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TED演讲:我们能从恐惧中学到什么

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shangzening

2016年05月23日

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  One day in 1819, 3,000 miles off the coast of Chile, in one of the most remote regions of the Pacific Ocean, 20 American sailors watched their ship flood with seawater.

  1819年的某一天, 在距离智利海岸3000英里的地方, 有一个太平洋上的最偏远的水域, 20名美国船员目睹了他们的船只进水的场面。

  They'd been struck by a sperm whale, which had ripped a catastrophic hole in the ship's hull. As their ship began to sink beneath the swells, the men huddled together in three small whaleboats.

  他们和一头抹香鲸相撞,给船体撞了 一个毁灭性的大洞。 当船在巨浪中开始沉没时, 人们在三条救生小艇中抱作一团。

  These men were 10,000 miles from home, more than 1,000 miles from the nearest scrap of land. In their small boats, they carried only rudimentary navigational equipment and limited supplies of food and water.

  这些人在离家10000万英里的地方, 离最近的陆地也超过1000英里。 在他们的小艇中,他们只带了 落后的导航设备 和有限的食物和饮水。

  These were the men of the whaleship Essex, whose story would later inspire parts of "Moby Dick."

  他们就是捕鲸船ESSEX上的人们, 后来的他们的故事成为《白鲸记》的一部分。

  Even in today's world, their situation would be really dire, but think about how much worse it would have been then.

  即使在当今的世界,碰上这种情况也够杯具的,更不用说在当时的情况有多糟糕。

  No one on land had any idea that anything had gone wrong. No search party was coming to look for these men. So most of us have never experienced a situation as frightening as the one in which these sailors found themselves, but we all know what it's like to be afraid.

  岸上的人根本就还没意识到出了什么问题。 没有任何人来搜寻他们。 我们当中大部分人没有经历过 这些船员所处的可怕情景, 但我们都知道害怕是什么感觉。

  We know how fear feels, but I'm not sure we spend enough time thinking about what our fears mean.

  我们知道恐惧的感觉, 但是我不能肯定我们会花很多时间想过 我们的恐惧到底意味着什么。

  As we grow up, we're often encouraged to think of fear as a weakness, just another childish thing to discard like baby teeth or roller skates.

  我们长大以后,我们总是会被鼓励把恐惧 视为软弱,需要像乳牙或轮滑鞋一样 扔掉的幼稚的东西。

  And I think it's no accident that we think this way. Neuroscientists have actually shown that human beings are hard-wired to be optimists.

  我想意外事故并非我们所想的那样。 神经系统科学家已经知道人类 生来就是乐观主义者。

  So maybe that's why we think of fear, sometimes, as a danger in and of itself. "Don't worry," we like to say to one another. "Don't panic." In English, fear is something we conquer. It's something we fight.

  这也许就是为什么我们认为有时候恐惧, 本身就是一种危险或带来危险。 “不要愁。”我们总是对别人说。“不要慌”。 英语中,恐惧是我们需要征服的东西。 是我们必须对抗的东西,是我们必须克服的东西。

  It's something we overcome. But what if we looked at fear in a fresh way? What if we thought of fear as an amazing act of the imagination, something that can be as profound and insightful as storytelling itself?

  但是我们如果换个视角看恐惧会如何呢? 如果我们把恐惧当做是想象力的一个惊人成果, 是和我们讲故事一样 精妙而有见地的东西,又会如何呢?

  It's easiest to see this link between fear and the imagination in young children, whose fears are often extraordinarily vivid.

  在小孩子当中,我们最容易看到恐惧与想象之间的联系, 他们的恐惧经常是超级生动的。

  When I was a child, I lived in California, which is, you know, mostly a very nice place to live, but for me as a child, California could also be a little scary.

  我小时候住在加利福尼亚, 你们都知道,是非常适合居住的位置, 但是对一个小孩来说,加利福尼亚也会有点吓人。

  I remember how frightening it was to see the chandelier that hung above our dining table swing back and forth during every minor earthquake, and I sometimes couldn't sleep at night, terrified that the Big One might strike while we were sleeping.

  我记得每次小地震的时候 当我看到我们餐桌上的吊灯 晃来晃去的时候是多么的吓人, 我经常会彻夜难眠,担心大地震 会在我们睡觉的时候突然袭来。

  And what we say about kids who have fears like that is that they have a vivid imagination. But at a certain point, most of us learn to leave these kinds of visions behind and grow up.

  我们说小孩子感受到这种恐惧 是因为他们有生动的想象力。 但是在某个时候,我们大多数学会了 抛弃这种想法而变得成熟。

  We learn that there are no monsters hiding under the bed, and not every earthquake brings buildings down. But maybe it's no coincidence that some of our most creative minds fail to leave these kinds of fears behind as adults.

