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Tropic of Cancer  北回归线-第八章第八节

Once out of his sight we began to laugh hysterically. The false teeth! No matter what we said about the poor devil, and we said some good things about him too, we always came back to the false teeth. There are people in this world who cut such a grotesque figure that even death renders them ridiculous. And the more horrible the death the more ridiculous they seem. It's no use trying to invest the end with a little dignity – you have to be a liar and a hypocrite to discover anything tragic in their going. And since we didn't have to put on a false front we could laugh about the incident to our heart's content. We laughed all night about it, and in between times we vented our scorn and disgust for the guys upstairs, the fatheads who were trying to persuade themselves, no doubt, that Peckover was a fine fellow and that his death was a catastrophe. All sorts of funny recollections came to our minds – the semicolons that he overlooked and for which they bawled the piss out of him. They made his life miserable with their fucking little semicolons and the fractions which he always got wrong. They were even going to fire him once because he came to work with a boozy breath. They despised him because he always looked so miserable and because he had eczema and dandruff. He was just a nobody, as far as they were concerned, but, now that he was dead, they would all chip in lustily and buy him a huge wreath and they'd put his name in big type in the obituary column. Anything to throw a little reflection on themselves; they'd make him out to be a big shit if they could. But unfortunately, with Peckover, there was little they could invent about him. He was a zero, and even the fact that he was dead wouldn't add a cipher to his name.

一走到他看不见的地方,我们便狂笑起来。假牙!不论我们说这个可怜家伙什么,而且还说到他的一些优点,但最终总是回到假牙上来。世上有些人就是十分古怪,甚至死亡也会使他们变得可笑。死得越可怕他们就越显得滑稽可笑。想把他们的死亡看得严肃一点儿也没有用—你想要在他们的死中找出什么可悲因素,你就得撒谎,就得伪善。由于无须摆出假惺惺的姿态,所以我们可以纵情为这件事放声大笑。我们笑了整整一夜,其间还发泄了对楼上那帮家伙的蔑视和厌恶。这帮蠢货无疑是在劝自己相信佩克奥弗是个好人,他的死是一场灾难。我们又忆起了各种趣闻轶事—他漏掉了分号,为此他们大喊大叫,吓得他尿裤子。他们用该死的小小分号和分数弄得他坐卧不宁,他常常把它们搞错。有一回他来上班时口中有股酒气,他们甚至还要解雇他,他们瞧不起他,因为他总是可怜巴巴的,有湿疹,有头皮。在他们看来,他只是一个小人物。现在他死了,他们全都起劲地凑钱给他买了一只巨大的花圈,还要把他的名字用大号字登在报上的讣告栏中。凡是会使他们自己略受一点非难的事他们都干,只要能做到,他们情愿把他描绘成一个大人物,不幸的是,他们替佩克奥弗编不出什么来。他是一个零,甚至死亡也无法在他的名字上添上什么。

"There's only one good aspect to it," says Joe. "You may get his job. And if you have any luck, maybe you'll fall down the elevator shaft and break your neck too. We'll buy you a nice wreath, I promise you that."

乔说,“这件事只有一个好处,你可以接替他的工作了。如果你走运,说不定也会从电梯里掉下去摔断脖子。我们会给你买一个很不错的花圈的,我向你保证。”

