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论过去与将来 (节译)

                  —— 哈兹利特    谢国芳(Roy Xie)译

我看不到人类通常赋予过去和将来的价值上的巨大差异有任何理性的或者逻辑的理由,仿佛一个是高于一切的,而另一个却微不足道,没有任何的重要性可言。相反,我认为过去完全不在将来之下是我们的生命之同样真实而重要的部分,是估价人的生命时一个货真价实、不可否认的考量。说过去毫无重要性可言,不值得片刻的留意,因为它已经过去了,再也不存在了,是一个断然不能成立的论断。因为倘若过去已经消亡,从而在善恶的天平上被认为没有了一点份量,那么将来则根本还没有来到,它还从来没有存在过。倘若任何人这时想断言说,只有现在才在严格和确定无疑的意义上具有价值,因为唯有它才是真实存在的,所以我们应该抓住瞬间的好处,任凭其它的一切随风飘散,他的意思我能明白(尽管他自己也许不明白)。可是我所不能理解的是,过去有着十足的可感知的存在,而将来则只有微弱的虚无缥缈的存在,两者之间的这种差异如何能被用来充当偏爱后者胜过前者的理由呢? 因为两者在这种观点看来同样都是臆想的,绝对虚无的(除了被“心灵之眼”所想象从而呈现在思想和情感中)。不仅如此,一个甚至是更假想、更虚幻的大脑的产物,我们对它的兴趣也是更不切实、更没有根据的。因为将来——我们所如此注重的将来——也许根本是永远不会实现的,也就是说,它可能永远不会体现在所有事件进程的实际存在当中,但过去无疑曾经存在过,它已经得到了真实之印记,留下了它本身的影像。它因而远远超出了怀疑的可能性,或者像诗人所说的:

那些欢乐是存放在命运之手够不着的地方了[1]

然而,我并没有试图否认将来,尽管将来在此刻还什么都不是,在我们说话的当儿,我们对它也没有直接的兴趣,但它本身却有着极大的重要性,对个人而言更具有最大的利益,因为它将会有一个真实的存在,我们能想见它存在于未来的时间里。

过去同样也并不真正地存在,那实际的感觉、连同属于它的兴趣都已经消失了,但它曾经“有过”一个真实的存在,我们仍然能够唤起对它的鲜明的回忆,栩栩如生,恍如当初;所以,由此类推,过去本质上并非是一个完全没有价值的东西,它的曾经存在与否对心灵也不是完全没有干系的。

噢!不!绝不!让我们不要轻率地放弃对于过去的执着,除此之外也许很少剩下别的什么可以维系我们的生命了。

曾经发生过的一切,那过去的欢乐和痛苦难道都是子虚乌有吗?回想我曾经快乐或者痛苦过是无足轻重的事情吗?

当我带着深情的喜悦或者温柔的惋惜,回顾那曾经是我的全部的种种,我是在欺骗我自己吗?我是在一个影子或一个梦幻之上构建、用闲暇和愚蠢的彩衣装饰一个纯粹虚构的故事吗?在宇宙万物和真相的记录中难道没有任何东西响应它吗?

当我在幻想中回望那曾经照亮我早年的“如此纯洁的阳光和天空”时,难道我是在冥思虚无,把我的双眼对准了虚空么?

思考我所经历过的一切、那唯一能让我感兴趣的一切,难道是在思索虚无、赋予虚无以无用的价值吗?

……

因为正是过去给了我最大的快乐和对现实最深的确信。对我来说,卢梭的忏悔录的巨大魅力正在于这种情感的充分表现。他仿佛像采集一滴滴蜜露一般捡拾他过去生命中的时时刻刻,从中蒸馏出珍贵的琼浆。他的交替的快乐和痛苦是他虔诚礼拜、反复细数的念珠;他用撒满他的早年的希望与幻想的花朵作他的玫瑰经。当他用下面的文字开始最后一篇《一个孤独散步者的遐想》:“五十年前的今天,那个美丽的圣枝主节,我第一次见到了华伦夫人。”在这个短短的句子中包含着多少灵魂的渴望啊!