  我们都知道床下没有魔鬼, 也不是每个地震都会震垮房子。但是我们当中最有想象力的人们 并没有因为成年而抛弃这种恐惧,这也许并不是巧合。

  The same incredible imaginations that produced "The Origin of Species," "Jane Eyre" and "The Remembrance of Things Past," also generated intense worries that haunted the adult lives of Charles Darwin, Charlotte BrontĂŤ and Marcel Proust. So the question is, what can the rest of us learn about fear from visionaries and young children?

  同样不可思议的想象力创造了《物种起源》, 《简·爱》和《追忆似水年华》, 也就是这种与生俱来的深深的担忧一直缠绕着成年的 查尔斯·达尔文, 夏洛特·勃朗特和马塞尔·普罗斯特。 问题就来了, 我们其他人如何能从这些 梦想家和小孩子身上学会恐惧?

  Well let's return to the year 1819 for a moment, to the situation facing the crew of the whaleship Essex. Let's take a look at the fears that their imaginations were generating as they drifted in the middle of the Pacific.

  让我们暂时回到1819年, 回到ESSEX捕鲸船的水手们面对的情况。 让我们看看他们漂流在太平洋中央时 他们的想象力给他们带来的恐惧感觉。

  Twenty-four hours had now passed since the capsizing of the ship. The time had come for the men to make a plan, but they had very few options.

  船倾覆后已经过了24个小时。 这时人们制定了一个计划, 但是其实他们没什么太多的选择。

  In his fascinating account of the disaster, Nathaniel Philbrick wrote that these men were just about as far from land as it was possible to be anywhere on Earth.

  在纳撒尼尔·菲尔布里克(Nathaniel Philbrick)描述这场灾难的 动人文章中,他写到“这些人离陆地如此之远, 似乎永远都不可能到达地球上的任何一块陆地。”

  The men knew that the nearest islands they could reach were the Marquesas Islands, 1,200 miles away. But they'd heard some frightening rumors.

  这些人知道离他们最近的岛 是1200英里以外的马克萨斯群岛(Marquesas Islands)。 但是他们听到了让人恐怖的谣言。

  They'd been told that these islands, and several others nearby, were populated by cannibals. So the men pictured coming ashore only to be murdered and eaten for dinner. Another possible destination was Hawaii, but given the season, the captain was afraid they'd be struck by severe storms.

  他们听说这些群岛, 以及附近的一些岛屿上都住着食人族。 所以他们脑中都是上岸以后就会被杀掉 被人当做盘中餐的画面。 另一个可行的目的地是夏威夷, 但是船长担心 他们会被困在风暴当中。

  Now the last option was the longest, and the most difficult: to sail 1,500 miles due south in hopes of reaching a certain band of winds that could eventually push them toward the coast of South America.

  所以最后的选择是到最远,也是最艰险的地方: 往南走1500英里希望某股风 能最终把他们 吹到南美洲的海岸。

  But they knew that the sheer length of this journey would stretch their supplies of food and water. To be eaten by cannibals, to be battered by storms, to starve to death before reaching land.

  但是他们知道这个行程中一旦偏航 将会耗尽他们食物和饮水的供给。 被食人族吃掉,被风暴掀翻, 在登陆前饿死。

  These were the fears that danced in the imaginations of these poor men, and as it turned out, the fear they chose to listen to would govern whether they lived or died.

  这就是萦绕在这群可怜的人想象中的恐惧, 事实证明,他们选择听从的恐惧 将决定他们的生死。

  Now we might just as easily call these fears by a different name. What if instead of calling them fears, we called them stories?

  也许我们可以很容易的用别的名称来称呼这些恐惧。 我们不称之为恐惧, 而是称它们为故事如何?

  Because that's really what fear is, if you think about it. It's a kind of unintentional storytelling that we are all born knowing how to do. And fears and storytelling have the same components.

  如果你仔细想想,这是恐惧真正的意义。 这是一种与生俱来的, 无意识的讲故事的能力。 恐惧和讲故事有着同样的构成。

  They have the same architecture. Like all stories, fears have characters. In our fears, the characters are us. Fears also have plots. They have beginnings and middles and ends. You board the plane.

  他们有同样的结构。 如同所有的故事,恐惧中有角色。 在恐惧中,角色就是我们自己。 恐惧也有情节。他们有开头,有中间,有结尾。 你登上飞机。

  The plane takes off. The engine fails. Our fears also tend to contain imagery that can be every bit as vivid as what you might find in the pages of a novel. Picture a cannibal, human teeth sinking into human skin, human flesh roasting over a fire.

  飞机起飞。结果引擎故障。 我们的恐惧会包括各种生动的想象, 不比你看到的任何一个小说逊色。 想象食人族,人类牙齿 咬在人类皮肤上, 人肉在火上烤。

  Fears also have suspense. If I've done my job as a storyteller today, you should be wondering what happened to the men of the whaleship Essex. Our fears provoke in us a very similar form of suspense.

