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谁能对金钱和名声说不呢?
The speakers’ circuit is where original thinkers go to die

来源:FT中文网    2018-03-09 07:23



        I’ve never had great success, which is lucky, because I have seen it ruin many previously excellent writers and thinkers. This is an age-old phenomenon, but it has got worse in our era.        我从没有取得过巨大的成功,这很幸运,因为我看到成功毁了很多以前卓越的作家和思想家。这是一个由来已久的现象,但在我们这个时代变得更严重了。
        The best business nowadays is selling to the 1 per cent. A caste of pundits has accordingly arisen to supply them with thoughts, or at least talking points. These pundits make decent money themselves, especially on the speakers’ circuit, which is now the place where original thinkers go to die. Here are some case studies:        如今最好的生意是面向1%的精英阶层销售。一群名嘴应运而生,为他们提供思想,或者至少是议论要点。这些名嘴自己赚取不俗的收入,特别是在演讲台上,如今这里是埋葬具有独创见解的思想家的地方。以下是一些案例研究:
        You are a historian. You spend years in the archives producing good books. You emerge blinking into the light, turn out to be fluent on television, and pretty soon are getting $25,000 to pontificate in Dubai on “What’s next for China?” (The 0.1 per cent want to know the future, because that’s where the money is.) When you aren’t being an oracle, you are explaining why you were right five years ago. Eventually you realise you aren’t a historian any more. You’re a content provider who plays a parody of himself on TV.        你是一位历史学家。你花费多年研究历史档案,撰写了一些优秀著作。最终你得到登上舞台的机会,人们发现你在电视上口才极好,于是你很快获得机会:在迪拜探讨“中国接下来将走向何方?”,为此得到2.5万美元报酬(0.1%的顶级精英希望了解未来,因为那是巨大财富所在。)当你不做先知时,你会去解释5年前你的说法为什么是正确的。最后你意识到,你不再是历史学家。你变成了一位内容供应商,在电视上滑稽地模仿自己。
        You are a reporter. You are multilingual, hardworking and sit in ordinary people’s homes trying to understand what’s going on in their country. But once you are a star, you become a talking head in a complimentary limousine, separated from your material. Now you’re sitting in a prince’s palace trying to understand what’s going on in his country. He’s charming, he loves your work, and over dinner you realise that his ostensibly self-serving power play is in fact intended only to root out corruption.        你是一位记者。你会多种语言,工作努力,住在普通人的房子里试图了解他们的国家发生了什么。然而,一旦你成为明星,你会成为一位名嘴,坐在人家提供的免费豪华轿车里,与你的素材隔离。然后你坐在一位王子的宫殿里,试图了解他的国家发生了什么。他有魅力,喜爱你报道的内容,进餐时,你意识到,他表面上自私自利的权力游戏实际上只是为了根除腐败。
        You are an economist. You spend decades doing brilliant, complex work. But on the side, you have standard political views, and suddenly you’re explaining every day why the other side is wrong. (To quote the journalist John Avlon: “Hyper-partisanship makes you stupid.”) Sometimes even you get bored listening to yourself.        你是一位经济学家。你花了几十年从事高端、复杂的工作。但暗地里,你有着标准的政治观点,突然间,你天天在解释为什么另一方是错的。(引用记者约翰•阿夫隆(John Avlon)的话:“过度的党派之争让你变蠢。”)有时你甚至听自己说话都觉得烦。
        You write an original political book. A party leader whom you admire calls to say he loved it. Soon you’re texting each other daily. You feel that you have graduated from describing reality to shaping it. In your TV appearances, you start explaining why the party leader is always right. Still, you tell yourself in your worst moments, it could be worse: you could have been Christopher Hitchens, who prostituted his talent in the cause of the Iraq war.        你撰写了一本具有独创见解的政治书籍。你钦佩的一位政党领导人打电话说,他喜欢这本书。很快,你和他每天都在互相发短信。你觉得自己已从描写现实“毕业”,有本事塑造现实了。在电视上露面时,你会开始解释为什么这位政党领导人永远是正确的。话虽如此,你会在最不快乐的时刻告诉自己,事情本来可能会更糟:你可能会成为又一个克里斯托弗•希钦斯(Christopher Hitchens),他出卖了自己的才华为伊拉克战争辩解。
        You are a journalist with an elegant style. But all the praise goes to your head. You become America’s prissiest prose-writer, crafting every sentence for a future book of Twenty-First Century Quotations.        你是一位风格优雅的记者。但铺天盖地的赞誉让你陶醉。你成为美国最拘泥谨慎的散文作家,为未来图书《21世纪语录》(Twenty-First Century Quotations)咬文嚼字。
