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  • I want to talk today about how reading can change our lives

    譯者: Judy Huang 審譯者: Amanda Zhu

  • and about the limits of that change.

    我今天想要談談, 閱讀如何改變我們的人生,

  • I want to talk to you about how reading can give us a shareable world

    和這種改變的極限。

  • of powerful human connection.

    我想聊聊,閱讀如何以 富有人性的強力連結,

  • But also about how that connection is always partial.

    建立一個眾人能分享的世界,

  • How reading is ultimately a lonely, idiosyncratic undertaking.

    也想聊聊為何這種連結 常常是不完整的。

  • The writer who changed my life

    為何閱讀是件非常孤獨的事, 人人嘗到的滋味都不同。

  • was the great African American novelist James Baldwin.

    改變我人生的作家,

  • When I was growing up in Western Michigan in the 1980s,

    是偉大的非裔美國小說家 詹姆斯·鮑德溫。

  • there weren't many Asian American writers interested in social change.

    我是在 1980 年代的密西根西部長大,

  • And so I think I turned to James Baldwin

    當時並沒有很多關注 社會改革的亞裔美國作家。

  • as a way to fill this void, as a way to feel racially conscious.

    所以我才轉向詹姆斯·鮑德溫,

  • But perhaps because I knew I wasn't myself African American,

    來填補這個空缺, 來感受自己的種族意識。

  • I also felt challenged and indicted by his words.

    不過因為我知道 我並不是非裔美國人,

  • Especially these words:

    我感覺自己也是他書中控訴的對象。

  • "There are liberals who have all the proper attitudes,

    尤其是這段文字:

  • but no real convictions.

    「自由派會表現出所有合宜的態度,

  • When the chips are down and you somehow expect them to deliver,

    但他們沒有真正的信念。

  • they are somehow not there."

    當攤牌的時刻來到,

  • They are somehow not there.

    你期待他們會兌現 你以為他們感受到的東西,

  • I took those words very literally.

    結果他們不知怎地卻不見了。」

  • Where should I put myself?

    他們不在那裏了。

  • I went to the Mississippi Delta,

    我用字面的意思來解讀這句話,

  • one of the poorest regions in the United States.

    那我該把自己擺在哪裡?

  • This is a place shaped by a powerful history.

    我搬到密西西比河三角洲,

  • In the 1960s, African Americans risked their lives to fight for education,

    一個美國非常貧窮的區域。

  • to fight for the right to vote.

    這是一個由重大歷史塑造的地方,

  • I wanted to be a part of that change,

    在 1960 年代,非裔美國人 為了受教權、投票權捨命奮鬥。

  • to help young teenagers graduate and go to college.

    我也想參與這股改變的力量,

  • When I got to the Mississippi Delta,

    幫助青少年畢業和上大學。

  • it was a place that was still poor,

    我到密西西比三角洲的時候,

  • still segregated,

    那還是個貧困的地區,

  • still dramatically in need of change.

    種族隔閡依然存在,

  • My school, where I was placed,

    非常需要一番大改革。

  • had no library, no guidance counselor,

    我被分配到的學校

  • but it did have a police officer.

    沒有圖書館,沒有輔導老師,

  • Half the teachers were substitutes

    倒是有一位警察。

  • and when students got into fights,

    學校裡有一半的老師是代課老師。

  • the school would send them to the local county jail.

    有學生打架的時候,

  • This is the school where I met Patrick.

    學校會將他們送去郡立監獄。

  • He was 15 and held back twice, he was in the eighth grade.

    我就是在這所學校遇到派屈克。

  • He was quiet, introspective,

    他那時 15 歲,已被留級 兩次,仍在念八年級。

  • like he was always in deep thought.

    他非常安靜,自省內斂,

  • And he hated seeing other people fight.

    好像總是陷於沉思中。

  • I saw him once jump between two girls when they got into a fight

    他討厭看別人打架。

  • and he got himself knocked to the ground.

    我曾看過他試著阻止 兩位正在打架的女生,

  • Patrick had just one problem.

    他當時還被推倒在地。

  • He wouldn't come to school.

    派屈克那時只有一個問題,

  • He said that sometimes school was just too depressing

    就是他不願上學。

  • because people were always fighting and teachers were quitting.

