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Ben Fountain was an associate in the real-estate practice at the Dallas offices of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, just a few years out of law school, when he decided he wanted to write fiction. The only thing Fountain had ever published was a law-review article. His literary training consisted of a handful of creative-writing classes in college. He had tried to write when he came home at night from work, but usually he was too tired to do much. He decided to quit his job.
by Malcolm Gladwell published on The New Yorker, issue of Oct 20, 2008
“I was tremendously apprehensive,” Fountain recalls. “I felt like I’d stepped off a cliff and I didn’t know if the parachute was going to open. Nobody wants to waste their life, and I was doing well at the practice of law. I could have had a good career. And my parents were very proud of me—my dad was so proud of me. . . . It was crazy.”
当Ben Fountain决定写小说是他真正想做的事情时,他还就职于 Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld 公司达拉斯(Dallas)办事处。他是位助理律师,负责房地产实务,刚从法学院毕业没几年。之前他发表过的唯一“作品”是一篇法律评论。而他受过的全部文学训练是在大学里上过的几堂文学创作课。他也曾试过晚上回家后进行写作,但是通常因为疲劳而疏于提笔。于是他决定辞职,专心写作。
He began his new life on a February morning—a Monday. He sat down at his kitchen table at 7:30 A.M. He made a plan. Every day, he would write until lunchtime. Then he would lie down on the floor for twenty minutes to rest his mind. Then he would return to work for a few more hours. He was a lawyer. He had discipline. “I figured out very early on that if I didn’t get my writing done I felt terrible. So I always got my writing done. I treated it like a job. I did not procrastinate.” His first story was about a stockbroker who uses inside information and crosses a moral line. It was sixty pages long and took him three months to write. When he finished that story, he went back to work and wrote another—and then another.
“我那时非常惶恐,”Fountain 回忆道,“我觉得我将要跳下悬崖,却不知道降落伞是否会打开。没有谁想浪费自己的生命,何况我在律师行里干得不错,留在那里我会有很好的前途。我的父母也为之感到骄傲——尤其是我爸爸……那是个疯狂的决定。”
In his first year, Fountain sold two stories. He gained confidence. He wrote a novel. He decided it wasn’t very good, and he ended up putting it in a drawer. Then came what he describes as his dark period, when he adjusted his expectations and started again. He got a short story published in Harper’s. A New York literary agent saw it and signed him up. He put together a collection of short stories titled “Brief Encounters with Che Guevara,” and Ecco, a HarperCollins imprint, published it. The reviews were sensational. The Times Book Review called it “heartbreaking.” It won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN award. It was named a No. 1 Book Sense Pick. It made major regional best-seller lists, was named one of the best books of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, and Kirkus Reviews, and drew comparisons to Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Robert Stone, and John le Carré.
二月的一个上午,星期一,他开始了新生活。早上7点半时,他在厨房的餐桌前坐下。他制定了一个计划。每天,他将写作到午饭时间。然后在地板上躺20分钟,让他的头脑放松一下。接着他要回到书桌前再干上几个小时。身为律师的他有能力约束自己。“我一开始就意识到如果不能完成自己的写作计划的话,我的心情一定会糟糕透顶。所以我总是能完成。我把写作当成一份正经工作,不曾拖拉。”Fountain 的处女作是关于一位利用内幕消息进行不道德交易的股票经纪人的故事。作品只有六页长,但他写了足足三个月。当他写完时,他回到餐桌前开始写下一个故事,然后是再下一个……
Ben Fountain’s rise sounds like a familiar story: the young man from the provinces suddenly takes the literary world by storm. But Ben Fountain’s success was far from sudden. He quit his job at Akin, Gump in 1988. For every story he published in those early years, he had at least thirty rejections. The novel that he put away in a drawer took him four years. The dark period lasted for the entire second half of the nineteen-nineties. His breakthrough with “Brief Encounters” came in 2006, eighteen years after he first sat down to write at his kitchen table. The “young” writer from the provinces took the literary world by storm at the age of forty-eight.
开始写作的第一年,Fountain 卖掉了两则故事。他建立起了信心,开始写一本长篇小说。写完后,他对这件作品并不是十分满意,最终把手稿收进了抽屉。从那时起他进入了一段他眼中的低谷时期——调整对自己的预期,开始新一轮的写作。后来,他的一则短篇被 Harper's 发表。一位纽约的文学代理商读了这篇文章后决定和他签约。他整理了一系列短篇小说,起名为《与切·格瓦拉的短暂邂逅》(Brief Encounters with Che Guevara),由 HarperCollins 公司旗下的 Ecco 出版社发表。对这本短篇小说集的评论是轰动性的。时代报社书评栏(The Times Book Review)称它“令人心碎”。此书为 Fountain 赢得了 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award(译者注:相当于最佳新人小说奖,受奖者必须是首度发表小说类作品的美国籍作家),还获得了Book Sense Pick(可试译作图书品味选择奖)头名。这本书在多个区域畅销书榜单上都名列前茅,更被《旧金山新闻》(San Francisco Chronicle,译者注:美国加州北部最主要的报纸之一)、the Chicago Tribune 和 Kirkus Reviews 等报社命名为年度最佳图书之一。Fountain的名字开始被拿来和 Graham Green, Evelyn Waugh, Robert Stone 和 John le Carré(译者注:这几位都是屡获大奖的资深作家)相提并论。
Genius, in the popular conception, is inextricably tied up with precocity—doing something truly creative, we’re inclined to think, requires the freshness and exuberance and energy of youth. Orson Welles made his masterpiece, “Citizen Kane,” at twenty-five. Herman Melville wrote a book a year through his late twenties, culminating, at age thirty-two, with “Moby-Dick.” Mozart wrote his breakthrough Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-Flat-Major at the age of twenty-one. In some creative forms, like lyric poetry, the importance of precocity has hardened into an iron law. How old was T. S. Eliot when he wrote “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (“I grow old . . . I grow old”)? Twenty-three. “Poets peak young,” the creativity researcher James Kaufman maintains. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the author of “Flow,” agrees: “The most creative lyric verse is believed to be that written by the young.” According to the Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, a leading authority on creativity, “Lyric poetry is a domain where talent is discovered early, burns brightly, and then peters out at an early age.”
