The New Yorker – July 26, 2021

Hope Against Hope, by Masha Gessen

33岁的俄罗斯政治活动家柳波夫·索博尔自2011年加入纳瓦尼的反对派团体后一直是骨干成员,在普京政府的高压统治下,仅通过YouTube作为宣传渠道的索博尔从未放弃自己的微薄努力。2012年克里姆林宫大规模镇压反对派活动,很多成员被投入监狱,他们的同伴则纷纷流亡海外,虽然嘴上的说辞是在海外总比在监狱里能做得更多,这实际上反映的是他们已经放弃希望。那一年纳瓦尼没有选择离开,而刚参与运动不久的索博尔则与政治学毕业生莫科夫完婚,两年后他们的女儿米罗斯拉娃出生。

2016年,纳瓦尼和索博尔发布了一份关于普京“大厨”普里高津的调查报告,这名俄罗斯商人是普京的亲信,索博尔在报告里罗列了八百多项和他有关联的政府合同。报告发布后一个月,莫科夫在回家路上被不明人士袭击,身上被注射了药物,警方虽然调取了监控录像但结果不了了之。这个意外事件让莫科夫进一步认识到他与索博尔在观念上的分歧,“I realized, once and for all, that there is no justice in Russia and there never will be. Sobol redoubled her efforts to build the wonderful Russia of the future.”

2019年,索博尔再次竞选市议会,但官方取消了她与其他八名独立候选人的竞选资格,为此她决定采取绝食以示抗议。一连三十二天,她的行动吸引了少则几百人多则几万人在莫斯科市中心聚集,虽然这与整个国家一亿四千万的总人口相比不值一提,但仍是苏联解体后持续时间最长、规模最大的抗议活动。

2020年8月,纳瓦尼在西伯利亚飞往莫斯科的途中被人下毒,此后包括索博尔在内诸多纳瓦尼身边的核心成员均遭到逮捕或软禁,目的是防止他们参加纳瓦尼事件的听证会。那段时间莫科夫在外求学,索博尔和她母亲在家照看米罗斯拉娃,警察每天早上六点准时出现在家门口要求搜查,这对一个孩子来说显然是灾难性的。索博尔不得不在附近再租了一间小房子,让母亲和女儿搬到那里去住。

在问到为什么还愿意呆在俄罗斯时,索博尔反问道为什么不,而且她认为就算选择离开,也不能因此获得永久的安宁。“She reeled off a list of assassinations that Russia has allegedly carried out abroad. There is also the risk of retaliation against family members”。与想要坚持战斗下去的索博尔不同,莫科夫觉得这样的生活糟透了,但是除了留在俄罗斯也别无他法。“Emotionally, this is an appalling way to live. I have no private life. Lyuba says I knew what I was getting into when I married her, but I didn’t. I was getting married to a young lawyer, not to an opposition politician.”

The Kentler Experiment, by Rachel Aviv

本文聚焦极富争议的“肯特勒实验”,德国富有声望的性学家赫尔穆特·肯特勒在政府的准许和资助下,将孤儿送给恋童癖寄养,并对他们养育孤儿的全过程提出指导和建议。今年三十四岁的马可便在这样一个家庭里长大,他的养父叫亨克尔,马可是他十六年里第八个领养的男孩。和亨克尔一起居住一年半以后,另一名叫斯文的男孩也搬了进来,马可在晚上经常发现斯文房间的门是开着的但里面并没有人,由于自己也经历过同样的事情,马可很清楚亨克尔此时在对斯文做些什么。但对于马可和斯文来说,亨克尔的举动完全是一个禁忌话题,他们两人从来没有交流过这个话题。

马可的老师建议他每周看一次心理咨询师,但每次交流的时候,亨克尔就坐在隔壁的房间,斯文也被建议过同样的事情,但一开始就被亨克尔否决了。后来肯特勒专门致信给当地青少年福利部门,指出如果非要进行心理方面的测试,可以由他本人执行,在信中他还特地为亨克尔开脱,“I ask you to consider that a man who deals with such seriously damaged children is not a ‘simple person’ ”。此外,亨克尔和肯特勒也极力阻止马可定期与他母亲和哥哥的会面,认为这些人为马可的成长树立了一个很不好的榜样,肯特勒写道,“The boy gives the (false) impression of strength and superiority.”