  恐惧中也有悬念。 如果我今天像讲故事一样,留个悬念不说了, 你们也许会很想知道 ESSEX捕鲸船上,人们到底怎么样了。 我们的恐惧用悬念一样的方式刺激我们。

  Just like all great stories, our fears focus our attention on a question that is as important in life as it is in literature: What will happen next?

  就像一个很好的故事,我们的恐惧也如同一部好的文学作品一样, 将我们的注意力集中在对我们生命至关重要的问题上: 后来发生了什么?

  In other words, our fears make us think about the future. And humans, by the way, are the only creatures capable of thinking about the future in this way, of projecting ourselves forward in time, and this mental time travel is just one more thing that fears have in common with storytelling.

  换而言之,我们的恐惧让我们想到未来。 另外,人来是唯一有能力 通过这种方式想到未来的生物, 就是预测时间推移后我们的状况, 这种精神上的时间旅行是恐惧 与讲故事的另一个共同点。

  As a writer, I can tell you that a big part of writing fiction is learning to predict how one event in a story will affect all the other events, and fear works in that same way.

  我是一个作家,我要告诉你们写小说一个很重要的部分 就是学会预测故事中一件 事情如何影响另一件事情, 恐惧也是同样这么做的。

  In fear, just like in fiction, one thing always leads to another. When I was writing my first novel, "The Age Of Miracles," I spent months trying to figure out what would happen if the rotation of the Earth suddenly began to slow down. What would happen to our days?

  恐惧中,如同小说一样,一件事情总是导致另一件事情。 我写我的第一部小说《奇迹时代》的时候, 我花了数月的时间想象如果地球旋转突然变慢了之后 会发生什么。 我们的一天变得如何?

  What would happen to our crops? What would happen to our minds? And then it was only later that I realized how very similar these questions were to the ones I used to ask myself as a child frightened in the night.

  我们身体会怎样? 我们的思想会有什么变化? 也就是在那之后,我意识到 我过去总是问自己的那些些问题 和孩子们在夜里害怕是多么的相像。

  If an earthquake strikes tonight, I used to worry, what will happen to our house? What will happen to my family? And the answer to those questions always took the form of a story.

  要是在过去,如果今晚发生地震,我会很担心, 我的房子会怎么样啊?家里人会怎样啊? 这类问题的答案通常都会和故事一样。

  So if we think of our fears as more than just fears but as stories, we should think of ourselves as the authors of those stories. But just as importantly, we need to think of ourselves as the readers of our fears, and how we choose to read our fears can have a profound effect on our lives.

  所以我们认为我们的恐惧不仅仅是恐惧 还是故事,我们应该把自己当作 这些故事的作者。 但是同样重要的是,我们需要想象我们自己 是我们恐惧的解读者,我们选择如何 去解读这些恐惧会对我们的生活产生深远的影响。

  Now, some of us naturally read our fears more closely than others. I read about a study recently of successful entrepreneurs, and the author found that these people shared a habit that he called "productive paranoia," which meant that these people, instead of dismissing their fears, these people read them closely, they studied them, and then they translated that fear into preparation and action.

  现在,我们中有些人比其他人更自然的解读自己的恐惧。 最近我看过一个关于成功的企业家的研究, 作者发现这些人都有个习惯 叫做“未雨绸缪“, 意思是,这些人,不回避自己的恐惧, 而是认真解读并研究恐惧, 然后把恐惧转换成准备和行动。

  So that way, if their worst fears came true, their businesses were ready.

  这样,如果最坏的事情发生了, 他们的企业也有所准备。

  And sometimes, of course, our worst fears do come true. That's one of the things that is so extraordinary about fear. Once in a while, our fears can predict the future.

  当然,很多时候,最坏的事情确实发生了。 这是恐惧非凡的一面。 曾几何时,我们的恐惧预测将来。

  But we can't possibly prepare for all of the fears that our imaginations concoct. So how can we tell the difference between the fears worth listening to and all the others? I think the end of the story of the whaleship Essex offers an illuminating, if tragic, example.

  但是我们不可能为我们想象力构建的所有 恐惧来做准备。 所以,如何区分值得听从的恐惧 和不值得的呢? 我想捕鲸船ESSEX的故事结局 提供了一个有启发性,同时又悲惨的例子。

  After much deliberation, the men finally made a decision. Terrified of cannibals, they decided to forgo the closest islands and instead embarked on the longer and much more difficult route to South America.