Ben Fountain 的声名鹊起听起来像个熟悉的故事:一个来自外省的年轻人一夜之间横扫了文学界。但是他的成功并非真的在一夜之间发生。他1988年辞去了事务所的工作。在他写作生涯早年,每一篇录用稿背后都至少躺着三十封拒信。被收进抽屉的那本手稿花费了他四年时间。他的低谷期持续了整个九十年代下半段。“邂逅”系列给他带来的成功是2006年的事情,那时距他第一次坐定在餐桌前开始写作已经整整十八年。来自外省的“年轻”作家在四十八岁时才横扫了文学界。
A few years ago, an economist at the University of Chicago named David Galenson decided to find out whether this assumption about creativity was true. He looked through forty-seven major poetry anthologies published since 1980 and counted the poems that appear most frequently. Some people, of course, would quarrel with the notion that literary merit can be quantified. But Galenson simply wanted to poll a broad cross-section of literary scholars about which poems they felt were the most important in the American canon. The top eleven are, in order, T. S. Eliot’s “Prufrock,” Robert Lowell’s “Skunk Hour,” Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” William Carlos Williams’s “Red Wheelbarrow,” Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish,” Ezra Pound’s “The River Merchant’s Wife,” Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy,” Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro,” Frost’s “Mending Wall,” Wallace Stevens’s “The Snow Man,” and Williams’s “The Dance.” Those eleven were composed at the ages of twenty-three, forty-one, forty-eight, forty, twenty-nine, thirty, thirty, twenty-eight, thirty-eight, forty-two, and fifty-nine, respectively. There is no evidence, Galenson concluded, for the notion that lyric poetry is a young person’s game. Some poets do their best work at the beginning of their careers. Others do their best work decades later. Forty-two per cent of Frost’s anthologized poems were written after the age of fifty. For Williams, it’s forty-four per cent. For Stevens, it’s forty-nine per cent.
天才,在普遍的想法中,与早熟有着不可分割的联系——我们倾向于认为,真正的创造力需要年轻所带来的那种新鲜、活力和欣欣向荣。Orson Welles 二十五岁时完成大作《公民凯恩》(Citizen Kane)。赫尔曼·梅尔维尔(Herman Melville)二十五岁到三十岁期间以一年一本书的速度写作,终于在三十二岁时凭借一本《白鲸》(Moby-Dick)攀上高峰。莫扎特(Mozart)二十一岁谱写成名作E大调第九钢琴协奏曲。对于某些创作形式,比如抒情诗来说,早熟的重要性已经被强调成了金科玉律。T·S·艾略特(T. S. Eliot,诺贝尔文学奖得主)几岁写下 The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (译者注:艾略特的代表作,其中感叹生命短暂,年华易逝)来着?二十三。“诗人们在年轻时登峰造极。”研究创造力的专家James Kaufman说。对此,Flow 的作者 Mihály Csíkszentmihályi 表示同意:“最富创造力的抒情诗篇是由年轻人写就的。”哈佛大学心理学家 Howard Gardner (译者注:Gardner 提出了多元智力理论,对美国教育影响深远),一位创造力研究的权威学者,说道:“在抒情诗领域,才能总是早早被发现,迸发出璀璨光芒,然后又迅速熄灭了。”
The same was true of film, Galenson points out in his study “Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity.” Yes, there was Orson Welles, peaking as a director at twenty-five. But then there was Alfred Hitchcock, who made “Dial M for Murder,” “Rear Window,” “To Catch a Thief,” “The Trouble with Harry,” “Vertigo,” “North by Northwest,” and “Psycho”—one of the greatest runs by a director in history—between his fifty-fourth and sixty-first birthdays. Mark Twain published “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” at forty-nine. Daniel Defoe wrote “Robinson Crusoe” at fifty-eight.
几年前,一位芝加哥大学(University of Chicago)名叫 David Galenson 的经济学家决定验证这个关于天才诗人的假设是否正确。他阅读了自1980年以来的四十七卷(收录美国诗歌的)主要诗集,并在其中找出录用最频繁的篇章。有些人也许会对他用数量评定文学价值的做法提出质疑,然而 Galenson 只是想对文学学者进行广泛采样,看看依美国人的口味哪些现代诗是最重要的。排名前十一的作品依次是T·S·艾略特(T. S. Eliot)的 Prufrock、罗伯特·洛威尔(Robert Lowell)的 Skunk Hour、罗伯特·弗洛斯特(Robert Frost)的《雪夜林边驻马》(Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening)、威廉·卡洛斯·威廉姆斯(William Carlos Williams)的《红色手推车》(Red Wheelbarrow)、伊丽莎白·毕肖普(Elizabeth Bishop)的 The Fish、艾兹拉·庞德(Ezra Pound)的The River Merchant's Wife(译者注:《李白·长干行》日语版的英译,但改动极大)、西尔维亚·普拉斯(Sylvia Plath)的 Daddy、庞德的《在地铁车站》(In a Station of the Metro)、弗洛斯特的 Mending Wall、华莱士·史蒂文斯(Wallace Stevens)的《雪中人》(The Snow Man)以及威廉姆斯的《舞》(The Dance)。这十一首分别完成于作者二十三岁、四十一岁、四十八岁、四十岁、二十九岁、三十岁、三十岁、二十八岁、三十八岁、四十二岁和五十九岁时。Galenson因此总结道,没有证据显示抒情诗写作是年轻人的天下。有些诗人在写作生涯的初期贡献出了他们最好的作品,其他人则要等到数十年后才渐入佳境。弗洛斯特百分之四十二的入选诗篇是他五十岁之后写成的。这个比例在威廉姆斯身上时百分之四十四;对史蒂文斯来说则是百分之四十九。
The examples that Galenson could not get out of his head, however, were Picasso and Cézanne. He was an art lover, and he knew their stories well. Picasso was the incandescent prodigy. His career as a serious artist began with a masterpiece, “Evocation: The Burial of Casagemas,” produced at age twenty. In short order, he painted many of the greatest works of his career—including “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” at the age of twenty-six. Picasso fit our usual ideas about genius perfectly.
Galenson 在他题为“年长的大师和年轻的天才:艺术创造力的两个生命周期”的研究中指出,同样的现象也出现于电影界。的确,存在着像 Orson Welles 这样,二十五岁就在导演的位置上一鸣惊人。但是也有希区柯克(Alfred Hitchcock)式的例子,在他五十四到六十一岁期间连续制作了《电话谋杀案》(Dial M for Murder)、《后窗》(Rear Window)、《捉贼记》(To Catch a Thief)、《哈里的麻烦》(The Trouble with Harry)、《晕眩》(Vertigo)、《西北偏北》(North by Northwest)和《惊魂记》(Psycho)——由同一位导演执导并连续取得如此巨大的成功,在整个电影史上也少有出其右者。马克·吐温(Mark Twain)五十九岁时发表《哈克贝利·费恩历险记》(Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)。Daniel Defoe 则在五十八岁时写成《鲁宾逊漂流记》(Robinson Crusoe)。
Cézanne didn’t. If you go to the Cézanne room at the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris—the finest collection of Cézannes in the world—the array of masterpieces you’ll find along the back wall were all painted at the end of his career. Galenson did a simple economic analysis, tabulating the prices paid at auction for paintings by Picasso and Cézanne with the ages at which they created those works. A painting done by Picasso in his mid-twenties was worth, he found, an average of four times as much as a painting done in his sixties. For Cézanne, the opposite was true. The paintings he created in his mid-sixties were valued fifteen times as highly as the paintings he created as a young man. The freshness, exuberance, and energy of youth did little for Cézanne. He was a late bloomer—and for some reason in our accounting of genius and creativity we have forgotten to make sense of the Cézannes of the world.