……

 

【注1】 本句出自英国剧作家和诗人Nicholas Rowe(1674-1718)的著名悲剧《The Fair Penitent》。  

                     


      

    英文原文(Original English Text)

On the Past and Future

William Hazlitt

I cannot see any rational or logical ground for that mighty difference in the value which mankind generally set upon the past and future, as if the one was everything, and the other nothing--of no consequence whatever. On the other hand, I conceive that the past is as real and substantial a part of our being, that it is as much a “bona fide”, undeniable consideration in the estimate of human life, as the future can possibly be. To say that the past is of no importance, unworthy of a moment 's regard, because it has gone by, and is no longer anything, is an argument that cannot be held to any purpose; for if the past has ceased to be, and is therefore to be accounted nothing in the scale of good or evil, the future is yet to come, and has never been anything. Should any one choose to assert that the present only is of any value in a strict and positive sense, because that alone has a real existence, that we should seize the instant good, and give all else to the winds, I can understand what he means (though perhaps he does not himself); but I cannot comprehend how this distinction between that which has a downright and sensible, and that which has only a remote and airy existence, can be applied to establish the preference of the future over the past; for both are in this point of view equally ideal, absolutely nothing, except as they are conceived of by the mind's eye, and are thus rendered present to the thoughts and feelings. Nay, the one is even more imaginary, a more fantastic creature of the brain than the other, and the interest we take in it more shadow and gratuitous; for the future, on which we lay so much stress, may never come to pass at all, that is, may never be embodied into actual existence in the whole course of events, whereas the past has certainly existed once, has received the stamp of truth, and left an image of itself behind. It is so far then placed beyond the possibility of doubt, or as the poet has it,

Those joys are lodg'd beyond the reach of fate.[1]

It is not, however, attempted to be denied that though the future is nothing at present, and has no immediate interest while we are speaking, yet it is of the utmost consequence in itself, and of the utmost interest to the individual, because it will have a real existence, and we have an idea of it as existing in time to come.

Well, then, the past also has no real existence; the actual sensation and the interest belonging to it are both fled; but it “has had” a real existence, and we can still call up a vivid recollection of it as having once been; and therefore, by parity of reasoning, it is not a thing perfectly insignificant in itself, nor wholly indifferent to the mind whether it ever was or not.

Oh no! Far from it! Let us not rashly quit our hold upon the past, when perhaps there may be little else left to bind us to existence.

Is it nothing to have been, and to have been happy or miserable? Or is it a matter of no moment to think whether I have been one or the other?

Do I delude myself, do I build upon a shadow or a dream, do I dress up in the gaudy garb of idleness and folly a pure fiction, with nothing answering to it in the universe of things and the records of truth, when I look back with fond delight or with tender regret to that which was at one time to me my all, do I then muse on nothing, do I bend my eyes on nothing, when I turn back in fancy to 'those suns and skies so pure' that lighted up my early path?

Is it to think of nothing, to set an idle value upon nothing, to think of all that has happened to me, and of all that can ever interest me?

……

For it is the past that gives me most delight and most assurance of reality. What to me constitutes the great charm of the Confessions of Rousseau is their turning so much upon this feeling. He seems to gather up the past moments of his being like drops of honey-dew to distil a precious liquor from them; his alternate pleasures and pains are the bead-roll that he tells over and piously worships; he makes a rosary of the flowers of hope and fancy that strewed his earliest years. When he begins the last of the “Reveries of a Solitary Walker”, 'Il y a aujourd'hui, jour des Paques Fleuris, cinquante ans depuis que j' ai premier vu Madame Warens,' what a yearning of the soul is implied in that short sentence!

……

 


 


英文原文
(Original English Text)

   

    

 

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