汪曾祺在《哀哀父母，生我劬劳》一文中写道:“中国散文，包括写父母的悼念性文章，自四十年代至七十年代有一个断裂，其特点是作假……不断地搞运动，使人心变了，变得粗硬寡情了。不知是谁发明了一种东西，叫做‘划清界限’，是亲子之情变得淡薄了，有时直如路人。更有甚者，变成仇敌，失去人性。”要求“划清界限”而内心又无法和不愿“划清界限”，也许就是阻挡我们处理好原生家庭关系的一大阻碍。正如龙应台在《天长地久》里所说的：“出国时，父母到松山机场送我。那时候出国留学就像永别。我进海关之前，有没有回头看美君一眼？一定没有。当时我的心目中是没有父母的。父母就是理所当然地在那，就像家里的家具一样。”年少的时候，我们拼命想摆脱自己身上或多或少父母的影子，渴望逃离家庭，也许因为对于家庭的记忆让人觉得压抑。长大之后发现我们真不愧是他们的孩子。终于，我们渐行渐远，却又慢慢靠近。亲情，还是有滋味可品的。我们慢慢走向父母的过程，就像拉丁语“ave atque vale“所言，是致意，也是告别。
Nietzsche says somewhere that the industrious, virtuous English ruined Sundays. I knew this at the age of twelve—that is, the Sunday part and the ruination part. When I was growing up, Sunday morning was all industry and virtue, a religious bustle: the dejected selection of formal clothes (tie, jacket, gray trousers); a quick pre-ecclesiastical breakfast; lace-up shoes handed to my father, master of the polishing arts (that oily Kiwi cake, glistening in its tin like food). Then the eternal boredom of church, with its ponderously enthusiastic adults. And, after that, Sunday lunch, as regimented as the Hapsburg Sunday lunches of brisket of beef and cherry dumplings that the Trotta family eats week after week in “The Radetzky March.” A joint of beef, or of lamb, or of pork, with gravy, roast potatoes, and a selection of fatally weakened vegetables (softened cauliflower, tattered Brussels sprouts, pale parsnips, all boiled punitively, as if to get the contagion out of them). It was the nineteen-seventies, in a small town in the North of England, but it could almost have been the eighteen-seventies. The only unusual element in this establishment was that my father cooked lunch. He cooked everything for our family, and always had; my mother was never interested in the kitchen, and gladly conceded that territory.
尼采曾说过，正是英国人数十年如一日的勤恳以及对美德的不懈追求“毁”了周日的美好时光。对此，十二岁的我就深以为然。在我成长的过程中，周日的早晨往往就是厉行勤劳，追求美德的早晨，要为参加礼拜而忙前忙后：先是没精打采地挑选正装（领带啊夹克衫啊灰色裤子之类的），在礼拜开始前匆忙吃完早餐，把系好的鞋子递给父亲，他抛光打蜡的手艺可是相当了得（那罐头里油光晶亮的猕猴桃蛋糕十分逼真，正是出自父亲之手）。在教堂里的每分每秒都十分煎熬，而大人们却十分投入，一副深沉严肃的模样。午餐像《拉德茨基进行曲》（the Radetzky March）里特洛塔一家每周吃的哈布斯堡周日午餐一般固定，顿顿都是牛胸肉和樱桃饺子。教会的午餐包括炖牛肉（有时候是羊肉或猪肉）、烤土豆和一些蔫巴巴的让人难以下咽的蔬菜（有嫩花菜、抱子甘蓝碎、清口欧防风等，全都煮得稀烂，好像为了防止传染病似的）。这般景象在70年代英格兰北部的小镇上很是常见，80年代也变化不大，不过后来我们就改在家里吃父亲做的午饭。厨房一直以来都是父亲的地盘，他几乎包揽了我们家所有烧菜烧饭的活。母亲对烹饪从来就不感兴趣，自然是愉快地接受了这样的分工。
After lunch, tired and entitled—but sweetly, not triumphantly—my father sat in the sitting room and listened to classical music on the record player. He fell asleep gradually, not really intending to succumb. He wanted to be awake for one of his favorite composers, a narrow but rich cycle of Beethoven (piano sonatas and string quartets), Haydn (string quartets), and Schubert (lieder, especially “Die Winterreise”). These three masters were almost as unvarying as the rotation of Sunday beef, lamb, and pork. My brother and sister and I were all musical children, so we would be appealed to, as we crept toward the door. “Don’t go quite yet—you’ll miss the next one, ‘Der Lindenbaum,’ which Fischer-Dieskau does very well. He has the advantage over Peter Schreier.” My father’s musical discussion involved grading performances; though an intelligent auditor, he didn’t play a musical instrument. So my memory of those Sunday afternoons is as much a memory of names as of music: “No one has really approached the young Barenboim, in those late sonatas, except Kempff. But of course Kempff is a completely different pianist. Solomon, whom I heard playing the last two sonatas in London, when I was still at school, was tremendously fast and powerful.” Richter, Kempff, Schnabel, Barenboim, Brendel, Ogdon, Pollini, Gilels, Arrau, Michelangeli, Fischer-Dieskau, Schreier, Schwarzkopf, Sutherland, Lott, Vickers, Pears—all the precious names of childhood.