然而,真正让 Galenson 无法从脑海中挥去的例子是毕加索(Picasso)和塞尚(Cézanne)。Galenson是个艺术爱好者,对这两人的故事稔熟于胸。毕加索是光芒四射的少年天才。二十岁时,他便用一幅大师级作品——《招魂》(Evocation: The Burial of Casagemas)——奠定了自己作为一个真正的艺术家的地位。很快地,他又绘作了他艺术生涯中许多最重要的作品,包括二十六岁那年创作的《亚维农的少女》(Les Demoiselles d’Avignon)。毕加索完全符合我们一般所认为的天才形象。
The first day that Ben Fountain sat down to write at his kitchen table went well. He knew how the story about the stockbroker was supposed to start. But the second day, he says, he “completely freaked out.” He didn’t know how to describe things. He felt as if he were back in first grade. He didn’t have a fully formed vision, waiting to be emptied onto the page. “I had to create a mental image of a building, a room, a façade, haircut, clothes—just really basic things,” he says. “I realized I didn’t have the facility to put those into words. I started going out and buying visual dictionaries, architectural dictionaries, and going to school on those.”
但塞尚却完全不符合。巴黎奥塞博物馆塞尚展厅的馆藏代表了塞尚最高水平。当你欣赏那些占据醒目位置的经典作品时,你会发现它们都是在塞尚绘画生涯的末期完成的。Galenson 算了笔经济账:他列出了毕加索和塞尚的画作在拍卖行的成交价格以及画家完成作品时的年龄。他发现,毕加索二十五岁左右创作的作品的平均价值是他六十至七十岁之间作品的四倍。对于塞尚来说,情形恰好倒过来了,塞尚六十五岁左右的画作具有十五倍于他年轻时作品的价值。青春带来的新鲜、活力和欣欣向荣对他的帮助微乎其微。塞尚可谓是大器晚成。然而在我们对天才和创造力的记载中,我们忘了给存在于这个世界上的塞尚们一个合理的解释。
He began to collect articles about things he was interested in, and before long he realized that he had developed a fascination with Haiti. “The Haiti file just kept getting bigger and bigger,” Fountain says. “And I thought, O.K., here’s my novel. For a month or two I said I really don’t need to go there, I can imagine everything. But after a couple of months I thought, Yeah, you’ve got to go there, and so I went, in April or May of ’91.”
Ben Fountain 在餐桌前坐下来写作的第一天进展得很顺利。他知道股票经纪人的故事该怎样开头。但是第二天,用他的话来说,他“完全崩溃了”。他不知道怎么去描述事情,就好像又回到了小学一年级似的。他没有一幅细节丰盈的图景可供倾泻到纸上。“我必须在脑海里对建筑、房间、店面、发型、服饰等最基本的元素进行构图,”他说。“我意识到,我并没有掌握将意象转化成文字这一写作工具。于是我出门去买图解辞典、建筑辞典,还报名参加了相关的辅导班。”
He spoke little French, let alone Haitian Creole. He had never been abroad. Nor did he know anyone in Haiti. “I got to the hotel, walked up the stairs, and there was this guy standing at the top of the stairs,” Fountain recalls. “He said, ‘My name is Pierre. You need a guide.’ I said, ‘You’re sure as hell right, I do.’ He was a very genuine person, and he realized pretty quickly I didn’t want to go see the girls, I didn’t want drugs, I didn’t want any of that other stuff,” Fountain went on. “And then it was, boom, ‘I can take you there. I can take you to this person.’ ”
他开始按个人兴趣搜集相关文章。不久,他意识到他开始着迷于海地。“关于海地的档案不断增长,”Fountain 说。“于是我对自己说,行,小说的题材有了。头一两个月我认为我没有必要亲自去那里,我可以用想象弥补一切。但是两个月以后,我对自己说,你得去一趟才行。于是在91年的四月或五月,我去了海地。”
Fountain was riveted by Haiti. “It’s like a laboratory, almost,” he says. “Everything that’s gone on in the last five hundred years—colonialism, race, power, politics, ecological disasters—it’s all there in very concentrated form. And also I just felt, viscerally, pretty comfortable there.” He made more trips to Haiti, sometimes for a week, sometimes for two weeks. He made friends. He invited them to visit him in Dallas. (“You haven’t lived until you’ve had Haitians stay in your house,” Fountain says.) “I mean, I was involved. I couldn’t just walk away. There’s this very nonrational, nonlinear part of the whole process. I had a pretty specific time era that I was writing about, and certain things that I needed to know. But there were other things I didn’t really need to know. I met a fellow who was with Save the Children, and he was on the Central Plateau, which takes about twelve hours to get to on a bus, and I had no reason to go there. But I went up there. Suffered on that bus, and ate dust. It was a hard trip, but it was a glorious trip. It had nothing to do with the book, but it wasn’t wasted knowledge.”
他几乎不会说法语,更不要说海地人说的克里奥耳式法语(Creole)了。他此前从未离开过美国,也不认识哪怕一个海地人。“我到了旅馆,走上楼梯,看到一个人站在台阶上,”Fountain 回忆道。“他说:‘我叫 Pierre。你需要一个向导。’我说:‘千真万确。’他是个很真诚的人。而且他很快意识到我并不是去那里追女孩子或者搞毒品,我除了旅行并无他求。”Fountain 继续说道。“然后他一下子有主意了:‘我可以带你去逛逛那里。我可以带你去见见这个人。’”
In “Brief Encounters with Che Guevara,” four of the stories are about Haiti, and they are the strongest in the collection. They feel like Haiti; they feel as if they’ve been written from the inside looking out, not the outside looking in. “After the novel was done, I don’t know, I just felt like there was more for me, and I could keep going, keep going deeper there,” Fountain recalls. “Always there’s something—always something—here for me. How many times have I been? At least thirty times.”
Fountain 对海地深深着了迷。“那里几乎就像一个实验室,”他说。“过去五百年发生过的事情——殖民主义、种族、权力、政治、生态灾难——都以非常浓缩的形式存在于海地。而且在那里,我感到一种发自肺腑的舒畅。”他后来又访问了海地好几次,有时待一个星期,有时俩。他结识了一些朋友。他邀请他的海地朋友到达拉斯拜访他。(Fountain 说:“如果你没有和海地人同处一室过的话就不能算真正生活过。”)“我想说的是,我真正融入了他们,我没法说走就走。整个过程有着非理性、非线性的一面。我的书中描述的是海地的一个特定历史时期,我需要知道的是些特定的事情,有些事并不是我真正需要了解的。我遇到一个为“拯救孩子”(Save the Children,译者注:一个非营利性质的慈善机构)工作的人,他住在中央高原(Central Plateau,译者注:这一带是海地最贫穷的地区),从这里坐汽车去大概需要十二个小时。我并没什么原因要去拜访他,但是我还是去了。一路受了不少罪,吃了不少土。旅途很艰难,但是十分壮丽。这趟行程与我的作品毫无关系,但是我感到不虚此行。”
Prodigies like Picasso, Galenson argues, rarely engage in that kind of open-ended exploration. They tend to be “conceptual,” Galenson says, in the sense that they start with a clear idea of where they want to go, and then they execute it. “I can hardly understand the importance given to the word ‘research,’ ” Picasso once said in an interview with the artist Marius de Zayas. “In my opinion, to search means nothing in painting. To find is the thing.” He continued, “The several manners I have used in my art must not be considered as an evolution or as steps toward an unknown ideal of painting. . . . I have never made trials or experiments.”