    他說有時候學校很令人沮喪,

  • And also, his mother worked two jobs and was just too tired to make him come.

    因為常常有人打架, 又經常有老師辭職。

  • So I made it my job to get him to come to school.

    還有,他媽媽兼了兩份差, 累到沒空盯他上學。

  • And because I was crazy and 22 and zealously optimistic,

    所以提醒他去上學成了我的工作。

  • my strategy was just to show up at his house

    那時我正值瘋狂的 22 歲, 熱血澎湃、積極樂觀。

  • and say, "Hey, why don't you come to school?"

    我的策略就是每天去他家敲門叫他:

  • And this strategy actually worked,

    「嘿,你幹嘛不來上學?」

  • he started to come to school every day.

    這招還真的有效。

  • And he started to flourish in my class.

    他開始每天上學,

  • He was writing poetry, he was reading books.

    也在班上越來越進步。

  • He was coming to school every day.

    他開始寫詩、閱讀,

  • Around the same time

    每天都來學校上課。

  • that I had figured out how to connect to Patrick,

    但在我學會跟派屈克 建立良好關係的同時,

  • I got into law school at Harvard.

    我收到了哈佛法學院的錄取通知。

  • I once again faced this question, where should I put myself,

    我又得重新面臨這個問題:

  • where do I put my body?

    「我該把自己擺在哪裡?」

  • And I thought to myself

    那時我心想,

  • that the Mississippi Delta was a place where people with money,

    密西西比三角洲是有錢人、 有機會的人都會離開的地方。

  • people with opportunity,

    留在那裡的都是沒有機會離開的人。

  • those people leave.

    我並不想當離開的人。

  • And the people who stay behind

    我想當留下來的人,

  • are the people who don't have the chance to leave.

    但我又覺得孤單、疲憊。

  • I didn't want to be a person who left.

    最後我說服自己,

  • I wanted to be a person who stayed.

    如果我有受人崇敬的法律學位, 就有影響力來做更多更大的改革。

  • On the other hand, I was lonely and tired.

    於是我離開了。

  • And so I convinced myself that I could do more change

    三年後,

  • on a larger scale if I had a prestigious law degree.

    在我就要從法學院畢業時,

  • So I left.

    朋友打電話告訴我,

  • Three years later,

    派屈克跟人起了衝突, 把對方殺死了。

  • when I was about to graduate from law school,

    我非常震驚,

  • my friend called me

    心裡有一部分不想相信那是事實,

  • and told me that Patrick had got into a fight and killed someone.

    但另一部分很清楚這是真的。

  • I was devastated.

    我飛回去找派屈克,

  • Part of me didn't believe it,

    到了監獄探望他。

  • but part of me also knew that it was true.

    他告訴我那是真的,

  • I flew down to see Patrick.

    他的確殺了人,

  • I visited him in jail.

    但他不願多談,

  • And he told me that it was true.

    我問起他後來在學校的情形,

  • That he had killed someone.

    他說,他在我離開的那年就輟學了。

  • And he didn't want to talk more about it.

    接著他還有事情想跟我說,

  • I asked him what had happened with school

    他低著頭說,

  • and he said that he had dropped out the year after I left.

    他有個才剛出生的女兒,

  • And then he wanted to tell me something else.

    他覺得自己辜負了女兒。

  • He looked down and he said that he had had a baby daughter

    我們的對話就只有這樣, 過程倉促又尷尬。

  • who was just born.

    當我踏出監獄時, 心裡有個聲音說:

  • And he felt like he had let her down.

    「回來吧!

  • That was it, our conversation was rushed and awkward.

    如果你現在不回來, 就不會再回來了!」

  • When I stepped outside the jail, a voice inside me said,

    於是,從法學院畢業後,我回去了。

  • "Come back.

    我回去見了派屈克,

  • If you don't come back now, you'll never come back."

    去看看我是否能協助 處理他的法律案件。

  • So I graduated from law school and I went back.

    當我再次遇見他時,

  • I went back to see Patrick,

    我提了一個自認不錯的主意,

  • I went back to see if I could help him with his legal case.

    我說:「嘿!派屈克! 要不要寫封信給你女兒?