  经过数次权衡,他们最终做出了决定。 由于害怕食人族,他们决定放弃最近的群岛 而是开始更长 更艰难的南美洲之旅。

  After more than two months at sea, the men ran out of food as they knew they might, and they were still quite far from land. When the last of the survivors were finally picked up by two passing ships, less than half of the men were left alive, and some of them had resorted to their own form of cannibalism.

  在海上呆了两个多月后,他们 的食物如预料之中消耗殆尽, 而且他们仍然离陆地那么远。 当最后的幸存者最终被过往船只救起时, 只有一小半的人还活着, 实际上他们中的一些人自己变成了食人族。

  Herman Melville, who used this story as research for "Moby Dick," wrote years later, and from dry land, quote, "All the sufferings of these miserable men of the Essex might in all human probability have been avoided had they, immediately after leaving the wreck, steered straight for Tahiti.

  赫尔曼·梅尔维尔(Herman Melville)将这个故事作为 《白鲸记》的素材,在数年后写到: ESSEX船上遇难者的悲惨结局 或许是可以通过人为的努力避免的, 如果他们当机立断地离开沉船, 直奔塔西提群岛。

  But," as Melville put it, "they dreaded cannibals." So the question is, why did these men dread cannibals so much more than the extreme likelihood of starvation?

  “但是”,梅尔维尔说道:“他们害怕食人族” 问题是,为什么这些人对于食人族的恐惧 超过了更有可能的饥饿威胁呢?

  Why were they swayed by one story so much more than the other? Looked at from this angle, theirs becomes a story about reading. The novelist Vladimir Nabokov said that the best reader has a combination of two very different temperaments, the artistic and the scientific.

  为什么他们会被一个故事 影响如此之大呢? 从另一个角度来看, 这是一个关于解读的故事。 小说家弗拉基米尔·纳博科夫(Vladimir Nabokov)说 最好的读者能把两种截然不同的性格结合起来, 一个是艺术气质,一个是科学精神。

  A good reader has an artist's passion, a willingness to get caught up in the story, but just as importantly, the readers also needs the coolness of judgment of a scientist, which acts to temper and complicate the reader's intuitive reactions to the story. As we've seen, the men of the Essex had no trouble with the artistic part.

  好的读者有艺术家的热情, 愿意融入故事当中, 但是同样重要的是,这些读者还要 有科学家的冷静判断, 这能帮助他们稳定情绪并分析 其对故事的直觉反应。 我们可以看出来,ESSEX上的人在艺术部分一点问题都没有。

  They dreamed up a variety of horrifying scenarios. The problem was that they listened to the wrong story. Of all the narratives their fears wrote, they responded only to the most lurid, the most vivid, the one that was easiest for their imaginations to picture: cannibals.

  他们梦想到一系列恐怖的场景。 问题在于他们听从了一个错误的故事。 所有他们恐惧中 他们只对其中最耸人听闻,最生动的故事, 也是他们想象中最早出现的场景: 食人族。

  But perhaps if they'd been able to read their fears more like a scientist, with more coolness of judgment, they would have listened instead to the less violent but the more likely tale, the story of starvation, and headed for Tahiti, just as Melville's sad commentary suggests.

  也许,如果他们能像科学家那样 稍微冷静一点解读这个故事, 如果他们能听从不太惊悚但是更可能发生的 半路饿死的故事,他们可能就会直奔塔西提群岛, 如梅尔维尔充满惋惜的评论所建议的那样。

  And maybe if we all tried to read our fears, we too would be less often swayed by the most salacious among them.

  也许如果我们都试着解读自己的恐惧, 我们就能少被 其中的一些幻象所迷惑。

  Maybe then we'd spend less time worrying about serial killers and plane crashes, and more time concerned with the subtler and slower disasters we face: the silent buildup of plaque in our arteries, the gradual changes in our climate.

  我们也就能少花一点时间在 为系列杀手或者飞机失事方面的担忧, 而是更多的关心那些悄然而至 的灾难: 动脉血小板的逐渐堆积, 气候的逐渐变迁。

  Just as the most nuanced stories in literature are often the richest, so too might our subtlest fears be the truest. Read in the right way, our fears are an amazing gift of the imagination, a kind of everyday clairvoyance, a way of glimpsing what might be the future when there's still time to influence how that future will play out.

  如同文学中最精妙的故事通常是最丰富的故事, 我们最细微的恐惧才是最真实的恐惧。 用正确的方法的解读,我们的恐惧就是我们想象力 赐给我们的礼物,借此一双慧眼, 让我们能管窥未来 甚至影响未来。

  Properly read, our fears can offer us something as precious as our favorite works of literature: a little wisdom, a bit of insight and a version of that most elusive thing -- the truth. Thank you.

  如果能得到正确的解读,我们的恐惧能 和我们最喜欢的文学作品一样给我们珍贵的东西: 一点点智慧,一点点洞悉 以及对最玄妙东西—— 真相的诠释。 谢谢。


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