《与切·格瓦拉的短暂邂逅》一书中有四个故事是关于海地的,他们也是这个集子里最有力度的几篇。这些故事让人身临其境;作者的视角仿佛来自一个环顾世界的海地人,而不是一个外国人眼中的海地社会。“小说写完后,我不知道,我觉得意犹未尽,我可以继续挖掘下去,挖掘更深的东西。”Fountain 回忆道。“总有一些东西——总有一些——在这里等着我。我来过多少次了?至少有三十次吧。”
But late bloomers, Galenson says, tend to work the other way around. Their approach is experimental. “Their goals are imprecise, so their procedure is tentative and incremental,” Galenson writes in “Old Masters and Young Geniuses,” and he goes on:
Galenson 提出一个观点:像毕加索这样的神童很少将自己置身于Fountain经历的那种开放式探索中。他们倾向于进行“概念化”的创作,也就是说他们从一个清晰的点子开始,接下来要做的就是通过执行实现它。“我很难理解为什么‘研究’这个词儿被赋予这么大的重要性,”毕加索曾经在与艺术家 Marius De Zayas 的采访中说道,“在我看来,搜寻在绘画中毫无意义。找到才是重要的。”毕加索又接着说道:“我在自己的艺术创作中用到的几种手法不能被看作是一种演化,或者是达成某种绘画理想的若干步骤……我从来没有进行过测试或实验。”
The imprecision of their goals means that these artists rarely feel they have succeeded, and their careers are consequently often dominated by the pursuit of a single objective. These artists repeat themselves, painting the same subject many times, and gradually changing its treatment in an experimental process of trial and error. Each work leads to the next, and none is generally privileged over others, so experimental painters rarely make specific preparatory sketches or plans for a painting. They consider the production of a painting as a process of searching, in which they aim to discover the image in the course of making it; they typically believe that learning is a more important goal than making finished paintings. Experimental artists build their skills gradually over the course of their careers, improving their work slowly over long periods. These artists are perfectionists and are typically plagued by frustration at their inability to achieve their goal.
根据 Galenson 的说法,大器晚成的人却倾向于采用相反的方法。他们的策略是试验性的。“他们的目标并不明确,所以他们的过程也是渐进的、试探性的。”Galenson 在论著《年长的大师和年轻的天才》中如此写道。他又写道:
Where Picasso wanted to find, not search, Cézanne said the opposite: “I seek in painting.”
An experimental innovator would go back to Haiti thirty times. That’s how that kind of mind figures out what it wants to do. When Cézanne was painting a portrait of the critic Gustave Geffroy, he made him endure eighty sittings, over three months, before announcing the project a failure. (The result is one of that string of masterpieces in the Musée d’Orsay.) When Cézanne painted his dealer, Ambrose Vollard, he made Vollard arrive at eight in the morning and sit on a rickety platform until eleven-thirty, without a break, on a hundred and fifty occasions—before abandoning the portrait. He would paint a scene, then repaint it, then paint it again. He was notorious for slashing his canvases to pieces in fits of frustration.
Mark Twain was the same way. Galenson quotes the literary critic Franklin Rogers on Twain’s trial-and-error method: “His routine procedure seems to have been to start a novel with some structural plan which ordinarily soon proved defective, whereupon he would cast about for a new plot which would overcome the difficulty, rewrite what he had already written, and then push on until some new defect forced him to repeat the process once again.” Twain fiddled and despaired and revised and gave up on “Huckleberry Finn” so many times that the book took him nearly a decade to complete. The Cézannes of the world bloom late not as a result of some defect in character, or distraction, or lack of ambition, but because the kind of creativity that proceeds through trial and error necessarily takes a long time to come to fruition.
一个试验型的创作者会重返海地多达三十次。那是那一类头脑弄清自己想做什么的方式。当塞尚给评论家 Gustave Geffroy 作肖像时,后者根据塞尚的要求,在三个月的时间里不得不尝试了八十种坐姿。最后塞尚还是宣判了创作的失败。(创作的成果后来成为奥塞博物馆的经典之一。)当塞尚为他的画商 Ambrose Vollard 作画时,他让Vollard早上八点到达,在一块摇摇欲坠的平台上一口气坐到十一点半,如此进行了一百五十次——塞尚最后还是放弃了这副肖像的创作。他会描画一个场景,再重画它,然后又重来一次。他以在挫败的震怒中将画布撕成碎片而臭名昭著。
One of the best stories in “Brief Encounters” is called “Near-Extinct Birds of the Central Cordillera.” It’s about an ornithologist taken hostage by the FARC guerrillas of Colombia. Like so much of Fountain’s work, it reads with an easy grace. But there was nothing easy or graceful about its creation. “I struggled with that story,” Fountain says. “I always try to do too much. I mean, I probably wrote five hundred pages of it in various incarnations.” Fountain is at work right now on a novel. It was supposed to come out this year. It’s late.
马克·吐温也一样。Galenson 引用了文学评论家 Franklin Rogers 对马克·吐温试错法的评价:“他惯常的写作过程是:先给小说列一个结构性的提纲,这个提纲通常很快就被认为是有缺陷的,届时他就想法设法找一个新的构思来克服原先的缺陷,重写他已经写好的部分,再继续前行,直到新的缺陷出现并迫使他再次采取这一过程。”在《哈克贝利·费恩历险记》的写作过程中,马克·吐温反反复复地斟酌、绝望、修改又放弃了如此多次,以至于花费了将近十年才写完这本书。这个世界上的塞尚们成器晚,并不是因为他们的性格有缺陷,或者受到干扰而分心,抑或是缺乏志向,而是因为通过试错法而呈现的那种创造性需要很长的时间才能开花结果。
Galenson’s idea that creativity can be divided into these types—conceptual and experimental—has a number of important implications. For example, we sometimes think of late bloomers as late starters. They don’t realize they’re good at something until they’re fifty, so of course they achieve late in life. But that’s not quite right. Cézanne was painting almost as early as Picasso was. We also sometimes think of them as artists who are discovered late; the world is just slow to appreciate their gifts. In both cases, the assumption is that the prodigy and the late bloomer are fundamentally the same, and that late blooming is simply genius under conditions of market failure. What Galenson’s argument suggests is something else—that late bloomers bloom late because they simply aren’t much good until late in their careers.
“邂逅”一书中最好的故事之一题为《中央山脉的濒危鸟类》(Near-Extinct Birds of the Central Cordillera),主人公是一个被哥伦比亚的 FARC 武装分子劫持为人质的鸟类学家。和 Fountain 的许多作品一样,它读起来有一种从容的优雅。然而它的创作过程却全无从容或优雅可言。“我在这个故事上苦苦挣扎,”Fountain 说。“我总是太贪心。我想,就这同一个故事我大概写了500页各种版本的表现方式。”Fountain 现在正在写一部新的小说。它原定于今年交付,但延期了。
“All these qualities of his inner vision were continually hampered and obstructed by Cézanne’s incapacity to give sufficient verisimilitude to the personae of his drama,” the great English art critic Roger Fry wrote of the early Cézanne. “With all his rare endowments, he happened to lack the comparatively common gift of illustration, the gift that any draughtsman for the illustrated papers learns in a school of commercial art; whereas, to realize such visions as Cézanne’s required this gift in high degree.” In other words, the young Cézanne couldn’t draw. Of “The Banquet,” which Cézanne painted at thirty-one, Fry writes, “It is no use to deny that Cézanne has made a very poor job of it.” Fry goes on, “More happily endowed and more integral personalities have been able to express themselves harmoniously from the very first. But such rich, complex, and conflicting natures as Cézanne’s require a long period of fermentation.” Cézanne was trying something so elusive that he couldn’t master it until he’d spent decades practicing.
