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aries1988 : bio   34

Liu Cixin’s War of the Worlds
For the Chinese, achieving parity with the West is a long-cherished goal, envisaged as a restoration of greatness after the humiliation of Western occupations and the self-inflicted wounds of the Mao era.

In 2015, China’s then Vice-President, Li Yuanchao, invited Liu to Zhongnanhai—an off-limits complex of government accommodation sometimes compared to the Kremlin—to discuss the books and showed Liu his own copies, which were dense with highlights and annotations.

Liu’s fellow sci-fi writers in China call him Da Liu—Big Liu—but he is small, with an unusually round head, which seems too large for his slight, wiry physique. He has the unassuming presence, belying an unflappable intelligence, of an operative posing as an accountant. Rarely making eye contact, he maintains an expression at once detached and preoccupied, as if too impatient for the future to commit his full attention to the present.

his father had turned him on to speculative fiction, giving him a copy of Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” To the young Liu, reading Verne’s book was like walking through a door to another world. “Everything in it was described with such authority and scrupulous attention to detail that I thought it had to be real,” Liu told me.

Although physics furnishes the novels’ premises, it is politics that drives the plots. At every turn, the characters are forced to make brutal calculations in which moral absolutism is pitted against the greater good. In their pursuit of survival, men and women employ Machiavellian game theory and adopt a bleak consequentialism. In Liu’s fictional universe, idealism is fatal and kindness an exorbitant luxury. As one general says in the trilogy, “In a time of war, we can’t afford to be too scrupulous.” Indeed, it is usually when people do not play by the rules of Realpolitik that the most lives are lost.

“What about individual liberty and freedom of governance?” He sighed, as if exhausted by a debate going on in his head. “But that’s not what Chinese people care about. For ordinary folks, it’s the cost of health care, real-estate prices, their children’s education. Not democracy.”

“Here’s the truth: if you were to become the President of China tomorrow, you would find that you had no other choice than to do exactly as he has done.”

It was an opinion entirely consistent with his systems-level view of human societies, just as mine reflected a belief in democracy and individualism as principles to be upheld regardless of outcomes.

When Liu is at his most relaxed, which is usually when he’s looking at, or learning about, something, he sounds almost like a child. There’s an upward lilt to his voice that suggests a kind of naïve wonder—someone happily lost in his own boundless curiosity.
interview  scifi  chinese  politics  today  history  bio  portrait  family 
8 weeks ago by aries1988
A Certain Idea of France | Peter Hitchens

Charles de Gaulle’s life would perhaps have been better lived in the seventeenth or eighteenth century, in times when personal courage, mystical imagination, chivalry, and religious fervor were more welcome than they are now. In this world of the United Nations, risk assessment, lawyers, Geneva Conventions, television and superpowers, there is not really enough room for such a man to swing his sword, just as there is no room for old-fashioned great powers in the shadow of superpowers. Had he not been so magnificent, he would have been ridiculous. He looked, more than anything else, like a camel, not least because of the superior expression on his face suggesting that he alone knew the secret One Hundredth Name of God, which camels are supposed to know.

It is a strange fact that the potentially attractive political combination of liberty, domestic socialism, well-armed patriotism, and social conservatism seldom exists in the advanced countries of the West.

François ­Mitterrand, his old rival, undid almost all of de Gaulle’s work. He wholly rejected the general’s belief in an enduring, sovereign France. ­Mitterrand had been decorated by Pétain’s collaborationist Vichy government, and like many intelligent Frenchmen, saw 1940 as a moment of truth that France could not thereafter ignore. It fell to people like him to implement Hector Dexter’s vision of a Europe whose common cultural bond was Coca-Cola, and ­McDonald’s, too.
leader  president  france  français  history  ww2  europe  eu  fail  politics  bio  american  anti 
march 2019 by aries1988
The Painful Price of Becoming Jackie Chan

The transfer was symbolically completed in 1999’s The Matrix, when Keanu Reeves, having downloaded a fighting program to his brain, opens his eyes and reverently whispers, I know kung fu.
kungfu  actor  movie  icon  hongkong  growup  bio  book  critic  pain  success  story 
january 2019 by aries1988
The Seductive Enthusiasm of Kenneth Clark’s “Civilisation”
it raised an important question in his mind: how to fuse his erudite tastes in art and culture with the reach and power of broadcast television? In some respects, that remains a quixotic project. And yet Clark managed to pull it off, in ways that still seem surprising and even a little mysterious.