I thought of those Sundays when Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau died, some months ago. Some of the obituaries rightly suggested that he became a brand name for a kind of smooth, dependable quality. That is how he functioned in our household (which isn’t to deny his beauty as a singer, or the validity of my father’s admiration of him). I grew a bit suspicious of that rich emollience of tone, that tempered, bourgeois liquidity. Just as intolerantly, I grew restless with the way my father would look up from his armchair and calmly utter the double-barrelled guarantee: “Fischer-Dieskau, of course. . . . Marvellous.” The name had the shape and solidity of some dependable manufacturer or department store, a firm that would never go bust. Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, Harvey Nichols, Austin Reed, Royal Enfield. My father had great faith in reliable British companies, often against the evidence, it should be said. It was a joke in our family. Once, at dinner, a wall plug and socket exploded, with a mild, odorous flash. Imperturbable, my dad went to the wall and examined the plug, like the scientist he was. “M.K. and Crabtree,” he said, intoning the names of the manufacturers. “Totally dependable.” We all laughed at this stolid evenness of response, while perhaps gratefully aware that this was the kind of man you would want around in an actual crisis. Fischer-Dieskau, like M.K. and Crabtree, was totally dependable, though inconveniently German.
几个月前，德国男中音歌唱家菲舍尔-狄斯考与世长辞。他的离世让我又想起了与父亲共度的周日时光。一些讣闻称菲舍尔-狄斯考的作品就是流畅、有保障的代名词。在我家，他的地位也是如此（这并非否定他的惊艳歌喉抑或是父亲对他的崇拜）。我甚至开始有点质疑他作品中柔美治愈的曲调以及那种舒缓但庸常的流畅性。我同样无法理解父亲对他的痴迷。“菲舍尔-狄斯考，不用说，好肯定好！”每当坐在摇椅上的父亲抬起头，平静地表达莫名的赞美时，这种态度就会让我有些不耐烦。迪特里希·菲舍尔-狄斯考这个名字在父亲眼中似乎具体有型，像阿斯顿·马丁、劳斯莱斯、夏菲尼高、奥斯汀·里德和恩菲尔德这些制造商和百货公司一样，是一家值得信赖、永不破产的公司。父亲对一些看似可靠的英国公司满怀信心，纵使这些公司并没有这般靠谱。在我们家有一段趣事，一次吃晚饭的时候，一个插座爆炸了，伴着一道轻微的、带气味的亮光。父亲冷静地走到墙边，像个科学家一样仔细检查了插座，一边检查一边叨叨制造商的名字：“M.K.和 Crabtree的品质都是可以保证的。”我们都嘲笑他反应冷淡，波澜不惊，又暗自感叹真正遇到危机的时候，希望能有像父亲一样冷静的人在身边。父亲觉得菲舍尔-狄斯考和 M.K.、Crabtree 一样可靠，尽管前者是个不折不扣的德国人。
Boredom, headachey Sunday boredom: I blamed Christianity. On those English Sundays, the knowledge that all the shops were religiously shut (even the little back-alley record shop where my best friend and I fingered the new LPs) simmered like a sullen summer heat and made me lethargic. There was nowhere to go, nothing to do. My brother was somehow more adept than I at slipping away to sin; he made it to his bedroom, and I would hear Robert Plant whining up there, the euphoric, demonic, eunuch antidote to Fischer-Dieskau’s settled baritone. (“I should have quit you, long time ago.”) My sister was too young to count as audience. My mother steered clear. So I would sit with my father, and sometimes when he fell asleep I would fall asleep, too, in companionable torpor.
