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Where I Lived, and What I Lived For6

2006-07-29 00:06

  Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life?  We are determined to be starved before we are hungry.  Men say that a stitch in time saves nine, and so they take a thousand stitches today to save nine tomorrow.  As for work, we haven't any of any consequence.  We have the Saint Vitus' dance, and cannot possibly keep our heads still.  If I should only give a few pulls at the parish bell-rope, as for a fire, that is, without setting the bell,there is hardly a man on his farm in the outskirts of Concord,notwithstanding that press of engagements which was his excuse so many times this morning, nor a boy, nor a woman, I might almost say,but would forsake all and follow that sound, not mainly to save property from the flames, but, if we will confess the truth, much more to see it burn, since burn it must, and we, be it known, did not set it on fire —— or to see it put out, and have a hand in it,if that is done as handsomely; yes, even if it were the parish church itself.  Hardly a man takes a half-hour's nap after dinner,but when he wakes he holds up his head and asks, "What's the news?" as if the rest of mankind had stood his sentinels.  Some give directions to be waked every half-hour, doubtless for no other purpose; and then, to pay for it, they tell what they have dreamed. After a night's sleep the news is as indispensable as the breakfast. "Pray tell me anything new that has happened to a man anywhere on this globe" —— and he reads it over his coffee and rolls, that a man has had his eyes gouged out this morning on the Wachito River; never dreaming the while that he lives in the dark unfathomed mammoth cave of this world, and has but the rudiment of an eye himself.

  For my part, I could easily do without the post-office.  I think that there are very few important communications made through it. To speak critically, I never received more than one or two letters in my life —— I wrote this some years ago —— that were worth the postage.  The penny-post is, commonly, an institution through which you seriously offer a man that penny for his thoughts which is so often safely offered in jest.  And I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper.  If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter —— we never need read of another.  One is enough.  If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications?  To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea.  Yet not a few are greedy after this gossip.  There was such a rush, as I hear, the other day at one of the offices to learn the foreign news by the last arrival, that several large squares of plate glass belonging to the establishment were broken by the pressure —— news which I seriously think a ready wit might write a twelve-month, or twelve years, beforehand with sufficient accuracy. As for Spain, for instance, if you know how to throw in Don Carlos and the Infanta, and Don Pedro and Seville and Granada, from time to time in the right proportions —— they may have changed the names a little since I saw the papers —— and serve up a bull-fight when other entertainments fail, it will be true to the letter, and give us as good an idea of the exact state or ruin of things in Spain as the most succinct and lucid reports under this head in the newspapers: and as for England, almost the last significant scrap of news from that quarter was the revolution of 1649; and if you have learned the history of her crops for an average year, you never need attend to that thing again, unless your speculations are of a merely pecuniary character.  If one may judge who rarely looks into the newspapers, nothing new does ever happen in foreign parts, a French revolution not excepted.

  What news! how much more important to know what that is which was never old!  "Kieou-he-yu (great dignitary of the state of Wei)

  sent a man to Khoung-tseu to know his news.  Khoung-tseu caused the messenger to be seated near him, and questioned him in these terms:What is your master doing?  The messenger answered with respect:  My master desires to diminish the number of his faults, but he cannot come to the end of them.  The messenger being gone, the philosopher remarked:  What a worthy messenger!  What a worthy messenger!"  The preacher, instead of vexing the ears of drowsy farmers on their day of rest at the end of the week —— for Sunday is the fit conclusion of an ill-spent week, and not the fresh and brave beginning of a new one —— with this one other draggle-tail of a sermon, should shout with thundering voice, "Pause!  Avast!  Why so seeming fast, but deadly slow?"