文章进一步追根溯源到德国在二战后对纳粹的反思,国家对性行为的管控某种程度上成为了一种“树立新道德”和赎罪的方式,战后二十年里,对女性生育权利的限制和同性恋的逮捕十分盛行。1960年心理学专业毕业的肯特勒则持不同观点,他认为奥斯维辛悲剧的发生,与德国人从小被教育要抑制自己的性冲动从、成为一个更“伟大”的人的观念有直接关系,他开出的“治病良方”不是进一步的性抑制,而是性解放。在那个年代,性教育的讨论是整个国家反思纳粹的过程中一个重要组成部分,当然也有人指出这本质上是一种逃避,“it was also a way to redirect moral debate away from the problem of complicity in mass murder and toward a narrowed conception of morality as solely concerned with sex.”

在逐渐与自己的家人失去联系以后,马可对自己父母的全部印象都来自亨克尔和肯特勒的描述,直到二十年以后,他才知道其实那段时期自己的生父母也很想与他重修关系,但都被自己的养父拒之门外。亨克尔还变相鼓励马可在学校里捣蛋,现在回想起来自己小时候转了七次学,基本没什么同龄朋友,马可开始意识到这一切可能都是亨克尔的“计划”。马可十八岁的时候,他没有立刻想要从亨克尔家里搬出,“It’s very hard to describe, but I was never raised to think critically about anything.”

肯特勒在自己大部分学术生涯里都认为恋童癖领养者对孤儿的成长是有利的,他认为两者间的性行为只要不是强制发生的就不必担心,对于那些从小失去亲人的孤儿来说,这可能反倒是一种良性的“治疗”。“Kentler’s experiment seemed to rest on the idea that some children are fundamentally second class, their outlook so compromised that any kind of love is a gift”,但在1991年他最小的养子自杀之后,肯特勒开始反思自己的观点。其他学者明确指出,成年人和儿童之间的性关系永远是不平等和带有剥削性质的,表面上恋童癖给予了这些孩子更多的爱(或者至少是一种不一样的爱),但最终的结果只会是对他们应当享有的爱的剥夺。

作者在2020年夏天与马可见面时,在场的还有一名叫克里斯托弗·施韦尔的人,他是德国右翼党派AfD的成员,声称是出于好心想要主动帮助马可。在“肯特勒实验”的调查报告公布之后,马可曾多次联系政府想要了解更多细节但没有得到答复,而在AfD方面看来,马可的例子便是德国左翼政府在性教育上失败的明证,他们还试图将该事件与对同性恋的抨击联系在一起,“History seemed to be looping back on itself. Right-wing politicians were calling for a return to the kind of ‘terribly dangerous upbringing’ against which Kentler had rebelled”。事情发酵之后,左派一方也站出来指出AfD居心不良,社会民主党成员桑德拉·希尔里斯认为解决问题最好的方式是让马可得到经济补偿而不是没完没了的诉讼。

马可自己当然不想成为政治上的工具,他更关心的是自己现在的家庭和未来的生活。在收到了来自政府五万欧元的补偿之后,马可拒绝了克里斯托弗继续上诉的提议,他说,“We have gotten our wishes, so there’s no point in further irritating or tyrannizing the Senate”。马可现在有两个孩子,他在不久前还和妻子艾玛举行了婚礼,虽然只是走过场,但对他来说依然意义重大,“自由不是一夜之间来到的”,他说,“I don’t know how to say it, but it was the first time that I figured out that I am living a life with a billion different possibilities. I could have been anything.”

The New Yorker – August 2, 2021

Flight Plan, by Ann Patchett

作者以第一人称回顾了丈夫Karl的飞行史,作为一名业余飞行爱好者,对此一窍不通也毫无热爱可言的她从和Karl谈恋爱开始到步入婚姻殿堂,都伴随着飞行。在刚认识不到一年的时候两人曾去阿拉斯加旅行,在那以前,“我”还不能完全理解飞行之于他生命的重要意义。旅程第五天,Karl建议取消钓鱼计划而改为飞行,“我”在后座看着他戴着耳机和飞行员相谈甚欢的样子,开始明白飞行对他意味着什么,对“我们”的关系和未来的婚姻又意味着什么。

