Dependent Origination

The Bell

Posted on: October 2, 2010

以前好像提过,上学的时候系里的茶房有每天的纽约时报,没有人一起吃午饭的时候,就一边吃一边看,所以看nytimes的习惯已经很久很久了。有一次看到了Iris Murdoch的讣告,讣告是很有意思的栏目,这个以后再说。一下子被Iris丰富多彩的一生吸引,马上借了她老公为她写的回忆录来看。当时刚刚到美国不久,英文水平和现在不可同日而语,看了大半本,爱情细节很感动,关于她的哲学思想等等都没看懂。这本书择日需要重读的说。

这则讣告最重要的地方是它开启了我自己读书的时代,所以意义十分重大。国内上学的时候也看过很多书,但是来源无外乎老师父母或者同学的推荐。正经的书单上面多半是文学名著,作者一般都死了。 当代的作家,几乎很少出现在大家的视野里面。刚到美国的时候,中文资源困乏,平时也就是能看看新语丝,哪里有现在这般繁荣的景象。不过也正是中文网络的缺失才造成了我向英文资源探索的动力,今日来看,是利远远大于弊的一件事情。这个话题很有意思,还是日后拓展吧:)

回到Iris Murdoch身上,从她老公的回忆录开始,我开始了从nytimes上面寻找书看的历史。后面看的书,都是自己想看的,不是一定会在某个大众共同认可的书单上面的,是深深地带着自己的喜好和发展历史的,是一条自己独自向前,独自摸索,独自学习的路。个人和孤独,是这些年看书最大的标志。

Iris Murdoch虽然对我的读书有这么大的作用,但是我却一本她的作品都没有看过。前一个星期在图书馆闲逛的时候,看到她的collection,就随手抽了一本比较薄的,打算消灭掉这个盲点:)

看完很喜欢。但是也很欣喜自己十几年后才想起来看她。十几年前的我,恐怕很难理解很多人性上面复杂的问题和欣赏一份能够透彻的毫不犹豫的展示人的弱点的作品。十几年前的我也不大可能对宗教,或者Organized Religion这样的话题有任何兴趣。但是对于现在的我,is totally piqued by the question that why organized religion can exist and flourish how I should approach it. Murdoch用一个短小的故事探索了宗教,爱情,弱点和the darkness caused by the weaknesses.

Only one character survived the darkness, so I have to think of her as the heroine, Dora. Other characters received fairly significant treatment so at times it is hard to tell who is the main character. Dora started the story as a young woman, insecure and shallow, married to an abusive husband who she couldn’t tear herself away from. The husband, Paul, was studying an ancient manuscripts in a convent and lived in the lay community outside the convent. Dora joined Paul to live in the community to rescue her marriage. The community had an assortment of characters who wanted something more than what they could acquire in a normal life but were not determined enough to give up the world. Everyone came with an emotional luggage and thus despite their full wish to act out of pure belief in the goodness of following God a series of events happened around the introduction of a new bell into the convent. Dora ended up being the only one who thought of life differently and for the better and left the community with courage and confidence to face the turmoil which we call life and potentially love it. Everyone else was permanently scarred and there seemed no hope that they could recover from the damage and face their faith the same as before.

听起来很沉重,但是读起来并不是这个感觉。Murdoch writes in a beautiful and poetic language. At times, I would stop and recite her sentences many times just to savor the beauty of her lines. She is a writing master!

A few random examples:

1. It was a bright moonlit night and he could see as he looked out, intent and nervous, the great expanse of the lake, and the Abbey wall opposite to him, clearly revealed in the blazing splendour of the moon which was well risen above the market-garden. Everything looked familiar and at the same time rather eerie.

2. The boat came lazily to a standstill in the middle of the lake.

3. Dora Greenfield was wearing a spectacular dress of dark West Indian cotton and carrying a white paper parasol, which she must have purchased in the village, and, for some reason, a large Spanish basket. She wore the sandals deplored by Margaret Strafford. At Mark’s suggestion, she had drenched herself in oil of citronella to keep off the midges, and the heavy sweetish perfume gave to her person an allure both crude and exotic. Michael watched her, as they ambled along, with irritation. He has seen her, similarly attired and accoutred, in the market-garden that afternoon, and her presence had seemed to make their labours into some absurd pastoral frolic. There was something a little touching all the same about her naive vitality. Her arms touched by the sun were now a glowing gold and she tossed her heavy tongues of hair like a pony. Michael saw dimly how Paul might be in love with her. Paul himself was in a restless excited state and fluttered about his wife, unable to keep his eyes and his hands off her. She teased him with a slightly impatient tolerance.

4. It was the next morning. The sun was still faithfully shining, but a certain chillness and bleakness in the air at breakfast time made known the season, and then the eye was more quick to see the signs of the autumnal decay.

1 Response to "The Bell"

[…] since it is too much, too impossible for a person to be in such position. All in all, I like the Bell a lot better but I will keep on reading Murdoch since she appears to be writing about our […]

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