Clark is outrageously committed to the “great man” approach to history and to the concept of genius. “Above all, I believe in the God-given genius of certain individuals, and I value a society that makes their existence possible,” he says.

lets the camera have a leisurely look at whatever he’s been talking about. This is the use of television as a contemplative tool, something rarely attempted and, when done well, still remarkable.

He broke down with emotion on many other occasions during the filming of the series. This predilection for weeping comes through in the final product, in a good way: Clark’s just-under-the-surface emotion, his obvious feeling that the great art we’re being shown matters, gives the series a rare and subtle power.
bio  history  tv  art  civ  west  1960s  classic 
december 2018 by aries1988
Jared Diamond: ‘Humans, 150,000 years ago, wouldn’t figure on a list of the five most interesting species on Earth’

It was a painful thought for someone who recalled being told, by an admiring teacher at his Massachusetts school, that one day he would “unify the sciences and humanities”. Clearly, he needed a larger canvas. Even so, few could have predicted how large a canvas he would choose.

1997’s Guns, Germs and Steel – which ask the most sweeping questions it is possible to ask about human history.

Diamond, who describes himself as a biogeographer, answers them in translucent prose that has the effect of making the world seem to click into place, each fact assuming its place in an elegant arc of pan-historical reasoning.

Why? Because 8,000 years ago – to borrow from Guns, Germs and Steel – the geography of Europe and the Middle East made it easier to farm crops and animals there than elsewhere.

vicious jousting between Diamond and many anthropologists. They condemn him as a cultural imperialist, intent on excusing the horrors of colonialism while asserting the moral superiority of the west.

In person, Diamond is a fastidiously courteous 77-year-old with a Quaker-style beard sans moustache, and archaic New England vowels: “often” becomes “orphan”, “area” becomes “eerier”. There’s no computer: despite his children’s best efforts, he admits he’s never learned to use one.

What changed, Diamond argues, was a seemingly minor set of mutations in our larynxes, permitting control over spoken sounds, and thus spoken language; spoken language permitted much of the rest.

It won a Pulitzer prize and has sold more than 1.5m copies in 36 languages. Mitt Romney quoted it admiringly in his 2012 presidential campaign, garbling its message entirely.

he found himself accused of “geographic determinism”: in his critics’ opinion, his arguments squeeze out any role for human agency and decision-making, thereby sparing history’s colonisers – and today’s elites – any responsibility for having created our grotesquely unjust world.

Each of the two books has the unusual distinction of having another book dedicated largely to demolishing it: Yali’s Question, which offers a different answer from Diamond’s New Guinean acquaintance, and Questioning Collapse, which calls the Easter Island “ecocide” a myth.

Whenever I hear the phrase ‘geographic determinism’,” he says, “I know I’m about to waste time discussing with someone who has no right to be discussing [how human societies developed]. Because the fact is that geography has a strong influence on humans. It doesn’t determine everything, but it has a strong influence
bio  book  leader  human  development  inequality  world  history  biology  environment  debate  theory  geography  opinion 
october 2018 by aries1988
愤怒的民族,暴躁的皇帝:威廉二世与德意志帝国的战争之路

拿破仑的外交大臣瘸子塔列朗有一句名言,那天他看着一位战场上的英雄,拄着拐杖大踏步走向拿破仑皇帝,于是对身边的人说他只是生理上瘸,而我则是心理和生理上都瘸。
deutschland  king  war  bio 
october 2018 by aries1988
How Charles de Gaulle Rescued France
His life shows that right-wing politics needn’t bend toward absolutism, Adam Gopnik writes.
president  français  politics  history  france  bio  book  review 
august 2018 by aries1988
专访王柯:极端的民族主义,一定是与世界为敌|深度|端传媒 Initium Media
实际上,本身中华文化是多重的,其最早就是由不同的异民族创造,并不是汉人自己创造的文化,而是来自于异民族向这个地方的移动。他们到达之后,为了说明自己建立政权的正当性,用神话来解释自己的历史,才导致了“权威的产生”。

