“Enlarge the Temple”: An Interview with Charles Altieri (An Excerpt)

Enlarge the Temple”: An Interview with Charles Altieri (An Excerpt)

“拓展庙宇” —— 查尔斯 · 阿尔提艾瑞教授访谈 ( 节选)

(唐毅 译)

Interviewee: A—Charles Altieri, Professor of English at University of California, US.

Interviewer: Z—Zhang Yuejun, Professor of English at Central South University, China.

受访人:查尔斯·阿尔提艾瑞教授(加州大学伯克利分校),以下简称“阿”
采访人:张跃军教授(中南大学),以下简称“张”

(1 )

Z: Some Chinese scholars say we had modern views on language long ago. There are two Chinese expressions on this point, one of which has it that the word cannot fully display the meaning and the other says the words fails to express itself. This seems to be fairly supportive to Derrida, for instance. However, it is considered highly ironical that one has to express oneself with words despite the inability of the words to express anything.

A: No, it is not that words fail to express anything. The claim is that words fail to express the specific intentions behind them.

Z: You mean ...

A: I mean in general if I want to say something, my words can obviously have other meanings for other people. Derrida says that is not just an accident but it is the nature of language itself.

(1  )
张:有中国学者指出,中国很久以前就有了现代语言观。这种语言观有两种表述:其一为“言不尽意”,其二为“词不达意”,这很好地佐证了德里达等人的观点。然而,讽刺的是,尽管词不达意,我们还要用语言表达思想情感。
阿 :不是词不达意,而是说语言无法表达其背后隐藏的具体意图。
张 :您的意思是……
阿:我是指,笼统说来,假如我有话要说,我的话对别人显然可能有其他的意思。德里达说,这不是意外,而是语言的本质属性。

(2 )

Z: The figurative quality of language makes an imposing burden for the reader, in the sense that the reader has to cooperate with the writer in the generation of meanings.

A: Well, reader response is really not about the nature of language in relation to multiple meanings. Reader response is a particular way of claiming that meaning is primarily in individual response—which I think is dead wrong. It discounts any sense that pursuing an authorial intention is a way to break from the fixities of self and to see new possibilities for interpreting experience.

(2 )
张 :语言的修辞属性对读者造成很大的负担;读者在意义的产生过程中不得不配合作者。
阿:读者反应理论谈论语言的多义性,实际上不涉及语言的本质。读者反应理论以独特的方式声明,意义存在于读者的个体反应,我觉得这一点大错特错。它实际上否定任何类似的观点:认为追寻作者意图是挣脱自我僵化、获取新的阅读体验的一种途径。

(3 )

Z: Cultural studies seem to be a mosaic or a melting pot, a combination of the past studies focusing on gender, ethical, political and ethical orientations. Do you have the same feeling?

A: I think mosaic is a better term than “melting pot.” Melting pot is probably accurate, but people don’t experience it that way. I mean they experience it as a set of choices that are possible for doing critical work. So individual people don’t feel in a melting pot, they feel they select something from the pot.

(3 )
张:文化研究就像一块马赛克或一个大熔炉,它汇集了过去关注性别、伦理、政治和族裔等的研究。您是否也有同感?
阿:我想马赛克这个词比熔炉要好。熔炉或许是准确的,不过人们的感觉不是这样。我是说,人们觉得熔炉意味着一系列选项,有了这些选项,批评工作方能进行下去。因此,人们并不觉得身处熔炉之中,倒是觉得自己是在“炉中取物”。

(4)

Z: What’s your understanding of cultural identity? In the increasing trend of globalization, features of some particular groups are dissolved when they try to merge into the mainstream by escaping from the marginal status.

A: There is a sense of loss, but I think some version of this merging is what most people want. We enjoy in the day working in the metropolis economy and at night feeling ourselves merging with a local sense of identity, but being cool enough to have various other kinds of friends. But then we have to admit that we can’t go completely home again even though you sort of partially want to. So globalization is more powerful than people think it is.

Z: Yeah, but people may feel differently about issues like this. This is an issue intellectuals in the third world like from China are very much concerned with. They are quite worried about the possibility of losing their voices. I guess this is happening in America as well: people like Said, Baba and Spivak come from other backgrounds and they strive to merge into the mainstream.