Toward dawn we're sitting on the terrasse of the Dôme. We've forgotten about poor Peckover long ago. We've had a little excitement at the Bal Nègre and Joe's mind has slipped back to the eternal preoccupation: cunt. It's at this hour, when his night off is almost concluded, that his restlessness mounts to a fever pitch. He thinks of the women he passed up earlier in the evening and of the steady ones he might have had for the asking, if it weren't that he was fed up with them. He is reminded inevitably of his Georgia cunt – she's been hounding him lately, begging him to take her in, at least until she can find herself a job. "I don't mind giving her a feed once in a while," he says, "but I couldn't take her on as a steady thing… she'd ruin it for my other cunts." What gripes him most about her is that she doesn't put on any flesh. "It's like taking a skeleton to bed with you," he says. "The other night I took her on – out of pity – and what do you think the crazy bitch had done to herself? She. had shaved it clean… not a speck of hair on it. Did you ever have a woman who shaved her twat? It's repulsive, ain't it? And it's funny, too. Sort of mad like. It doesn't look like a twat any more: it's like a dead clam or something." He describes to me how, his curiosity aroused, he got out of bed and searched for his flashlight. "I made her hold it open and I trained the flashlight on it. You should have seen me… it was comical. I got so worked up about it that I forgot all about her. I never in my life looked at a cunt so seriously. You'd imagine I'd never seen one before. And the more I looked at it the less interesting it became. It only goes to show you there's nothing to it after all, especially when it's shaved. It's the hair that makes it mysterious. That's why a statue leaves you cold. Only once I saw a real cunt on a statue – that was by Rodin. You ought to see it some time… she has her legs spread wide apart… I don't think there was any head on it. Just a cunt you might say. Jesus, it looked ghastly. The thing is this – they all look alike. When you look at them with their clothes on you imagine all sorts of things: you give them an individuality like, which they haven't got, of course. There's just a crack there between the legs and you get all steamed up about it – you don't even look at it half the time. You know it's there and all you think about is getting your ramrod inside; it's as though your penis did the thinking for you. It's an illusion! You get all burned up about nothing… about a crack with hair on it, or without hair. It's so absolutely meaningless that it fascinated me to look at it. I must have studied it for ten minutes or more. When you look at it that way, sort of detached like, you get funny notions in your head. All that mystery about sex and then you discover that it's nothing – just a blank. Wouldn't it be funny if you found a harmonica inside… or a calendar? But there's nothing there… nothing at all. It's disgusting. It almost drove me mad… Listen, do you know what I did afterwards? I gave her a quick lay and then I turned my back on her. Yeah, I picked up a book and I read. You can get something out of a book, even a bad book… but a cunt, it's just sheer loss of time…"

天快亮时我们坐在多姆饭店的露天咖啡座上,早已把可怜的佩克奥弗忘得干干净净。我们在“黑人”舞厅里乐了一下,乔的思想又回到那个永恒不变的消遣上来了—女人。到了这个时辰他的一夜休息时间已快结束,他的烦躁不安也达到了狂热程度。他想到今夜早些时候放过去的女人和那些一叫就来、关系稳定的情侣,可惜他对她们已感到厌烦了。这也不可避免地使他想起他的格鲁吉亚女人- 最近她一直在追逐他,乞求他收容她,至少直到她找到工作。他说,“我不在乎偶尔请她吃一顿,可我不能长期养着她……她会把别的女人都赶走的。”这个女人最使他不快的是身上一点肉也没有。他说,“就像抱着一具骷髅上床一样。那天夜里我出于同情收留了她。你知道这个发疯的婊子替自己干了什么?她把那个地方全刮光了……上面一点儿毛也没剩下,叫人反感,是吗?也挺好玩的,像是疯了。它不再像女人的下体了,倒像一只死蛤或是别的什么。”他向我描述好奇心激发起来后他如何下床去找手电筒。“我叫她叉开两条腿,把手电照在上面。当时你若看到我就好了……真是好玩极了。它叫我激动起来,竟把她全忘了。我一辈子从来没有这样认真地看过一个女人的下体,你会以为我从前从来没有看过。我越看越觉得没劲,它只是告诉你那儿没有什么,尤其是剃过以后,是毛使它变得神秘起来了。这就是为什么一座雕像打动不了你的原因,只有一次我在一座雕像上看到过一个真正的女人下体—那是罗丹的作品。以后你也该看看……她的腿叉得很开……我记得这个雕像没有脑袋,你可以说只有一个下体。老天,看起来可怕极了,问题在于她们全都是一模一样。她们穿着衣服时你看到她们会产生各种想法,你会给予她们一种个性,而她们当然是没有个性的,不过只是两条大腿之间有一道缝而已。你会生它的气,甚至不愿再看它一眼。这是一场幻觉,你为虚无缥缈的东西发脾气……为一道长毛的缝或一道没有毛的缝发脾气,这是完全没有意义的,所以它吸引我去看,我仔细看它,准看了十分钟或是更长时间。你这样以超然的态度看着它,脑子里便会产生一些古怪的念头。性本来是十分神秘的,接着你发现这也没有什么 -只是一个空洞而已。如果你发现里面有一支口琴不会觉得好玩吗?或是一本日历?可是里面什么也没有……什么也没有。它令人厌恶。它差一点儿叫我发疯……喂,你知道我后来干了什么?我同她很快睡了一次便转过身去背对着她,对了,我拿起一本书看。你可以从书中学到点儿什么,即使是一本坏书……可是一个女人,那纯粹是浪费时间。