飞行伴随着的不确定性让“我”经常生活在提心吊胆中,有一次Karl比原计划晚了几个小时到家,其间联系中断,让“我”一度以为他发生了意外。当Karl终于走进家门,“I wanted to kill him because he had not been killed“,他冷静地给“我”叙述了经过,还安慰“我”说,要是真出了意外,应急电台(ELT)会主动联系家属的。还有一次,飞行结束后他异常平静地跟“我”说除了引擎坏掉了之外,一切正常。同一个屋檐下生活的两个人,对生命重量的感知竟如此不同,不过随着时间流逝,“我”渐渐开始习惯。

Karl对待飞行很专注,他迟迟不去考取驾照不是因为没有时间,而是一心想拿满分。他换座驾的时候从不考虑新飞机而是专挑便宜货,因为他觉得从折扣品里挑到物超所值的好货是才是这项爱好的最大乐趣。相处久了,“我”逐渐放下起初的敏感和担惊受怕,开始清楚意识到这个男人身上的勇敢和冒险精神才是自己真正想要的,而且有了飞行,“我”就有更多时间和Karl在一起。有很长一段时间Karl戒掉了飞行,后来重新拾回爱好后“我们”两人都十分开心,他自然是因为能够回到驾驶舱,“…and I was happy because we were together in the plane. I understood that I had no influence on the safety of the flight, but I was with him, and when I was with him I didn’t worry about it. If something happened, it would happen to both of us.”

那次从密西西比母亲家飞回纳什维尔的旅程让“我”终身难忘,原因是“我”竟然莫名其妙地在起飞之前忘了关舱门,当然在Karl的冷静操作下“我们”最终安然无恙。“我”一度以为因为自己的疏忽会赔上两条命,Karl则不以为然地解释道这根本不会发生。在“我们”降落后从机场开车回家的路上,他甚至兴致勃勃地开始给“我”讲述伯努利原理,解释为什么门因为气压关系会一直开着,“我”一个字都听不进去。“I understood none of it. What I understood was that there was no keeping anyone safe–one person remembers to tip the nose up for the landing, while the other person forgets to latch the door, and , in the end, it probably won’t be the nose tip or the door. It won’t be the nose tip or the door. It will be something infinitely more mundane. It will be life and time, the things that come for us all.”

Queenside, by Louisa Thomas

女子国际象棋世界冠军侯逸凡在与男子选手竞技时亦不落下风,本文由此展开介绍了在这个仍以男选手为主导的竞技领域女子选手的生存状况。其实对于众多参与女子比赛的选手来说,她们并不认为专门为女选手设置比赛有什么问题,恰恰相反,有了专门为她们举办的比赛和头衔,反倒能够促进和鼓励她们坚持在专业棋手这条路上走下去,有了更多人参与,彼此才能不断提高。

关于性别差异对棋艺水平影响的讨论从未停止过,很多人认为,男女大脑之间的差异确实对下棋有影响,前者更有能力保持长时间专注和在极端情况下思考,但是也有研究表明,男女性别内部的个体差异足以抵消性别差异带来的影响,而且后天训练和经验的作用也不能忽视。和女选手对话之后作者发现,她们中很多人对这个领域里男性的天生优势持默认态度,侯逸凡被问及这个问题时虽然没有直接肯定,但也指出对男孩女孩教育方法上的差异是一大因素,“Most girls are told at an early age that there’s a kind of gender distinction, and they should just try their best in the girls’ section and be happy with that.”

世界排名第一的芒努斯·卡尔森在小时候和姐姐一起学棋,起初芒努斯对国际象棋一点都不感兴趣,反倒是姐姐一开始学得很快。但是他们的父亲回忆道,芒努斯的特别之处在于可以专注做一件事很长时间,他在四岁的时候可以一连坐着六个小时拼乐高,而姐姐艾伦则经常把兴趣点移至别处。艾伦一度也是一名出色的俱乐部选手,但最终决定退出,“…she tired of the attention that came with being one of the few women in chess, …It made her anxious, she said, to see the best players in a hall gathered around her board, studying her moves”,外界对优秀女选手投来的目光反倒成为她们继续前进的阻力。

