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周黎明:忠于现实才是大智慧

2015-01-30    来源:英语点津    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

周黎明:忠于现实才是大智慧

【原滋原味双语阅读】

On New Year's Day, China Daily posted four of photos on its microblog, showing how littered New York's Times Square was after its year-end celebration. The post attracted 3,000 comments and 14,000 retweets. Among the retweeters was People's Daily, which drew 9,000 comments and 17,000 retweets of its own.
元旦那天,《中国日报》官方微博发布了四张照片。照片里的纽约时代广场垃圾遍地,是前一夜人们新年狂欢后留下的。这条微博收到了3000条评论,被转发14000次。其中人民日报也转发了这条微博,收到了9000条评论,被转发17000次。


China Daily's post was an oblique comment on the opinion that only Chinese show no respect for public sanitation. In a follow-up post, it added: "As the human flow for such fetes grows year by year, it becomes a common challenge for metropolises the world over for effective management of public spaces and its order and security while facing a sudden huge influx of visitors. We have paid a high price. But, in this age of global communication and traffic, it is ridiculous to discuss the issue in terms of racial quality."
只有中国人不注重公共卫生——中国日报的微博正是对这种看法的一种无声辩驳。中国日报在后续发布的微博中补充道:“随着狂欢规模年复一年增加,如何在人群密度陡然增大时,实施有效的公共区域管理以保障安全、维持秩序,是大都市集体面临的难题,也是已让我们付出惨重代价的新挑战。无论如何,国界逐渐消失、人员全球交流的时代,以肤色种族论素质是显而易见的愚蠢。”

The "high price" refers to the stampede in Shanghai on New Year's Eve in which 36 people died. "Racial quality" is a euphemism some critics assign to the inferiority of their compatriots when it comes to the less-than-desirable behavior in the public environment, such as littering, jostling and jumping the line.
“沉重的代价”指的是新年前夜发生在上海的踩踏事件,导致36人身亡。“民族素质”是一种委婉的说法。当提及社会地位较低的国人们在公共场合的不令人满意的行为时,如乱丢垃圾、拥挤推搡和插队等,一些评论家就会开始大谈民族素质问题。

It may not represent the mainstream voice of China, but there has always been an undercurrent of racism in China - against Chinese ourselves. Only in China would such a bad thing happen because Chinese are selfish, undereducated, scheming or too trustful, among other bad qualities, goes the argument.
这并不代表中国的主流声音,但中国总有一股民族偏见的暗流,诋毁我们中国人自己。他们认为,只有在中国才会发生如此糟糕的事情,因为中国人太自私,受教育程度低,善耍诡计,容易轻信别人。

This kind of statement derives from at least two sources: One is the tendency to blame a whole village for something done by an individual. A report of a serial killer would elicit a wave of responses saying that only a place so vile would spawn a creature like this. And a second possible source is the critical self-evaluation of scholars who scrutinize China's cultural soil for elements holding back its progress.
这种说法的出现有两个原因:其中一个就是人们总爱用一个人干的坏事去责备整个村子的人。如果报道说某地出现了连环杀手,人们就会臆断只有罪恶充盈的地方才会造就这么一个杀人恶魔。另一个可能的原因就是,一些学者们想要通过细察中国文化土壤来找到阻碍中国进步的因素,他们希望通过严格的自我审视来达到鞭策进步的目的。

The problem is, online denizens tend to accept the academic conclusions without delving into detailed analysis. The urge to generalize is so tempting and fits so neatly into the fast-food atmosphere of Internet expression that few have the patience to go through the travail of supporting one's arguments with evidence or rationalization. Online, the world is either black or white, with no room for shades of gray.
问题是,网民们倾向于不加深入分析便接受这种学术论断。如此以偏概全的见解很是吸引人,也很符合网络言论快餐式的氛围,因而很少有人会有耐心去思考它是否能找到证据支撑,它背后的逻辑是否讲得通。网络世界非黑即白,没有灰色地带可言。