It just so happened that as he was concluding his speech a whore gave us the eye. Without the slightest transition he says to me abruptly: "Would you like to give her a tumble? It won't cost much… she'll take the two of us on." And without waiting for a reply he staggers to his feet and goes over to her. In a few minutes he comes back. "It's all fixed," he says. "Finish your beer. She's hungry. There's nothing doing any more at this hour… she'll take the both of us for fifteen francs. We'll go to my room… it'll be cheaper."

范诺登正要结束这篇高谈阔论,正巧有一个妓女在向我们抛媚眼。他连一刻都没有踌躇便突然对我说,“你愿意跟她亲热一下吗,花不了多少钱……叫她接待咱俩。”不等我答话,他便摇摇晃晃地站起来朝她走过去。过了几分钟他回来了。“全说妥了。”他说,“喝光你的啤酒。她饿了,这时候又没有什么事情好做……要十五个法郎,咱俩她都接。到我的房间里去……这样便宜些。”

On the way to the hotel the girl is shivering so that we have to stop and buy her a coffee. She's a rather gentle sort of creature and not at all bad to look at. She evidently knows Van Norden, knows there's nothing to expect from him but the fifteen francs. "You haven't got any dough," he says, mumbling to me under his breath. As I haven't a centime in my pocket I don't quite see the point of this, until he bursts out: "For Christ's sake, remember that we're broke. Don't get tenderhearted when we get upstairs. She's going to ask you for a little extra – I know this cunt! I could get her for ten francs, if I wanted to. There's no use spoiling them…""Il est méchant, celui là," she says to me, gathering the drift of his remarks in her dull way.

去旅馆的路上这个姑娘冻得浑身发抖,我们只好停下来给她买了杯咖啡。她倒是个挺温柔的小姑娘,看上去也挺漂亮。显然她早就认识范诺登,也明白不能指望从范诺登那儿得到什么,除了这十五法郎。“你一文钱也没有。”他压低嗓门喃喃道。我衣袋里的确连一个生丁也没有,所以我不大明白他这样说目的何在。后来他嚷开了,这时我才明白。“看在基督的份上,记住,我们没有钱。待会儿咱们上了楼你可别心软,她会向你再额外讨一点儿的—我了解这婊子!本来花十个法郎也能把她弄到手的,若是我想这样做的话。把她们惯坏了那可是没有什么好处……”“这个人很坏。”姑娘用法语对我说,她懵懵懂懂地猜出了范诺登用英语讲的话的大意。

"Non, il n'est pas méchant, il est très gentil."

“不,他不坏,他很可爱。”

She shakes her head laughingly. "Je le connais bien, ce type." And then she commences a hard luck story, about the hospital and the back rent and the baby in the country. But she doesn't overdo it. She knows that our ears are stopped; but the misery is there inside her, like a stone, and there's no room for any other thoughts. She isn't trying to make an appeal to our sympathies – she's just shifting this big weight inside her from one place to another. I rather like her. I hope to Christ she hasn't got a disease…

她摇摇头大笑道,“我很了解他这种人。”接着她开始讲述她的一段倒霉的经历,住院费、拖欠的房租,还有寄放在乡下的婴儿。不过她的表演并不很过火,她也明白我们对此充耳不闻,不过她心里很不好受,像是搁着一块石头,所以也就顾不上想别的事儿了。她并不是要设法求得我们的怜悯,只是要把压在心里的重负从一个地方移到另一个地方而已。我相当喜欢她,但愿老天保佑她没有性箔…

In the room she goes about her preparations mechanically. "There isn't a crust of bread about by any chance?" she inquires, as she squats over the bidet. Van Norden laughs at this. "Here, take a drink," he says, shoving a bottle at her. She doesn't want anything to drink; her stomach's already on the bum, she complains.

到了屋里,她机械地替自己作准备工作。蹲在洗下身的盆上时她还问,“一点儿面包都没有吗?”范诺登听到这话就乐了,“来,喝一口。”说着他便把一只酒瓶推过去,可她抱怨道,她什么都不想喝。肚子早饿瘪了。

"That's just a line with her," says Van Norden. "Don't let her work on your sympathies. Just the same, I wish she'd talk about something else. How the hell can you get up any passion when you've got a starving cunt on your hands?"

