Tropic of Cancer  北回归线

"What happened between us – at any rate, as far as I go – is that you touched me, touched my life, that is, at the one point where I am still alive: my death. By the emotional flow I went through another immersion. I lived again, alive. No longer by reminiscence, as I do with others, but alive."

“我们之间发生的事情,至少在我看来,是你触动了我,触动了我的生活。就是说,我仍活着,而我又快要死了。这样多愁善感了一阵我又经历了另一次洗礼,我又活了一回。我活着,这一回不凭借回忆往事,像我跟别人谈起的那样,不过我活着。”

That's how it began. Not a word of greeting, no date, no address. Written in a thin, pompous scrawl on ruled paper torn out of a blank book. "That is why, whether you like me or not – deep down I rather think you hate me – you are very close to me. By you I know how I died: I see myself dying again: I am dying. That is something. More than to be dead simply. That may be the reason why I am so afraid to see you: you may have played the trick on me, and died. Things happen so fast nowadays."

信就是这样开头的,没有问候的话,没有日期,没有地址,写在从空白笔记本上撕下来的格纸上,字写得很轻,字体华丽、潦草。“这就是为什么你同我非常亲近,不论你喜不喜欢我,在内心深处我倒认为你是恨我的。通过你我知道自己是怎么死的:我又看到了自己在死去,我快死了。除了死掉拉倒,还有点儿别的。这也许是我怕见到你的原因—也许你在我身上玩了鬼把戏,然后死了。如今事情发生得很快。”

I'm reading it over, line by line, standing by the stones. It sounds nutty to me, all this palaver about life and death and things happening so fast. Nothing is happening that I can see, except the usual calamities on the front page. He's been living all by himself for the last six months, tucked away in a cheap little room – probably holding telepathic communication with Cronstadt. He talks about the line falling back, the sector evacuated, and so on and so forth, as though he were dug into a trench and writing a report to headquarters. He probably had his frock coat on when he sat down to pen this missive, and he probably rubbed his hands a few times as he used to do when a customer was calling to rent the apartment. "The reason I wanted you to commit suicide…" he begins again. At that I burst out laughing. He used to walk up and down with one hand stuck in the tail flap of his frock coat at the Villa Borghese, or at Cronstadt's – wherever there was deck space, as it were – and reel off this nonsense about living and dying to his heart's content. I never understood a word of it, I must confess, but it was a good show and, being a Gentile, I was naturally interested in what went on in that menagerie of a brainpan. Sometimes he would lie on his couch full length, exhausted by the surge of ideas that swept through his noodle. His feet just grazed the bookrack where he kept his Plato and Spinoza – he couldn't understand why I had no use for them. I must say he made them sound interesting, though what it was all about I hadn't the least idea. Sometimes I would glance at a volume furtively, to check up on these wild ideas which he imputed to them – but the connection was frail, tenuous. He had a language all his own, Boris, that is, when I had him alone; but when I listened to Cronstadt it seemed to me that Boris had plagiarized his wonderful ideas. They talked a sort of higher mathematics, these two. Nothing of flesh and blood ever crept in; it was weird, ghostly, ghoulishly abstract. When they got on to the dying business it sounded a little more concrete: after all, a cleaver or a meat ax has to have a handle. I enjoyed those sessions immensely. It was the first time in my life that death had even seemed fascinating to me – all these abstract deaths which involved a bloodless sort of agony. Now and then they would compliment me on being alive, but in such a way that I felt embarrassed. They made me feel that I was alive in the nineteenth century, a sort of atavistic remnant, a romantic shred, a soulful Pithecanthropus erectus. Boris especially seemed to get a great kick out of touching me; he wanted me to be alive so that he could die to his heart's content. You would think that all those millions in the street were nothing but dead cows the way he looked at me and touched me. But the letter… I'm forgetting the letter…

