Tuesday, January 24, 2012

【听写】萨尔曼·拉什迪:革命与写作障碍


本文是拉什迪在09年在纽约The Moth的一篇演讲稿,觉得很幽默就听写了下来。

最近因为在印度发生的一些事件,拉什迪的媒体关注度又有所提升。鉴于此,为避免被google到本文的极端分子追杀,就不提供原录音链接,且避免出现任何英文的拉什迪或他的某部著名作品名的表述,见谅。

本文英语难度不大,拉什迪虽是在印度出生,基本也没有口音。但其中有好些专有名词和西班牙语不容易弄清楚,于是试着加点注释吧。

但翻译就太难了,比如说文中有这么一句,"Nicaragua.... this tiny place where everybody f**ked everyone, in all sorts of different ways some of which were sexual. " 要贴切地翻译这里f**k的一语双关,太考验中文说脏话的水平了。

============
I was not always as you see me now. At one point, I was considerably younger. I'd like you to help me now to become a little younger in your eyes. Twenty-three years, that may be really really long time for some of you but try. Imagine, imagine the years falling away from me, the hair grows on my head, my body becomes lean and tough, kind of like Brad Pitt.

So I ask you to come back with me in 1986. In 1986, that's an impossibly distant time, I was sitting in London and writing a novel, and I have to tell you that it was not going well. I wrote hundreds of pages, and I did not like them. I was, as they say, 'blocked', and didn't know what to do about it. So I thought, 'What do you do if you are blocked when you are writing a novel?' I thought, 'I know, you go to a revolution.'

Now as it happened, I'd been invited to a revolution. People are not always offered invitations of revolutions, but in my case, it was in fact so, and the reason for that in fact was a PEN (1) festival. I have come to New York for a PEN festival in the spring of 1986 under the presidency of Normal Mailer. And at, of all places, the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of New York, I met the woman who invited me to the revolution. It was a woman called Rosario Murillo, from Nicaragua, who was, in her own word, the companera (2) of Daniel Ortega, then the president of Nigaragua and the leader, of course, of the Frente Sandinista (3), which had recently taken power in that country.
(1) PEN: 国际笔会
(2) Companera: 西班牙语“伴侣”
(3) Frente Sandinista: 桑地诺民族解放阵线

She was surrounded, I remember vividly, by a group of the most beautiful bodyguards I'd ever seen. They were male, they were oiled, they had very fancy rubber-wrought shades, and... I don't even like guys, but they were very, very desirable, unlike Rosario Murillo, who was not. But she said, 'Please come, and experience our revolution for yourself.' But at the time I said, 'No, I can't do that because I have a book to write.' I went home and discovered I couldn't write the book, so I called her up and said, 'You know that revolution you were offering me? Could I have second thoughts and come?' Because I thought, 'If you write a book and it's not going well, why don't you go and look at the lives of people who are really having a bad time? And you can immediately feel superior, and come home and finish your work.'

So for these literary reasons, I went to Nicaragua. What I didn't realize was that the person who had invited me was the most hated woman in Nicaragua, the companera of Daniel Ortega, universally loathed. And it was kind of a preemptive loathing, because people didn't realize that the thing for which she really ought to have been loathed she hadn't yet done. Many years after this, her daughter, Zoilamerica, accused her boyfriend - Rosario Murillo's boyfriend, Daniel Ortega, of having raped her. And Rosario Murillo's response was to side with Daniel Ortega against her daughter. The reasons, motives for this was entirely political because ever since then, she has had Daniel Ortega's genitalia very firmly in her grasp, and he has to do everything she says. So that's the real reason to hate her, but that, you see, it shows that the people of Nicaragua have a very elastic sense of time - they can hate people things they're going to do in the future.

