Making People by Eileen Chang ~ 爱玲 《造人》 with English Translations

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作品原文

张爱玲 《造人》

我一向是对于年纪大一点的人感到亲切,对于和自己差不多岁数的人稍微有点看不起,对于小孩则是尊重与恐惧,完全敬而远之。倒不是因为“后生可畏”。多半他们长大成人之后也都是很平凡的,还不如我们这一代也说不定。
小孩是从生命的泉源里分出来的一点新的力量,所以可敬,可怖。
小孩不像我们想象的那么糊涂。父母大都不懂得子女,而子女往往看穿了父母的为人。我记得很清楚,小时候怎样渴望把我所知道的全部吐露出来,把长辈们大大的吓唬一下。
青年的特点是善忘,才过了儿童时代便是把儿童心理忘得干干净净,直到老年,又渐渐和儿童接近起来,中间隔了一个时期,俗障最深,与孩子们完全失去接触——刚巧这便是生孩子的时候。
无怪生孩子的可以生了又生。他们把小孩看做有趣的小傻子,可笑又可爱的累赘。他们不觉得孩子的眼睛的可怕——那么认真的眼睛,像末日审判的时候,天使的眼睛。
凭空制造出这样一双眼睛,这样的有评判力的脑子,这样的身体,知道最细致的痛苦也知道快乐,凭空制造了一个人,然后半饥半饱半明半昧地养大他……造人是危险的工作。做父母的不是上帝而被迫处于神的地位。即使你慎重从事,生孩子以前把一切都给他筹备好了,还保不定他会成为何等样的人物。若是他还没下地之前,一切的环境就是于他不利的,那他是绝少成功的机会——注定了。
当然哪,环境越艰难,越显出父母之爱的伟大。父母子女之间,处处需要牺牲,因而养成了克已的美德。
自我牺牲的母爱是美德,可是这种美德是我们的兽祖先遗传下来的,我们的家畜也同样具有的——我们似乎不能引以自傲。本能的仁爱只是兽性的善。人之所以异于禽兽者并不在此。人之所以为人,全在乎高一等的知觉高一等的理解力。此种论调或者会被认为过于理智化,过于冷淡,总之,缺乏“人性”——其实倒是比较“人性”的,因为是对于兽性的善的标准表示不满。
兽类有天生的慈爱,也有天生的残酷,于是在血肉淋漓的生存竞争中一代一代活下来。“自然”这东西是神秘伟大不可思议的,但是我们不能“止于自然”。自然的作风是惊人的浪费——条鱼产下几百万鱼子,被其他的水族吞噬之下,单剩下不多的几个侥幸孵成小鱼。为什么我们也要这样地浪费我们的骨血呢?文明人是相当值钱的动物,喂养,教养,实在需要巨大的耗费。我们的精力有限,在世的时间也有限,可做,该做的事又有那么多——凭什么我们要大量制造一批迟早要被淘汰的废物?
我们的天性是要人种滋长繁殖,多多的生,生了又生。我们自己是要死的,可是我们的种子遍布于大地。然而,是什么样的不幸的种子,仇恨的种子!

 

 

作品译文

 

 

Making People
Eileen Chang

I have always felt close to people older than myself, looked down a little bit on people more or less my own age, and felt both esteem and terror when confronted with little children, from whom I deliberately maintain a respectful distance. This is not because I “fear the later-born,” as the old saying goes. I imagine that, once they grow up, most of them will be quite ordinary and no better, in all likelihood, than my own generation.
Children aren’t as muddleheaded as we imagine them to be. Most parents don’t understand their children, while most children are able to see right through their parents and understand exactly what sort of people they are. I remember how as a child I longed to reveal all that I knew, just so that I could shock and dismay my elders.
The distinguishing feature of youth is the ability to forget, for as soon as we pass beyond childhood, we completely forget how children think, and it is only as we grow old that we once again grow closer to them. It’s the time in between that usually throws up the biggest barriers, so that as adults we lose contact with children almost entirely. This is also precisely the time in our lives, of course, when we actually go about having children.
No wonder those who have children keep on having them. They see children as amusing little blockheads, lovable and laughable encumbrances. They fail to see what is so very frightening about children’s eyes – such earnest eyes, the eyes of the angels on Judgment Day.
Without any real credentials, we blithely make eyes such as these, their little minds capable of criticism and judgment, their bodies capable of experiencing the most exquisite pain as well as pleasure. Without credentials, we make people, and stumbling between hunger and satiety, between knowledge and ignorance, we raise them to adulthood. Making people is quite a dangerous occupation. Mothers and fathers are not gods, but they are forced into occupying a position of divinity. And even if you play that divine role with great care, even if you prepare meticulously for the arrival of your child, there is no way to guarantee what sort of person the child will eventually become. If conditions do not favor a child even before he is born, then he can hardly be expected to succeed later in life. Such are the operations of fate.
Of course, the more arduous the situation, the more apparent will become the tremendous love parents bear for their children. Either the parent or the child must be sacrificed to circumstances, and it is from this hard truth that we have derived the moral virtue of self-abnegation.
The self-sacrificing love of a mother is indeed a virtue, but a virtue only within a moral code that has been passed down to us by our animal forebears. Since even domestic animals seem to share this virtue, there’s no particular reason to be proud of ourselves on this account. Instinctual love of this sort is merely an animal virtue, not one of those qualities that separate us from the beasts. What does distinguish mankind from the beasts are our higher degree of consciousness and higher powers of comprehension. While this approach to the question may appear excessively logical, overly dispassionate, or lacking in humanity, real humanity lies in a refusal to accept merely animal virtues as an ethical standard for human beings.
Animals possess instinctive compassion but also instinctive cruelty, and this is why generation after generation can and does survive the bloody, competitive struggle for survival. Nature is a mysterious and magnificent thing, but we cannot “rest content in nature.” Nature’s ways are shockingly wasteful. A fish will produce several million eggs, most of which will be swallowed by other creatures of the sea, only to yield a few surviving spawn that might eventually grow into fish. Why should we expend our flesh and blood in such a profligate manner? Civilized people are extremely expensive creatures, requiring enormous sums of money to be fed, raised, and educated. Our energy is limited. Our time on this planet is limited. And there are so many things that we can and should do while we are here. What on earth could induce us to produce these useless creatures, destined as they are for the evolutionary scrap heap, in such profuse quantities?
It is in our nature to want humanity to thrive and proliferate, to reproduce and to continue reproducing. We ourselves are destined to die, but our progeny will spread across the earth. But what unhappy progeny are these, what hateful seeds!

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