分是一个发生于未来的科幻故事,讲述一个机器人爱上了一个来自另一星球的蜥蜴女人。嗯,情节大体就是这样,这个造出来的男人的大脑里植入了一个芯片,他因此能随时自动地引用沃尔特?惠特曼的诗句。

  林恩?加拉赫:现在我们来听一段文字,是关于诗为什么……

  迈克尔?坎宁安:他行至科罗拉多,遇到他的制造者,尤其是设计他并将包含诗句的芯片植入他的大脑之中的科学家。下面是这位科学家一开始说的话。

  [阅读原文略]

  林恩?加拉赫:迈克尔?坎宁安,读自《典型的日子》。迈克尔,欢迎您做客图书秀节目。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:谢谢。

  林恩?加拉赫:我们刚才听到的是那个口中一直不断涌出诗句的人物。现在这已成为一种非常奇妙的文学方式,你用这样的方式说出自己不想说的事情。那么,作为作家,玩形式很有趣吗?

  迈克尔?坎宁安:某种意义上说是非常有趣。不过我觉得作为作家,如果太有趣,可能就不够用功了。但是,的确,写机器人,写来自别的星球的蜥蜴女人,以及脑子里植有诗句芯片的人物,的确很有意思。

  林恩?加拉赫:以及那种能说出你无法控制的事情的方式,从你嘴中滔滔不绝地说出。而且碰巧是惠特曼。为什么选惠特曼?

  迈克尔?坎宁安:我把惠特曼加入到小说的第一部分, 这是发生在 19世纪50 年代中期的鬼故事,如果仅仅是为了效仿自己那部关于弗吉尼亚?伍尔夫的小说《时时刻刻》,我是不会把惠特曼或者其他任何伟大作家放入本书的,我不想让小说看上去像是……

  林恩?加拉赫:是一种模式……

  迈克尔?坎宁安:对,就好像已经借弗吉尼亚?伍尔夫赚了钱,现在再看看能不能借惠特曼再赚点钱。我在研究19世纪50 年代纽约贫困的爱尔兰移民,也就是我第一个故事发生的背景时,很快发现,假如你即贫穷又是爱尔兰人,那时的纽约之于你,无异是地狱。想象一下加尔各答,那里污秽、吵杂、危险,街头死狗遍地,人们都不屑拖走它们。我惊异,这样恐怖、肮脏的地方竟出了沃尔特?惠特曼,我以为的美国最伟大的诗人。12世纪的波斯诗人、心醉神迷的空想家鲁米 赞美世界万物,沃尔特?惠特曼的赞美继承于他,其所有的描述,我觉得,本质上说无不出色、奇特、非凡,所有描述,所有描述――这部巨著通篇浩瀚博大,任何男女无从写就。我觉得,我不能遗漏掉它。

  林恩?加拉赫:而那部巨著是对他自己的赞美,对美国的赞美。可你不是,你把惠特曼包含在你的作品之中,但你没在赞美美国,而在怨恨美国,因此,让你的人物在几乎是没有前提推论的情况下,滔滔不绝说这部巨著的诗句,这让人很感兴趣。而且,这一美化的创意其实并无什么效果,因为你作品表现出的观点比较阴郁。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:嗯,作品中惠特曼的出现,部分原因是为了起一个比较的作用。惠特曼赞美的美国虽然也存在问题,但那是150 年前美国的样子,一个在成长中历经痛苦,发展成为当时世界注目的富足、民主、热爱和平的国家的样子。但我却认为美国并没有蜕变成这个样子的国家。我不认为,现在生活在美国,感觉的全是乐观与幸福。因此,惠特曼在书中的作用,只是作为一个对比,一个旧美国的声音,而且是偏离了航道的并不客观的声音。

  林恩?加拉赫:而这又是一个有趣的地方,因为你是在悲观之中呈现的这种乐观,小说三部份的情势均极其萧瑟。而你又说,在这种恐怖的情势之内,人们寻到了希望。但这种希望是某种意义上的自我毁灭。这种希望不可能导致革命性的社会变革。它不会改善世界。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:在本书中不会。可我要说的是,我的大部分著作都比较阴郁,但我认为它们均饱含乐观。我的著作总是――或者说至今为止总是――以生活依旧进行为结尾,即便只是一个人进入荒野寻觅未知。我只对这样的命题感兴趣,即什么样的乐观能超越人类最终的劫难?