夏商周三代,都是异民族开始的政权,他们到中原来建立政权的时候,就一定要对中原的人说他们建立政权的正当性。说明正当性的方法是什么呢?就是天命,我们应天命而来。

所以在清朝,北京叫顺天,南京叫应天,满洲就叫奉天。

所谓的天,日本说的“天无私照”,这就是日本的大神──“天照大神”的来源。所以实际上,向心力不是别的东西,其实就是一种对公平正义平等的向往。

最后,我对民族主义深恶痛绝。

也许从小的方面来看,对一个民族或有好处,但从整体来看,民族主义一定是需要敌人的。这个角度来看,我对中国过去通过民族主义来建国这条路,是深恶痛绝的。
opinion  research  politics  history  china  chinese  japan  nation  state  religion  ethnic  crisis  bio 
november 2017 by aries1988
‘We will all be dust soon’: Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss on death, despair and drama
He’s watched by millions, so why does the actor and writer feel a loser in today’s culture war?
interview  uk  culture  2017  tv  actor  bio  british 
november 2017 by aries1988
Comment Martin Luther a inventé le buzz, 500 ans avant Internet

Il y a 500 ans, Martin Luther publiait ses 95 thèses pour dénoncer le trafic de l'Eglise catholique qui vendait littéralement des places au paradis. Mais le père de la réforme protestante ne s'attendait pas à un si grand succès médiatique. Un entretien avec son biographe en démonte les ressorts.

Beaucoup de laïcs, de gens moyennement cultivés mais qui pouvaient au moins écrire en allemand, se sont faits les diffuseurs des idées de Luther, parce qu’il leur avait apporté un message qui les réconfortait.

C’est aussi quelqu’un qui a su donner une réponse pastorale, apaisante, réconfortante, cohérente, au tourment de ses contemporains qui se demandaient vraiment : "Est-ce que je peux réussir ma mort ? Comment est-ce que ça va se passer pour moi dans l’au-delà ?"

Ce que Luther a compris, c’est qu’il y avait un certain nombre de questions que l’on pouvait traiter dans de petits écrits destinés à un large public et rédigés en allemand. Et cela, ses adversaires ne l’ont pas compris d’emblée.

un bon nombre de clercs et de laïcs se sont mis à leur tour à écrire, à publier ce qu’on appelle des feuilles volantes, des Flugschriften, de petits écrits imprimés, dans lesquels ils exprimaient la manière dont eux avaient compris les idées de Luther. Donc ils se sont faits en quelque sorte des démultiplicateurs des écrits de Luther, et ça, c’est tout à fait nouveau à cette époque.
deutsch  media  communication  mass  religion  zeitgeist  middle-age  leader  movement  europe  history  explained  mentality  question  death  life  bio  book  français 
november 2017 by aries1988
How Martin Luther Changed the World

If the Ninety-five Theses sprouted a myth, that is no surprise. Luther was one of those figures who touched off something much larger than himself; namely, the Reformation—the sundering of the Church and a fundamental revision of its theology. Once he had divided the Church, it could not be healed. His reforms survived to breed other reforms, many of which he disapproved of. His church splintered and splintered. To tote up the Protestant denominations discussed in Alec Ryrie’s new book, “Protestants” (Viking), is almost comical, there are so many of them. That means a lot of people, though. An eighth of the human race is now Protestant.

Indeed, the horrific Thirty Years’ War, in which, basically, Europe’s Roman Catholics killed all the Protestants they could, and vice versa, can in some measure be laid at Luther’s door. Although it did not begin until decades after his death, it arose in part because he had created no institutional structure to replace the one he walked away from.

The Reformation wasn’t led, exactly; it just spread, metastasized.

Why had God given his only begotten son? And why had the son died on the cross? Because that’s how much God loved the world. And that alone, Luther now reasoned, was sufficient for a person to be found “justified,” or worthy. From this thought, the Ninety-five Theses were born. Most of them were challenges to the sale of indulgences. And out of them came what would be the two guiding principles of Luther’s theology: sola fide and sola scriptura.

