鹿城读笔(八)

读一本厚书就像在巨流河中航行,漫长的旅程,时而湍流激荡,险滩密布,时而宽广平坦,柳暗花明。随着布鲁姆的笔触在这十二位文学巨匠中游走,其感受与此别无二致。如果说第一章的惠特曼和梅尔维尔是这条河流的上游——两岸峻岩陡峭,山石林立,河面波涛翻涌,生生不息——的话,接下来的爱默生和艾米莉·狄金森无疑是将这激荡和生命力引向空旷的幽谷,天地之间,坦坦荡荡,不见古人和来者。说老实话,读这两人的第二章不是段愉悦的经历,一位文语晦涩,思辨深邃,一位清新高冷,厉如闪电,(都不是好惹的,也都不是好懂的)。我几乎是只用了一个下午就把这两人匆匆扫完,头也不回地去下一章拜访霍桑和亨利·詹姆斯了。梅奥万豪酒店的地下一层,人眼稀松,不见天日,冷气也比别处足了许多,我耐不住的莫不就是这阴抑与清冷。好在(能开始说人话的)霍桑和詹姆斯终于把我领出了这空山幽谷——正巧我也转移到地面,卡勒旅馆入口处的鹿城咖啡,人来人往——我读到布鲁姆用诗人史蒂文斯《秋天的极光》中一句 “The house will crumble and the books will burn” 品评霍桑短篇《威克菲尔德》和新英格兰区的古宅时,眼前顿然一片坦途,水波悠远平静,远方,似乎还有模糊的村庄牛羊。

先说爱默生,我更愿意称其为思想家而非作家,因为他传世的议论文实在是太多了。事实上,爱默生比前两位(惠特曼,梅尔维尔)都要年长,梅尔维尔常去爱默生在纽约的讲座(尽管文学上梅氏溯源于莎士比亚),惠特曼的文学传统也受到了后者很大的影响(布鲁姆称其比爱默生还要爱默生),而爱默生本人,就如他自己所说,an endless seeker, with no Past at my back,是一个不折不扣的哲学和思辨大师。一开始我还奇怪为什么布鲁姆要把这位前辈屈尊在第二章,既然如此重要,何不开篇就谈?老人家自然有他自己的考虑,但我读到此刻也不难理解了,要真把他列在开头,怕是这本书的读者会少许多。

简单来说,作者笔下的 American Religion,或者我们所谓美国精神,可以用爱默生的一篇名作的题目一言以蔽之:Self Reliance,自立。在本书中,这种自立不仅是文学渊源上的,也是思想上和哲学上的。在惠特曼和梅尔维尔出现之前,沿袭自荷马以来就建立的欧洲文学传统是每一位作家和诗人的必由之路,作者说,Shelley, as classical as Goethe, had the triple burden of anxiety of influence from Shakespeare, Milton, and Wordsworth. A High Romantic English poet joins Homeric tradition not by choice but by contingencies of lasting and personal ambitions. 而自惠特曼,梅尔维尔,和爱默生始,美国文学与欧洲文学的这种关系开始打破和改变,Emersonian American self-reliance is daemonic, as are American self-influence and American self-overhearing. Does that depart from the Shakespearean paradigm of influence and overhearing? 答案是肯定的。而这种自立带有明显的“恶魔性”,不需要借助上帝和神职人员的指示,Neither strangers nor exiles, they celebrate what is most familiar and near at hand … … After Emerson, American makers themselves daemonize.

从哲学上的角度来看,这种自立也可以看作是爱默生将“欧式崇高”的 “vast and awesome” 内化为自我和内心的力量:The Longinian-Burkean-Kantian Sublime can be judged as an excursion into the psychological origins of aesthetic magnificence … … Emerson radically internalized the European Sublime by attaching it to “the God within” the American self.

在讨论《论自立》的一节中,布鲁姆的大段文字里还有一个主角——尼采,(用作者的话说)his rueful disciple, who loved Emerson while never quite grasping him(尼采都没完全搞懂的人就更提不起我的兴致了). 作者论及意义/意思的来源,并说到爱默生和尼采一样,都是意义/意思的转述者而非创造者(如荷马,柏拉图,丹特,乔叟,莎士比亚,塞万提斯等),他们 “define limits and possibilities for transmitting meanings and then transmitting them into wisdoms.” 在作者看来,爱默生实用地认为根基从来就不存在,而常识才是一切天才的源头。从来就没有权威,而所谓的权威(authority)只不过是一种身份(authorship)罢了。惠特曼在《自我之歌》中的那句 “I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end, But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.” 也是这层含义的一个读本。

作者最后说道,Our experience of God, if you travel to the realms of American Religionists, as I did when younger, has little to do with European theology and instead renews ancient shamanisms, Gnostic heresies, and assorted Enthusiasms, Emersonian Orphism included. I have listened to Pentecostals, Independent Baptists, and wild churches of the unchurched, and I heard again and again that these women and men were uncreated and so could not perish. I was told that many in solitude had talked and walked with the resurrected Jesus. In their highest moments, these women and men were a vision. Face-to-face I experienced no skepticism but was overwhelmed by immediacy. I do not think these people would have recognized the names of Emerson and Whitman, but they seemed closer to those American prophets than I could ever be.

在布鲁姆眼中,所有后世的美国诗人身上都多少有爱默生的影子,小说家则不尽然。但是,如果不通过爱默生的视角,你也会很难理解霍桑,梅尔维尔和亨利·詹姆斯笔下的主人翁们的命运和他们所做出的选择。

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