折断的翅膀,悲哀的泣鸣

看最后访谈系列,被冯内古特这段话触动:“存在于生活中心最恐怖、最吓人或是最悲剧的伪善,就是那个无人敢碰的真相——人类不爱生命。碰到人类对死亡的渴望时,伯特兰·罗素回避了这个问题,很多心理分析家也是如此。但我认为在活着的人中,至少有一半,或许九成的人,真的不喜爱这场磨难。他们装出颇为爱惜生命的样子,对陌生人微笑,每天早上起床为生计奔波,不过是想找办法熬过去罢了。但是对大多数人来说,生活是一场可怕的磨难。他们会随时想要终结。我觉得这比贪欲和大男子主义等问题严重得多。你懂的,这种才真谈得上是生活的阴暗面。大多数人不想活着,他们尴尬不堪,他们失去尊严,他们担惊受怕。……而他们真正想做的,就是像按电灯开关一样关掉人生”。正好手头有一本《囚鸟》,腰封上写着“为美国一代自由主义知识分子勾勒的自画像”,对人生有着这样见解的作家会如何描画自由知识分子呢?我很好奇。

读完后,不禁怀疑腰封上那句话真不是开玩笑么?书中那些哈佛毕业生当真是自由主义知识分子?虽然我不理解自由主义知识分子具体定义,但从字面理解,书里面的哈佛毕业生们除了极个别外,从表面看既不自由也不像知识分子嘛。

哈哈镜中的自画像

以“我”自述的口吻叙写事件,首先就使得读者带着怀疑的心情看待这些亲历事件,对于“我”——瓦尔特的心灵剖析更秉持怀疑态度。全书有两个“我”:一个是序幕中的“我”,即作者。开宗明义,“我”表示要写一本小说,这个序幕很有意味,一方面,作者给出小说人物与现实人物关系映射,尤其作者对于家庭关系的简要介绍,暗示小说主体“我”瓦尔特与作者“我”的家庭有某种对照关系:现实作者中的父亲与小说人物瓦尔特有种微妙的映射;另一方面,作者在序幕中表达了自己的态度,对知识分子责任的看法,对弱者的态度:首尾以“你问为什么?是因为基督在山上的教谕”这句话喊出对良心的信仰。

书中另一个“我”,瓦尔特,是小说主体部分的“我”,是事件亲历的叙述者。瓦尔特的叙述充满自嘲,似乎自己是每一事件的被动接受者:陪富豪下棋,被送上哈佛、被富豪改名字、被富豪安排约会、被热心劳工运动的姑娘性吸引,加入***、被处理战后事务顺便升迁、被麦卡锡主义携裹指认自己的同事、被失业、被就业、被“水门事件”拖下水、被“富婆”赠送财富、被投入监狱……瓦尔特生命中的每一件大事似乎都不是深思熟虑的结果,在他的叙述中,这些大事件中,“我”的责任似乎消失了。然后通过自嘲,“我”也似乎免责了:由朴素的良心同情大萧条中的劳工,站在劳工一边到嫌弃玛丽·凯塞琳的卑微出身甩开她再到后来指认同事***仅仅由于自己不知道这很严重。瓦尔特看起来对当时的政治环境一点都不敏感——一个哈佛毕业生的自述。

“未经审视的人生不值得过”。所以瓦尔特的自述,整体感觉是把事件的理解和价值评判交给读者了:字里行间传达的东西要比文字更多。如书中一个人物,爱弥尔·拉金,律师,是尼克松的忠实跟班,因为水门事件入狱后,转变为忠实的基督徒——“他成天在坚硬的监牢地板上祷告……膝盖骨因为老是跪地而发了炎,双腿行动不便”。而这种转变又很怪异,因为看不出这个人此后变得更为善良,更像为了避免审视自身而将心灵背过头去。还有瓦尔特再遇到玛丽·凯塞琳后的24小时,瓦尔特一再声称“我不知道她是格拉汉姆的实际控制人”值得读者怀疑,甚至在玛丽·凯塞琳的代言人李恩已经条分缕析地指明了瓦尔特与玛丽·凯塞琳的关系,瓦尔特再装作懵懂,就太不像哈佛毕业生了。

虽然“我”的自述中,看不出瓦尔特的罪大恶极,但玛丽·凯塞琳临死前对瓦尔特的评价却是“你生来没有良心,那是没有办法的事”。只能说瓦尔特很平庸吧,这种平庸,在社会风平浪静的时候,是无伤大雅的中产价值观;但遇到关键抉择和但当时,平庸可能会沦为恶的帮凶。

当瓦尔特模仿惠勒斯那句“基督在山上的教谕”回答审问后30年,年轻人们已经忘记了惠勒斯,当这句话再以录音形式放出来时,人们不过敷衍地把这段审讯当成了社交的谈资,过去的不幸和背叛被现在的好生活消解了,那段审判居然反讽地成了当事人人格高尚的标榜,只是对于真实大家都感到尴尬,神圣的基督教谕就在稀稀拉拉的掌声中结束。