我站在石头旁边一行行读过去,这一番关于生死和事情发生得很快的空谈听起来像疯话。据我所看见的,什么也没有发生,除了报纸头版上登载的那些寻常灾祸。过去六个月来鲍里斯一直过着与世隔绝的生活,躲在一间房租便宜的小屋里,或许同克朗斯塔特通过心灵感应术保持着联系。他讲到退却的防线和撤出的战区,以及诸如此类的事情,好像他正在一条战壕里向司令部写报告。也许他坐下写这封信时穿着常礼服,也许他搓了几回手,以前有顾客上门来租他的公寓时他常常那样。他又写道,“我想叫你自杀的原因是……”看到这儿我不禁大笑起来,以前在波勒兹别墅他常把一只手插进常礼服的后襟里踱来踱去,要不就是在克朗斯塔特那儿—不拘哪儿,只要有摆下一只桌子的地方就行—同时滔滔不绝地把这番生与死的废话说个够。必须承认我从来没有听懂过一个词,不过这场面倒也热闹。作为一个非犹太人,我自然对一个人脑袋里闪过的各种念头感兴趣。有时他会直挺挺地躺在沙发上,那是被脑子里涌现的潮水般的念头弄得疲乏了。他的脚刚好碰到书架上,那儿放着柏拉图和斯宾诺莎的书,他不能理解为什么这些书对我没有用。我要承认他把这些书渲染得很有意思,但是我根本不知道它们是讲什么的,有时我也会偷偷翻翻其中一卷,看看那些异想天开的思想是不是真是这些人自己的,因为鲍里斯总说这些观点是他们的,不过他的话与他们的思想联系不大,基本上不沾边,鲍里斯有他自己的独特说法,就是说,当我同他单独在一起时,不过一听克朗斯塔特讲话我就觉得是鲍里斯剽窃了他的高见。他俩谈论的是一种高等数学,不含一点血肉的东西,鬼魂般荒诞,抽象得可怕。待他们谈到死的事儿时才变得具体一些了。不管怎样,切肉刀和砍肉斧也得有一个柄。我非常喜欢参加那些讨论,生平第一次觉得死亡很吸引人,我是指所有带有不流血痛苦的、抽象的死亡。他们不时会因为我还活着恭维我,但是他们的恭维方式令我很窘迫,他们叫我觉得自己是一个生活在十九世纪并出现返祖现象的遗老、一条浪漫的破布、一个有情感的直立猿人。鲍里斯尤其从挖苦我中得到乐趣,他要我活着以便自己能随心所欲地死去。他看我、揶榆我的样子…

"The reason why I wanted you to commit suicide that evening at the Cronstadts', when Moldorf became God, was that I was very close to you then. Perhaps closer than I shall ever be. And I was afraid, terribly afraid, that some day you'd go back on me, die on my hands. And I would be left high and dry with my idea of you simply, and nothing to sustain it. I should never forgive you for that."

“我之所以要你自杀的原因是当时我同你非常亲近,或许是再也不会有的那么亲近。我怕,我非常怕哪一天你会回来找我、死在我手上,那样一来一想到你,我就会陷入孤立无援的境地,这是不能忍受的,为此我永远也不会原谅你。”

Perhaps you can visualize him saying a thing like that! Myself it's not clear what his idea of me was, or at any rate, it's clear that I was just pure idea, an idea that kept itself alive without food. He never attached much importance, Boris, to the food problem. He tried to nourish me with ideas. Everything was idea. Just the same, when he had his heart set on renting the apartment, he wouldn't forget to put a new washer in the toilet. Anyway, he didn't want me to die on his hands. "You must be life for me to the very end," so he writes. "That is the only way in which to sustain my idea of you. Because you have gotten, as you see, tied up with something so vital to me, I do not think I shall ever shake you off. Nor do I wish to. I want you to live more vitally every day, as I am dead. That is why, when I speak of you to others, I am just a bit ashamed. It's hard to talk of one's self so intimately."

或许你能想象出他会说这种话!我自己却不清楚他怎么看待我,至少我本人显然纯粹只是一个观念,一个不吃食物生存下来的观念。鲍里斯向来不大重视吃饭问题,他企图用观念养活我,每一件事情都是观念,然而,当他打主意要把公寓租出去时却不忘在卫生间里放一只新脸盆。总之,他不想叫我死在他手上。他写道,“你必须做我的生命,直到最后。这是你可以接受我对你的看法的唯一办法。如你所见,因为你同某件生命中不可缺少的东西一道捆在我身上了,我想我永远也摆脱不了你,也不希望这样做。我死了,但我想要你活得一天比一天更兴旺。正是因为这一点,我向别人谈起你时总有点羞愧,这样熟悉地谈论自己总是不容易的。”

You would imagine perhaps that he was anxious to see me, or that he would like to know what I was doing – but no, not a line about the concrete or the personal, except in this living dying language, nothing but this little message from the trenches, this whiff of poison gas to apprise all and sundry that the war was still on. I sometimes ask myself how it happens that I attract nothing but crackbrained individuals, neurasthenics, neurotics, psychopaths – and Jews especially. There must be something in a healthy Gentile that excites the Jewish mind, like when he sees sour black bread. There was Moldorf, for example, who had made himself God, according to Boris and Cronstadt. He positively hated me, the little viper – yet he couldn't stay away from me. He came round regularly for his little dose of insults – it was like a tonic to him. In the beginning, it's true, I was lenient with him; after all, he was paying me to listen to him. And though I never displayed much sympathy I knew how to be silent when it involved a meal and a little pin money.