Galenson 关于创造力可以被分为概念型和试验型两种的想法有着重要的含义。比如,我们有时认为大器晚成是因为他们开始得晚。他们直到五十岁才意识到自己有某种天赋,所以他们取得成就的时间也相应推迟。然而这并不全对。塞尚开始绘画的时间和毕加索差不多。我们有时还认为,大器晚成是因为他们被发现得晚;世界对他们才华的欣赏来得迟钝。无论哪种看法都蕴含着一个假设,那就是大器晚成的人和神童本质上是一样的,大器晚成只是天才出于条件的限制或者市场营销的失败。Galenson 的论点揭示了另外的可能性——大器晚成者姗姗来迟,是因为他们直到事业的后期才真的变得非常出色。
This is the vexing lesson of Fountain’s long attempt to get noticed by the literary world. On the road to great achievement, the late bloomer will resemble a failure: while the late bloomer is revising and despairing and changing course and slashing canvases to ribbons after months or years, what he or she produces will look like the kind of thing produced by the artist who will never bloom at all. Prodigies are easy. They advertise their genius from the get-go. Late bloomers are hard. They require forbearance and blind faith. (Let’s just be thankful that Cézanne didn’t have a guidance counsellor in high school who looked at his primitive sketches and told him to try accounting.) Whenever we find a late bloomer, we can’t but wonder how many others like him or her we have thwarted because we prematurely judged their talents. But we also have to accept that there’s nothing we can do about it. How can we ever know which of the failures will end up blooming?
“塞尚在给予人物形象真实感方面的欠缺阻碍和拖累了他对内心图景所具备的品质的表达。”杰出的英国艺术评论家 Roger Fry 如此描述早年的塞尚。“尽管拥有罕见的天赋,他恰恰缺乏相对来讲比较常见的具现化才能,这种才能就算是画示意图的绘图员也可以在商业艺术学校里习得。然而,想表现出塞尚的图景对具现化能力的要求是很高的。”换句话说,年轻时的塞尚不会画画。对于《盛宴》(The Banquet)这副于塞尚三十一岁时创作的作品,Fry 写道:“无法否认,塞尚画得很糟糕。”Fry 又说:“天赋更均衡和人格更完整的画家能够从一开始就和谐地表达他们自己,但是如此丰富、复杂和自相矛盾的天性需要很长一段酝酿期。”塞尚试图表达的东西如此难以捉摸,他本人也是通过了几十年不懈的实践才得以驾驭。
Not long after meeting Ben Fountain, I went to see the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, the author of the 2002 best-seller “Everything Is Illuminated.” Fountain is a graying man, slight and modest, who looks, in the words of a friend of his, like a “golf pro from Augusta, Georgia.” Foer is in his early thirties and looks barely old enough to drink. Fountain has a softness to him, as if years of struggle have worn away whatever sharp edges he once had. Foer gives the impression that if you touched him while he was in full conversational flight you would get an electric shock.
Fountain 用长期努力才唤起文学界的注意,这不由让人有些泄气。在通往伟大成就的道路上,大器晚成者代表着失败:当他们在月复一月甚至是年复一年地修改稿件、绝望发狂、变更方向或是撕碎画布时,他们所创作的看起来就和那些永无出头之日的艺术家们的作品一样。神童们是轻松的,他们一出道就挂起天才的招牌。大器晚成者们是艰难的,他们需要的除了忍耐还有几近盲目的信念。(让我们为塞尚在高中时没有遇到一位看过他的草稿后劝他转行搞会计的指导教师而庆幸吧。)每当一位大器晚成者被发掘出来,我们会忍不住去想有多少像她/他一样的人因为我们草率地判断他们的才能而被扼杀。但是也必须承认,对此我们无能为力。要怎么样才能知道哪些失败最终会通向成功呢?
“I came to writing really by the back door,” Foer said. “My wife is a writer, and she grew up keeping journals—you know, parents said, ‘Lights out, time for bed,’ and she had a little flashlight under the covers, reading books. I don’t think I read a book until much later than other people. I just wasn’t interested in it.”
遇到 Ben Fountain 后不久,我去拜访了小说家 Jonathan Safran Foer,2002年畅销书 《一切皆被照亮》(Everything Is Illuminated) 的作者。Fountain 是个头发开始灰白、身材苗条、态度谦逊的人,用他一位朋友的话来说,他看起来像“一位来自佐治亚奥古斯塔城(Augusta, Georgia,译者注:因主办高尔夫球赛而著名)的职业高尔夫选手”。Foer 则三十刚出头,看起来刚刚到法定饮酒年龄。Fountain 身上带着一种柔和的气质,就好像多年的奋斗磨去了他可能曾有的一切棱角。Foer 给人的印象是,如果你在他正说到兴头上时碰他一下的话,你会受到电击。
Foer went to Princeton and took a creative-writing class in his freshman year with Joyce Carol Oates. It was, he explains, “sort of on a whim, maybe out of a sense that I should have a diverse course load.” He’d never written a story before. “I didn’t really think anything of it, to be honest, but halfway through the semester I arrived to class early one day, and she said, ‘Oh, I’m glad I have this chance to talk to you. I’m a fan of your writing.’ And it was a real revelation for me.”
“我是从后门溜进写作生涯的,”Foer 说道。“我妻子是个作家,她从小就记笔记——你知道,家长们总说,‘关灯,睡觉时间到了’,然后她会在被子下拿出一个小手电,照着读书。我觉得我读书比其他人晚多了。我就是对读书没兴趣。”
Oates told him that he had the most important of writerly qualities, which was energy. He had been writing fifteen pages a week for that class, an entire story for each seminar. “Why does a dam with a crack in it leak so much?” he said, with a laugh. “There was just something in me, there was like a pressure.”
Foer大学去了普林斯顿(Princeton),大一那年他选修了一堂 Joyce Carol Oates 教的文学创作课。他解释说,这个决定“多少算是一时兴起,也许是出于拓宽课程广度的考虑。”之前他从没有写过一个故事。“老实说,我根本没想过这事,但学期过半的时候有天我走进教室,教授对我说,‘对了,我很高兴能有机会和你谈谈。我很欣赏你的写作。’那时我才发觉我有这方面的才能。”
As a sophomore, he took another creative-writing class. During the following summer, he went to Europe. He wanted to find the village in Ukraine where his grandfather had come from. After the trip, he went to Prague. There he read Kafka, as any literary undergraduate would, and sat down at his computer.
