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Tropic of Cancer  北回归线-第九章第二节

With Tania back on the scene, a steady job, the drunken talk about Russia, the walks home at night, and Paris in full summer, life seems to lift its head a little higher. That's why perhaps, a letter such as Boris sent me seems absolutely cockeyed. Most every day I meet Tania around five o'clock, to have a Porto with her, as she calls it. I let her take me to places I've never seen before, the swell bars around the Champs-Elysées where the sound of jazz and baby voices crooning seems to soak right through the mahogany woodwork. Even when you go to the lavabo these pulpy, sappy strains pursue you, come floating into the cabinet through the ventilators and make life all soap and iridescent bubbles. And whether it's because Sylvester is away and she feels free now, or whatever it is, Tania certainly tries to behave like an angel. "You treated me lousy just before I went away," she says to me one day. "Why did you want to act that way? I never did anything to hurt you, did I?" We were getting sentimental, what with the soft lights and that creamy, mahogany music seeping through the place. It was getting near time to go to work and we hadn't eaten yet. The stubs were lying there in front of us – six francs, four fifty, seven francs, two fifty – I was counting them up mechanically and wondering too at the same time if I would like it better being a bartender. Often like that, when she was talking to me, gushing about Russia, the future, love, and all that crap, I'd get to thinking about the most irrelevant things, about shining shoes or being a lavatory attendant, particularly I suppose because it was so cosy in these joints that she dragged me to and it never occurred to me that I'd be stone sober and perhaps old and bent… no, I imagined always that the future, however modest, would be in just this sort of ambiance, with the same tunes playing through my head and the glasses clinking and behind every shapely ass a trail of perfume a yard wide that would take the stink out of life, even downstairs in the lavabo.

塔尼亚回来了、我有了稳定的工作、关于俄国的醉话、夜晚步行回家、盛夏的巴黎—生活似乎又昂起头来了,也许这就是为什么鲍里斯寄来的那类信令我觉得十分荒诞的原因。我几乎每天都在五点左右同塔尼亚会面,跟她一起喝一杯波尔图葡萄酒,她把这种酒叫作波尔图葡萄酒。我让她带我去以前从未到过的地方,去香榭丽舍大街附近的时髦酒吧,那儿的爵士乐声和姑娘低声吟唱声仿佛渗透进桃花心木的家具里去了。即使是去上厕所,这软绵绵的伤感旋律也在身边索绕,它通过排气扇飘进厕所,使生活变成虚幻,变成彩虹色的泡沫。不知是因为西尔维斯特不在还是出于别的原因,塔尼亚现在觉得自由了,她的一举一动简直像天使一样。有一天她说,“我走之前你对我很不像样。你干吗要那样做?我从来没有做过伤害你的事,对吗?”我们在柔和的灯光照射下,在渗透那个地方的软绵绵餐室音乐声中变得易动感情了。快要到去上班的时间了,我们还没有吃饭,支票簿存根摊在我们面前—六法郎、四个半法郎、七法郎、两个半法郎—我机械地数着,同时在想自己会不会更乐意去当一个酒吧招待员。常常是这样—塔尼亚跟我说话,当她滔滔不绝地谈到俄国、未来、爱情这一类废话时,我会想到最不相干的事情上去,想到擦皮鞋、当厕所服务员。我尤其想到这个,因为她拉我去的那些下流场所很舒适,我从来不曾悟到我去的那些下流场所很舒适,我从来不曾悟到我会非常理智,也许会老、会驼背……不,我始终在想,未来不管怎样合情合理仍会处在这种环境中,同样的乐曲会灌进我脑子,酒杯碰在一起,每一个形状姣好的屁股后面会放出一道一码宽的香气,足以驱散生活中发出的臭气,甚至楼下厕所里的臭气。