That goes for both China and the United States as topics of contention. Especially China and the US - two countries used as points of reference for political grandstanding. If you are pro-China, you must be anti-America; and vice versa, or so some believe. It has become so simplistic, partly because of the 140-character limit of most arguments, that the best parts of a public discourse, the parts that involve new informationor factual nuances, tend to be left out or ignored.
对于中美间极具争议性的话题而言也是如此。尤其是中国和美国——它们常常被放在政治秀中对立的两端。如果你支持中国,你就一定反美国;反之亦然,至少一些人是这样认为的。这种看法把复杂问题过于简单化,而其中部分原因是微博有140字的字数限制,公众话语中最精华的部分,那些包含新的信息和事实细节的部分就可能被省略或忽略掉了。

For me, the four photos showing a detritus-cluttered Times Square were hardly surprising. Any place that had just packed in a million people would leave jetsam and flotsam of garbage - even under the best of circumstances. I'm not oblivious to factors such as cultural impact, educational levels and social backgrounds, etc. A typical American crowd that scientifically represents US demographics would probably litter less than a typical Chinese crowd. Within China, an urban gathering would heed public sanitation more than a rural assemblage. This has nothing to do with race, but lots to do with education, especially the teaching of civility.
在我看来,纽约时代广场的垃圾照片一点都不令人惊奇。即使是在最好的情况下,一个刚刚有一百万人呆过的地方都会产生大量的碎屑垃圾。我并非没有注意到诸如文化影响、教育水平和社会背景之类的因素。一群能科学地代表美国人口结构的典型美国人群很可能会比一群典型中国人丢的垃圾更少。在中国国内,城市居民集会时会比乡村居民更加注重公共卫生。这和民族属性没有任何关系,而与教育水平关系关系匪浅,尤其是公民的礼仪教育。


New York, a city I called home for two years in the 1990s, is not typically American, not in my eyes. It attracts a much more diverse segment from the US and the rest of the world. For the New Year's countdown, the crowd was predominantly youthful, similar to the one at Shanghai's Bund. Anyway, I would hesitate to draw sweeping conclusions from one event or a few photos of it. I've seen American downtowns much dirtier and scarier than Chinese cities, and American suburbs and small towns much cleaner than Chinese ones. There are many reasons for the discrepancy, but race or ethnicity is not among them as far as I can figure out.
上个世纪90年代,我在纽约居住了两年。纽约并不是一个典型的美国城市,至少在我看来不是。它吸引了来自全美和世界各地的人们,因而多元的文化和思想在这里交汇融合。参加新年夜倒数的绝大多数都是年轻人,情况和在上海外滩狂欢的人群类似。不管怎么说,我不会仅从一件事或几张照片就匆匆下一个笼统的结论。我见过一些美国的市中心比中国的城市更肮脏、更可怕。我也见过一些美国的郊区和小镇比中国的郊区和小镇干净整洁许多。这种差异的形成是有原因的,但据我所知,民族和种族绝不是其中之一。

As I see it, the outcry from Chinese netizens over the photos stems from ignorance. Those who do not know the US that well may imagine it as a symbol, either of goodness or of evil. As such, they would see the posting of the photos as a gesture of reluctance to face our own problems - or even one of denigrating the Utopia of their mind. I'm convinced those people have never lived in the States or read an American newspaper, which is usually plastered with local setbacks and criticisms of various policies.
如我所想,中国网民对于时代广场垃圾照片的过激反应是无知的表现。那些不了解美国的人们很可能会把这种行为看作是一种标志——善良或邪恶的标志。如果是这样,他们会把这种发布垃圾照片的行为看作是不愿面对自身问题的表现——或甚至是诽谤他们心中理想国的恶劣行径。我相信那些人应该从来没有在美国呆过或读过美国的报纸,而美国的报纸通常会在醒目的位置刊登当地面临的问题和批评政府政策的文章。

