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Tropic of Cancer  北回归线-第十三章第一节

When the cold weather set in the princess disappeared. It was getting uncomfortable with just a little coal stove in the studio; the bedroom was like an icebox and the kitchen was hardly any better. There was just a little space around the stove where it was actually warm. So Macha had found herself a sculptor who was castrated. She told us about him before she left. After a few days she tried coming back to us, but Fillmore wouldn't hear of it. She complained that the sculptor kept her awake all night kissing her. And then there was no hot water for her douches. But finally she decided that it was just as well she didn't come back. "I won't have that candlestick next to me any more," she said. "Always that candlestick… it made me nervous. If you had only been a fairy I would have stayed with you…"


With Macha gone our evenings took on a different character. Often we sat by the fire drinking hot toddies and discussing the life back there in the States. We talked about it as if we never expected to go back there again. Fillmore had a map of New York City which he had tacked on the wall; we used to spend whole evenings discussing the relative virtues of Paris and New York. And inevitably there always crept into our discussions the figure of Whitman, that one lone figure which America has produced in the course of her brief life. In Whitman the whole American scene comes to life, her past and her future, her birth and her death. Whatever there is of value in America Whitman has expressed, and there is nothing more to be said. The future belongs to the machine, to the robots. He was the Poet of the Body and the Soul, Whitman. The first and the last poet. He is almost undecipherable today, a monument covered with rude hieroglyphs for which there is no key. It seems strange almost to mention his name over here. There is no equivalent in the languages of Europe for the spirit which he immortalized. Europe is saturated with art and her soil is full of dead bones and her museums are bursting with plundered treasures, but what Europe has never had is a free, healthy spirit, what you might call a MAN. Goethe was the nearest approach, but Goethe was a stuffed shirt, by comparison. Goethe was a respectable citizen, a pedant, a bore, a universal spirit, but stamped with the German trade mark, with the double eagle. The serenity of Goethe, the calm, Olympian attitude, is nothing more than the drowsy stupor of a German burgeois deity. Goethe is an end of something, Whitman is a beginning.


After a discussion of this sort I would sometimes put on my things and go for a walk, bundled up in a sweater, a spring overcoat of Fillmore's and a cape over that. A foul, damp cold against which there is no protection except a strong spirit. They say America is a country of extremes, and it is true that the thermometer registers degrees of cold which are practically unheard of here; but the cold of a Paris winter is a cold unknown to America, it is psychological, an inner as well as an outer cold. If it never freezes here it never thaws either. Just as the people protect themselves against the invasion of their privacy, by their high walls, their bolts and shutters, their growling, evil tongued, slatternly concierges, so they have learned to protect themselves against the cold and heat of a bracing, vigorous climate. They have fortified themselves: protection is the keyword. Protection and security. In order that they may rot in comfort. On a damp winter's night it is not necessary to look at the map to discover the latitude of Paris. It is a northern city, an outpost erected over a swamp filled in with skulls and bones. Along the boulevards there is a cold electrical imitation of heat. Tout Va Bien in ultraviolet rays that make the clients of the Dupont chain cafés look like gangrened cadavers. Tout Va Bien! That's the motto that nourishes the forlorn beggars who walk up and down all night under the drizzle of the violet rays. Wherever there are lights there is a little heat. One gets warm from watching the fat, secure bastards down their grogs, their steaming black coffees. Where the lights are there are people on the sidewalks, jostling one another, giving off a little animal heat through their dirty underwear and their foul, cursing breaths. Maybe for a stretch of eight or ten blocks there is a semblance of gaiety, and then it tumbles back into night, dismal, foul, black night like frozen fat in a soup tureen. Blocks and blocks of jagged tenements, every window closed tight, every shopfront barred and bolted. Miles and miles of stone prisons without the faintest glow of warmth; the dogs and the cats are all inside with the canary buds. The cockroaches and the bedbugs too are safely incarcerated. Tout Va Bien. If you haven't a sou why just take a few old newspapers and make yourself a bed on the steps of a cathedral. The doors are well bolted and there will be no draughts to disturb you. Better still is to sleep outside the Metro doors; there you will have company. Look at them on a rainy night, lying there stiff as mattresses – men, women, lice, all huddled together and protected by the newspapers against spittle and the vermin that walks without legs. Look at them under the bridges or under the market sheds. How vile they look in comparison with the clean, bright vegetables stacked up like jewels. Even the dead horses and the cows and sheep hanging from the greasy hooks look more inviting. At least we will eat these tomorrow and even the intestines will serve a purpose. But these filthy beggars lying in the rain, what purpose do they serve? What good can they do us? They make us bleed for five minutes, that's all.


Oh, well, these are night thoughts produced by walking in the rain after two thousand years of Christianity. At least now the birds are well provided for, and the cats and dogs. Every time I pass the concierge's window and catch the full icy impact of her glance I have an insane desire to throttle all the birds in creation. At the bottom of every frozen heart there is a drop or two of love – just enough to feed the birds.


Still I can't get it out of my mind what a discrepancy there is between ideas and living. A permanent dislocation, though we try to cover the two with a bright awning. And it won't go. Ideas have to be wedded to action; if there is no sex, no vitality in them, there is no action. Ideas cannot exist alone in the vacuum of the mind. Ideas are related to living: liver ideas, kidney ideas, interstitial ideas, etc. If it were only for the sake of an idea Copernicus would have smashed the existent macrocosm and Columbus would have foundered in the Sargasso Sea. The aesthetics of the idea breeds flowerpots and flowerpots you put on the window sill. But if there be no rain or sun of what use putting flowerpots outside the window?