Luther’s collected writings come to a hundred and twenty volumes. In the first half of the sixteenth century, a third of all books published in German were written by him.

Luther very consciously sought a fresh, vigorous idiom. For his Bible’s vocabulary, he said, “we must ask the mother in the home, the children on the street,” and, like other writers with such aims—William Blake, for example—he ended up with something songlike. He loved alliteration—“Der Herr ist mein Hirte” (“The Lord is my shepherd”); “Dein Stecken und Stab” (“thy rod and thy staff”)—and he loved repetition and forceful rhythms. This made his texts easy and pleasing to read aloud, at home, to the children.

His goal was not to usher in modernity but simply to make religion religious again. Heinz Schilling writes, “Just when the lustre of religion threatened to be outdone by the atheistic and political brilliance of the secularized Renaissance papacy, the Wittenberg monk defined humankind’s relationship to God anew and gave back to religion its existential plausibility.” Lyndal Roper thinks much the same. She quotes Luther saying that the Church’s sacraments “are not fulfilled when they are taking place but when they are being believed.” All he asked for was sincerity, but this made a great difference.
book  bio  reform  leader  religion  history  europe  medieval  story  printing 
november 2017 by aries1988
Les bénéfices d’une alimentation bio pour la santé

Ils observent ainsi que la consommation fréquente ou exclusive de produits bio durant la grossesse et durant l’enfance est associée à une prévalence moindre d’allergies et d’eczéma chez les enfants. Elle entraîne aussi une baisse du risque de pré-éclampsie – une poussée brutale de la pression artérielle lors de la grossesse qui peut entraîner un accouchement prématuré, voire un décès de la mère.

En Europe, l’exposition aux pesticides organophosphorés entraînerait chaque année la perte de 13 millions de points de QI, représentant une valeur de 125 milliards d’euros, soit 1 % du produit intérieur brut européen.
bio  research  health 
november 2017 by aries1988
Orbiting Jupiter: my week with Emmanuel Macron

He takes her hand and his face divides in two – something I’ve often seen it do: the right half, brow creased, is determined, grave, almost severe, giving you the feeling that whatever he does, he’s doing it in the eyes of history. The left half, meanwhile, is cordial, optimistic, almost mischievous, giving you the feeling that now he’s there, things will be all right.

When I asked the president’s office for permission to accompany and interview Macron, it went without saying that he would not read the piece prior to publication. The one condition: that I send them the sentences I quote Macron as saying. This is customary in the press, and protects the person being interviewed from journalistic extrapolations. But it also protects the journalist against the interviewee’s bad faith: once he had approved the sentences, the interviewee can’t then turn around and say he didn’t say them, or that they were misrepresented.
president  leader  politics  français  bio  quotes  interview  young 
october 2017 by aries1988
野蛮生长 - 我的又一个五年 - 十五言
鼓舞我码字的一个缘由,是我加入了一个很棒的小型写作社区。一群“老司机”带路,写文顺畅了很多。比如“1793”这个集体写书项目,就是大家一起写1793年这个历史横断面,解答“世界如何进入现代”和“东方为何落后西方”两个问题。不同领域的人一起头脑风暴,很容易找到切入点。而相互竞争的写作气氛,让我几乎忘了所谓的写作障碍。“老司机”还教了我不少技巧,写作前要有充分的资料准备、不能把文章写得太散、多篇文章可以组织成一个系列等等。和这群有趣的作者认识,也让我和法律、文学、心理专业搭上线,开拓了不少视野。而凭着爱好、不以利益为前提的交往,格外让人舒心。
bio  phd  story  writing  life  programming  history  hobby 
september 2017 by aries1988
Hong Kong côté coulisses
Etonnante métropole de plus de 7 millions d'habitants, Hong Kong a été "restituée" à la Chine par le Royaume Uni il y a juste vingt ans et - business as usual - tout semble y continuer comme avant, avec un pragmatisme déroutant.
hongkong  story  book  anecdote  china  opinion  bio 
june 2017 by aries1988
The Long Shot - The New Yorker
Jia is not much interested in plot. His attraction to film seems to owe more to the dictum of André Bazin, the French theorist whom he counts as an inspiration, that photography “embalms time.” Jia crams his movies with so many hair styles, pop songs, and news references that they feel like time capsules of the here and now. He has a single, unwavering theme: the liminal space in which individuals try, usually in vain, to move from one life to another—floating migrants, laid-off factory hands, restless teen-agers, all trapped on the margins of China’s boom, with enough technology to glimpse the wider world but no way to reach it. In Jia’s cosmology, trains usually speed out of sight before you can catch them and motorcycles break down.

