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Where I Lived, and What I Lived For7

2006-07-29 00:07

  Shams and delusions are esteemed for soundest truths, while reality is fabulous.  If men would steadily observe realities only,and not allow themselves to be deluded, life, to compare it with such things as we know, would be like a fairy tale and the Arabian Nights' Entertainments.  If we respected only what is inevitable and has a right to be, music and poetry would resound along the streets. When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence, that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality.  This is always exhilarating and sublime.  By closing the eyes and slumbering, and consenting to be deceived by shows, men establish and confirm their daily life of routine and habit everywhere, which still is built on purely illusory foundations.  Children, who play life, discern its true law and relations more clearly than men, who fail to live it worthily, but who think that they are wiser by experience, that is, by failure.  I have read in a Hindoo book, that "there was a king's son, who, being expelled in infancy from his native city, was brought up by a forester, and, growing up to maturity in that state, imagined himself to belong to the barbarous race with which he lived.  One of his father's ministers having discovered him, revealed to him what he was, and the misconception of his character was removed, and he knew himself to be a prince. So soul," continues the Hindoo philosopher, "from the circumstances in which it is placed, mistakes its own character, until the truth is revealed to it by some holy teacher, and then it knows itself to be Brahme."  I perceive that we inhabitants of New England live this mean life that we do because our vision does not penetrate the surface of things.  We think that that is which appears to be.  If a man should walk through this town and see only the reality, where,think you, would the "Mill-dam" go to?  If he should give us an account of the realities he beheld there, we should not recognize the place in his description.  Look at a meeting-house, or a court-house, or a jail, or a shop, or a dwelling-house, and say what that thing really is before a true gaze, and they would all go to pieces in your account of them.  Men esteem truth remote, in the outskirts of the system, behind the farthest star, before Adam and after the last man.  In eternity there is indeed something true and sublime.  But all these times and places and occasions are now and here.  God himself culminates in the present moment, and will never be more divine in the lapse of all the ages.  And we are enabled to apprehend at all what is sublime and noble only by the perpetual instilling and drenching of the reality that surrounds us.  The universe constantly and obediently answers to our conceptions;whether we travel fast or slow, the track is laid for us.  Let us spend our lives in conceiving then.  The poet or the artist never yet had so fair and noble a design but some of his posterity at least could accomplish it.

  Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito's wing that falls on the rails.  Let us rise early and fast, or break fast,gently and without perturbation; let company come and let company go, let the bells ring and the children cry —— determined to make a day of it.  Why should we knock under and go with the stream?  Let us not be upset and overwhelmed in that terrible rapid and whirlpool called a dinner, situated in the meridian shallows.  Weather this danger and you are safe, for the rest of the way is down hill.  With unrelaxed nerves, with morning vigor, sail by it, looking another way, tied to the mast like Ulysses.  If the engine whistles, let it whistle till it is hoarse for its pains.  If the bell rings, why should we run?  We will consider what kind of music they are like. Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition,and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe,through Paris and London, through New York and Boston and Concord,through Church and State, through poetry and philosophy and religion, till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality, and say, This is, and no mistake; and then begin,having a point d'appui, below freshet and frost and fire, a place where you might found a wall or a state, or set a lamp-post safely,or perhaps a gauge, not a Nilometer, but a Realometer, that future ages might know how deep a freshet of shams and appearances had gathered from time to time.  If you stand right fronting and face to face to a fact, you will see the sun glimmer on both its surfaces,as if it were a cimeter, and feel its sweet edge dividing you through the heart and marrow, and so you will happily conclude your mortal career.  Be it life or death, we crave only reality.  If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business.

  Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.  I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.  I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars.  I cannot count one.  I know not the first letter of the alphabet.  I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born.  The intellect is a cleaver; it discerns and rifts its way into the secret of things.  I do not wish to be any more busy with my hands than is necessary.  My head is hands and feet.  I feel all my best faculties concentrated in it.  My instinct tells me that my head is an organ for burrowing, as some creatures use their snout and fore paws, and with it I would mine and burrow my way through these hills.  I think that the richest vein is somewhere hereabouts;so by the divining-rod and thin rising vapors I judge; and here I will begin to mine.





  熬过了这种危险,你就平安了,以后是下山的路了。神经不要松弛,利用那黎明似的魄力,向另一个方向航行,像尤利西斯那样拴在桅杆上过活。如果汽笛啸叫了,让它叫得沙哑吧。如果钟打响了,为什么我们要奔跑呢?我们还要研究它算什么音乐?让我们定下心来工作,并用我们的脚跋涉在那些污泥似的意见、偏见、传统、谬见与表面中间,这蒙蔽全地球的淤土啊,让我们越过巴黎、伦敦、纽约、波士顿、康科德,教会与国家,诗歌,哲学与宗教,直到我们达到一个坚硬的底层,在那里的岩盘上,我们称之为现实,然后说,这就是了,不错的了,然后你可以在这个point d'appui 之上,在洪水、冰霜和火焰下面,开始在这地方建立一道城墙或一个国土,也许能安全地立起一个灯柱,或一个测量仪器,不是尼罗河水测量器了,而是测量现实的仪器,让未来的时代能知道,谎骗与虚有其表曾洪水似的积了又积,积得多么深哪。如果你直立而面对着事实,你就会看到太阳闪耀在它的两面,它好像一柄东方的短弯刀,你能感到它的甘美的锋镝正剖开你的心和骨髓,你也欢乐地愿意结束你的人间事业了。生也好,死也好,我们仅仅追求现实。如果我们真要死了,让我们听到我们喉咙中的咯咯声,感到四肢上的寒冷好了;如果我们活着,让我们干我们的事务。



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