A: They were never really in the third world and they’ve done powerful defenses of their differences from the mainstream. You know Said’s father was a diplomat or something. He later in his life realized he could speak for the Palestinians as a political group, but couldn’t really be their substantial speaker because he never had that kind of life. He wouldn’t want to. America doesn’t have those substantial traditional values the way China does, but they have traditional political values and people do worry a great deal about being faithful to those. If you’ve been formed in traditional values you probably will not lose them entirely if you enter into the global world? But it’s true that if you are a child and have not learned at all, more often you’ll passively accept things but we’re talking about intellectuals who are mature in choosing their positions.

Z: You mean one doesn’t have to worry so much.

A: I think that is right. There are a lot of ugly things about the contemporary world, but that ugliness is connected with much that is desirable and beneficial. Yet I do recognize how many young people in China seem to grow insensitive in their pursuit of material goods.

Z: Actually they’re echoing or they’re just imagining living the American lifestyle. People say that globalization or westernization is merely Americanization and America is behaving like the world cop.

A: Oh, I think it’s true. America is not a sensitive country aware of what is going on in and to other cultures. And it is painful to me how many people are learning to like to play American.

Z: They say one way but act the other.

A: For example?

Z: For example, some people study in America and say they don’t like it but they’re actually enjoying and benefiting from it.

A: Oh, I see. That makes perfect sense.

(4 )
张:您如何理解文化身份?随着全球化不断加剧,某些群体为了摆脱边缘状态而设法融入主流文化,结果丧失了自身特色。
阿:失落感会有的,不过,以某种方式融入主流文化却是大部分人的期盼。白天,我们在大都会的经济中享受工作乐趣,晚上回家后,转换成地方身份,可以结识各式各样的朋友,感觉挺酷的。但是,不得不承认,尽管心向往之,我们再也无法全身心“回家”了。所以说,全球化的力量超出了人们的想象。
张:是的,但人们对类似的话题感受不同。第三世界(例如中国)的知识分子对文化身份特别关注,他们担心失去自己的声音。我想,在美国情况也一样:赛义德、霍米·巴巴、斯皮瓦克都来自非美国文化背景,他们努力融入美国的主流文化。
阿:他们从来不是真正来自第三世界,关于与美国主流文化的区别,他们做了有力辩护。赛义德的父亲做过外交家一类的职业。赛义德晚年意识到,虽说可以为巴勒斯坦政治群体进言,但无法成为他们真正的代言人,因为他从未有过相关生活体验,所以他并不愿意代言。美国不像中国那样有真正的传统价值观念,但美国有传统政治价值理念,他们对此忠贞不渝同时也深感忧虑。如果你在某种传统价值观的熏陶下长大,即便走向了世界,你也不大可能完全失去原有的价值观。当然,一无所获的孩子将被动地接受一切。我们 讨论的是思想成熟、知道该如何选择立场的知识分子。
张:您的意思是,不必过于担忧吧。
阿:我想是的。当今世界存在很多的丑陋现象,这关乎人的欲望和利益。但是我发现,如今,中国年轻人 对于追求物质财富似乎变得漠不关心。
张:事实上,他们在模仿或只是想象美国生活方式。人们常说,全球化或“西化”相当于美国化,美国简 直成了“世界警察”。
阿:是,我想没错。美国对于其他文化现状及其变化不够敏感。很多人热衷学着仿效美国做派,我很痛心。

张:他们心口不一呢。
阿:比如说? 张:比如说,一些人在美国求学,口头上说不喜欢美国,实际上挺享受,并且从中获益。
阿:哦,我明白了。这个很能说明问题。

(5)
Z: One more question. Nowadays in China because of the increasing trend of market orientation, university students are losing interests in the humanities and they are unlikely to attend relevant courses. What is the situation like in the US? Are the literary canons still cores of university curricula?
A: For the most part in the US literary canons are not the cores of university criteria. There is just a market place for competing values. And the tide may be turning in the US. For twenty years at least the humanities have suffered but some students at least seem to be realizing that making money does not produce happiness or a mind that can satisfy itself with its own capacities for engaging different aspects of the world.

(5)
张:最后一个问题。今日中国,随着市场化潮流的兴起,大学生正在丧失对人文学科的兴趣,也不愿选修 相关课程。美国情况如何?文学经典还是大纲中的核心课程吗?
阿:在美国大部分高校里,文学经典并非核心课程。课程价值的高低,由市场(竞争)说了算。现在,潮流可能变了,至少这二十年间,人文学科苦不堪言。不过,至少有些学生意识到,赚钱无法带给他们幸福 感,或者说,无法满足他们那颗能够接纳大千世界的心。

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