His characters are often inspired by people he grew up with—friends, in his words, “as ignorant and coarse and full of vitality as roadside weeds.”

the movement made a searing impression on him. “Although it failed, it didn’t really fail,” he said, “because it took freedom and democracy, individualism, individual rights, all these concepts, and disseminated them to many people, including me.”

Jia immersed himself in films from Taiwan and Europe, often watching three a day. Those which he could not find in the school archives he found on the street, as pirated V.H.S. tapes. He often pedalled his bicycle across town to watch screenings at a French cultural center in Beijing.

In contrast to the epic historical Chinese dramas that were popular at the time, Jia had revealed a bitterly unadorned image of contemporary life and its discontents. To older Chinese admirers especially, the film’s honesty was bittersweet. “We had been forbidden from telling the truth for such a long time that once we were allowed to do so, we did not know how to tell the truth,” the painter Chen Danqing wrote of the film.

He felt powerless. “My motivation for making films was not simply a love of movies but also a sense of idealism, a hope that I could help to change society.”

In “Still Life,” a building launches into the air like a rocket, and a flying saucer zips across the sky. (As Jia has explained to a film magazine, China’s “official speeches and pictures are like U.F.O.s that never touch the ground.”)

“Not because they are kung-fu movies—I like kung-fu movies—but because the film underscores power, that we should ‘bow down’ before power! For ‘harmony in the world,’ we should give up individual fights and efforts. The ‘authority of power,’ the focus of his films, is what makes me extremely uncomfortable.”

“My expression, my view on history, my view on the truth must be independent,” he says, “but I tell myself not to get marginalized, because being marginalized means you can’t do anything. Marginalization can be a kind of pleasant stance—I really admire many of those people—but I would rather expend enormous energy trying to dance with the many levels of the era in which we live.”
reportage  bio  movie  chinese  china  leader  art  idea  people  nostalgia  countryside  shanxi 
june 2017 by aries1988
Lunch with the FT: Donald Keene
as an 18-year-old, he came across a translation of The Tale of Genji in the Astor Hotel in New York.

worst of all, there were troops of Chinese children being led through. I was just so heartbroken by that. They deliberately inculcated hatred. These terrible things happened, yes. But you must get on with it.” These are sensitive matters, that still dog Asian politics. I could ask why Keene seems more troubled by Chinese propaganda than by Japanese atrocities.

while men were writing in classical Chinese, women more or less took over a whole new Japanese syllabary, hiragana, sometimes known as “women’s script”.
japan  japanese  american  literature  story  bio  china  war  gaijin  immigrant 
may 2017 by aries1988
失败的总和----读《黄河青山:黄仁宇回忆录》
导致他连续几个月驻守在大山里,无所事事。这时,他开始体会到理想与现实的巨大差距。

"我们还停留在明朝的条件。如果我需要一头驴来驮负重物,我必须派士兵到村落里去找村长,在枪支的威胁下,他可能听从我们的差遣。至于邮政,要送一封信到邻近的省份,必须耗上一个月的时间。我必须慎选词汇,才能让村民听懂我说的话。"

"士兵穿着冬季的棉袄蜷缩身体入睡,用蚊帐、毛毯或帆布当被子,抓到什么就盖什么,甚至几个人合盖一床被。地板上则铺着稻草,这样的环境造就了虱子的天堂。"

"我们的兵士每月薪饷十二元,身为上尉的我,月薪也不过四十元。可是,山头上的土匪开出每支枪七千元的条件,而且保障携枪逃亡者的安全。......有些连队晚上把步枪锁起来,军官睡觉时把手枪放在枕头下。"