和以往投身专业道路的女选手不同,侯逸凡在拿到世界冠军后决定继续在大学深造,尽管她深知如果想要继续进步(比如达到世界前二十的水平),放弃学业是唯一的一条路。前世界冠军波尔加也同样认为,在顶尖比赛上很少看见女选手并不是因为女孩子比男孩子差,而是她们到头来没有那么多时间。侯逸凡看得很开,她既没有把国际象棋看作是自己生命中的唯一,也认为下棋和参加比赛并不是她参与的唯一方式。“There is something to be said of using chess to enrich one’s life instead of using one’s life to master chess”,而且,”Addressing the gender disparity at the top comes from addressing the disparity at the bottom”,通过自身的努力让更多女孩子接触并喜欢上国际象棋,在她看来同样十分有意义。

The Diversity Verdict, by Nicholas Lemann

本文详细梳理了黑人平权运动在大学录取层面的历史和近况。上世纪三四十年代的哈佛校长科南特通过推出标准化测试,试图将不同背景的学生拉回同一起跑线,“But Conant was mistaken in believing that he could use the SAT as a way to create a classless society”,黑人学者和人类学家埃利森·戴维斯就强烈反对这一政策,他认为SAT考试是对中上层阶级家庭孩子教育资源丰富“科学化”的认可,标准化分数的使用,把本就处在社会底层的黑人学生进一步定义为在科学公平的机会面前表现相对逊色的那一群人,“…standard tests complicated their commitments. Testing made it possible to create a numerical ranking of all applicants…”

一直以来,多样性在很多人眼中是黑人平权运动的法理基础,通过政策让更多的黑人学生加入大学校园,丰富学生群体的多样性,在人们看来是有必要去做的事情。但也有人同时认为,如果仅从多样性的角度去看待这件事情,“[it] appears to regard greater numbers of Black students on campus primarily a way to broaden the experience of white students, and it fails to recognize the historical debt the country owes to Black people”,与此同时,过度强调多样性也会让人们忽略其他关键因素,比如融入(integration)。某种程度上,录取更多黑人学生之所以成为各大学乐意去做的事情,正因为它的可操作性而不是别的,在完成了多样性这个”指标“之后,他们有充足的理由把解决种族不平等的问题转嫁给他人。

Coda, by Tessa Hadley

新冠隔离期间,作者和母亲生活在小镇上,两人均孤身一人,生活的钟摆在某一时刻甚至完全停了下来,直到特蕾莎的出现……

– Every place, even if it’s not at all glamorous, has its own secrets and seductions. The most glamorous places may be the least secretive, the most blank.

– She took a sharp interest in current affairs and insisted on watching the news, although she did get muddled about the facts; even when she was younger she hadn’t been all that strong on facts.

– You may be thinking that I was pretty self-sacrificing, giving up my own life to come down to the seaside during lockdown to look after my aging mother, to sort out her bills and her mail, cook her meals, sit with her every evening in front of the telly turned up very loud with the subtitles on. But the fact was that at that point my own life wasn’t much to write home about.

– When a man was unfaithful, the disgrace of it was somehow with the woman who’d failed to hang on to him.

– I remember from my time at school how little it took to set a day apart, surround it with happiness; perhaps one of the girls I worshipped gave me a biscuit left over from her break, or asked if she could copy my Latin homework. It was only later, when I transferred my worship to men, that everything grew complicated.

Film Scripts (August 2021)

New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn: The provocative, brilliant, angry and irresistibly funny film by Radu Jude deals with the phenomenon of moral panic, exposing the accompanying hypocrisy, ignorance and authoritarian tendencies. What is “really” obscene here: the sight of people having sex with mutual consent and to their mutual satisfaction, or perhaps the poverty depicted here of a city devastated by wild capitalism and nationalist ideology? Who is perverse, the teacher or the self-proclaimed tribunal of staunchly indignant parents that has gathered at school to judge her? Filled with archival materials, Bad Luck… is a catalog of the true variants of pornography, whether political, religious, or class, shamelessly spreading under noble slogans. The real reasons for shame, Jude argues, can be found on our streets and in our own history books. (Małgorzata Sadowska)

New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy: Rohmerian in spirit, but bearing the expressive mark of Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s style, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, consists of three short stories, each revolving around the theme of chance. …it is also a journey towards a growing feeling of uncanniness, because the film, which starts out like a classic morality tale, slowly moves towards fantasy, where a twist of fate takes on extraordinary features. …the scenes, shot mainly in interiors two actors each are phenomenal, nuanced portraits of relationships. Brilliant observations and a discreet sense of humor are accompanied by a sadness that makes Hamaguchi’s film a quiet sigh over wasted opportunities and our imperfection. (Małgorzata Sadowska)