  • And this time, when I saw him a second time,

    這樣你就能時時把她放在心上。」

  • I thought I had this great idea, I said,

    我遞給他筆和紙,

  • "Hey, Patrick, why don't you write a letter to your daughter,

    他就開始寫信。

  • so that you can keep her on your mind?"

    但當我看到他交給我的那封信時,

  • And I handed him a pen and a piece of paper,

    我難以置信。

  • and he started to write.

    我認不出他的字跡,

  • But when I saw the paper that he handed back to me,

    他連很簡單的字都拼錯。

  • I was shocked.

    我心想,身為老師,

  • I didn't recognize his handwriting,

    我知道學生可以突然進步得很快,

  • he had made simple spelling mistakes.

    但我從來沒想過, 學生的程度可以退步這麼多。

  • And I thought to myself that as a teacher,

    更讓我感到衝擊的,

  • I knew that a student could dramatically improve

    是這封信的內容。

  • in a very quick amount of time,

    裡面寫著:

  • but I never thought that a student could dramatically regress.

    「我對我做錯事感到抱歉, 不能在你的身邊我感到抱歉。」

  • What even pained me more,

    他覺得只需要對女兒說這些話。

  • was seeing what he had written to his daughter.

    我問自己:要如何讓他 相信自己有更多話要說,

  • He had written,

    說的話也不只是他需要道歉的事。

  • "I'm sorry for my mistakes, I'm sorry for not being there for you."

    我想讓他覺得他還有 值得與女兒分享的事情。

  • And this was all he felt he had to say to her.

    接下來的七個月,

  • And I asked myself how can I convince him that he has more to say,

    我每天都帶著書過去看他。

  • parts of himself that he doesn't need to apologize for.

    我的袋子就像個小圖書館。

  • I wanted him to feel

    我帶了詹姆斯·鮑德溫,

  • that he had something worthwhile to share with his daughter.

    我帶了華特·惠特曼、C.S. 路易斯,

  • For every day the next seven months,

    我帶了樹木指南、鳥類圖鑒,

  • I visited him and brought books.

    還有他最愛的字典。

  • My tote bag became a little library.

    有時候,

  • I brought James Baldwin,

    我們會安靜同坐 好幾個小時,各自閱讀。

  • I brought Walt Whitman, C.S. Lewis.

    也有時候,

  • I brought guidebooks to trees, to birds,

    我們會一起讀詩。

  • and what would become his favorite book, the dictionary.

    我們從俳句開始讀,上百首的俳句。

  • On some days,

    看似簡單卻首首都是傑作。

  • we would sit for hours in silence, both of us reading.

    我要他分享他最喜歡的俳句,

  • And on other days,

    他挑了幾首還滿好玩的俳句。

  • we would read together, we would read poetry.

    比如小林一茶的這首:

  • We started by reading haikus, hundreds of haikus,

    「蜘蛛別慌

  • a deceptively simple masterpiece.

    我打掃房子 很隨意」

  • And I would ask him, "Share with me your favorite haikus."

    還有這首:「睡了大半天

  • And some of them are quite funny.

    卻沒人 處罰我」

  • So there's this by Issa:

    還有一首很優美,描寫初雪的,

  • "Don't worry, spiders, I keep house casually."

    「小公鹿 相互舔拭

  • And this: "Napped half the day, no one punished me!"

    毛絨上初霜」

  • And this gorgeous one, which is about the first day of snow falling,

    詩歌的形式看起來 就是有那麼些神秘感和美感。

  • "Deer licking first frost from each other's coats."

    而留白跟文字一樣重要。

  • There's something mysterious and gorgeous

    我們讀了一首 W.S. 默溫的詩,

  • just about the way a poem looks.

    這是他看到妻子在花園裡工作,

  • The empty space is as important as the words themselves.

    明白他們將共度餘生之後寫下的。

  • We read this poem by W.S. Merwin,

    「讓我想像我們隨心所願

  • which he wrote after he saw his wife working in the garden

    再次歸來,屆時將是春天

  • and realized that they would spend the rest of their lives together.

