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Category: Excerpt


上周开始看 Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks 这本书,有种十年前就该学这些内容的感觉。尤其是这本书里讲的,一定要每天坚持至少十五分钟的写作,不要等,不要等,搞创作要积少成多。

Writing is to academia what sex was to nineteenth-century Vienna: everybody does it and nobody talks about it. A leading scholar of productivity found that most academics were more willing to talk about their most personal problems, including sexual dysfunction, than about problems with writing (Boice 1990, 1). The prevalent belief among academics seems to be that writing, like sex, should come naturally, and should be performed in polite privacy.

Wendy Laura Belcher. 2019. Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks. p. 15

No matter how busy your life is, make a plan for writing. Successful academic writers don’t wait for inspiration. They don’t wait until the last minute. They don’t wait for big blocks of time. They make a plan for writing five days a week, and they strive to stick to it. Much of this workbook will be devoted to helping you develop writing into a habit. Short and steady sessions will win the race: “With but a few exceptions, writers who remained in a schedule requiring an hour or less a weekday of writing mastered a sequence of strategies for remaining truly productive over long periods of time” (Boice 1990, 3). As an anonymous person wisely commented online, “The only thing that improves writing is writing.”

Wendy Laura Belcher. 2019. Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks. pp. 18–19

A fur piece = A long distance

刚刚在看 Miller 的 On Literature(中译本《文学死了吗?》——现在听这句话特别像在问候全家),里面说福克纳《八月之光》的开头是:


J. Hillis Miller. 2002. On Literature | 文学死了吗. 秦立彦 译 (2007)



William Faulkner. 1932. Light in August | 八月之光. 蓝仁哲 译 (2015)


William Faulkner. 1932. Light in August | 八月之光. 霍彦京 译 (2016)

于是我翻开 Light in August 的原文,对应的原文是 a fur piece。

I have come from Alabama: a fur piece. All the way from Alabama a-walking. A fur piece.

William Faulkner. 1932. Light in August

虽然我也不知道 a fur piece 是 a long distance 的土话(后来 Google 到了),但是我大概也不敢贸然译成皮草围巾,起码我可以查一下现成的中译本吧。


We have already seen that Sidgwick’s principle of universal benevolence requires us to give no more weight to our own interests than we give to the similar interests of everyone else. Such a principle is unlikely to have been selected for by an evolutionary process; on the contrary, it is exactly the kind of principle that you would expect evolution to select against, because evolution selects for principles that confer advantages on us, our kin, those with whom we are in reciprocally beneficial relationships, and perhaps other members of our small tribe or social group. The need for reciprocity and trust within our social group may well have led to the evolution of a sense of fairness, but the impetus to extend that sense beyond our own group is unlikely to be an evolved automatic response. It is more likely to require the use of our ability to reason. Our reasoning is, of course, a product of evolution, for it enhances our prospects of surviving and reproducing; but it also brings with it the ability to understand things that have nothing to do with evolutionary fitness, such as the ability to do higher mathematics. Perhaps it also brings with it our ability to see that our own interests are no more significant than those of other beings who can enjoy life as much as we can, and can suffer as much as we can. If this is right, the rational basis of Sidgwick’s principle of benevolence is immune from evolutionary debunking arguments, and hence remains standing when these arguments undermine the grounds for accepting non-consequentialist intuitions.

Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek & Peter Singer. 2017. Utilitarianism: A Very Short Introduction

There’s more to life than being happy?

刚在微博上看到严锋老师转发了一场 TED 演讲 There’s more to life than being happy (by Emily Esfahani Smith)。有人总结到「追求快乐让人变得不快乐」,严锋老师说「过份追求快乐让人变得不快乐」。这个话题让我突然有很多话想说。

我们先来看一看 Emily 的开场白:

I used to think the whole purpose of life was pursuing happiness. Everyone said the path to happiness was success, so I searched for that ideal job, that perfect boyfriend, that beautiful apartment. But instead of ever feeling fulfilled, I felt anxious and adrift. And I wasn’t alone; my friends — they struggled with this, too.