战争的最后阶段,黄仁宇的部队开赴缅甸,终于与日军正面作战了。可是,他在书中一笔带过那些"光辉经历",比如,被日军狙击手击中大腿,差点丧命,或者给全国第一大报《大公报》当战地记者,后来出了一本《缅北之战》。详细写的,却是下面这样的事情:

"一大块生铁从炮壳剥落,飞落到身旁不远处,我才知道自己逃过一劫。我本能想捡起来当纪念品,却发现铁片滚烫难耐,手掌几乎长水泡。"

"一天晚上,自部队后方传来'卡碰'声,前方部队于是向我们还击。一片混乱中,后方部队也朝我们射击,机关枪及迫击炮此起彼落。为了避免被击中,我们尽量压低身体,浸泡在湿寒冰冷中。"

日军投降后,内战开始,他始终不受重用,最后还被怀疑可能叛变。调查表明他是清白的,但是他最终还是被强制退役。

"我不知道台北当局如何处理我的退役。我请成都中央军校的同班同学汪奉曾上校回台北时,帮我查查我在国防部的档案。他说我的退役完全合乎规定,记录上还添了备注:'该军官应永远不再委任或聘用'。"

既然成了平民,大陆和台湾都回不了,黄仁宇只好来到美国,以34岁的"高龄"重新进入大学读本科。

"时年34岁还是大学生的我,除了学费偶尔可以延后缴纳外,得不到任何单位的帮助,长期的工读生涯就成为很自然的结果。有一次,唐纳德·季林教授问我几个中国内战的问题,我那时在当电梯服务员。我对他说,我不介意回答他的问题,但我必须工作,他可能要上上下下电梯好几次。"

他有过各种各样的打工经历。

"我经历过各种工作形态:全职工作、兼职工作、一周上两天班、只在周末和学校放假日上班、完全停掉工作、重新申请等等,大部分是在餐饮业。"

"在餐厅当打杂小弟,必须穿上浆过的白制服,戴上顶端有个网子的白帽。店内有儿童时,收银员会按铃,我就冲上前去帮他们处理杯盘。我第一次做这件事时,一位年轻的妈妈对儿子说:'把盘子留着,只要给那个中国人就行了。'小孩好像听不懂,她又说:'艾瑞克,我告诉你,只要给那个中国小弟就行了!'我当时已年近四十,待在学校的时间多过其他人。不过我也找不到抱怨的原因,谁叫我做的工作就是打杂'小弟'呢。"

博士毕业后,依靠老师余英时的帮忙,他才在纽约州一所师范类大学找到了一个教职。可是,一所美国地方大学,会有多少学生对中国古代史的课程感兴趣呢?

"只有6到10名学生选我的课,一半以上消失得无影无踪,或是不定期来上课,我根本无法准备教材,不知该针对谁的水准来上课。负责任的学生向我抱怨,宿舍太过吵闹喧嚣,再也无法念书(,所以来上课)。懒惰的学生持续扰乱我上课,有一名学生已经缺席两星期,竟然在课堂上要我简述前两堂课的内容。如果不回答这种扰乱秩序的问题,只会弘扬我心胸偏狭的名声。"

"我已经养成习惯,只要学生连续缺席几次,我就设法联络他们。我的学生一开始就很少,可不能再丢掉任何一个。"

更糟糕的是,1979年,校方通知黄仁宇,他被解聘了。那时,他已经61岁了。

"当天晚上,妻子将消息告知我们的儿子。当时他只有11岁,还在念中学。在这个很小的大学城,人人都知道别人的举动及遭遇。直到今天,只要想到1979年3月27日那一天,我的儿子如何接受这个令人不快的消息,我就觉得很难过。儿子知道他的父亲已被解聘,而许多同学的父母却在大学里有杰出表现。有人的妈妈最近被选为系主任,有人的父亲筹组野外探险队,带学生去特殊景点,但他的父亲却被解聘了。他仍然坚持要我去参观他的赛跑大会和学校音乐会,但在心里一定也和父母一样难过。有些同学好奇地问他,你爸爸下一步要怎么办?我接到通知的数天后,邻家十岁男童丹尼走近在后院的我:'你要卖房子吗?'"