        You are a rightwing journalist. There aren’t many of those, so you are adopted by a rightwing press proprietor. You serve his empire and his friends, telling yourself that his cause is generally just, even if some of the details make you queasy. Reading Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop, you used to identify with the naive young journalist. Now you are the editor who is always telling the proprietor, “Up to a point, Lord Copper.”        你是一名右翼记者。这样的人不多,因此你被一位右翼媒体老板延揽。你为他的帝国和他的朋友服务,告诉自己他的事业在总体上是正义的,即便一部分细节让你反感。阅读伊夫林•沃(Evelyn Waugh,已故英国讽刺小说家——译者注)的《独家新闻》(Scoop)时,你曾经认同那个幼稚的年轻记者。如今你是主编,总是对那位媒体大亨说:“在一定程度上是这样,库帕勋爵(Lord Copper,《独家新闻》中的报业大亨——译者注)。”
        You are a revolutionary writer. You do this so well that you actually make money out of it. You acquire a fine house and even a porcelain collection. Ludwig Börne, the 19th-century German writer to whom this happened, told his rival Heinrich Heine (at least, according to Heine): “You have no idea, my dear Heine, how one is reined in by the possession of beautiful porcelain. Look at me, for instance, who was once so wild, when I had little baggage and no porcelain at all. With possession, and especially with fragile possession, comes fear and servility.”        你是一位革命作家。你做得如此出色,以至于你实际上靠此赚钱。你会购买一栋精致的独立屋,甚至收藏瓷器。19世纪德国作家路德维希•博尔纳(Ludwig Börne)就有过这样的经历,他告诉他的竞争对手海因里希•海涅(Heinrich Heine)(至少海涅这么说):“你不知道,我亲爱的海涅,收藏精美瓷器会如何收敛一个人。比如,看看我吧,我曾经非常狂野,几乎没有行李,一件瓷器也没有。拥有藏品,特别是易碎的藏品,带来恐惧和奴性。”
        Recently, Börne recounted, he had bought a darling tea service. Imagine if he had to flee – he couldn’t take it with him. Sometimes he suspected that the porcelain dealer was an agent of the Austrian state.        博尔纳回忆道,最近他买了一套心爱的茶具。假设他不得不逃跑,这些茶具他无法带走。有时他怀疑瓷器经销商是奥地利政府的特务。
        This list isn’t exhaustive. Being ruined by wealth comes in endless variants. Most thinkers imagine that money will liberate them from drudgery to do their best work. Instead, it removes them from the sphere where they were doing their best work. The effect is worst in the biggest economies. As Martin Amis wrote in 1983: “When success happens to an English writer, he acquires a new typewriter. When success happens to an American writer, he acquires a new life.”        这份清单并不全面。被财富毁掉的形式千变万化。多数思想家想象,金钱将让他们摆脱单调的工作,去做他们最擅长的事情。事实上,财富让他们失去了做最擅长事情的环境。这种影响在最大的几个经济体最严重。正如马丁•艾米斯(Martin Amis)在1983年所写的那样:“当英格兰的一位作家成功后,他会购买一台新的打字机。当一位美国作家成功后,他会过一种新的生活。”
        And so the global conversation is degraded as original writers and thinkers get ruined. Only a few reject the world’s rewards. Philip Roth, for instance, sequestered himself in rural Connecticut, writing daily until he was nearly 80.        于是,具有独创精神的作者和思想家一个接一个被毁掉,全球对话的质量随之下降。只有为数不多的人会拒绝尘世的奖励。例如,菲利普•罗斯(Philip Roth)把自己隔离在康涅狄格州的农村,每天写作,直到快80岁。
        The work that survives from past eras often wasn’t done by the biggest names. John Galsworthy and JB Priestley were star writers in Britain in the first half of the past century but no longer. Meanwhile, George Orwell went almost unnoticed until 1945, less than five years before his death, when he finally managed to get Animal Farm published. By analogy, today’s most interesting thinker is not the fiftysomething ­multimillionaire giving the keynote address, but the ignored 30-year-old blogger.        从过去时代存活下来的作品往往并非出自最知名作家的手笔。约翰•高尔斯华绥(John Galsworthy)和JB•普里斯特利(JB Priestley)在20世纪前半叶是英国明星作家,但现在不再是这样了。与此同时,乔治•奥威尔(George Orwell)在1945年之前几乎无人知晓,那年他的《动物农场》(Animal Farm)终于出版,不到5年后他就去世了。类似的,当今最有意思的思想家很可能不是发表基调演讲的50多岁的亿万富翁,而是被人忽视的30岁博客作家。
        Still, who can say no to money and fame? For speaking engagements, do contact my agent.        可话说回来,谁能对金钱和名声说不呢?若要请我演讲,请务必联系我的经纪人。
                
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