The strange thing is it never spoiled me trotting around to the swell bars with her like that. It was hard to leave her, certainly. I used to lead her around to the porch of a church near the office and standing there in the dark we'd take a last embrace, she whispering to me "Jesus, what am I going to do now?" She wanted me to quit the job so as I could make love night and day; she didn't even care about Russia any more, just so long as we were together. But the moment I left her my head cleared. It was another kind of music, not so croony but good just the same, which greeted my ears when I pushed through the swinging door. And another kind of perfume, not just a yard wide, but omnipresent, a sort of sweat and patchouli that seemed to come from the machines. Coming in with a skinful, as I usually did, it was like dropping suddenly to a low altitude. Generally I made a beeline for the toilet – that braced me up rather. It was a little cooler there, or else the sound of water running made it seem so. It was always a cold douche, the toilet. It was real. Before you got inside you had to pass a line of Frenchmen peeling off their clothes. Ugh! but they stank, those devils! And they were well paid for it, too. But there they were, stripped down, some in long underwear, some with beards, most of them pale, skinny rats with lead in their veins. Inside the toilet you could take an inventory of their idle thoughts. The walls were crowded with sketches and epithets, all of them jocosely obscene, easy to understand, and on the whole rather jolly and sympathetic. It must have required a ladder to reach certain spots, but I suppose it was worth while doing it even looking at it from just the psychological viewpoint.

奇怪的是这个想法从未阻止我同塔尼亚踊跳到这些时髦酒吧里去。离开她当然是容易的,我常常领她来到办公室附近一所教堂的门廊上。我们站在黑暗中最后拥抱一回,她对我低声道,“老天,现在我该干什么?”她希望我扔掉工作,这样就可以白天黑夜都同她做爱。她甚至不再去理会俄国了,只要我们在一起就行。可是我一离开她头脑就清醒了。从旋转门里进去后我听到的是另一种音乐,不那么缠绵,不过也很好听。香气也成了另外一种,不止一码宽,却无处不在,像是汗味和机器散发出的薄荷味。进门时我通常都喝得大醉,一进来便好像突然来到了海拔低的地方。我一般是一进来便直奔厕所,它使我振作起来。厕所里凉快些,要不就是流水声造成了这种错觉,厕所始终是一种冷灌洗疗法,而且是真正的。进去之前你必须经过一排正在脱衣服的法国人。哼!这些魔鬼身上发出了臭味,为此他们还拿高薪呢。他们站在那儿,脱掉了衣服,有的穿着长内衣、有些留着胡子,大多数人皮肤苍白,像血管中有铅的瘦老鼠。在厕所里你可以仔细看看他们无所事事时都想些什么,墙上涂满了图画和文字,都是诙谐可笑的猥亵玩艺儿,很容易看懂,总的来说挺好玩、引人喜爱。要在某些地方涂写准还需要一只梯子,我想,即使是从心理学角度来看这样做也是值得的。

Sometimes, as I stood there taking a leak, I wondered what an impression it would make on those swell dames whom I observed passing in and out of the beautiful lavatories on the Champs Elysées. I wondered if they would carry their tails so high if they could see what was thought of an ass here. In their world, no doubt, everything was gauze and velvet – or they made you think so with the fine scents they gave out, swishing past you. Some of them hadn't always been such fine ladies either; some of them swished up and down like that just to advertise their trade. And maybe, when they were left alone with themselves, when they talked out loud in the privacy of their boudoirs, maybe some strange things fell out of their mouths too; because in that world, just as in every world, the greater part of what happens is just muck and filth, sordid as any garbage can, only they are lucky enough to be able to put covers over the can.

有时我站在那儿撒尿,不禁想这些乱涂乱抹的东西会给那些时髦女人留下怎样的印象,我在香榭里舍大街看见她们进漂亮的厕所。如果她们能看到在这儿人们怎样看待一个屁股,不知道还会不会把屁股撅得那么高。在她们周围,无疑一切都是薄纱和天鹅绒的,要不就是她们从你身边赛卒走过时身上发出的好闻气味使你这样想。她们中有些人起初并不是高贵淑女,有些人摇头摆尾地走路只是在替她们的行当做广告。当她们独自呆着时,在自己的闺房里大声谈话时,也许口中也会说出一些奇怪的事情,因为她们所处的世界同每一个地方一样,发生的事情多半是屎尿垃圾,同任何一个垃圾桶一样脏,只是她们有幸能盖上桶盖。

