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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.

  谎骗和谬见已被高估为最健全的真理,现实倒是荒诞不经的。如果世人只是稳健地观察现实,不允许他们自己受欺被骗,那末,用我们所知道的来譬喻,生活将好像是一篇童话,仿佛是一部《天方夜谭》了。如果我们只尊敬一切不可避免的,并有存在权利的事物,音乐和诗歌便将响彻街头。如果我们不慌不忙而且聪明,我们会认识唯有伟大而优美的事物才有永久的绝对的存在,——琐琐的恐惧与碎碎的欢喜不过是现实的阴影。

  现实常常是活泼而崇高的。由于闭上了眼睛,神魂颠倒,任凭自己受影子的欺骗,人类才建立了他们日常生活的轨道和习惯,到处遵守它们,其实它们是建筑在纯粹幻想的基础之上的。嬉戏地生活着的儿童,反而更能发现生活的规律和真正的关系,胜过了大人,大人不能有价值地生活,还以为他们是更聪明的,因为他们有经验,这就是说,他们时常失败。我在一部印度的书中读到,“有一个王子,从小给逐出故土之城,由一个樵夫抚养成长,一直以为自己属于他生活其中的贱民阶级。他父亲手下的官员后来发现了他,把他的出身告诉了他,对他的性格的错误观念于是被消除了,他知道自己是一个王子。

  所以,“那印度哲学家接下来说,”由于所处环境的缘故,灵魂误解了他自己的性格,非得由神圣的教师把真相显示了给他。然后,他才知道他是婆罗门。“我看到,我们新英格兰的居民之所以过着这样低贱的生活,是因为我们的视力透不过事物表面。我们把似乎是当作了是。如果一个人能够走过这一个城镇,只看见现实,你想,”贮水池“就该是如何的下场?如果他给我们一个他所目击的现实的描写,我们都不会知道他是在描写什么地方。看看会议厅,或法庭,或监狱,或店铺,或住宅,你说,在真正凝视它们的时候,这些东西到底是什么啊,在你的描绘中,它们都纷纷倒下来了。人们尊崇迢遥疏远的真理,那在制度之外的,那在最远一颗星后面的,那在亚当以前的,那在末代以后的。自然,在永恒中是有着真理和崇高的。可是,所有这些时代,这些地方和这些场合,都是此时此地的啊!上帝之伟大就在于现在伟大,时光尽管过去,他绝不会更加神圣一点的。只有永远渗透现实,发掘围绕我们的现实,我们才能明白什么是崇高。宇宙经常顺从地适应我们的观念;不论我们走得快或慢,路轨已给我们铺好。让我们穷毕生之精力来意识它们。诗人和艺术家从未得到这样美丽而崇高的设计,然而至少他的一些后代是能完成它的。

  我们如大自然一般自然地过一天吧,不要因硬壳果或掉在轨道上的蚊虫的一只翅膀而出了轨。让我们黎明即起,不用或用早餐,平静而又无不安之感;任人去人来,让钟去敲,孩子去哭,——下个决心,好好地过一天。为什么我们要投降,甚至于随波逐流呢?让我们不要卷入在于午线浅滩上的所谓午宴之类的可怕急流与旋涡,而惊惶失措。

  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。

  时间只是我垂钓的溪。我喝溪水,喝水时候我看到它那沙底,它多么浅啊。它的汨汨的流水逝去了,可是永恒留了下来。我愿饮得更深;在天空中打鱼,天空的底层里有着石子似的星星。我不能数出“一”来。我不知道字母表上的第一个字母。我常常后悔,我不像初生时聪明了。智力是一把刀子;它看准了,就一路切开事物的秘密。我不希望我的手比所必需的忙得更多些。我的头脑是手和足。我觉得我最好的官能都集中在那里。

  我的本能告诉我,我的头可以挖洞,像一些动物,有的用鼻子,有的用前爪,我要用它挖掘我的洞,在这些山峰中挖掘出我的道路来。我想那最富有的矿脉就在这里的什么地方;用探寻藏金的魔杖,根据那升腾的薄雾,我要判断;在这里我要开始开矿。

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