阿兰·德波顿: 《旅行的艺术》2-4

 admin   2022-01-31 22:32   376 人阅读  0 条评论
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TB英语咀嚼阿兰·德波顿的《旅行的艺术》(The Art of Travel) 英语用词。阿兰·德波顿(Alain de Botton)是一位出生于瑞士的英国哲学家和作家。他写的散文式的书被称为“日常生活哲学”。他的作品涉及爱情、旅行、建筑和文学,包括小说《爱情笔记》(1993)、《爱上浪漫》(1994)、《亲吻与诉说》(1995)及散文作品《拥抱逝水年华》(1997 )、《哲学的慰藉》(2000)、《旅行的艺术》(2002)、《写给无神论者》(2012)。他的书在30个国家畅销。

Departure : II On Travelling Places 4
出发:第2章: 旅行中的特定场所 第4节

第4节

Baudelaire admired not only the places of departure and arrival, but also the machines of motion, in particular ocean-going ships. He wrote of ‘the profound and mysterious charm that arises from looking at a ship’. He went to see flat-bottomed boats, the ‘caboteurs’, in the Port Saint Nicolas in Paris and larger ships in Rouen and the Normandy ports. He marvelled at the technological achievements behind them, at how objects so heavy and multifarious could be made to move with elegance and cohesion across the seas. A great ship made him think of ‘a vast, immense, complicated, but agile creature, an animal full of spirit, suffering and heaving all the sighs and ambitions of humanity’.

Similar sentiments may arise when looking at one of the larger species of aeroplane, it too a ‘vast’ and ‘complicated’ creature which defies its size and the chaos of the lower atmosphere to steer serenely across the firmament. Seeing one parked at a gate, dwarfing luggage carts and mechanics, one is induced to feel surprise, overriding any scientific explanation, at how such a thing might move – a few metres, let alone to Japan. Buildings, among the few man-made structures of comparable size, do not prepare us for a plane’s agility or self-possession; for these buildings are cracked by slight movements of the earth, they leak air and water and lose parts of themselves to the wind.

Few seconds in life are more releasing than those in which a plane ascends to the sky. Looking out of a window from inside a machine standing stationary at the beginning of a runway, we face a vista of familiar proportions: a road, oil cylinders, grass and hotels with copper-tinted windows; the earth as we have always known it, where we make slow progress, even with the help of a car, where calf muscles and engines strain to reach the summit of hills, where, half a mile ahead or less, there is almost always a line of trees or buildings to restrict our view. Then suddenly, accompanied by the controlled rage of the engines (with only a slight tremor from glasses in the galley), we rise fluently into the atmosphere and an immense horizon opens up across which we can wander without impediment. A journey which on earth would have taken an afternoon can be accomplished with an infinitesimal movement of the eye; we can cross Berkshire, visit Maidenhead, skirt over Bracknell and survey the M4.

There is psychological pleasure in this take-off too, for the swiftness of the plane’s ascent is an exemplary symbol of transformation. The display of power can inspire us to imagine analogous, decisive shifts in our own lives; to imagine that we too might one day surge above much that now looms over us.

The new vantage point lends order and logic to the landscape: roads curve to avoid hills, rivers trace paths to lakes, pylons lead from power stations to towns, streets that from earth seemed laid out without thought emerge as well-planned grids. The eye attempts to match what it can see with what the mind knows should be there, like a reader trying to decipher a familiar book in a new language. Those lights must be New-bury, that road the A33 as it leaves the M4. And to think that all along, hidden from our sight, our lives were this small: the world we live in but almost never see; the way we must appear to the hawk and to the gods.

The engines show none of the effort required to take us to this place. They hang in the inconceivable cold, patiently and invisibly powering the craft, their sole requests, painted on their inner flanks in red letters, being that we not walk on them and feed them ‘Oil only: D50 TFI-S4’, a message for a forthcoming set of men in overalls, 4,000 miles away and still asleep.

There is not much talk about the clouds visible up here. No one seems to think it remarkable that somewhere above an ocean we are flying past a vast white candy-floss island which would have made a perfect seat for an angel or even God himself in a painting by Piero della Francesca. In the cabin, no one stands up to announce with requisite emphasis that, out of the window, we are flying over a cloud, a matter that would have detained Leonardo and Poussin, Claude and Constable.

Food that, if sampled in a kitchen, would have been banal or even offensive, acquires a new taste and interest in the presence of the clouds (like a picnic of bread and cheese that delights us when eaten on a cliff-top above a pounding sea). With the in flight tray, we make ourselves at home in this unhomely place: we appropriate the extraterrestrial landscape with the help of a chilled bread roll and a plastic tray of potato salad.

Our airborne companions outside the window look unexpected when scrutinized. In paintings and from the ground, they appear like horizontal ovaloids, but here they resemble giant obelisks made of piles of unsteady shaving foam. Their kinship with steam is clearer, they are more volatile, the product of something that may have just exploded and is still mutating. It remains perplexing that it would be impossible to sit on one.

Baudelaire knew how to love the clouds.

THE OUTSIDER

Tell me, whom do you love most, you enigmatic man: your father, your mother, your sister or your brother?
I have neither father, nor mother, nor sister, nor brother.
Your friends?
You ‘re using a word I’ve never understood. Your country?
I don’t know where that might lie.
Beauty?
I would love her with all my heart, if only she were a goddess and immortal.
Money?
I hate it as you hate God.
Well then, what do you love, you strange outsider?
I love the clouds … the clouds that pass by … over there … over there … those lovely clouds!

The clouds usher in tranquillity. Below us are enemies and colleagues, the sites of our terrors and our griefs; all of them now infinitesimal, scratches on the earth. We may know this old lesson in perspective well enough, but rarely does it seem as true as when we are pressed against the cold plane window, our craft a teacher of profound philosophy – and a faithful disciple of the Baudelairean command:

Carriage, take me with you! Ship, steal me away from here!
Take me far, far away. Here the mud is made of our tears!

重点用词注解

multifarious: adjective, /ˌmʌl.tɪˈfer.i.əs/, of many different types; diverse 多种类的,各式各样的
the firmament: noun [ S ] literary /ˈfɝː.mə.mənt/ the sky 天空,苍穹
stationary: adjective, /ˈsteɪ.ʃə.ner.i/ not moving, or not changing 静止的;不变的;稳定的
calf muscles: 小腿后肌
infinitesimal: adjective /ˌɪn.fɪ.nəˈtes.ə.məl/ extremely small 极微小的
analogous:adjective/əˈnæl.ə.ɡəs/ ,having similar features to another thing and therefore able to be compared with it: 具有与另一事物相似的特征,因此能够与之相比较的
obelisk : /ˈɑː.bəl.ɪsk/ 方尖纪念碑
ovaloid: Resembling or relating to an oval; approximately oval or ovoid 椭圆形的东西
extraterrestrial: adjective, /ˌek.strə.təˈres.tri.əl/ (coming from) outside the planet Earth 地球外的;天外的

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