As I say, that afternoon life with Tania never had any bad effect upon me. Once in a while I'd get too much of a skinful and I'd have to stick my finger down my throat – because it's hard to read proof when you're not all there. It requires more concentration to detect a missing comma than to epitomize Nietzsche's philosophy. You can be brilliant sometimes, when you're drunk, but brilliance is out of place in the proofreading department. Dates, fractions, semicolons – these are the things that count. And these are the things that are most difficult to track down when your mind is all ablaze. Now and then I made some bad blunders, and if it weren't that I had learned how to kiss the boss's ass, I would have been fired, that's certain.

我说过,同塔尼亚一起度过的下午对我从未有过不好的影响,有时我喝酒喝得太多,只得把手指伸进喉咙里—因为看清样时不清醒是不行的。看出哪儿漏了一个逗点比复述尼采的哲学更需要精神集中。有时喝醉了你也可以很精明,可是在校对部精明是不合时宜的。日期、分数、分号—这些才是要紧的,而头脑发烧时这些东西是最难盯住的。我不时出些荒谬的错,若不是早就学会了如何舔老板的屁股,我准早就被解雇了。

I even got a letter one day from the big mogul upstairs, a guy I never even met, so high up he was, and between a few sarcastic phrases about my more than ordinary intelligence, he hinted pretty plainly that I'd better learn my place and toe the mark or there'd be what's what to pay. Frankly, that scared the shit out of me. After that I never used a polysyllabic word in conversation; in fact, I hardly ever opened my trap all night. I played the high grade moron, which is what they wanted of us. Now and then, to sort of flatter the boss, I'd go up to him and ask politely what such and such a word might mean. He liked that. He was a sort of dictionary and timetable, that guy. No matter how much beer he guzzled during the break – and he made his own private breaks too, seeing as how he was running the show – you could never trip him up on a date or a definition. He was born to the job. My only regret was that I knew too much. It leaked out now and then, despite all the precautions I took.

有一天我还接到楼上那个大人物的一封信,这个家伙高高在上,我甚至从来没有见过他。信上有几句挖苦我具有超凡智力的话,言辞间他明白无误地暗示我最好本分些、尽职尽责,否则会受到应有惩处的。老实说,这把我吓得屁滚尿流,从此说话时再也不敢用多音节的词了,实际上我一夜几乎都不开口。我扮演了一个高级白痴的角色,这正是他们所要求的。为了奉承老板,我不时走到他面前礼貌地问他这个或那个词是什么意思。他喜欢我这一手,这家伙是个活字典、活时间表,不论他在工间休息时灌了多少啤酒,在某个日期或某个词的词义上你永远也难不倒他。而且他的工间休息时间全由他自个儿掌握,因为他要巡视自己主管的这个部门,他天生就是做这个工作的。唯一叫我懊悔的是我懂的太多,尽管我很小心谨慎还是不免暴露出来。

If I happened to come to work with a book under my arm this boss of ours would notice it, and if it were a good book it made him venomous. But I never did anything intentionally to displease him; I liked the job too well to put a noose around my neck.

假如我来上班时胳膊底下夹着一本书,我们这位老板准会看见,若是本好书他便会怨恨我。不过我从来没有有意做什么事情使他不快,我大喜欢这份工作了,绝不会把绞索往自己脖子上套。

Just the same it's hard to talk to a man when you have nothing in common with him; you betray yourself, even if you use only monosyllabic words. He knew goddamn well, the boss, that I didn't take the least bit of interest in his yarns; and yet, explain it how you will, it gave him pleasure to wean me away from my dreams and fill me full of dates and historical events. It was his way of taking revenge, I suppose.