  林恩?加拉赫:乐观应该是建立在情感基础之上的。小说中骑马进入荒野(是骑马而不是乘太空飞船)的男人,是一个正在学习自己的情感经验的机器人;他得学习情感经验,而不是植入情感经验程序。由此,小说似乎在暗示,经历情感方可成人。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:是的,是这样。

  林恩?加拉赫:这是你在抑制进攻。我们显然希望有进攻的经历。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:哦,当然,当然。我想我们来到这个世上,就是为了尝试完整的情感。美国现在似乎在流行愉快情绪。

  林恩?加拉赫:说这话你好像在咬牙切齿。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:因为我认为那是一种假相。我认为那是在传播“日子很幸福……生活很美满……”。我当然不反对人的幸福,我完全赞成人的幸福,但如果一味依恋幸福,排斥任何些微阴郁、困难情绪,我觉得你一定错失很多丰富的人生体验。

  林恩?加拉赫:而且幸福本身好像成为一种目的,只要幸福,目的就达到了。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:是的。我不知道我朗读《时时刻刻》会有多少人来找我,我不知道它会有什么后果,因此,我不会朗读这部小说,因为我觉得这部小说太让人抑郁,我的朋友中,一大半人跟我说这部小说肯定会让人感到压抑,因此,我决定冒一冒风险。我就要看看这些人,难道你们掌握安乐的感觉如此不稳定,一本书便能将你推翻于某种深坑,让你无以翻身吗?我觉得这绝不是健康的心态。

  林恩?加拉赫:尤其是对作为作家的你而言。作为作家,某种程度上说,你得经历所有感情,才得以将它们付诸笔端。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:是这样的。我为不畏历经各种情感的读者而书。

  林恩?加拉赫: 嗯,还有一个问题,这部作品你作于“9?11”之后,是那场恐怖之后,一部非常勇敢的作品,因为你在作品中描写了一位让读者非常怜悯或者说非常同情的人体炸弹,这可很勇敢。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:我认为这是小说家的责任,而且我觉得,也许只有小说家才能称职地完成这项特殊的工作,来帮助我们大家了解这个世界上任何身份的人的真实状态。如果说政治家和公民的职责是防止恐怖主义,那么,作家的职责就是尽可能地解剖恐怖份子的思想,了解他或她的英雄情结。在这个世界上,无论你做什么工作,每每晚上回家,觉得今天又做了满意的事情,这就足矣。

  林恩?加拉赫:这些特别的爆炸案,它们让人恐怖,是因为它们其实似乎并无目的。这才是让人恐惧的,是不是这样?

  迈克尔?坎宁安:是的, 我觉得“9?11”让美国人如此恐惧,这是一部分原因,除了它是美国在二战初夏威夷的珍珠港被偷袭以后所遭受的第一次攻击这个事实以外。人们并没有明白,他们不没明白为什么会有人要干这样的事情。

  林恩?加拉赫:而倘若是你的婆婆要杀你,你是知道她为什么要杀你的,因为你已经度过了20个恐怖的圣诞节。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:是的。她为什么要杀我? 哦,对了, 去年圣诞节……

  林恩?加拉赫:但人们很难理解随意的无目的行动。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:是的,的确是这样。这意味着你没有一点安全感,你无力作任何防范。没有任何正义行为能让你免于伤害,这是格外让人恐怖的。

  林恩?加拉赫:嗯,那些在孩子们的圣战中引发无目的爆炸事件的孩子们,他们也是受惠特曼和侦探的驱使,为阐明这一犯罪,必须让读者了解有关惠特曼的信息。这对于我们的听众来说,是读者反应理论,因为有学者认为,人人都可以以自己的方式阅读惠特曼。但不能说阅读惠特曼会导致孩子成为人体炸弹吧?