我曾经认为生活的全部目的就是追求快乐/幸福(按:happiness 既可以表示短暂的快乐又可以表示较长时段的幸福状态)。每个人都说通往快乐/幸福的道路是成功,所以我追求理想的工作,追求完美的男朋友,追求漂亮的公寓。但是我没有感到满足,我感到的是焦虑和迷茫。不只是我,我的朋友们也有同样的困扰。

后来 Emily 就去学习积极心理学(positive psychology),读了很多心理学、神经科学和哲学的书——恰好也是我最感兴趣的三个领域。她发现,数据显示,追求快乐反而让人不快乐,尽管大家的生活条件越来越好,但抑郁、甚至自杀的人却越来越多。而研究认为这并不是因为他们缺少快乐,而是缺少生活的意义。于是 Emily 开始追问快乐(being happy)和生活的意义(having meaning in life)有什么区别。

Many psychologists define happiness as a state of comfort and ease, feeling good in the moment. Meaning, though, is deeper. The renowned psychologist Martin Seligman says meaning comes from belonging to and serving something beyond yourself and from developing the best within you. Our culture is obsessed with happiness, but I came to see that seeking meaning is the more fulfilling path. And the studies show that people who have meaning in life, they’re more resilient, they do better in school and at work, and they even live longer.


接下来的演讲就是 Emily 分享自己找到的怎样寻求人生意义的四种方式(four pillars of a meaningful life):归属感(belonging)、目的(purpose)、超越(transcendence)、讲故事(storytelling)。Emily 的确讲了很多故事,四种方式各讲了一个故事,讲完还继续讲了自己的故事和父亲的故事。这里就暂且略过。最后她总结到:快乐的感觉有来有去捉摸不定,意义才能让我们掌握人生(Happiness comes and goes. But when life is really good and when things are really bad, having meaning gives you something to hold on to)。


我觉得虽然这是一场 TED 演讲,但其实论证方式特别像心灵鸡汤。我直奔主题,我们思考一下,Emily 的演讲从头到尾证明的是在人生中除了快乐之外还有其他重要之事(there’s more to life than being happy)吗?或者说她证明的是追求快乐反而会让人不快乐吗?

回到 Emily 的开场白,谁说追求快乐就一定等同于追求世俗意义的成功呢?Emily 和她的朋友追求好工作、好伴侣、好房子没有获得满足,最多只能证明这些追求快乐的途径可能有问题,但并不能证明「追求快乐」本身有问题,不能证明「 不应该追求快乐」。Emily 说自己通过追求这些没有获得满足,感到焦虑和迷茫,也就是追求某些目标让人感到不快乐,可以得出的结论应该是:这些具体目标,或者追求这些目标的方式方法可能不太对。也许我们追求另外一些目标更容易获得快乐,也许同样是追求这些目标,但换其他一些追求方式我们更容易获得快乐。你不能把自己原以为的那些目标直接等同于快乐本身,然后一起否定掉。

Emily 随后讲的意义,以及寻求意义的四种方式(归属感、目的、超越、讲故事),其实都可以认为是她找到的另一些追求快乐的方式。撇开她举例论证的效力问题,她可以证明的其实只是某些目标或者某些方式不容易实现快乐,而追求另一些目标或者另一些方法比较容易实现快乐,这并没有贬低快乐本身,也没有必要去抬高一个玄乎的人生意义(积极心理学之父给出的关于意义的定义实在很想吐嘈)。


前段时间 Slowly 上的笔友对中国文化感兴趣,但我一时不知道推荐什么资源,总觉得无论是传统文化还是流行文化都很少有现成的资源给外国人看。金庸先生去世之后我才想到,金庸的作品算是现成的资源。YouTube 上也有加英文字幕的电视剧(虽然未必是正版)。今年《射雕英雄传》的英译本 The Legend of the Condor Heroes 也出了第一卷。各大外媒也写了介绍和纪念金庸的文章,顺便在此汇总一下。