“这是她惯用的伎俩,”范诺登道。“别叫她打动你,又是老一套。但愿她说点儿别的,搞到一个饥肠辘辘的婊子,你又怎么能唤得起激情来?”

Precisely! We haven't any passion either of us. And as for her, one might as well expect her to produce a diamond necklace as to show a spark of passion. But there's the fifteen francs and something has to be done about it. It's like a state of war: the moment the condition is precipitated nobody thinks about anything but peace, about getting it over with. And yet nobody has the courage to lay down his arms, to say, "I'm fed up with it… I'm through."

对极了!我俩都没有一点激情。至于这个姑娘,希冀她表现出一丝一毫的激情犹如指望她拿出一条宝石项链一样不切实际。不过这儿是那十五法郎,总得想个法子把它花了才是。正像打仗一样,战况一吃紧人人都只想着和平,想着快点儿渡过难关,可是谁也没有勇气放下武器说,“我受够了……不干了。”

No, there's fifteen francs somewhere, which nobody gives a damn about any more and which nobody is going to get in the end anyhow, but the fifteen francs is like the primal cause of things and rather than listen to one's own voice, rather than walk out on the primal cause, one surrenders to the situation, one goes on butchering and butchering and the more cowardly one feels the more heroically does he behave, until a day when the bottom drops out and suddenly all the guns are silenced and the stretcher bearers pick up the maimed and bleeding heroes and pin medals on their chest. Then one has the rest of his life to think about the fifteen francs. One hasn't any eyes or arms or legs, but he has the consolation of dreaming for the rest of his days about the fifteen francs which everybody has forgotten.

不行,还有十五法郎,谁也不再在乎这点儿钱,到头来谁也得不到它。可是,这十五法郎正像各种事情的原始动力一般,一个人总是屈从于他周围的环境,而不是听他自个儿高谈阔论或是干脆抛弃这个原始动力。这个人不断地杀人、杀人,越是感到懦弱就越要表现出英勇无畏的气概,直到某一天战争结束了,所有的大炮一下子寂静下来,担架兵抬起缺胳膊少腿、血流如注的勇士们,把勋章挂在他们胸前。这时候他便可用余生去思索那十五法郎了。他失去了双眼,也许是双臂,也许是两条腿,然而他也得到了慰藉,从此可以在冥冥苦想那早已被人忘却的十五法郎中安度余生了。

It's exactly like a state of war – I can't get it out of my head. The way she works over me, to blow a spark of passion into me, makes me think what a damned poor soldier I'd be if I was ever silly enough to be trapped like this and dragged to the front. I know for my part that I'd surrender everything, honor included, in order to get out of the mess. I haven't any stomach for it, and that's all there is to it. But she's got her mind set on the fifteen francs and if I don't want to fight about it she's going to make me fight. But you can't put fight into a man's guts if he hasn't any fight in him. There are some of us so cowardly that you can't ever make heroes of us, not even if you frighten us to death. We know too much, maybe. There are some of us who don't live in the moment, who live a little ahead, or a little behind.

这件事真是同打仗一模一样,我简直摆脱不了这种想法。姑娘想给我注入一点激情,这种纠缠人的方式不禁使我想到,假如我犯傻钻进这样一个圈套里,被人拖上前线,我准是一个糟糕透顶的士兵。就我自己而论,我明白我会放弃一切,包括荣誉,只要能从这个烂摊子上逃脱出来。我无心干这种事,这就是我的全部想法。可这女人早已拿定主意要赚这十五法郎,即使我不愿为此拼命她也要逼我去拼。不过,若是一个男人没有去拼命的勇气,谁也无法给他这个胆量。我们当中有些人这么懦弱,谁也无法叫他们成为勇士,哪怕把他们吓死了也无济于事。也许是我们懂得大多了,有些人并不是生活在此时此刻,他们或生活在刚刚逝去的过去,或生活在尚未到来的不久的将来。

My mind is on the peace treaty all the time. I can't forget that it was the fifteen francs which started all the trouble. Fifteen francs! What does fifteen francs mean to me, particularly since it's not my fifteen francs?