  迈克尔?坎宁安:当然不会,我读惠特曼绝不会读出这种信息。我觉得任何伟大作品的影响力都不是浩大无边的,并不能以无数的方式进行解读。希特勒是华格纳迷;历史上有很多丧心病狂的人却都酷爱艺术。我想,艺术威力的某种隐晦特征,就在于它能被以很多方式进行解读――包括某些非常反常、非常毁灭性的方式。

  林恩?加拉赫:那么这些进行圣战的孩子,他们谈论机器,这在小说的第一部分合情合理,因为机器显然代表工业时代。但在小说的第二部份,即当下的纽约, 机器代表什么呢?

  迈克尔?坎宁安:这些被迷惑的可怜的孩子谈论的机器,就是21 世纪的机构,在这个巨大的技术化工业社会里,至身其中,你很难有自己是一个有意义的成员、正干着重要的事情的感觉。他们正受引诱,想扳倒这个巨大、残忍的集团机构。

  林恩?加拉赫:你也是这样感觉的吗?

  迈克尔?坎宁安:不是的,我热爱城市。

  林恩?加拉赫:他们没有让你不能……

  迈克尔?坎宁安:没有。若说他们造成什么影响的话,是他们在不断作着某种提醒:我生活在纽约,一个比世界上任何其他地方都更浩瀚、更龌龊的地方。我感觉它像是在不断提醒我,自己在这个世界上所处的位置,这个位置意味着什么。我觉得,作为作家,如果住在乡间小屋中,可能更容易高估自己所做的事情。重要的是你得明白作品很重要,而作品又只是更为广大图景中的一个部份而已,你脑子里得有这个概念。

  林恩?加拉赫:是的,有了这个概念以后,那么,小说第三个部份中的机器,那设于未来的机器,恐怕就是我们自己了。你作品中索性塑造了一个机器人人物,而且,正如你说的,其中的诗的作用略有不同了。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:是的,小说中三个故事的发展,是一个渐进的非人化过程,直到最后,我们未来的主人翁成了一部完全的机器,一个竭力学习人性的机器。

  林恩?加拉赫:那么宗教在所有这一切中扮演了一个什么角色呢?你给人物取的名字都很带宗教色彩:路加、西蒙和凯瑟琳。有些人物还很有预言才能,能预测未来。而你从其中的一个人物身上还获得这样痴迷的信念,即死后的重生。你说极乐其实从某种程度上说,是我们自知的丧失,我们死后将体味的自知。这一切从哪而来?

  迈克尔?坎宁安:你知道我不是一个宗教信仰很强烈的人,虽然我也为人渴望崇拜的本能所吸引,人的崇拜本能至少与购物欲望相差无己。我觉得宗教冲动挺迷人,值得赞美。实现宗教冲动其实很令人忧虑。其底线并不在于我不能想象把小说背景设立在当下的美国,被宗教狂热分子统治的美国, 没有包括宗教。不过是故事本身属于那个背景。

  林恩?加拉赫:那么,你并不认为自己受了某种宗教力量的影响,相信只有完全抛弃掉这个世界,才会有一个更好的世界。因此,那个的确保守的观点,即这个世界的一切都是垃圾,我们只能希望死后才有更好的生活;来生――那带启示性的思想,你受这种思想影响吗?

  迈克尔?坎宁安:我肯定受这种思想影响,但也不是特别倾向于它。如果宗教成员不那么顽固地坚持拯救自己、不那么热切地迫害与之信仰相异的人的话,我会更喜欢它一些。如果它真正善良,是这个世界一股真正善良的力量, 我会支持他们,甚至加入他们。不,实际上,我觉得宗教基要主义 ――当然不仅仅是基督教基要主义――是当今世界上在起作用的最危险的力量。 但是,我又得重申, 作为小说家,我对这个现象,即那种感觉是怎样侵入于人的,非常感兴趣。因此,我塑造了一个真正意义上的宗教人物,一个在宗教中寻到慰藉和狂喜的人物。

  林恩?加拉赫:也是一个为开始寻求另一世界而抛弃这个世界的人物,这也正是我疑惑你的地方。你对这个世界放弃了吗?这个世界似乎的确是个悲惨之地,它似乎总根植于工业时代之中,当今的时代毫无价值。你因此放弃了这个世界,选择了另一个星球。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:作品中是这样。我好像沉浸其中时,自己也变傻了,如果我那样写了,我是在弥补自己的多情。我深信,只要还有一个人活着,就有希望有更美好的未来。当然我也有烦恼,你看看现在这个世界,我当然忧虑它会被带往何处,我们和我们的孩子以致我们孩子的孩子迎接的,将会是什么。但我一定会坚守在这个世界上,直至被带离而去。

  林恩?加拉赫:这是诗的一个部分吗?