Oates 告诉 Foer,他具备了成为作家最重要的条件,那就是精力。他每周为这门课写十五页,为每次专题讨论写一个故事。“为什么一座大坝上的小小缺口会漏出这么多水来?”他笑着说。“有某种东西在我体内,就像压力一样。”
“I was just writing,” he said. “I didn’t know that I was writing until it was happening. I didn’t go with the intention of writing a book. I wrote three hundred pages in ten weeks. I really wrote. I’d never done it like that.”
It was a novel about a boy named Jonathan Safran Foer who visits the village in Ukraine where his grandfather had come from. Those three hundred pages were the first draft of “Everything Is Illuminated”—the exquisite and extraordinary novel that established Foer as one of the most distinctive literary voices of his generation. He was nineteen years old.
Foer began to talk about the other way of writing books, where you painstakingly honed your craft, over years and years. “I couldn’t do that,” he said. He seemed puzzled by it. It was clear that he had no understanding of how being an experimental innovator would work. “I mean, imagine if the craft you’re trying to learn is to be an original. How could you learn the craft of being an original?”
那本小说是关于一个叫做 Jonathan Safran Foer 的男孩的。他拜访了位于乌克兰的一个村庄,这是他祖父的故乡。那三百页是《一切皆被照亮》的初稿——那本精致而又与众不同的小说奠定了 Foer 作为当代最具辨识度的文学叙事者之一的地位。那年,他十九岁。
He began to describe his visit to Ukraine. “I went to the shtetl where my family came from. It’s called Trachimbrod, the name I use in the book. It’s a real place. But you know what’s funny? It’s the single piece of research that made its way into the book.” He wrote the first sentence, and he was proud of it, and then he went back and forth in his mind about where to go next. “I spent the first week just having this debate with myself about what to do with this first sentence. And once I made the decision, I felt liberated to just create—and it was very explosive after that.”
Foer 开始谈论另一种写书的方式——十年磨一剑式的日积月累。他说:“我做不到。”他看起来很困惑。很显然的,他不理解试验型的创作者怎么工作。“我的意思是,设想你想要学会的技艺是成为一位原创者,你怎么能通过学习成为原创呢?
If you read “Everything Is Illuminated,” you end up with the same feeling you get when you read “Brief Encounters with Che Guevara”—the sense of transport you experience when a work of literature draws you into its own world. Both are works of art. It’s just that, as artists, Fountain and Foer could not be less alike. Fountain went to Haiti thirty times. Foer went to Trachimbrod just once. “I mean, it was nothing,” Foer said. “I had absolutely no experience there at all. It was just a springboard for my book. It was like an empty swimming pool that had to be filled up.” Total time spent getting inspiration for his novel: three days.
他开始描述他的乌克兰之旅:“我去了我家人曾经生活的村庄。它叫做 Trachimbrod,这也是我在书中用的名字,是个真实的地方。但你知道好笑的是什么吗?这也是写进书中的唯一考察结果。”他写下第一句话,自我感觉甚佳,然后他在脑海里反复琢磨接下来该往哪儿走。“我头一个星期花在和自己辩论该拿这第一句话怎么办上。一旦决定好,我便如释重负,开始创作——从那往后就一发而不可收拾了。”
Ben Fountain did not make the decision to quit the law and become a writer all by himself. He is married and has a family. He met his wife, Sharon, when they were both in law school at Duke. When he was doing real-estate work at Akin, Gump, she was on the partner track in the tax practice at Thompson & Knight. The two actually worked in the same building in downtown Dallas. They got married in 1985, and had a son in April of 1987. Sharie, as Fountain calls her, took four months of maternity leave before returning to work. She made partner by the end of that year.
如果你读过《一切皆被照亮》,你会有与读《与切·格瓦拉的短暂邂逅》相同的感受——一种穿越时空、被文学作品引入书中世界的体验。两本书都是艺术品。只是作为艺术家而言,Fountain 和 Foer 完全没有共同之处。Fountain 三十次涉足海地。Foer 只去了 Trachimbrod 一次。“我的意思是,那毫无用处。”Foer说,“我在那里丝毫体验也没得到。那只是我写书的一块跳板。它就像一个空荡荡的游泳池,等待着被填满。”他花在为他的小说获得灵感的总时间:三天。
“We had our son in a day care downtown,” she recalls. “We would drive in together, one of us would take him to day care, the other one would go to work. One of us would pick him up, and then, somewhere around eight o’clock at night, we would have him bathed, in bed, and then we hadn’t even eaten yet, and we’d be looking at each other, going, ‘This is just the beginning.’ ” She made a face. “That went on for maybe a month or two, and Ben’s like, ‘I don’t know how people do this.’ We both agreed that continuing at that pace was probably going to make us all miserable. Ben said to me, ‘Do you want to stay home?’ Well, I was pretty happy in my job, and he wasn’t, so as far as I was concerned it didn’t make any sense for me to stay home. And I didn’t have anything besides practicing law that I really wanted to do, and he did. So I said, ‘Look, can we do this in a way that we can still have some day care and so you can write?’ And so we did that.”
Ben Fountain 并不是独自做出弃法从文的决定的。他当时已经结婚,有了家庭。他和妻子 Sharon 在杜克大学(Duke)学法律时相识。当他在 Akin, Gump 从事房地产法方面的工作时,她是 Thompson & Knight 事务所税务法部门的合伙人制雇员(partner track, 译者注:雇员最终有希望成为事务所的合伙人,可以独立负责部分业务,并参与公司决策)。两人实际上在达拉斯市中心的同一座建筑里上班。他们在1985年结婚,1987年4月有了个儿子。Sharie,Fountain 这样称呼她,休了四个月的产假后回去上班。到那年年底时,她成了公司的合伙人。
Ben could start writing at seven-thirty in the morning because Sharie took their son to day care. He stopped working in the afternoon because that was when he had to pick him up, and then he did the shopping and the household chores. In 1989, they had a second child, a daughter. Fountain was a full-fledged North Dallas stay-at-home dad.
“我们把儿子交给市中心的一家托儿所,”她回忆道,“我们一块儿开车上班,一个送他去托儿所,另外一个则去工作。我们俩有一个再接他回家,然后,差不多晚上八点钟左右,我们给他洗澡,让他上床睡觉,那点儿我们连晚饭都没吃上。然后我们会彼此看看,无可奈何道:‘这可仅仅是个开始呢。’”她做了个鬼脸。“那样的情形持续了一两个月,Ben 的反应是:‘我不知道大家是怎么应付这个的。’我们都同意继续这样的步调会让我们大家都一团糟。Ben 对我说:‘你想让我呆在家里吗?’我工作干得挺高兴的,而他则不是,所以从我的立场来说让我留在家里不合道理。而我除了从事法律业外也没有别的志向,但是他有。所以我说:‘你看我们能不能依然让孩子一部分时间去托儿所,好让你有空写作?’我们事实上就那么做了。”
“When Ben first did this, we talked about the fact that it might not work, and we talked about, generally, ‘When will we know that it really isn’t working?’ and I’d say, ‘Well, give it ten years,’ ” Sharie recalled. To her, ten years didn’t seem unreasonable. “It takes a while to decide whether you like something or not,” she says. And when ten years became twelve and then fourteen and then sixteen, and the kids were off in high school, she stood by him, because, even during that long stretch when Ben had nothing published at all, she was confident that he was getting better. She was fine with the trips to Haiti, too. “I can’t imagine writing a novel about a place you haven’t at least tried to visit,” she says. She even went with him once, and on the way into town from the airport there were people burning tires in the middle of the road.