同一个与自己毫无共同之处的人交谈是一件困难的事情,即使只用单音节的词也会露馅。这个老板心里明白我对他讲的事情根本不感兴趣。然而不知道为什么,他非常喜欢驱走我的迷梦,并给我灌输各种日期和历史事件。我想,这就是他报复我的方法吧。

The result was that I developed a bit of a neurosis. As soon as I hit the air I became extravagant. It wouldn't matter what the subject of conversation happened to be, as we started back to Montparnasse in the early morning, I'd soon turn the fire hose on it, squelch it, in order to trot out my perverted dreams. I liked best talking about those things which none of us knew anything about. I had cultivated a mild sort of insanity, echolalia, I think it's called. All the tag ends of a night's proofing danced on the tip of my tongue. Dalmatia – I had held copy on an ad for that beautiful jeweled resort. All right, Dalmatia. You take a train and in the morning your pores are perspiring and the grapes are bursting their skins. I could reel it off about Dalmatia from the grand boulevard to Cardinal Mazarin's palace, further, if I chose to. I don't even know where it is on the map, and I don't want to know ever, but at three in the morning with all that lead in your veins and your clothes saturated with sweat and patchouli and the clink of bracelets passing through the wringer and those beer yarns that I was braced for, little things like geography, costume, speech, architecture don't mean a goddamn thing. Dalmatia belongs to a certain hour of the night when those high gongs are snuffed out and the court of the Louvre seems so wonderfully ridiculous that you feel like weeping for no reason at all, just because it's so beautifully silent, so empty, so totally unlike the front page and the guys upstairs rolling the dice. With that little piece of Dalmatia resting on my throbbing nerves like a cold knife blade I could experience the most wonderful sensations of voyage.

结果我患了轻度神经官能症,一吸进新鲜空气便信口胡说。清早我们回蒙帕纳斯时,不论谈到的是什么话题,我都要尽快用消防水龙头往上面浇水,打断这个话题,以便让自己从变态的梦幻中解脱出来。我最喜欢谈谁也不懂的事情,我已经患了一种轻微的精神错乱,我想这种病叫作“模仿言语症”。一夜间校对的文稿标签都在我的舌尖上跳舞,达尔马提亚—我曾拿到为这个美丽的珠宝胜地做的广告。对了,达尔马提亚,你坐上火车,早上毛孔便出汗,葡萄绷破了皮。我能从这条壮观的林荫大道一直滔滔不绝地谈论达尔马提亚,一路谈到马萨林红衣主教的宫殿,只要我愿意还可以说下去。我连它在地图上的位置都搞不清楚,也从来不想搞清。可是在凌晨三点你身体疲乏不堪、衣服被汗水和广藿香浸透,手镯叮当响着从绞衣机里通过,这时伙伴们要我说的那些喝醉了啤酒后胡扯的事情都毫无意义—那些地理、服装,演讲、建筑之类的琐事。达尔马提亚是要在夜里某个时辰谈论的,那时交通警的锣已不响了,卢浮宫的庭院显得又美妙又荒谬可笑,使你想无缘无故地哭一场,这正是因为周围又美丽又静谧,那么空旷,与报纸头版和楼上掷骰子的人全然不一样。有达尔马提亚像一把冰冷的刀锋搁在颤动不已的神经上,我才得以体会途中那些最美妙的感觉。

And the funny thing is again that I could travel all around the globe but America would never enter my mind; it was even further lost than a lost continent, because with the lost continents I felt some mysterious attachment, whereas with America I felt nothing at all. Now and then, it's true, I did think of Mona, not as of a person in a definite aura of time and space, but separately, detached, as though she had blown up into a great cloudlike form that blotted out the past. I couldn't allow myself to think about her very long; if I had I would have jumped off the bridge. It's strange. I had become so reconciled to this life without her, and yet if I thought about her only for a minute it was enough to pierce the bone and marrow of my contentment and shove me back again into the agonizing gutter of my wretched past.

