The New Yorker – Feb.8&15, 2016

COVER STORY, by Elif Batuman

本文和前几期的记述实录口吻不一样,是作者以第一人称写的亲身经历,因此也是近几期读到的个人认为最好的一篇关于中东社会生态现状的文章。主人公来自土耳其,她一上来就提到了“开国之父”凯末尔·阿塔图尔克,并强调了他对上一代土耳其的人的深远影响:“I felt grateful to Ataturk that my parents were so well educated, that they weren’t held back by superstition or religion, that they were true scientists, who taught me how to read when I was three and never doubted that I could become a writer.” 

作为一个在美国长大的土耳其“新一代”,作者对凯末尔的情感自然不会那么深厚。本世纪伊始,正义与发展党和埃尔多安上台之后,伊斯兰主义者逐渐开始在民意和舆论上占据上风:“Suddenly, it was the secularists who seemed stodgy: racist, authoritarian, elitist, and slavishly pro-Western.”。在某种程度上,作者是认同他们的部分主张的。研究土耳其的专家珍妮·怀特就认为,“In the A.K.P.-sympathetic world view, the Ottomans, who Kemalists had blamed for selling Turkey to the British, enjoyed a vogue as models of enlightened Muslim multiculturalism.” 作者自己也说,“To me, as to most Americans, it seemed a tiny bit weird that nearly every public building in Turkey had a picture of Ataturk on the wall … Furthermore, when I thought about my own family, something about White’s critique of Kemalism felt familiar … Kemalism, not unlike Zionism, drew much of its energy from the fact that there could easily have been no Turkish state.” 

转折发生在2010年,这一年作者搬回到伊斯坦布尔,在一所大学里任教(并开始为《纽约客》撰稿)。她开始亲身体验到这个国家里两大族群的对立,这“white Turks” 和 “black Turks” 之间的对立之深刻和尖锐是作者始料未及的。比方说他的父母其实分别来自这两个族群,但在她成长的经历中并没有发现有任何问题,“my father had written the essay in praise of Ataturk in his high-school yearbook, his sisters were pro-choice, none of the women in his family wore head scarves except to do housework, and I had never heard any of them express the remotest hint of nostalgia for the Ottoman past.” 然而今天,在伊斯坦布尔,作者开始告诫自己任何行为和言语都要小心,小心被人们贴上 “Islamophobe” 标签。 

从这里,本文的主角——头巾(Cover)开始进入我们的视野了。作者从她乘出租车的经历开始讲起,说到很多穆斯林司机都乐意花时间跟她讲明戴头巾其实是一件多么好的事情。“I usually didn’t reply, especially if the driver seemed at all excitable, because when those drivers started to argue they would stop watching the road …” 不过终于有一次她还是开口了,“I think all women should be respected. It shouldn’t depend on their hair.” 

接下来的对话是这样的,想必也是作者之前从未预想到的:

The driver replied that I was absolutely right, that of course women should be respected, and that the head scarf was the best way for women to remind men of this necessity for respect. Men, after all, were worse than women: they could sometimes forget themselves, and then unfortunate things could happen, ‘even’ — he said in a hushed voice, adding that he didn’t like to mention such things in front of me — ‘even rape.’

I relied, in my simplistic Turkish, that to me this sounded like a threat: either cover your head or rape can happen. The driver protested in ornate phrases that nobody was threatening anyone, that to speak of threats in this situation was unfitting, that he could tell from my smiling face that I was a good and trusting person, but that the world was an imperfect place, that some men were less like humans than like animals and that it was best to send clear signals about what one was or wasn’t looking for.” 