Anyway, so there I was, with the most hated woman in Nicaragua. And people looked at me oddly where I said she had invited me, and it did cause some problems, but it had some advantages. And one of the advantages was that I got incredible access. I could go and have dinner with everybody who was running the country and they will talk very, very freely and the trouble is, I knew if I put a tape recorder on the table, they would not talk so freely. So I had to invent diarrhea, and it's gotta have diary with a sort of upset attached. And I would have to at these dinners upend myself to go to the bathroom and scribble like crazy so I could write down everything everybody had said without seeming to spoil the evening.

And I discovered many things. I discovered that the three different groups that formed the Frente Sandinista deeply detested each other. There was the Ortega group which was the guerrillas who had come down from the hills who were savage and barbaric and uneducated but they had all the guns, and then there was the kind of Maoist - Ho Chi-Minh really - group which believed in raising the consciousness of the peasants, and then there was the kind of a middle class group of writers and intellectuals and business men, and other useless people. And they all detested each other but what they also did was they all went to bed with each other, and they also went to bed with all the leaders of the opposition.

This was something I subsequently discovered but I finally wrote something about this when I was interviewed, here in the New York, for the Interview Magazine by Bianca Jagger from Nicaragua. And every time I mention somebody, whether from the left or the right, Bianca would say, 'Oh yes, I used to go out with him.' And I realized that she was the person who really ought to be writing about Nicaragua, because it is this tiny place where everybody f**ked everyone, in all sorts of different ways some of which were sexual.

So I learned all this, you see, and had a lot of very good food. Well, I did, but I don't want to underestimate what was happening there. The country was in the stage of genuine devastation. Because the United State, a large country to the north, had formed an opinion that Nicaragua, which contained a population considerably smaller than the population of the tri-state area, posed a serious threat of safety in the United States and therefore needed to be crushed. And some of the effects of the crushing were very striking. For instance, people in Nicaragua got up very early in the morning to do their shopping because the prices went up at lunch time, and if you didn't do your shopping then, the prices went up again at sort of five o'clock in the afternoon. So the inflation rate was like that. It was that the prices would rise twice a day. And also, as we discovered, if you had a tractor, if you were a farmer and your tractor needed to be taken to the garage, the cost of servicing a tractor was a cow. This of course, if you were a farmer, there were diminishing return involved in this because you'd end up with just the tractor and no cows, but you couldn't eat the tractor unless it was a Trabant (4), of course.
(4) Trabant: 东德汽车品牌

So it was genuinely terrible, especially as, on top of all the calamity of the war, there was the calamity of the earthquake which had destroyed so much of the center of Managua. So here there was a city center where there wasn't a center. You know, there would be these streets, big, esplanade-like streets but no buildings because they had all fallen in the earthquake and it gave the government problems. For instance, the ministry of the interior, they had to use the few buildings that had survived. So the ministry of the interior was in a supermarket, and you could actually see the supermarket signs still up there on the outside of the ministry of interior.

And the ministry of culture, where I went to meet the great poet Ernesto Cardenal who was the minister of culture. The ministry of culture was located in the home of the formal mistress of the former dictator, Somoza, in Hope Somoza's house. And actually Ernesto Cardenal's office was in Hope Somoza's bathroom. So we were sitting there in her bathroom and he talked about liberation, and how his presence in this bathroom indicated that the country had been liberated. He said this without irony - Ernesto Cardenal was not strong on irony. There was a point I remember seeing him in a literary festival where he claimed that Nicaragua had become the first country on Earth to nationalize poetry. Some soviet-hating Russian stood up and said, (此处他模仿了东欧腔的英语) 'Sekond naition.' Anyway, so Ernesto Cardenal, there he was, in Hope Somoza's bathroom, and he told me that it was his dream. It was almost already fully realized that everybody in Nicaragua should be a poet. He said, "Almost everybody is, but I'm going to complete the task." And to complete the task, he had set up poetry workshops in villages all across the country so that the campesinos (5), the villagers, could be taught how to write poetry, and he taught them that they should write from their hearts and not worry too much about things like form. They should speak about their lives in the most personal and emotional way, and, 'As examples,' he said, 'we are giving them, showing them the work of great American poets.' I said, 'Which ones?' He said, 'Marianne Moore and Walt Whitman'. And I thought, 'Those are two of the most complicated poets in the world.' So I said, 'If you are teaching them how to write simply and you are teaching them Marianne Moore and Walt Whitman, are those the right poets to be choosing?' And he said, 'No, no, you should not worry. We are teaching them the work of Walt Whitman and Marianne Moore in simplified form.' And these two were said entirely without irony, as well as his statement that there were no political prisoners in Cuba. So, you see, it was a complex thing in the world of the mind of Nicaragua.
(5) Campesinos: 西班牙语“农民”

