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When the going gets tough, the tough take accounting. When the job market worsens, many students figure they can’t indulge in an English or a history major. They have to study something that will lead directly to a job.

境况艰难时,强者算账。当就业市场变得糟糕时,许多学生认为他们不能纵情地徜徉在英文或历史专业里,他们必须得去学习一些东西使他们能够直接找到工作。

So it is almost inevitable that over the next few years, as labor markets struggle, the humanities will continue their long slide. There already has been a nearly 50 percent drop in the portion of liberal arts majors over the past generation, and that trend is bound to accelerate. Once the stars of university life, humanities now play bit roles when prospective students take their college tours. The labs are more glamorous than the libraries.

所以几乎不可避免的是:在未来几年里,由于劳动力市场不景气,人文学科将继续它们长期来的衰落。在过去的一代里,文科专业部分已经减少了将近50%,而且这个趋势必定还会加速。曾经是大学的明星,现在当未来的学生开始他们的大学之旅时,人文学科成了跑龙套的。实验室比图书馆更有魅力。

But allow me to pause for a moment and throw another sandbag on the levee of those trying to resist this tide. Let me stand up for the history, English and art classes, even in the face of today’s economic realities.

但请容许我暂停片刻,在试图抵挡这股潮流的堤坝上再添一个沙袋。请让我为历史、英文和艺术课摇旗呐喊,即使在如今的经济现实面前。

Studying the humanities improves your ability to read and write. No matter what you do in life, you will have a huge advantage if you can read a paragraph and discern its meaning (a rarer talent than you might suppose). You will have enormous power if you are the person in the office who can write a clear and concise memo.

学习人文学科可提高你的读写能力。不管你在生活中做什么事,如果你能读一段文章并理解它的意思(一种比你料想的还要珍贵的天赋),你就具有极大的优势。如果你是办公室里那个能够写出简明扼要的备忘录的人,你将拥有巨大的权势。

Studying the humanities will give you a familiarity with the language of emotion. In an information economy, many people have the ability to produce a technical innovation: a new MP3 player. Very few people have the ability to create a great brand: the iPod. Branding involves the location and arousal of affection, and you can’t do it unless you are conversant in the language of romance.

学习人文学科会使你精通情感语言。在一个信息经济时代,许多人有能力作出技术革新:一个新的MP3播放器。极少数人有能力创造一个伟大的品牌:iPod。做品牌包括定位和情感的激发,如果你不熟悉浪漫的语言,你就做不到。

Studying the humanities will give you a wealth of analogies. People think by comparison — Iraq is either like Vietnam or Bosnia; your boss is like Narcissus or Solon. People who have a wealth of analogies in their minds can think more precisely than those with few analogies. If you go through college without reading Thucydides, Herodotus and Gibbon, you’ll have been cheated out of a great repertoire of comparisons.

学习人文学科会使你学到大量的比喻。人们通过比较认为——伊拉克要么像越南要么像波斯尼亚:你的老板像那喀索斯(Narcissus)或梭伦(Solon)。头脑里有大量比喻的人比那些有很少比喻的人能想得更精确。如果你上完大学却没有读过修昔底德(Thucydides)、希罗多德(Herodotus)和吉本(Gibbon),就是被蒙蔽去了一项重要的比喻才能。1
Finally, and most importantly, studying the humanities helps you befriend The Big Shaggy.

最后,也是最重要的是,学习人文学科帮助你像朋友一样对待灵魂小宇宙

Let me try to explain. Over the past century or so, people have built various systems to help them understand human behavior: economics, political science, game theory and evolutionary psychology. These systems are useful in many circumstances. But none completely explain behavior because deep down people have passions and drives that don’t lend themselves to systemic modeling. They have yearnings and fears that reside in an inner beast you could call The Big Shaggy.

让我试着解释一下。在过去一个世纪左右的时间里,人们建立了各种各样的理论体系以帮助他们理解人类的行为:经济学、政治科学、博弈论和进化心理学。这些理论体系在许多环境下都是有用的。但是没有一个能完全解释行为,因为人们的内心深处有不适于系统建模的激情和动力。他们有渴望和恐惧,这些存在于一种内在的兽性,你可以称之为灵魂小宇宙。

You can see The Big Shaggy at work when a governor of South Carolina suddenly chucks it all for a love voyage south of the equator, or when a smart, philosophical congressman from Indiana risks everything for an in-office affair.