因为 Sharie 送儿子入托,Ben 得以在早上7点半就开始写作。他下午会停下工作,因为接儿子回家的时间到了。然后他去采购、做家务。1989年,他们有了第二个孩子,是个女儿。Fountain 作为北达拉斯地区的一位住家主夫羽翼已丰。
“I was making pretty decent money, and we didn’t need two incomes,” Sharie went on. She has a calm, unflappable quality about her. “I mean, it would have been nice, but we could live on one.”
“Ben 刚开始这么做时,我们讨论过这计划行不通的可能性,我们也一般性地讨论过‘我们什么时候能知道它的确行不通?’这样的问题。我说,‘那就做十年看看吧。’”Sharie 回忆道。对她来说,十年并非不合理。“决定你是不是喜欢一件事情需要些时间”,她说。十年期限后来变成十二年、十四年、十六年,孩子们上高中了,她依然站在他身边支持他,因为即使在 Ben 没有发表任何作品的长长低谷期里,她依然坚信他正在进步。她也赞同那些前往海地的旅行。“我没法想象写一本关于你从未试图拜访的地方的小说”,她说。她甚至陪他一起去了一次,在从机场进城的路上看到人们在马路中间焚烧轮胎。
Sharie was Ben’s wife. But she was also—to borrow a term from long ago—his patron. That word has a condescending edge to it today, because we think it far more appropriate for artists (and everyone else for that matter) to be supported by the marketplace. But the marketplace works only for people like Jonathan Safran Foer, whose art emerges, fully realized, at the beginning of their career, or Picasso, whose talent was so blindingly obvious that an art dealer offered him a hundred-and-fifty-franc-a-month stipend the minute he got to Paris, at age twenty. If you are the type of creative mind that starts without a plan, and has to experiment and learn by doing, you need someone to see you through the long and difficult time it takes for your art to reach its true level.
“我赚得不少,我们不需要双份收入来维持”,Shaire 补充道。她有一种镇定的、宠辱不惊的气质。“我是说,有两份收入当然是好事,但一份也就够生活的了。”
This is what is so instructive about any biography of Cézanne. Accounts of his life start out being about Cézanne, and then quickly turn into the story of Cézanne’s circle. First and foremost is always his best friend from childhood, the writer Émile Zola, who convinces the awkward misfit from the provinces to come to Paris, and who serves as his guardian and protector and coach through the long, lean years.
Sharie 是 Ben 的妻子,但她也是——借一个旧时的称谓来说——他的保护人(patron, 译者注:常指欧洲历史上尤其是中世纪以后为艺术家和学者提供赞助和庇护的权贵们所扮演的角色)。这个词如今有一丝居高临下的意味,因为我们认为艺术家(或者说所有的人)应该由市场供养才妥当。但是市场的支持只对像 Jonathan Safran Foer 这样的人才行得通,他们的艺术天分在职业生涯初期便得以崭露并充分表现出来;或者像毕加索这样,他的才华如此夺目,以至于二十岁那年刚刚踏上巴黎的土地时,就有一位艺术品商给他提供每月一百五十法郎的生活费供他作画。如果你是那种开始时并没有现成的计划、必须通过试验和动手来学习的头脑,你需要一个能在漫长而艰苦的探索生涯中看护你的人,直到你的艺术达到它应有的高度。
Here is Zola, already in Paris, in a letter to the young Cézanne back in Provence. Note the tone, more paternal than fraternal:
这就是任何关于塞尚的传记具有建设性的地方。他生活的记录一开始是关于塞尚本人,然而很快就变成关于塞尚生活圈子的故事。首要的总是他的童年挚友,作家埃米尔·左拉(Émile Zola)。他说服腼腆离群的塞尚从外省前往巴黎,并在之后漫长的困顿年岁里充当他的守卫者和保护者。
You ask me an odd question. Of course one can work here, as anywhere else, if one has the will. Paris offers, further, an advantage you can’t find elsewhere: the museums in which you can study the old masters from 11 to 4. This is how you must divide your time. From 6 to 11 you go to a studio to paint from a live model; you have lunch, then from 12 to 4 you copy, in the Louvre or the Luxembourg, whatever masterpiece you like. That will make up nine hours of work. I think that ought to be enough.
Zola goes on, detailing exactly how Cézanne could manage financially on a monthly stipend of a hundred and twenty-five francs:
“你问了个奇怪的问题。一个人当然可以在这里创作,像在任何其他地方一样,如果他有这个意愿。巴黎提供的,除此之外,还有一种别处找不到的优势:能供你朝11晚4学习过去大师作品的博物馆。你得按这个分配你的时间。从早上6点到11点,去画室进行人体写生;吃午饭后从12点到4点去卢浮宫或者卢森堡博物馆临摹你喜欢的大师作品。这样就有9个小时的工作时间,我想那应该够了。 ”
I’ll reckon out for you what you should spend. A room at 20 francs a month; lunch at 18 sous and dinner at 22, which makes two francs a day, or 60 francs a month. . . . Then you have the studio to pay for: the Atelier Suisse, one of the least expensive, charges, I think, 10 francs. Add 10 francs for canvas, brushes, colors; that makes 100. So you’ll have 25 francs left for laundry, light, the thousand little needs that turn up.
Camille Pissarro was the next critical figure in Cézanne’s life. It was Pissarro who took Cézanne under his wing and taught him how to be a painter. For years, there would be periods in which they went off into the country and worked side by side.
“我来为你估计一下开销。一间每月租金20法郎的屋子;午饭开销18个苏,晚饭22,那样就是两法郎一天,或者说60法郎一个月……然后你得付给画室钱:Atelier Suisse,最便宜的画室之一,收费是10法郎一个月;再加上10法郎的画布、画刷和油彩钱;一共是100法郎。你会有25法郎的结余用于洗衣服、照明或其他千百种生活所需。”
Then there was Ambrose Vollard, the sponsor of Cézanne’s first one-man show, at the age of fifty-six. At the urging of Pissarro, Renoir, Degas, and Monet, Vollard hunted down Cézanne in Aix. He spotted a still-life in a tree, where it had been flung by Cézanne in disgust. He poked around the town, putting the word out that he was in the market for Cézanne’s canvases. In “Lost Earth: A Life of Cézanne,” the biographer Philip Callow writes about what happened next:
卡米耶·毕沙罗(Camille Pissarro) 是塞尚生活中第二个关键人物。是毕沙罗接纳塞尚到他的羽翼之下,教给他如何成为一个画家。很多年里,他们会时不时找一段空闲去郊野采风,并肩工作。
Before long someone appeared at his hotel with an object wrapped in a cloth. He sold the picture for 150 francs, which inspired him to trot back to his house with the dealer to inspect several more magnificent Cézannes. Vollard paid a thousand francs for the job lot, then on the way out was nearly hit on the head by a canvas that had been overlooked, dropped out the window by the man’s wife. All the pictures had been gathering dust, half buried in a pile of junk in the attic.