    我們會像往昔那般青春

  • "Let me imagine that we will come again

    磨舊憂愁將已消逝如朝霧

  • when we want to and it will be spring

    晨光總要慢慢破雲而出」

  • We will be no older than we ever were

    我問派屈克最喜歡哪一句,

  • The worn griefs will have eased like the early cloud

    他說:

  • through which morning slowly comes to itself"

    「我們會像往昔那般青春」,

  • I asked Patrick what his favorite line was, and he said,

    他說這句讓他想像 時間會暫停的地方,

  • "We will be no older than we ever were."

    在那裏時間不再那麼重要。

  • He said it reminded him of a place where time just stops,

    我問他自己有沒有一個這樣的地方, 時間永遠停留的地方。

  • where time doesn't matter anymore.

    他說:「媽媽身邊。」

  • And I asked him if he had a place like that,

    當你與別人一起閱讀一首詩時,

  • where time lasts forever.

    詩的意義就會變化,

  • And he said, "My mother."

    因為那首詩對你和共讀的人 都會有獨特意涵。

  • When you read a poem alongside someone else,

    我們還讀其他書,好多書。

  • the poem changes in meaning.

    我們讀了佛雷德里克·道格拉斯的自傳。

  • Because it becomes personal to that person, becomes personal to you.

    道格拉斯是個自學讀寫的奴隸,

  • We then read books, we read so many books,

    並藉著讀書識字,走上自由之路。

  • we read the memoir of Frederick Douglass,

    從小我就把道格拉斯視為一位英雄,

  • an American slave who taught himself to read and write

    也把他的故事當作 奮發向上的勵志故事。

  • and who escaped to freedom because of his literacy.

    但這本書卻讓派屈克感到惶恐,

  • I had grown up thinking of Frederick Douglass as a hero

    他特別在意道格拉斯提到,

  • and I thought of this story as one of uplift and hope.

    聖誕節期間,主人會讓奴隸喝琴酒,

  • But this book put Patrick in a kind of panic.

    讓奴隸覺得他們無法掌控自由,

  • He fixated on a story Douglass told of how, over Christmas,

    因為他們會跌跌撞撞,醉倒在田裡。

  • masters give slaves gin

    派屈克對這個故事感同身受。

  • as a way to prove to them that they can't handle freedom.

    他說有些在監獄的人 也會像這些奴隸一樣,

  • Because slaves would be stumbling on the fields.

    不想思考自己的處境,

  • Patrick said he related to this.

    因為那實在太痛苦了。

  • He said that there are people in jail who, like slaves,

    回想過去令人很痛苦,

  • don't want to think about their condition,

    去想這種日子 還要過多久,也很痛苦。

  • because it's too painful.

    他最喜歡其中這一段:

  • Too painful to think about the past,

    「無論什麼都行,只要讓我擺脫思考!

  • too painful to think about how far we have to go.

    我無時無刻不在思考自己的 處境,這令我飽受折磨。」

  • His favorite line was this line:

    派屈克覺得道格拉斯真的很勇敢,

  • "Anything, no matter what, to get rid of thinking!

    因為他寫作、不斷思考。

  • It was this everlasting thinking of my condition that tormented me."

    但派屈克不知道,在我眼中, 他和道格拉斯有多像。

  • Patrick said that Douglass was brave to write, to keep thinking.

    就算這本書讓他感到惶恐, 他仍繼續讀下去;

  • But Patrick would never know how much he seemed like Douglass to me.

    他還比我先讀完這本書,

  • How he kept reading, even though it put him in a panic.

    而且是在沒有燈的水泥樓梯間讀的。

  • He finished the book before I did,

    接著我們讀我很喜歡的一本書,

  • reading it in a concrete stairway with no light.

    瑪麗蓮·羅賓遜的小說《基列》,

  • And then we went on to read one of my favorite books,

    整本書是一封父親寫給兒子的信。

  • Marilynne Robinson's "Gilead,"

    他特別喜歡其中這句:

  • which is an extended letter from a father to his son.

    「我寫這封信給你的 原因之一是要告訴你,

  • He loved this line:

    如果你曾經自問 你這輩子做了什麼……

  • "I'm writing this in part to tell you

    你是上帝賜予我的恩典,

  • that if you ever wonder what you've done in your life ...