好笑的是我可以走遍全球,可是总想不到要去美国,对于我它比一块消失的大陆更浩渺、更遥远,我对消失的大陆尚存有某种神秘的向往,对美国却毫无感情。有时我也确曾思念莫娜,不是把她当作特定时间空间中的一个人去思念,而是抽象地、超然地思念,仿佛她已变成一大团云彩状的东西冉冉升到空中,这团东西遮住了过去。我不能使自己长时间地思念她,不然我就会从桥上跳下去的。真怪,我已对这种没有她在身边的生活习以为常了,但是只要想她一会儿便足以完全破坏我的满足,把我又推向悲惨的过去那个令人痛苦的阴沟里。

For seven years I went about, day and night, with only one thing on my mind – her. Were there a Christian so faithful to his God as I was to her we would all be Jesus Christs today. Day and night I thought of her, even when I was deceiving her. And now sometimes, in the very midst of things, sometimes when I feel that I am absolutely free of it all, suddenly, in rounding a corner perhaps, there will bob up a little square, a few trees and a bench, a deserted spot where we stood and had it out, where we drove each other crazy with bitter, jealous scenes. Always some deserted spot, like the Place de 1'Estrapade, for example, or those dingy, mournful streets off the Mosque or along that open tomb of an Avenue de Breteuil which at ten o'clock in the evening is so silent, so dead, that it makes one think of murder or suicide, anything that might create a vestige of human drama. When I realize that she is gone, perhaps gone forever, a great void opens up and I feel that I am falling, falling, falling into deep, black space. And this is worse than tears, deeper than regret or pain or sorrow; it is the abyss into which Satan was plunged. There is no climbing back, no ray of light, no sound of human voice or human touch of hand.

七年来我不分昼夜四处游荡,心里始终只想着一件事,那就是她。若是有一位基督徒像我忠于莫娜那样忠于上帝,今天我们每个人都早已成为耶稣基督了。我昼夜思念着她,甚至哄骗她时也是如此。有时,正在做其他事情,觉得自己完全忘却了这件事情时—也许正在拐过一个街角—我眼前会突然出现一个小广场几棵树和一只长椅,在这僻静的地方我们站着争吵,在这儿我们用刻薄的语言、争风吃醋的话题吵得对方发疯。我们总是拣一个僻静的地方,比方说吊刑广场清真寺外昏暗悲哀的街道,或是布尔特伊大道那个敞开的墓穴一带,那儿一到晚上十点钟便死一般寂静,使人联想到谋杀、自杀或任何可以创造人类戏剧遗迹的东西。当我意识到她走了,也许永远不回来了,一个巨大的空洞便打开了,我觉得自己在下跌、下跌,跌进幽深的空间中去。这比流泪还糟,比懊悔、创伤或悲哀更深刻,这是魔鬼撒旦被抛入的无底深渊,无法再爬上来,没有光线,没有人说话的声音,没有人手的触碰。

How many thousand times, in walking through the streets at night, have I wondered if the day would ever come again when she would be at my side: all those yearning looks I bestowed on the buildings and statues, I had looked at them so hungrily, so desperately, that by now my thoughts must have become a part of the very buildings and statues, they must be saturated with my anguish. I could not help but reflect also that when we had walked side by side through these mournful, dingy streets now so saturated with my dream and longing, she had observed nothing, felt nothing: they were like any other streets to her, a little more sordid perhaps, and that is all. She wouldn't remember that at a certain corner I had stopped to pick up her hairpin, or that, when I bent down to tie her laces, I remarked the spot on which her foot had rested and that it would remain there forever, even after the cathedrals had been demolished and the whole Latin civilization wiped out forever and ever.

夜晚穿过街道时我曾几千次想她回到我身边的一天会不会到来,我将渴望的目光全投向建筑物和雕像,我那么渴求、那么绝望地望着它们,到此时我的思想准已同这些建筑物和雕像融为一体了,它们一定浸透了我的痛苦。我也忍不住忆起我们肩并肩穿过这些现在浸透着我的梦想和渴望的悲哀、幽暗的街道时她什么也没有注意到,什么也没有感觉到,对于她这些街道同其他街道是一样的,只是略微脏一点儿,仅此而已。她不会记得在某一个角落我曾驻足捡起她的发夹,或是我俯身替她系鞋带时标明了她落脚的地方,它将会永远留在那儿,甚至在大教堂被毁坏、整个拉丁文明都永远被消灭后它仍将留在那儿。

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