New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on The Girl and the Spider: An intricate web of hidden longing and veiled emotions is woven over the course of two days and one night when Lisa abandons her roommates and moves to her own apartment. The energy triggered by moving …puts everyone in a state of tension that travels like a cold sore from Lisa’s mouth to Mary’s. …Set almost entirely indoors, the film is structured like the eponymous spider’s web with perfect though fragile geometry. And the layouts of the new and old apartments can serve as maps used to decipher their tenants’ inner lives. Like a prism, they capture the things that people do when they think no one is watching. The viewers are also constantly surprised with dynamic, unexpected changes in viewpoints that clue the audience into secret details noticed by no one – save for the spider in the corner of the room.

New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on What Do We See When We Look at the Sky: The sun lights up the streets, the soccer world championship is approaching, children chase footballs, street urchins wander to their favorite pubs, the leaves of lush trees rustle, and the foaming river whispers. Although What Do We See When We Look At the Sky comes close to the convention of magical realism, it ultimately eludes simple classifications. It is full of panache, but also tenderness, contemplation of what constitutes a specific, everyday reality, pulsating with life. The director meanders, releases the narrative, digresses only to return to the main plot. He focuses not so much on the events as on their images, always visually mesmerizing. It is a fairy tale film, but also a tribute to “filmmaking.” (Karolina Kosińska)

New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on Stop-Zemlia: We meet the sensitive Masha who is part of a group of friends along with Yana and Senia. They experiment together, struggle with loneliness, problems with their parents, and first loves. …In her impressive debut, Ukrainian director Kataryna Gronostai, with warmth and sensitivity captures the moment in life when pain intertwines with hope and everything is so easy and so difficult at the same time. An authentic, almost documentary portrait of contemporary youth, who brought their experiences and language to the film during workshops preceding the shooting, combine here with a poetic touch. (Adam Kruk)

New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on Wood and Water: The prolonged absence forces the woman to take lonely walks around the city, which turn into a series of random meetings, conversations and fascinations. Jonas Bak blurs the lines between documentary and fiction; although he tells a fictional story, the film stars his mother, sisters and friends. The shooting coincided with Hong Kong’s groundswell of protests against the extradition bill, though politics take a back seat to Bak’s main vision. More important here is Anke’s inner journey: her transformation, which unfolds slowly, timidly, but ultimately allows her to open up to other people and start a new phase of life. (Jakub Demiańczuk)

New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on Luzzu: The film’s title is taken from the traditional Maltese coastal fishing boat. One of the local captains, Jesmark, continues his family fishing tradition, but is struggling with ever stronger competition. …Camilleri focuses attention on Jesmark’s drama, drawing a broader social and political background at the same time. The blame for the deteriorating fate of Maltese fishermen is not only on the black market, but also stringent EU legislation, progressive environmental degradation and the incipient climate catastrophe. Most of all, however, Luzzu is an emotional portrait of a man whose stable life begins to fall apart overnight. (Jakub Demiańczuk)

Melbourne International Film Festival’s Introductory Notes on El Planeta: El Planeta is the wittily droll feature debut of New York–based Argentinian artist Amalia Ulman, …Here, she once again blurs fantasy and reality, starring opposite her actual mother, Ale Ulman, in a semi-autobiographical story of economic hardship that is also inspired by an infamous real-world mother–daughter pair of con artists. Charmingly loose and informal, this film paints a playful and disarming picture of life on the edges.

New Horizons IFF’s Introductory Notes on Death of a Virgin, and the Sin of Not Living: Excited, gilded by the afternoon sunlight, the boys step boldly, as if the world belonged to them. They don’t yet know that they belong to the world: it directs their path and the shape of their masculinity, prompts them with dialogues, and directs disappointing, humiliating rituals of passage. …Brought up in a patriarchal culture, young men have – against bold plans – limited opportunities, and the foundations of their power have long been rotten. Delicate beneath a chatty, cheerful surface, the debut of Lebanese director George Peter Barbari, successfully combines realism with poetry, and the gentle movements of the camera embrace the heroes in a gesture they would never have made themselves. (Małgorzata Sadowska)