解聘以后,找不到工作。

"我没有办法再找到另一个职位,即使朋友们试着帮我忙,但没有人会雇用一个刚被解聘的六十多岁的人。"

生活水准急剧下降。

"我被解聘后,就没有找到工作,也没有申请到研究经费。目前,我的家庭支出大半依靠社会福利津贴,每个月500美元,我的妻子和儿子也可以各领450美元。此外,我每个月的教师年金300美元。这些钱让我们勉强维生,略微超过最低生活水平。我的版税收入可以用来缴税,有时还要动用我妻子的储蓄。我只要一听到热水器要更新,或是屋顶有破洞,心都会一阵抽痛。我们可以设法偶尔附近玩玩,但如果要去一次纽约,家庭预算就必须重新大幅更动。我每次定大笔出版品或买几本书时,就必须考虑财源。"

直到《万历十五年》出版,在中国引起轰动,黄仁宇的经济状况才开始逐步改善。自传也就写到这个地方。

==================================================================

看了上面摘录,我们不禁要问,为什么黄仁宇只强调自己的人生失败,他想证明什么?大多数自传都在自我美化,你何时见过,有人执意要把自己塑造为"失败者"(Loser),还写成500页的传记,一定要让后人记住这一点?

我联想到了《万历十五年》,里面一共写了六个人物----万历皇帝、申时行、张居正、海瑞、戚继光、李贽----他们也全部失败了。事实上,《万历十五年》的主题就是,中国作为一个整体的失败。它的结尾是这样的:

"当一个人口众多的国家,个人行动全凭儒家简单粗浅而又无法固定的原则所限制,而法律又缺乏创造性,则其社会发展的程度,必然受到限制。即便是宗旨善良,也不能补助技术之不及。1587年,是为万历十五年,丁亥次岁,表面上似乎是四海升平,无事可记,实际上我们的大明帝国却已经走到了它发展的尽头。在这个时候,皇帝的励精图治或者宴安耽乐,首辅的独裁或者调和,高级将领的富于创造或者习于苟安,文官的廉洁奉公或者贪污舞弊,思想家的极端进步或者绝对保守,最后的结果,都是无分善恶,统统不能在事业上取得有意义的发展,有的身败,有的名裂,还有的人则身败而兼名裂。

因此我们的故事只好在这里作悲剧性的结束。万历丁亥年的年鉴,是为历史上一部失败的总记录。"

仔细阅读这段话,"最后的结果,都是无分善恶,统统不能在事业上取得有意义的发展",这就是说,失败是不可避免的。《万历十五年》的主题是,中国的失败不可避免;那么《黄河青山》的意思是不是说,黄仁宇个人的失败不可避免?两者之间有什么联系吗?

"我写回忆录不是为了自己,而是为了说明我的背景,为了特定的历史史观。"

显然,黄仁宇在用自传,解释他的历史观。

"在美国读书和打工时,我常被在中国的痛苦回忆所折磨,不时陷入沉思。后来当教师,拿着麦克风站在五百名大学生面前,无法立即解释:为何康有为失败了,孙中山失败了,袁世凯失败了,张作霖失败了,陈独秀失败了,蒋介石失败了,而毛泽东也失败了。为使我的讲课内容前后一致又有说服力,唯一的方法就是说,中国的问题大于上述人士努力的总和。中国文明将和西方文明融合的说法,是人类历史上空前的事件。上述不同阶段的失败必须被视为阶段的调试,以达成一致的终点。对我们这些有后见之识的人来说,这点很明显,但舞台上的演员看不到。"

这是黄仁宇在解释为什么他要写《万历十五年》,"中国的问题大于上述人士努力的总和。上述不同阶段的失败必须被视为阶段的调试,以达成一致的终点。"那么,推广到黄仁宇自己身上,是不是他在暗示,自己的各种失败大于努力的总和,而这些失败必须被视为对历史的阶段性调试,最终将到达一个更深远的终点?

"我开始领悟,为何我必须在生命中见识如此多的奇人异事,面临如此多的暴力。我恰巧出生在中国政治的最低点,以及人心惶惶的最高点。

我阅读的东西,听过的对话,在中国见证的事件,都只有在我迁居美国多年后才产生意义。由于离主体很远,又有够长的时间来发展后见之明,终于可以轮到我说,我懂了。"

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