Fillmore is full of ideas about gold. The "mythos" of gold, he calls it. I like "mythos" and I like the idea of gold, but I am not obsessed by the subject and I don't see why we should make flowerpots, even of gold. He tells me that the French are hoarding their gold away in watertight compartments deep below the surface of the earth; he tells me that there is a little locomotive which runs around in these subterranean vaults and corridors. I like the idea enormously. A profound, uninterrupted silence in which the gold softly snoozes at a temperature of 17½ degrees Centigrade. He says an army working 46 days and 37 hours would not be sufficient to count all the gold that is sunk beneath the Bank of France, and that there is a reserve supply of false teeth, bracelets, wedding rings, etc. Enough food also to last for eighty days and a lake on top of the gold pile to resist the shock of high explosives. Gold, he says, tends to become more and more invisible, a myth, and no more defalcations. Excellent! I am wondering what will happen to the world when we go off the gold standard in ideas, dress, morals, etc. The gold standard of love!


Up to the present, my idea in collaborating with myself has been to get off the gold standard of literature. My idea briefly has been to present a resurrection of the emotions, to depict the conduct of a human being in the stratosphere of ideas, that is, in the grip of delirium. To paint a pre-Socratic being, a creature part goat, part Titan. In short, to erect a world on the basis of the omphalos, not on an abstract idea nailed to a cross. Here and there you may have come across neglected statues, oases untapped, windmills overlooked by Cervantes, rivers that run uphill, women with five and six breasts ranged longitudinally along the torso. (Writing to Gauguin, Strindberg said: "J'ai vu des arbres que ne retrouverait aucun botaniste, des animaux que Cuvier n'a jamais soupçonnés et des hommes que vous seul avez pu créer.") When Rembrandt hit par he went below with the gold ingots and the pemmican and the portable beds. Gold is a night word belonging to the chthonian mind: it has dream in it and mythos. We are reverting to alchemy, to that fake Alexandrian wisdom which produced our inflated symbols. Real wisdom is being stored away in the subcellars by the misers of learning. The day is coming when they will be circling around in the middle air with magnetizers; to find a piece of ore you will have to go up ten thousand feet with a pair of instruments – in a cold latitude preferably – and establish telepathic communication with the bowels of the earth and the shades of the dead. No more Klondikes. No more bonanzas. You will have to learn to sing and caper a bit, to read the zodiac and study your entrails. All the gold that is being tucked away in the pockets of the earth will have to be re mined; all this symbolism will have to be dragged out again from the bowels of man. But first the instruments must be perfected. First it is necessary to invent better airplanes, to distinguish where the noise comes from and not go daffy just because you hear an explosion under your ass. And secondly it will be necessary to get adapted to the cold layers of the stratosphere, to become a cold blooded fish of the air. No reverence. No piety. No longing. No regr ets. No hysteria. Above all, as Philippe Datz says – "NO DISCOURAGEMENT!"


These are sunny thoughts inspired by a vermouth cassis at the Place de la Trinité. A Saturday afternoon and a "misfire" book in my hands. Everything swimming in a divine mucopus. The drink leaves a bitter herbish taste in my mouth, the lees of our Great Western civilization, rotting now like the toenails of the saints. Women are passing by – regiments of them – all swinging their asses in front of me; the chimes are ringing and the buses are climbing the sidewalk and bussing one another. The garçon wipes the table with a dirty rag while the patronne tickles the cash register with fiendish glee. A look of vacuity on my face, blotto, vague in acuity, biting the asses that brush by me. In the belfry opposite the hunchback strikes with a golden mallet and the pigeons scream alarum. I open the book – the book which Nietzsche called "the best German book there is" – and it says:"MEN WILL BECOME MORE CLEVER AND MORE ACUTE; BUT NOT BETTER, HAPPIER, AND STRONGER IN ACTION – OR, AT LEAST, ONLY AT EPOCHS. I FORESEE THE TIME WHEN GOD WILL HAVE NO MORE JOY IN THEM, BUT WILL BREAK UP EVERYTHING FOR A RENEWED CREATION. I AM CERTAIN THAT EVERYTHING IS PLANNED TO THIS END, AND THAT THE TIME AND HOUR IN THE DISTANT FUTURE FOR THE OCCURRENCE OF THIS RENOVATING EPOCH ARE ALREADY FIXED. BUT A LONG TIME WILL ELAPSE FIRST, AND WE MAY STILL FOR THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF YEARS AMUSE OURSELVES ON THIS DEAR OLD SURFACE."


Excellent! At least a hundred years ago there was a man who had vision enough to see that the world was pooped out. Our Western world! – When I see the figures of men and women moving listlessly behind their prison walls, sheltered, secluded for a few brief hours, I am appalled by the potentialities for drama that are still contained in these feeble bodies. Behind the gray walls there are human sparks, and yet never a conflagration. Are these men and women, I ask myself, or are these shadows, shadows of puppets dangled by invisible strings? They move in freedom apparently, but they have nowhere to go. In one realm only are they free and there they may roam at will – but they have not yet learned how to take wing. So far there have been no dreams that have taken wing. Not one man has been born light enough, gay enough, to leave the earth! The eagles who flapped their mighty pinions for a while came crashing heavily to earth. They made us dizzy with the flap and whir of their wings. Stay on the earth, you eagles of the future!


The heavens have been explored and they are empty. And what lies under the earth is empty too, filled with bones and shadows. Stay on the earth and swim another few hundred thousand years!



Memoirs Of A Geisha

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Tropic of Cancer

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亨利.米勒[Henry Miller]

米勒的第一部自传体小说 中英对照


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