    一個奇蹟,你的存在甚至超越奇蹟。」

  • you have been God's grace to me,

    文字裡所傳達的愛、期盼、語氣,

  • a miracle, something more than a miracle."

    重新燃起他寫作的欲望。

  • Something about this language, its love, its longing, its voice,

    他一本本的筆記本,

  • rekindled Patrick's desire to write.

    滿滿的都是寫給女兒的信。

  • And he would fill notebooks upon notebooks

    在一封封寫得又美又細緻的信裡,

  • with letters to his daughter.

    他想像父女倆在密西西比河上, 划著獨木舟順流而下。

  • In these beautiful, intricate letters,

    他想像兩人找到一處 清澈見底的山澗。

  • he would imagine him and his daughter going canoeing down the Mississippi river.

    看著派屈克寫作時,

  • He would imagine them finding a mountain stream

    我心想著一個問題,

  • with perfectly clear water.

    也想請教在座的各位:

  • As I watched Patrick write,

    「你是否曾經寫信 給你覺得曾辜負的人?」

  • I thought to myself,

    最輕鬆的做法就是將對方拋諸腦後。

  • and I now ask all of you,

    但派屈克卻每天都去面對 他女兒,認真為她負責;

  • how many of you have written a letter to somebody you feel you have let down?

    他一字一句、全心全意地寫。

  • It is just much easier to put those people out of your mind.

    在我的生命裡,

  • But Patrick showed up every day, facing his daughter,

    我也想把自己擺在那樣的處境,

  • holding himself accountable to her,

    因為面對那種挑戰才能 展現出一顆心的力量。

  • word by word with intense concentration.

    讓我退一步反觀自己, 提出一個令人不自在的問題:

  • I wanted in my own life

    「我憑什麼講這個故事? 這不是派屈克的故事嗎?」

  • to put myself at risk in that way.

    派屈克才是苦中求生的人,

  • Because that risk reveals the strength of one's heart.

    而我生活寬裕、沒挨餓過。

  • Let me take a step back and just ask an uncomfortable question.

    我常常思考這個問題,

  • Who am I to tell this story, as in this Patrick story?

    不過我想要講的是, 這不只是派屈克的故事,

  • Patrick's the one who lived with this pain

    而是我們共同的故事,

  • and I have never been hungry a day in my life.

    講的是我們之間的不平等。

  • I thought about this question a lot,

    故事裡有個富足的世界,

  • but what I want to say is that this story is not just about Patrick.

    但派屈克和他的父母、 祖父母都被拒絕於門外。

  • It's about us,

    我在這個故事裡, 代表那個富足世界。

  • it's about the inequality between us.

    在講這個故事時, 我不想再隱藏自己,

  • The world of plenty

    或隱瞞我享有的權力與資源。

  • that Patrick and his parents and his grandparents

    在講這故事時, 我想揭露自己的優勢,

  • have been shut out of.

    並問:

  • In this story, I represent that world of plenty.

    「我們要如何減少彼此間的距離?」

  • And in telling this story, I didn't want to hide myself.

    閱讀是一種能縮短這個距離的方法,

  • Hide the power that I do have.

    閱讀賦予我們一個 能平等共享的安靜世界。

  • In telling this story, I wanted to expose that power

    你也許會好奇想問: 派屈克後來怎麼了?

  • and then to ask,

    閱讀拯救他了嗎?

  • how do we diminish the distance between us?

    可以說有,也可以說沒有。

  • Reading is one way to close that distance.

    派屈克出獄後,

  • It gives us a quiet universe that we can share together,

    他的生活非常痛苦,

  • that we can share in equally.

    雇主因為他的犯罪記錄 而不願聘用他。

  • You're probably wondering now what happened to Patrick.

    他最親近的朋友,也就是他母親,

  • Did reading save his life?

    43 歲時,死於心臟病及糖尿病。

  • It did and it didn't.

    他曾無家可歸,經常挨餓。

  • When Patrick got out of prison,

    人們說了許多閱讀的好處, 我覺得有些誇大。

  • his journey was excruciating.

    派屈克沒有因為 會讀書識字而不被歧視,

  • Employers turned him away because of his record,

    讀書識字也救不了他母親。

  • his best friend, his mother, died at age 43

    那,閱讀到底有什麼用?