  迈克尔?坎宁安:是的。惠特曼以及其他任何伟大的诗人和艺术家创作的传世之作,我觉得其中都蕴涵着一种神圣和不朽。济慈死了,其诗仍在,叶芝死了,其诗仍在;认识他们的人都死了,可他们的诗仍在。我们就是用这样的方式,一代一代地交流着。

  林恩?加拉赫:并因此成为人。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:是的,这是令我们依然为人的方式之一。

  林恩?加拉赫:问一个你研究的纽约历史的问题。你显然乐于研究小说的第一个部份。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:是的。

  林恩?加拉赫:这在多大程度上影响了你对未来的描绘?

  迈克尔?坎宁安:哦, 很大程度。我非常有意识地试图在想象未来,想象20世纪50年代生活合乎逻辑的未来的延续,那便是未来的样子,我们过去和现在行为的结果。

  林恩?加拉赫:因此你甚至对他们穿着的内衣是什么样的都做了详细的研究,尽管你在书中并没表现出来。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:这是写小说的困难之一,创作任何小说都需要作大量的研究。 你掌握很多生动的材料,你都想把它们放入你的小说之中,无论是人们穿着的内衣,还是垃圾箱的特形。可你得对自己严格,你得提醒自己,那整整三页有关流向纽约的水的描述,尽管你觉得很有趣,但不合适。

  哦, 现在倒是个机会让我简要卖弄一下我觉得不能放入书内的一些材料。尤其是,工业化开始之后,花了整整一代时间,才让工人们意识到,他们得每天在同一时间开始工作了。他们原本是农民,是按季节、需要工作的;而且,似乎没法让他们理解,即便现在有钱,明天还是得去工作,他们喜欢有时间歇息。曾有过一场运动――我不是在杜撰――在那些拥有工厂和其他生意的人中曾有过一场运动,即视贫穷为羞辱。那时,贫穷就如癌症,击倒一些人。没有雨水,你的庄稼长势不好,你因此受贫穷之苦,与受疾病折磨一样。但甭指望不羞于贫穷的人能每天去上班工作。因此,150 年之前,有了贫穷即羞辱的观念,从而导致憎恨沿街乞讨:该死的!好人怎么会落到这般境地。这是相对近些时候的事情。

  林恩?加拉赫:其寓意是惊人的,当然也包括时间上。它暗示,那样羞辱意味着我们得以这样的方式行为,我们因此实际上等于变成了机器化了的个体,对事物的情感反应已被预先程序化了。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:是这样的。

  林恩?加拉赫:这就是你预言的未来。但你介绍这部作品,在说到第三部分是科幻小说时,似乎有些犹豫。有些读者也有点摸不着头脑。你觉得是不是因为他们没料到你会在作品中间改变类型?

  迈克尔?坎宁安:我觉得部分是因为这个的原因。我发现现在很多读者愿意读鬼故事或者侦探故事――这种类型的故事很有传统了,对这类故事感兴趣不丢脸。但有很大一部分读者不喜欢科幻小说,我想这可能是因为科幻小说让人感觉不人性,只有技术和纯粹的幻想,没有真实的人类生活的再现。可我倒觉得当今一些写得最有趣的小说,恰恰在科幻小说领域,善未被大多数人阅读。因为它们属于那个领域,人们根本不怎么光顾。

  林恩?加拉赫:迈克尔?坎宁安,非常感谢您光临我们的图书秀节目。

  迈克尔?坎宁安:谢谢你。

  罗蒙娜?库法尔:刚才采访的是迈克尔?坎宁安。刚才谈到的有关贫穷与羞辱的话题不是很有趣吗?和林恩?加拉赫一起了解《典型的日子》更有趣了,如果你发现这个书名借用自沃尔特?惠特曼,你就对了。《典型的日子》由Harper Collins出版社出版。

分类:英语美文 | 人气: | 时间:2015-11-13 01:00:04 | 发布:美文
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本文标题:与沃尔特?惠特曼一起作时间旅行
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