  为什么我们应该生活得这样匆忙,这样浪费生命呢?我们下了决心,要在饥饿以前就饿死。人们时常说,及时缝一针,可以将来少缝九针,所以现在他们缝了一千针,只是为了明天少缝九千针。说到工作,任何结果也没有,我们患了跳舞病,连脑袋都无法保住静止。如果在寺院的钟楼下,我刚拉了几下绳子,使钟声发出火警的信号来,钟声还没大响起来,在康科德附近的田园里的人,尽管今天早晨说了多少次他如何如何地忙,没有一个男人,或孩子,或女人,我敢说是会不放下工作而朝着那声音跑来的,主要不是要从火里救出财产来,如果我们说老实话,更多的还是来看火烧的,因为已经烧着了,而且这火,要知道,不是我们放的;或者是来看这场火是怎么被救灭的,要是不费什么劲,也还可以帮忙救救火;就是这样,即使教堂本身着了火也是这样。一个人吃了午饭,还只睡了半个小时的午觉,一醒来就抬起了头,问,“有什么新闻?”好像全人类在为他放哨。有人还下命令,每隔半小时唤醒他一次,无疑的是并不为什么特别的原因:然后,为报答人家起见,他谈了谈他的梦。睡了一夜之后,新闻之不可缺少,正如早饭一样的重要。“清告诉我发生在这个星球之上的任何地方的任何人的新闻,”——于是他一边喝咖啡,吃面包卷,一边读报纸,知道了这天早晨的瓦奇多河上,有一个人的眼睛被挖掉了;一点不在乎他自己就生活在这个世界的深不可测的大黑洞里,自己的眼睛里早就是没有瞳仁的了。

  拿我来说,我觉得有没有邮局都无所谓。我想,只有根少的重要消息是需要邮递的。

  我一生之中,确切他说,至多只收到过一两封信是值得花费那邮资的——这还是我几年之前写过的一句话。通常,一便士邮资的制度,其目的是给一个人花一便士,你就可以得到他的思想了,但结果你得到的常常只是一个玩笑。我也敢说,我从来没有从报纸上读到什么值得纪念的新闻。如果我们读到某某人被抢了,或被谋杀或者死于非命了,或一幢房子烧了,或一只船沉了,或一只轮船炸了,或一条母牛在西部铁路上给撞死了,或一只疯狗死了,或冬天有了一大群蚱蜢,——我们不用再读别的了。有这么一条新闻就够了。如果你掌握了原则,何必去关心那亿万的例证及其应用呢?对于一个哲学家,这些被称为新闻的,不过是瞎扯,编辑和读者就只不过是在喝茶的长舌妇。然而不少人都贪婪地听着这种瞎扯。我听说那一天,大家这样抢啊夺啊,要到报馆去听一个最近的国际新闻,那报馆里的好几面大玻璃窗都在这样一个压力之下破碎了,——那条新闻,我严肃地想过,其实是一个有点头脑的人在十二个月之前,甚至在十二年之前,就已经可以相当准确地写好的。比如,说西班牙吧,如果你知道如何把唐卡洛斯和公主,唐彼得罗,塞维利亚和格拉纳达这些字眼时时地放进一些,放得比例适合——这些字眼,自从我读报至今,或许有了一点变化了吧,——然后,在没有什么有趣的消息时,就说说斗牛好啦,这就是真实的新闻,把西班牙的现状以及变迁都给我们详详细细地报道了,完全跟现在报纸上这个标题下的那些最简明的新闻一个样:再说英国吧,来自那个地区的最后的一条重要新闻几乎总是一六四九年的革命;如果你已经知道她的谷物每年的平均产量的历史,你也不必再去注意那些事了,除非你是要拿它来做投机生意,要赚几个钱的话。如果你能判断,谁是难得看报纸的,那末在国外实在没有发生什么新的事件,即使一场法国大革命,也不例外。

  什么新闻!要知道永不衰老的事件,那才是更重要得多!蓬伯玉(卫大夫)派人到孔子那里去。孔子与之坐而问焉。曰:夫子何为?对曰:夫子欲寡其过而未能也。使者出。子曰:使乎,使乎。在一个星期过去了之后、疲倦得直瞌睡的农夫们休息的日子里,——这个星期日,真是过得糟透的一星期的适当的结尾,但决不是又一个星期的新鲜而勇敢的开始啊,——偏偏那位牧师不用这种或那种拖泥带水的冗长的宣讲来麻烦农民的耳朵,却雷霆一般地叫喊着:“停!停下!为什么看起来很快,但事实上你们却慢得要命呢?”

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