随波逐流的一代知识精英

  如果如腰封所说,勾勒了一代自由主义知识分子的画像。那么这是一个什么形象呢?书中弥漫着这些受过良好高等教育者的失败主义和自我逃避,他们对历史采取虚无主义,认为怎么样都没有用,上帝已经抛弃了人类,对于苦难、不公义最好遗忘或者视而不见,采取机会主义的方式,给自己捞点世俗利益。

书在序幕中说我的父亲“他受过良好教育。我觉得他好像是在把聪明才智随便扔掉,就像一个仓皇退却的兵一路上把步枪和背包都扔掉一样”,“我父亲却开始做一个从生活中全面退却的好人。我母亲早已投降认输”。而小说中的瓦尔特,无论对多么坏的事情和不好的现状,都展现那种智力优越感的自嘲,“我对莎拉有什么留恋难忘的记忆呢?是那些关于人类痛苦以及如何面对它的讨论,还有接下来的有些孩子气的解闷笑话。我们为对方搜集笑话,在要解闷的时候说上一两个。我们对长时间讲电话仿佛上了瘾。这种交谈是我最喜欢的麻醉剂。我们的灵魂仿佛脱离了躯壳——就好像维库那星球上那些自由飘荡的灵魂一样。要是没有话说,沉默下来,两人就会又开始说个笑话来打破沉默”。“我们不过是美国历史进程中的一个屁”,“我们在这里都没有目的,除非能够制造一个目的。即使我不是像我这样度过这一生,而是除了把一个橡皮做的蛋卷冰淇淋从这一衣帽间衔到另一衣帽间,六十年中什么也不干,人类在这个快要爆炸的宇宙中的情况也不会有一丝一毫的变化”。

这是一群哈佛高材生,成绩优异,获得罗兹奖学金,欧洲留学。他们对历史和社会应该有相当程度的理解,他们认同这种现状,不认同也是无可奈何的事情,对社会的改善不报期望,已经在生活中败退。

序幕中,作者笔下父亲的形象可谓绝妙的反讽:父亲在天堂成了一个9岁小男孩,裸着小鸡鸡,吵闹、幼稚。不能严肃地对待生活,承担起自己的责任。书中瓦尔特对自己的一句评价倒是中肯:“我写这部自传时最感到难为情的事莫过于处处都证明我不是个严肃认真的人。多年来我遇到了不少困难,但都是偶然的。我从来没有拿我自己的生命,或者舒服的生活,为人类冒过风险。我真可耻”。

书中出场的形形色色人物中,有那么多哈佛大学毕业生,那么多法律专业高材生,被历史携裹,被阴谋携裹,被欲望携裹,唯很少被良心携裹。象牙塔中的精英经不住社会的惊涛骇浪——归根结底是良心的问题吧?或者说到底他们过于倚重智力,过于专注自己的环境和境遇,缺乏反思,蒙蔽了不相信良心的力量。《最后的访谈中》冯内古特谈到知识精英,科学家的道德问题,这样说“他获得了一种特许,允许他去全心投入生活的一个方面,而这种特权超出了人类应有的限度,过度专业化是造成他道德感空白的原因”。书写到一种啭鸟,曾经被豢养,后来放生,他们围绕着水晶般的玻璃屋顶生活,不会远飞,这些啭鸟在音乐大厅中飞翔,在优美的音乐中,把屎精准地拉进小杯子里。它们是被过度驯化的囚鸟。即使能够自由飞翔,也已经忘记自由的意义了吧。

承担责任和同情他人都是困难的

小说穿插了很多微型故事。其中一则是上帝审计:死后的人在天堂入口处被审计,审计的内容是人如何充分利用上帝提供的机会进行发财。连爱因斯坦都被责难没有投资房屋二次抵押,而错失亿万财富。天堂的审计师声称人生是公平的,上帝给人提供很多发财致富的机会,可惜很多人都在这条路上睡着了。审计师举例:有人因为养鸡失败自杀,却不知道他们住的地方下面有世界最大的镍矿;少年因械斗致死,却不知道他每天经过的阴沟里有颗两卡克拉的钻戒。这个故事意味深长,在现实中,经常可以听到这种“机会面前人人平等”的论调——自由社会人人都有机会改善自己的生活,贫穷是种疾病,贫穷是道德缺陷。这种论调忽略了穷人或者弱势群体身处的境遇,他们所处的境遇根本接触不到所谓能够发财致富的信息。此外,从知道信息、利用信息到成为人生赢家,这之间又有众多不确定因素和自己无能为力的因素,所以“机会面前人人平等”这种论调不过是“何不食肉糜”的翻版。如果狱警在犯人们熟睡时打开监狱的门,能说犯人们拥有逃跑的机会么?对当事人不知道的信息能说是机会么?

