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托福阅读:Why I Write 我为什么写作

2017-01-20 14:03来源:镇江新航道精英教育编辑:镇江新航道精英教育中心


Of course I stole the title from George Orwell. One reason I stole it was that I like the sound of the words: Why I Write. There you have three short unambiguous words that share a sound, and the sound they share is this:

III 当然,这个标题是我从乔治 · 奥威尔那里剽窃过来的。我之所以剽窃这个标题,是因为我喜欢这几个词的发音:Why I Write。这三个词简短而明确,它们有一个共同的发音,这个共同的发音就是: III


In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It’s an aggressive, even a hostile act. You can disguise its aggressiveness all you want with veils of subordinate clausesand qualifiers and tentative subjunctives, with ellipses and evasions with the whole manner of intimating rather than claiming, of alluding rather than stating but there is nogetting around the fact that setting words on paper is the tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition of the writer’s sensibility on the readers’ most private space.



I stole the title not only because the words sounded right, but because they seemed to sum up, in a nononsense way, all I have to tell you. Like many writers, I have only this one “subject, ” this one “area”: the act of writing. I can bring you no reports from any other front. I may have other interests: I am “interested, ” for example, in marine biology, but I don’t flattermyself that you would come out to hear me talk about it. I am not a scholar. I do not think in abstracts.



I tried to think. I failed. My attention veered inexorably back to the specific, to the tangible, to what was generally considered, by everyone I knew then and for that matter have known since, the peripheral. I would try to contemplate the Hegelian dialectic and would find myself concentrating instead on a flowering pear tree outside my window and the particular way the petals fell on my floor. I would try to read linguistic theory and would find myself wondering instead if the lights were on in the bevatron up the hill. When I say that I was wondering if the lights were on in the bevatron you might immediately suspect, if you deal in ideas at all, that I was registering the bevatron as a political symbol, thinking in shorthand about the military industrial complex and its role in the university community, but you would be wrong. I was only wondering if the lights were on in the bevatron, and how they looked. A physical fact.



I had trouble graduating from Berkeley, because I had neglected to take a course in Milton. For reasons which now sound baroque I needed a degree by the end of that summer, and the English department finally agreed, if I would come down from Sacramento every Friday and talk about the cosmology of “Paradise Lost, ” to certify me proficient in Milton. I did this. Some Fridays I took the Greyhound bus, other Fridays I caught the Southern Pacific’s City of San Francisco on the last leg of its transcontinental trip. I can no longer tell you whether Milton put the sun or the earth at the center of his universe in “Paradise Lost, ” but I can still recall the exact rancidity of the butter in the City of San Francisco dining car, and the way the tinted windows on the Greyhound bus cast the oil refineries around Carquinez Straits into a grayed and obscurely sinister light. In short my attention was always on theperiphery, on what I could see and taste and touch, on the butter, and the Greyhound bus. During those years I was traveling on what I knew to be a very shaky passport, forgedpapers: I knew that I was no legitimate resident in any world of ideas. I knew I couldn’t think. All I knew then was what I couldn’t do. All I knew was what I wasn’t, and it took me some years to discover what I was.



Which was a writer.



By which I mean not a “good” writer or a “bad” writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper. Had mycredentials been in order I would never have become a writer. Had I been blessed witheven limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to find out what I am thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. Why did the oil refineries around Carquinez Straits seem sinister to me in the summer of 1956? Why have the night-lights in the bevatron burned in my mind for twenty years? What is going on in these pictures in my mind?

我所说的作家不是“好”作家或者“差”作家,仅仅是个作家而已,一个把大部分全神贯注、充满激情的时间用来舞文弄墨的人。要是当时我的文凭没有出问题,我就绝不会成为作家。如果我有幸能对自己有哪怕丁点儿了解,我都没有理由写作。我写作完全是为了弄清楚我在想什么、我在看什么、我看到了什么、我看到的东西是什么意思、我想得到什么、我害怕什么。为什么 1956 年夏天卡圭尼兹海峡附近的炼油厂似乎有一种阴森森的感觉?为什么高能质子同步稳相加速器里的灯在我的脑海中亮了二十年?我脑海里的这些画面中究竟发生着什么?



unambiguous a. 清楚的

impose oneself upon others 把自己的观点强加于他人

subordinate clause n. 从句

qualifier n. 修饰语

tentative subjunctive n. 虚拟语气

ellipsis n. 省略

evasion n. 回避

intimate v. 暗示

allude v. 暗指

get around 避开

set words on paper 写作

tactic n. 战略

no-nonsense a. 直截了当的

flatter oneself 自以为是

think in abstracts 抽象思维

veer v. 转向

inexorably ad. 不可阻挡地

tangible a. 有形的

peripheral a. 不重要的

contemplate v. 深思

dialectic n. 辩证法

bevatron n. 质子加速器complex n. 综合体

baroque a. 奇怪的

cosmology n. 宇宙论

certify v. 证明

on the last leg of 在…的最后阶段

transcontinental a. 横贯大陆的

rancidity n. 恶臭

tinted a. 带色彩的

oil refinery 炼油厂

sinister n. 不祥的

periphery n. 边缘

shaky a. 不可靠的

forge v. 伪造

credential n. 凭证

in order 状况良好的

be blessed with 赋有…的


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