这还是大城市伊斯坦布尔,后来作者来到安纳托利亚的一个古城Urfa,那里人们的观念自然更加保守:“I seemed to be the only unaccompanied woman at my hotel. When I told the clerk I was staying for six days, he almost had a heart attack. ‘Six days?’ he repeated. ‘All by yourself?’ … All the time I was in Urfa, whenever I saw any member of the hotel staff in the halls or the lobby, I always received the same greeting: ‘Oh, you’re still there?’” 不止是在酒店里,打车,吃饭,基本的衣食住行,独身在Urfa的作者处处遭遇着不便和别人奇怪的眼神。

作者经常去一个当地的古堡躲避酷暑,由于女性需要戴头巾方可进入,她不得不买了一条。“One day, when I had been visiting Abraham’s cave, I forgot to take the scarf off. Walking back through the park, I almost immediately felt that something was different. I passed two beautiful young women in scarves, walking arm-in-arm and laughing about something. When I looked at them, they looked right back into my face and met my eyes, still smiling, as if we were all in the presence of a great joke. I realized that no young women had my my eyes or smiled at me in Urfa till then.

自那之后作者便开始暗暗比较戴头巾与不戴之间的微妙差别,人们对待她的态度果然好转了不止一点。渐渐地,她开始觉得,自己戴上头巾,或许更多地是表示自己对这里人们的友善和尊重吧。她还把头巾跟高跟鞋作比:“High heels were painful, and, for me at least, expensive, because they made walking more difficult and I ended up talking more taxis. Yet there were many times when I wore heels to work-related events in New York, specifically because I felt it made people treat me with more consideration. Why, then, would I refuse to wear a head scarf, which brought a similar benefit of social acceptance, without the disadvantage of impending my ability to stand or walk?” 这微妙的心态变化,后来甚至发展到在离开酒店时,作者一想到是否要摘掉头巾就心头涌上一种难以言清的背叛之感。她感到自己如果执意去做,反倒对那些把她当做亲姐妹的人们是一种伤害。她也开始扪心自问,“now a glimmer appeared before me of a totally different way of being than any I had imagined, a life with clear rules and duties you followed, in exchange for which you were respected and honored and safe … You didn’t have to worry about your social value was irrevocably tied to your sexual value. You had less freedom, true. But what was so great about freedom? What was so great about being journalist and going around being a pain in everyone’s ass …

后来让作者彻底想通了的是在读了法国作家米歇尔·维勒贝克极具争议的畅销小说《Submission》之后,小说里构建了一个在未来由伊斯兰统治的乌托邦式的世界,“He portrays Islam not as a depersonalized creeping menace, or as an ideological last resort to which those disenfranchised by the West may be ‘vulnerable’, but as a system of beliefs that is enormously appealing to many people, many of whom have other options.” 作者说,“It’s fascinating to see how Houellebecq rises to the challenge of making female domestic enslavement seem palatable in the novel, not just to the Islamo-curious Francois but also, to some extent, to the women of France.” 比方说,小说前半部分提到了主人公的两位前任女友,她们那时已经四十岁了,事业成功却依旧独身,“these scenes suggest, not implausibly, gthat the penalties of aging, and the psychic toll of dating and singleness, are even harder for women than for men … they aren’t really balanced out by the joys of a career in.” 后来小说里也写道主人公的一位前同事,她刚从学校隐退回归家庭,“To see her bustling around the kitchen in an apron bearing the humorous phrase … it was hard to believe that just days ago she’d been leading doctoral seminar on the altogether unusual circumstances surrounding Balzac’s corrections to the proofs of Beatrix.” 书中的这个 Islamic regime,但凡有些姿色的女性,似乎都生活在童年中。“Obviously they had no autonomy, but as they say in English, fuck autonomy.

这一切让作者感到一种难以说清的不适,她自那以后便再也没有披上头巾。

THE BOUVIER AFFAIR, by Sam Knight

这篇文章是对前不久曾轰动一时的艺术品交易界里的“巨额诈骗案”的全程纪实。故事的两个主角分别是法国商人/中间人布维耶,和他服务的“老板”,俄罗斯大亨雷波洛列夫。文章不短,但却十分精彩,引人入胜,读来一点不输悬疑小说。一上来作者便花了大幅笔墨介绍了这个神秘,精明,而又十分能干的法国人布维耶,让人误以为这不过又是一篇揭露贵圈内幕的小文。然而翻到第三页,我们才发现故事其实有另一个主角:“Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian oligarch, first met Bouvier in August, 2002, during a visit to the Geneva Freeport to pick up a painting by Marc Chagall.” 之后的故事还是看原文才能够体味全貌了。

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