然后还有 Ambrose Vollard(译者注:二十世纪初法国最重要的美术商之一,他发掘了塞尚、梵高、毕加索等艺术家),他在塞尚五十六岁时赞助了其首场个人展览。在毕沙罗、雷诺瓦(Renoir)、德加(Degas)和莫奈(Monet)的敦促下,Vollard 前往普罗旺斯地区的艾克斯(Aix)要把塞尚挖出来。他在一棵树上发现一副静物画,那是受到塞尚嫌恶被扔出来的。他在城里四处打听,放话说要买塞尚的油画。在《失土:塞尚的一生》中,传记作者 Philip Callow 描述了接下来发生的事情:
All this came before Vollard agreed to sit a hundred and fifty times, from eight in the morning to eleven-thirty, without a break, for a picture that Cézanne disgustedly abandoned. Once, Vollard recounted in his memoir, he fell asleep, and toppled off the makeshift platform. Cézanne berated him, incensed: “Does an apple move?” This is called friendship.
“不久,有个人带着一件布包着的物品出现在他的旅馆里。画作卖出了一百五十法郎,这笔收入让塞尚十分兴奋,带着画商快步小跑回家去鉴阅更多美妙绝伦的塞尚作品。Vollard 为那些作品付了一千法郎,在他出去时,画家的妻子扔出一幅他遗漏的油画,几乎砸中他的脑袋。所有的作品都积上了灰,被半掩在阁楼上的一堆杂物里。”后来,Vollard 同意为塞尚作模特,意味着有一百五十次他坐在模特台上,不间断地从早上八点坚持到十一点半,以供塞尚描绘那幅他后来因厌而弃的作品。Vollard 在他的回忆录里忆道,有一次他睡着了并从简陋的模特台上跌落下来。发怒的塞尚呵斥他说:“苹果会自己动吗?”这就叫友谊。
Finally, there was Cézanne’s father, the banker Louis-Auguste. From the time Cézanne first left Aix, at the age of twenty-two, Louis-Auguste paid his bills, even when Cézanne gave every indication of being nothing more than a failed dilettante. But for Zola, Cézanne would have remained an unhappy banker’s son in Provence; but for Pissarro, he would never have learned how to paint; but for Vollard (at the urging of Pissarro, Renoir, Degas, and Monet), his canvases would have rotted away in some attic; and, but for his father, Cézanne’s long apprenticeship would have been a financial impossibility. That is an extraordinary list of patrons. The first three—Zola, Pissarro, and Vollard—would have been famous even if Cézanne never existed, and the fourth was an unusually gifted entrepreneur who left Cézanne four hundred thousand francs when he died. Cézanne didn’t just have help. He had a dream team in his corner.
最后还有塞尚的父亲,银行家 Louis-Auguste。从塞尚二十二岁第一次离开艾克斯起,Louis-Auguste 一直为他付账,即便当塞尚表现得至多像一个技艺疏浅的业余画家时也不例外。如果不是左拉,塞尚会一直是个郁郁寡欢的银行家之子;如果不是毕沙罗,他永远也不会学会如何作画;如果不是 Vollard(出于毕沙罗、雷诺瓦、德加和莫奈的敦促),他的油画会在某个小阁楼里被剥蚀殆尽;而如果不是他的父亲,塞尚漫长的学徒生涯根本无法得到财政保障。这是个非比寻常的保护人清单。头三位——左拉、毕沙罗和 Vollard——即使塞尚从未存在过也会声名显赫,而第四位是个天赋过人的实业家,他去世时留给塞尚四十万法郎遗产。塞尚不仅仅得到了帮助,他身后站着一支“梦之队”。
This is the final lesson of the late bloomer: his or her success is highly contingent on the efforts of others. In biographies of Cézanne, Louis-Auguste invariably comes across as a kind of grumpy philistine, who didn’t appreciate his son’s genius. But Louis-Auguste didn’t have to support Cézanne all those years. He would have been within his rights to make his son get a real job, just as Sharie might well have said no to her husband’s repeated trips to the chaos of Haiti. She could have argued that she had some right to the life style of her profession and status—that she deserved to drive a BMW, which is what power couples in North Dallas drive, instead of a Honda Accord, which is what she settled for.
这是大器晚成者给我们的最后一课:她/他的成功浸透着他人的努力。在塞尚的传记里,Louis-Auguste 无一例外地被刻画成脾气暴躁的庸俗之人,不懂得欣赏儿子的天才。但是 Louis-Auguste 并非一定要常年累月地供养塞尚作画。他完全有权利要求儿子找个正经工作,就像 Sharie 完全可以对她丈夫再三前往混乱中的海地说不。她完全可以说,她有权利追求与她职业和身分相配的生活方式——像其他有权有势的北达拉斯夫妇那样,她配得上一辆宝马(BMW),而不是她最后选择的本田雅阁(Honda Accord)。
But she believed in her husband’s art, or perhaps, more simply, she believed in her husband, the same way Zola and Pissarro and Vollard and—in his own, querulous way—Louis-Auguste must have believed in Cézanne. Late bloomers’ stories are invariably love stories, and this may be why we have such difficulty with them. We’d like to think that mundane matters like loyalty, steadfastness, and the willingness to keep writing checks to support what looks like failure have nothing to do with something as rarefied as genius. But sometimes genius is anything but rarefied; sometimes it’s just the thing that emerges after twenty years of working at your kitchen table.
但是她相信自己丈夫的艺术,或者更简单地,她相信自己的丈夫,就像左拉、毕沙罗、Vollard 和满腹牢骚的 Louis-Auguste 相信塞尚一样。大器晚成的故事无一例外地是爱的故事,这也许正是为什么我们不知道该拿它们怎么办才好。我们乐于认为,像忠诚、脚踏实地以及日复一日给一个看起来毫不成器的人写支票这等凡人琐事,与稀少的天才没有半点瓜葛。但是有时候,天才压根儿就不稀罕;有时候,天才只是经过二十年厨房餐桌前的苦作后呈现出来的东西。
“Sharie never once brought up money, not once—never,” Fountain said. She was sitting next to him, and he looked at her in a way that made it plain that he understood how much of the credit for “Brief Encounters” belonged to his wife. His eyes welled up with tears. “I never felt any pressure from her,” he said. “Not even covert, not even implied.”
“Sharie 从没有提过钱,一次都没有过,”Fountain 说话时,她正坐在他旁边,他看着她的眼神表白着他了解那本《邂逅》在多大程度上应归功于他的妻子。他的眼眶湿润了。“她从未让我感到过一丝压力,”他说。“连私下的也没有,连暗示性的也没有。”
2010-04-28 18:31 编辑:kuaileyingyu
  • Guest 说:

    I just can't finish it because of the length.More i read more i get impatient

    2010-05-04 17:05 回复 支持(0) 反对(0) 沙发