Of course, there was also the camp of schadenfreude that, "They were no better than us". They used the photographic evidence to justify domestic problems, inadvertently bearing witness to the mentality portrayed by the old Chinese saying, "Those who run 50 steps away from danger call those who fled 100 steps cowards". They forgot that lessons learned in other countries can indeed be applied to similar situations in our own country, with qualification, of course, thus saving us the trouble of making the same mistakes.
当然,也有许多人幸灾乐祸道:“他们和我们一样没什么素质。”他们以这些照片为据,为国内的社会问题正名。他们的心态无意中印证了中国的一句古话:“五十步笑百步”。他们忘记了,其他国家的经验教训在一定条件下也可以在我国相似的问题中得到运用。这样我们就可以避免犯类似的错误。

Other than ignorance, the tendency to see a place as either pure good or pure bad is rooted in a stubborn inability to absorb the complexities of the real world. The world does not abide by either-or rules. Even a simple thing like littering has a full gamut of variations. Coupled with other factors, it may have so many dimensions as to dwarf the imagination of the creators of the theoretical physics-based movie Interstellar. We tend to simplify matters by winnowing less significant details from the discussion. But we should remind ourselves that the golden nuggets of wisdom are distilled from real-life experiences that are often messy and hard to grasp.
除了无知,这些人看待一个地方不是好就是坏,这种倾向源于他们缺乏观察真实世界复杂性的能力。这个世界并不是非黑即白的。即使是像丢垃圾这样简单的事情也会有各种各样的变化。与其他因素结合起来,它可能有如此多个维度,以致于(以物理理论为基础的电影)《星际穿越》创造者的想象力都显得相形见绌。我们倾向于在讨论中省去一些细枝末节以达到简化问题的目的。但是我们应当要提醒自己,智慧的金块是从真实的生活经历中提炼出的,而现实生活往往是混乱而难以捉摸的。

Last year, I staged a play I had written earlier, titled The Ring Road, part of which was based on what I know personally. It features a Chinese couple who live in Silicon Valley. The husband wants to come back to China, listing all the things he finds unbearable stateside, like the glass ceiling for Asians and pure boredom for the middle class, and the wife counters with a litany of objectionable phenomena in China, such as pollution and the unremitting competition in Chinese schools.
去年,我创作的剧目《环路》上演了。这是我以前写的一部剧,故事是部分地基于我个人的所见所闻。故事的主角是一对居住在硅谷的中国夫妇。丈夫想要回到中国,于是他列举出所有他觉得美国不可容忍的地方,比如说存在对亚洲人的晋升障碍,中产阶级逐渐失去社会地位等。妻子则说起一系列有关中国不好的地方的陈词滥调,例如污染严重,学校竞争压力巨大等。

I invited some friends to the dress rehearsal and their feedback disconcerted me. Some said my play was too pro-American and some too anti-America. I tried to explain that I did not have any political agenda either way, but I stopped midway. Instead I told them not to see it as an allegory, but as one man's journey through a real place, or more accurately, journeys of various characters I created from my observations.
我邀请了一些朋友观看这部剧的排练,而他们的反馈令我有些困惑不安。一些人说我的剧亲美色彩太重,另一些人则觉得它带有很强的反美意识。我试着向他们解释我并未在剧中隐含任何政治意图,但中途我便放弃了。与之相反,我告诉他们,我希望他们不要把这部剧看作是一个政治性的寓言,它只不过是我通过观察而创作出的真实反映人生旅途的一部作品罢了。

We all have our little prisms through which we see the world and which we cannot discard completely. But the ability to see a place for what it truly is, not what it is supposed to be, relies on the assiduous accumulation of knowledge. Only under the mountain of knowledge and impartiality will globs of prejudice crumble.
我们每个人都习惯于用自己的方式来看待这个世界,而我们都不能完全摆脱自身主观判断的影响。但是要能够看到一个地方它“是什么样子”,而不是它“应该是什么样子”,就需要刻苦勤勉地积累知识。只有掌握了足够多的知识,秉承公正客观的原则,才能消除内心的一丝偏见。

(Via 英语点津 编辑 Helen )



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