我的脑子里始终想着要订立一个和约拉倒,我忘不了都是这十五法郎惹出来的麻烦。十五法郎!十五法郎对我意味着什么?何况这十五法郎还不是我的。

Van Norden seems to have a more normal attitude about it. He doesn't care a rap about the fifteen francs either now; it's the situation itself which intrigues him. It seems to call for a show of mettle – his manhood is involved. The fifteen francs are lost, whether we succeed or not. There's something more involved – not just manhood perhaps, but will. It's like a man in the trenches again: he doesn't know any more why he should go on living, because if he escapes now he'll only be caught later, but he goes on just the same, and even though he has the soul of a cockroach and has admitted as much to himself, give him a gun or a knife or even just his bare nails, and he'll go on slaughtering and slaughtering, he'd slaughter a million men rather than stop and ask himself why.

看来范诺登对待此事的态度倒是正常得多。他不在乎十五法郎这笔小钱,是此刻的情景本身激发了他的兴致。在这类事情上需要显示勇气,因为这关系到他的男子汉气概。不论我们成功与否,十五法郎算是扔掉了。或许除男子汉气概外还有别的什么也是不可缺少的,这就是意志吧。这一回我们又像战壕里的士兵了,他压根儿不明白自己为什么还活着,如果他现在躲过去,以后反正还会挨一枪的,然而他并不躲避,仍像往常一样作战。纵使在灵魂深处,他像一只蟑螂一样胆小,而且自个儿也承认胆小,他仍会杀人,不断地杀人。只要给他一枝枪、一把刀,或者干脆叫他赤手空拳好了,他宁愿杀掉一百万人也不愿住手问问自己为什么要这样干。

As I watch Van Norden tackle her, it seems to me that I'm looking at a machine whose cogs have slipped. Left to themselves, they could go on this way forever, grinding and slipping, without ever anything happening. Until a hand shuts the motor off. The sight of them coupled like a pair of goats without the least spark of passion, grinding and grinding away for no reason except the fifteen francs, washes away every bit of feeling I have except the inhuman one of satisfying my curiosity. The girl is lying on the edge of the bed and Van Norden is bent over her like a satyr with his two feet solidly planted on the floor. I am sitting on a chair behind him, watching their movements with a cool, scientific detachment; it doesn't matter to me if it should last forever. It's like watching one of those crazy machines which throw the newspaper out, millions and billions and trillions of them with their meaningless headlines. The machine seems more sensible, crazy as it is, and more fascinating to watch, than the human beings and the events which produced it. My interest in Van Norden and the girl is nil; if I could sit like this and watch every single performance going on at this minute all over the world my interest would be even less than nil. I wouldn't be able to differentiate between this phenomenon and the rain falling or a volcano erupting. As long as that spark of passion is missing there is no human significance in the performance. The machine is better to watch. And these two are like a machine which has slipped its cogs. It needs the touch of a human hand to set it right. It needs a mechanic.

我望着范诺登对付这姑娘,只觉得自己是在看一部齿轮已脱开的机器,把这些齿轮丢下别管,它们就会永远这样摆着,摩擦、滑脱,永远不会发生变化,直到有一只手关上电动机。他俩毫无半点激情地像一对山羊一样交媾,什么也不为,就为了那十五法郎在一块儿磨来蹭去,这副情景弄得我很倒胃口,最后只剩下一点儿那种动物般的好奇心了。那姑娘躺在床边上,范诺登俯在她身上,两脚牢牢地踩在地板上,真像一条色狼。我呢,就坐在他身后的一把椅子上,以一种冷静的科学态度矜持地看着他们扭来扭去,即使这情景一直延续下去我也不在乎。这正如看着一部疯狂的机器把报纸不断地抛出来,几百万张,几十亿张,几十兆张,上面的标题全是扯淡。尽管机器也疯了,看它反倒比看人和人搞的这种把戏更来劲儿,更叫人着迷。我对范诺登和这姑娘的兴趣等于零。若能就这样坐着看此刻正在进行的、世界上的每一场这种表演,我的兴趣恐怕会比零还低。我无法区别这事儿同下雨或火山爆发究竟有何不同。只要仍缺乏激情,这场表演便没有人味儿。看着那部机器也比看他们强,他们正像一部齿轮脱开的机器,需要有一只手碰碰它,把它弄好。它需要一个修理工。

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