与书中形形色色的哈佛毕业生对照的是形形色色的受苦人:序幕中那场倒霉情愿的劳工、被镭辐射的女工、领导工运的牺牲者、集中营的幸存者……受苦的人很难为自己发声,露丝从集中营生还后,苦守生活的平静;难以果腹的劳工并不懂的如何跟资方谈判。书中极少的哈佛毕业生正面形象之一惠斯勒,说到自己的信仰“基督在山上的教谕”——“心灵贫乏的人有福了,因为天国是他们的。哀痛的人有福了,因为他们必得安慰。温柔的人有福了,因为他们必承受地土。爱慕公义如饥如渴的人有福了,因为他们必得饱足。怜悯人的人有福了,因为他们必蒙怜悯。内心清洁的人有福了,因为他们必看见神。使人和平的人有福了,因为他们必称为神的儿子。为义遭受迫害的人有福了,因为天国是他们的。人若因我的缘故辱骂你们,迫害你们,并且捏造各样坏话毁谤你们,你们就有福了”。这是一种神圣的祈祷。

守住良知,守住底线

  书中写道萨柯和樊才蒂最后的话“要帮助那些为我而哭泣的软弱的人,要帮助那些被起诉的人和受害者,因为他们是你的好朋友。你父亲和巴托洛为了所有贫穷的工人能够享受自由的乐趣,曾经战斗过,终于倒了下去。他们就像我们一样,并肩作战,生死与共。在这场生死的斗争中,你会发现更多的爱,也将得到别人的爱”。现在已经没什么人再记起他们了,这样的信念也几乎烟消云散。我们会问,事情从什么时候变坏的呢?书中,瓦尔特自我剖析什么时候被剪断了翅膀,认为是在出卖自己前同事,公布那份名单开始。因为从那个时候,自己就开始走下坡路了。但在我看来,瓦尔特是从抛弃凯塞林开始,从嫌弃凯瑟琳的地位开始。瓦尔特内心的那份同情心已经淡漠了。人的底线是不能突破的,一旦突破就会一点点拉低底线,没有止境,人就彻底没有自尊了。容易拉低底线的环境主要有家庭和官僚机构:亲密关系,彼此知道软肋,日常的折磨中遭遇被攻击软肋,人就一点点被磨损了;官僚机构中,责任被分散化,浑水摸鱼,底线本来就不清晰。

后来在麦卡锡时期,公布那份名单,对于瓦尔特来说几乎是个性发展的必然吧。正如皮姆所说,麦卡锡时代这样的行为,几乎是对所有对劳工怀有同情心的知识分子泼脏水,“受过教育的,关心人民疾苦的公务员十有八九是俄国间谍”被政客、被资本利用、扭曲。自由社会,贫穷是由于懒惰、涣散、愚蠢、堕落,穷人被打上道德缺陷的标签,成为疾病避之不及,人的良心被消费主义经济消解。形势急转直下,以后不会再有人为受不公正待遇的劳工说话了。至于真实、全部的情况,无人提及,无人在意。由于瓦尔特的指认,劳工、阶级以及不可描述之词都已经被污名化,避之而不及。

小说中有则小科幻,纬库那星球的人以时间作为能源,把时间消耗在毫无价值的事情上,以至于把未来消耗殆尽。他们再也没有实体性,变成了宇宙中飘荡的幽灵,只能附着或者寄生在其他实体如石头、或者地球生物身上。

留给地球人改善的时间还剩下多少呢?现实如果如冯内古特判断的那样“人不爱生命”,那么这种消耗的结局是什么呢?最近《美国工厂》在国内掀起讨论热潮。中美两国工人对于血汗工厂的容忍度差异巨大,甚至连美国年青一代工人也会觉得老一辈工人zuo地很。可是如果没有上世纪工运,西方世界劳工的命运能够改善么?二战后中产阶级的迅速壮大与工人待遇的提高有着不可分割的关系。而《囚鸟》的背景正是一部工运的衰落史,借助反**,麦卡锡运动搅浑水,东拉西扯意识形态,打击支持工人、弱势群体利益的知识分子、公务员等有着朴素良心的群体。现在工运成了诲淫诲盗的事情,我们言之凿凿地假借自由市场之名,对血汗工厂感恩戴德,贫穷被置换为懒惰,“占领华尔街”运动最终以被华尔街雇佣而结束。今天政治系统中建设性的一套话语正在被消解,个人越来越原子孤立化,消费主义刺激的欲望和金融资本的投机短视,将所有人携裹入加速快车道,今天是中产,一场病、一场大雨或者一次裁员,都可能被甩出车厢。既然大家都这么脆弱,既然不确定性如此之强,对同类多一点同情心吧。

 

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