当南卡罗莱纳州的一位州长为了赤道以南的一次爱情之旅而突然抛下一切时,或者当一位来自印地安那州的聪明贤达的国会议员为一件公事而豁出去时,你就能看到灵魂小宇宙在起作用。

You can see The Big Shaggy at work when self-destructive overconfidence overtakes oil engineers in the gulf, when go-go enthusiasm intoxicates investment bankers or when bone-chilling distrust grips politics.

当自我毁灭性的自负遭遇海湾的石油策划者们时,当热门投机的狂热使投资银行家们陶醉时或者当冷得刺骨的不信任紧紧抓住政治时,你就能看到灵魂小宇宙在起作用。

Those are the destructive sides of The Big Shaggy. But this tender beast is also responsible for the mysterious but fierce determination that drives Kobe Bryant, the graceful bemusement the Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga showed when his perfect game slipped away, the selfless courage soldiers in Afghanistan show when they risk death for buddies or a family they may never see again.

这是灵魂小宇宙有害的一面。但是这种温柔的兽性也负责那种驱使着科比·布莱恩特(Kobe Bryant)的神秘而坚定的决断、底特律老虎(Detroit Tigers)的投手阿曼多·加拉拉加(Armando Galarraga)在他的完全比赛泡汤时所表现出的优雅得体的困惑、在阿富汗的士兵们在他们为了可能永远再也见不到的伙伴或家人而冒着生命危险时所表现出的无私的勇气。

The observant person goes through life asking: Where did that come from? Why did he or she act that way? The answers are hard to come by because the behavior emanates from somewhere deep inside The Big Shaggy.

感觉敏锐的人终其一生都在问:那是从哪里来的?他或她为什么那么做?答案难以得出,因为行为发自于灵魂小宇宙深处的某些地方。

Technical knowledge stops at the outer edge. If you spend your life riding the links of the Internet, you probably won’t get too far into The Big Shaggy either, because the fast, effortless prose of blogging (and journalism) lacks the heft to get you deep below.

技术知识停留在外部边缘。如果你一生的时间都花在驾驭网络链接上,你可能不会太多地深入到灵魂小宇宙,因为那些快速而不费力的博客(和新闻报道)缺乏让你深入下去的分量。

But over the centuries, there have been rare and strange people who possessed the skill of taking the upheavals of thought that emanate from The Big Shaggy and representing them in the form of story, music, myth, painting, liturgy, architecture, sculpture, landscape and speech. These men and women developed languages that help us understand these yearnings and also educate and mold them. They left rich veins of emotional knowledge that are the subjects of the humanities.

但是几个世纪以来,出现了一些罕见而不一般的人,他们拥有提出源自于灵魂小宇宙的思想剧变的才能,并把它们以故事、音乐、神话、绘画、礼拜仪式、建筑、雕塑、风景和演讲的形式表现出来。这些男人和女人们开发了帮助我们了解这些渴望的语言,并且还培养和塑造这些渴望。他们留下了情感语言的大量分支,这些就是人文学科的研究领域。

It’s probably dangerous to enter exclusively into this realm and risk being caught in a cloister, removed from the market and its accountability. But doesn’t it make sense to spend some time in the company of these languages — learning to feel different emotions, rehearsing different passions, experiencing different sacred rituals and learning to see in different ways?

如果专门只进入这个领域并且冒着陷于修道院、远离尘世及其责任的风险很可能是危险的。但是在这些语言——学会感觉不同的情感、演习不同的激情、体验不同的神圣仪式和学会用不同的方式去看——的伴随下度过一些时光不也有意义吗?

Few of us are hewers of wood. We navigate social environments. If you’re dumb about The Big Shaggy, you’ll probably get eaten by it.

我们很少有人是伐木工。我们生活于社会环境中。如果对于灵魂小宇宙你反应愚钝的话,你大概会被它吃了。

标签:大腿
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2010-10-11 18:43 编辑:kuaileyingyu
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