也许你会以为他迫不急待地要见我,希望了解我正在做什么。错了,他在信中连一行也不曾提及具体的或个人的事情,除了这一番有关生死的话,除了这一小段战壕中写就的话,这一小股向每个人宣告战争仍在继续的毒气。有时我自问为什么被我吸引的人都是精神错乱的人、神经衰弱的人、神经病患者、精神病患者—尤其是犹太人。一个健康的非犹太人身上准有某种叫犹太人激动的东西,就像他看到发酸的黑面包一样。比如说莫尔多夫,据鲍里斯和克朗斯塔特说,他自封为上帝了,这条小毒蛇毫无疑问在恨我,可他又离不开我。他定期跑来叫我侮辱一顿,对于他这像吃补药一样。起初我对他确实十分宽宏大度,不管怎样他在付钱叫我听他说。尽管我从未显出很同情的样子,我却明白涉及到一顿饭和一点儿零花钱时要免开尊口。

After a while, however, seeing what a masochist he was, I permitted myself to laugh in his face now and then; that was like a whip for him, it made the grief and agony gush forth with renewed vigor. And perhaps everything would have gone smoothly between us if he had not felt it his duty to protect Tania. But Tania being a Jewess, that brought up a moral question. He wanted me to stick to Mlle. Claude for whom, I must admit, I had a genuine affection. He even gave me money occasionally to sleep with her. Until he realized that I was a hopeless lecher.

过了不久,我发现他竟是这样一个受虐狂,于是便时时当面嘲弄他。这就像用鞭子抽他,使悲哀和忧伤伴着新迸发的活力一起涌泻了。也许我们之间一切都会和谐的,若不是他觉得保护塔尼亚是他的职责。塔尼亚是犹太人,这引出一个道德问题。他要我忠于克劳德,我必须承认对于这个女人我还是一往情深的。他有时还给我钱,叫我去跟她睡觉,直到他领悟到我只是一个不可救药的色鬼为止。

I mention Tania now because she's just got back from Russia – just a few days ago. Sylvester remained behind to worm his way into a job. He's given up literature entirely. He's dedicated himself to the new Utopia. Tania wants me to go back there with her, to the Crimea preferably, and start a new life. We had a fine drinking bout up in Carl's room the other day discussing the possibilities. I wanted to know what I could do for a living back there – if I could be a proofreader, for example. She said I didn't need to worry about what I would do – they would find a job for me as long as I was earnest and sincere. I tried to look earnest, but I only succeeded in looking pathetic. They don't want to see sad faces in Russia; they want you to be cheerful, enthusiastic, lighthearted, optimistic. It sounded very much like America to me. I wasn't born with this kind of enthusiasm. I didn't let on to her, of course, but secretly I was praying to be left alone, to go back to my little niche, and to stay there until the war breaks. All this hocus pocus about Russia disturbed me a little. She got so excited about it, Tania, that we finished almost a half dozen bottles of vin ordinaire. Carl was jumping about like a cockroach. He has just enough Jew in him to lose his head over an idea like Russia. Nothing would do but to marry us off – immediately. "Hitch up!" he says, "you have nothing to lose!" And then he pretends to run a little errand so that we can pull off a fast one. And while she wanted it all right, Tania, still that Russia business had gotten so solidly planted in her skull that she pissed the interval away chewing my ear off, which made me somewhat grumpy and ill at ease. Anyway, we had to think about eating and getting to the office, so we piled into a taxi on the Boulevard Edgar Quinet, just a stone's throw away from the cemetery, and off we whizzed. It was just a nice hour to spin through Paris in an open cab, and the wine rolling around in our tanks made it seem even more lovely than usual. Carl was sitting opposite us, on the strapontin, his face as red as a beet. He was happy, the poor bastard, thinking what a glorious new life he would lead on the other side of Europe. And at the same time he felt a bit wistful, too – I could see that. He didn't really want to leave Paris, any more than I did. Paris hadn't been good to him, any more than it had to me, or to anybody, for that matter, but when you've suffered and endured things here it's then that Paris takes hold of you, grabs you by the balls, you might say, like some lovesick bitch who'd rather die than let you get out of her hands. That's how it looked to him, I could see that. Rolling over the Seine he had a big foolish grin on his face and he looked around at the buildings and the statues as though he were seeing them in'a dream. To me it was like a dream too: I had my hand in Tania's bosom and I was squeezing her titties with all my might and I noticed the water under the bridges and the barges and Notre Dame down below, just like the post cards show it, and I was thinking drunkenly to myself that's how one gets fucked, but I was sly about it too and I knew I wouldn't ever trade all this whirling about my head for Russia or heaven or anything on earth. It was a fine afternoon, I was thinking to myself, and soon we'd be pushing a feed down our bellies and what could we order as a special treat, some good heavy wine that would drown out all this Russia business. With a woman like Tania, full of sap and everything, they don't give a damn what happens to you once they get an idea in their heads. Let them go far enough and they'll pull the pants off you, right in the taxi. It was grand though, milling through the traffic, our faces all smudged with rouge and the wine gurgling like a sewer inside us, especially when we swung into the Rue Laffitte which is just wide enough to frame the little temple at the end of the street and above it the Sacré Cœur, a kind of exotic jumble of architecture, a lucid French idea that gouges right through your drunkenness and leaves you swimming helplessly in the past, in a fluid dream that makes you wide awake and yet doesn't jar your nerves.