And there I was, chitchatting with artists and intellectuals about this. And I thought, 'This is not what I should be doing. I should be going to the war. Take me to the war! I've come here to see the war. The Contra (6) must be somewhere. They are up there somewhere. I must go to find the war.' They didn't like that very much, because they were worried that I could get hurt and that would be bad publicity. And my translator said to me, 'You know, Bono's here', she said. 'And he hasn't gone to the war.' I said, 'O really, is that right?' And then she said a wonderful thing. She said, 'Please, who is Bono?' This was before the Unforgettable Fires (6) so I guess she could be excused.
(6) Contra: 反叛军
(7) The Unforgettable Fires: U2乐队专辑名。U2的Bono此时恰好也在访问尼加拉瓜

Anyway, they didn't want me to get hurt but eventually I yelled at them so much that they began to relent. So I read in the newspaper a terrible story about a road in the north of Nicaragua near the border where a land mine had blown up a busload of school children, and fifty-odd school children had been killed just the previous week. And so I thought, 'You know, I'm gonna be a war correspondent. I'm going to be a war correspondent if it kills me.' And actually, no, I didn't think that. I thought, 'as long as it doesn't kill me.' But I wanted to go to see this road, so I managed to persuade them to send me, so off I went.

And eventually I was in the back of a truck, being driven towards the war zone and actually, you know, it was getting really a little bit scary, at near the end of the war. And I found myself on the road. They said to me, 'this is the road where the landmine went off.' And I thought, 'Oh.' And I said to the to Sandinista soldiers next to me. I said, 'Is there a way to, you know, to tell if there are landmines in the road?' And he said, 'Yes.' 'Yes,' with relief, I said, 'What is the way?' He said, 'there is a very big bang.' So that wasn't at all what I wanted to hear. So as we went on, we suddenly found ourselves going into woods. The woods got darker, thicker. 'The woods were lovely, dark and deep.' (8) But actually I was more and more and more frightened as we got into them. And suddenly exactly what my greatest nightmare took place, which was that when we turned a corner, there was a tree across the road. And I thought, 'Shit!' You know, 'We are now dead people.' There was a Contra ambush, and we were sitting ducks and we've had it. And the soldiers on the truck thought so too, really, so they leapt off with their AK-47s and they did all the kind of things people do with AK-47s. They ran around like crazy and I sat on the truck and quaked, essentially, thinking, 'I've got a novel to finish, you know. Please, not now, I need to go home and write a final draft.' And, you know, the amazing thing was, that it was just that the tree had fallen across the road. There was no ambush. That was an accident.
(8) 罗伯特·弗罗斯特的

So I'd got to leave. I came back and I took the first plane out, and went back to London in my study. And I thought, 'Hah. Home. Safe. Nothing bad will ever happen again.' And also, I knew exactly how to write the novel now. All the problems had disappeared, and I sat down and wrote the final draft of 撒旦诗篇. And I discovered that not only landmines could make a big bang, but sometimes books could make them, too. But the great benefit was, that I cured my writing block.

Thank you.

1 comment(s):

dongyeh said...

遇到一个编译问题,于是Google之,发现只有在blogspot有文章分析同样问题的解决方法……久未翻墙,又不想改用ipv6改hosts的方法,于是大费周章终于上来了,一定要在你这里留个言……OMG

Post a Comment

Thank you for your opinion.