我提到塔尼亚是因为她刚从俄国回来,几天以前才回来。西尔维斯特仍留在后面去钻营一份工作,他已完全放弃了文学,又投身于那个新的乌托邦了。塔尼亚要我同她一起回去,最好回到克里米亚,去开始新的生活。那天我们在卡尔的房间里大喝了一气酒,商量这件事的可能性。我想知道到了那儿我做什么谋生,比方说,能不能干校对员。塔尼亚说我不必担心干什么,只要我真心愿意去他们会替我找到一份工作的。我想显出热心的样子,结果却显得悲戚戚的。在俄国,人们可不想看到哭丧的脸,他们要你快活、热情、轻松、乐观,听起来那儿同美国一样。可我天生就缺乏这份热情,当然我没有对她说,可我暗自希望他们扔下我,让我回到自己的小职位上去,呆在那儿,直到战争爆发。这一套关于俄国的骗局略略使我有些不安,塔尼亚为此却很动感情,因而我们几个喝光了十几瓶便宜的红葡萄酒。卡尔像蟑螂一样蹦来蹦去,他身上的犹太血统足以使他因为俄国这样一个念头而欣喜若狂。除了叫我们结婚之外没有别的办法—立即结婚。他说,“结婚吧!你们不会损失什么!”然后他假装要去办一件小事,好叫我俩来个速战速决。塔尼亚也想干,可是俄国的事已牢牢地移植在她脑子里了,她便在对我唠叨中浪费完了这段时间,她的话使我有点恼火和不安。可我们必须考虑吃饭、去办公室了,于是我们在埃德加一基内林荫道上挤进一部出租车飞速驶走了,这儿距公墓很近。这时正是坐在敞篷汽车上穿过巴黎的好时辰,葡萄酒在肚子里翻来滚去更叫人觉得格外痛快。卡尔坐在我们对面的折叠座位上,脸红得像一棵甜菜。这个可怜的狗东西倒挺快活,想到他将在欧洲另一边过一种美妙的新生活了,同时他也有点儿怅然,这我看得出来。他并不真想离开巴黎,正如我也不想离开一样。巴黎对他并不好,同样,它对我、对任何人都不好,可是当你在这儿饱经磨难之后仍是巴黎使你留连忘返,你可以说它掌握住你了。它像一个害相思病的婊子,宁愿死也要拽着你。我看得出,他就是这样看待巴黎的。过塞纳河时他咧着嘴傻笑,四下里望望建筑物和塑像,仿佛是在梦中看到它们。对于我这也像一场梦,我把手伸进塔尼亚的胸口,拼命捏她的奶头,我留意到桥下的流水和驳船,还有圣母院,正像明信片上画的。我醉醺醺地自忖一个女人就是这样被奸污的,不过我仍很滑头,知道拿俄国、天堂或天下任何东西换我脑子里这些乱糟糟的念头我都不会换的。这是一个晴朗的下午,我独自在胡思乱想,很快我们就要把很多吃的塞进肚子,还有额外叫的一切好吃的、一些会淹没去俄国这件事情的上好浓甜酒。有了塔尼亚这样一个充满朝气的女人,他们一旦想到什么才不会管你怎样呢。放手让他们干,他们会在出租车上就扯下你的裤子。不过穿过街上来往的车辆还是很妙的,我们脸上涂着胭脂,肚子里的酒像阴沟一样发出汩汩的响声,尤其在我们猛地拐入拉菲特街之后。这条街的宽度恰好能容纳街尾那所小殿堂,上面是耶稣圣心,一座有外国情调、乱七八糟的建筑,这也是穿越你的醉酒状态、丢下你无助地在过去的日子里游泳的清晰明白的法国观念,这就是叫你在完全清醒而又不刺激神经的飘忽不定的梦幻中游泳。