For ages, I associated those three composers with that Sunday world. Haydn was killed for me. Even now, I can’t listen to him, despite the adulatory testimony of several musicians and composers I know. For quite a long time, I thought of Schubert only as the composer of snowy, trudging lieder. I refused to hear the limpid beauty of the songs, or the dark anguish; I knew nothing about the piano sonatas, now among my favorite pieces. Most terribly, I thought of Beethoven as the calm confectioner of the “Moonlight” Sonata; I heard the beauty, but not much more. It was music to go to sleep to. An idiotic assessment, of course. All the tension and dissonance, the jumpy rhythms, the fantastic experimental fugues and variations, the chromatic storms, the blessed plateaus (the sunlit achievement, once you have got through the storms, as at the end of Opus 109 and Opus 111)—in short, all the fierce complex modernity of Beethoven was lost to me.
And then Beethoven came back, as probably my father knew he would, in my early twenties, at a time of solitude and anxiety—came roaring back with the difficult romanticism that my incuriosity had repressed in childhood. I can’t now imagine life without Beethoven, can’t imagine not listening to and thinking about Beethoven (being spoken to by him, and speaking with him). And, like my father, I have quite a few recordings of the piano sonatas, especially the last three, and I listen to the young Barenboim playing, and think to myself, as my father did, Not quite as lucid as Kempff, but much better than Gould, who’s unreliable on Beethoven, and perhaps more interesting than Brendel, and, yes, I think I just heard him make a little mistake, which Pollini certainly never does. . . .
Sometimes I catch myself and think, self-consciously, You are now listening to a Beethoven string quartet, just as your father did. And, at that moment, I feel a mixture of satisfaction and rebellion. Rebellion, for all the obvious reasons. Satisfaction, because it is natural to resemble one’s parents, and there is a resigned pleasure to be had from the realization. I like that my voice is exactly the same pitch as my father’s, and can be mistaken for it. But then I hear myself speaking to my children just as he spoke to me, in exactly the same tone and with the same fatherly melody, and I am dismayed by the plagiarism of inheritance. How unoriginal can one be? I sneeze the way he does, with a slightly theatrical whooshing sound. I say “Yes, yes” just as he does, calmly. The other day, I saw that I have the same calves, with the shiny, unlit pallor I found ugly when I was a boy, and with those oddly hairless patches at the back (blame for which my father unscientifically placed on trouser cloth rubbing against the skin). Sometimes, when I am sitting doing nothing, I have the eerie sense that my mouth and eyes are set just like his. Like him, I am irritatingly phlegmatic at times of crisis. There must be a few differences: I won’t decide to become a priest in my fifties, as he did. I’m not religious, and don’t go to church, as he does, so my Sundays are much less dull than those of my childhood (and the shops are all open now, a liberty that brings its own universal boredom). I’m no scientist (he was a zoologist). I am less decent, less ascetic, far more materialistic (“pagan” would be my self-reassuring euphemism). And I’m sure he’s never Googled himself.
This summer, I happened to reread a beautiful piece of writing by Lydia Davis, called “How Shall I Mourn Them?” It is barely two and a half pages long, and is just a list of questions:
Shall I keep a tidy house, like L.?
Shall I develop an unsanitary habit, like K.?
Shall I sway from side to side a little as I walk, like C.?
Shall I write letters to the editor, like R.?
Shall I retire to my room often during the day, like R.?
Shall I live alone in a large house, like B.?
Shall I treat my husband coldly, like K.?
Shall I give piano lessons, like M.?
Shall I leave the butter out all day to soften, like C.?
When I first read this story (or whatever you want to call it), a few years ago, I understood it to be about mourning departed parents, partly because a certain amount of Davis’s recent work has appeared to touch obliquely on the death of her parents. I think that the initials could belong to the author’s friends—seen, over the years, falling into the habits of grief. It is a gentle comedy of Davis’s that those habits of grief are so ordinary (piano lessons, leaving out the butter) that they amount to the habits of life, and that therefore the answer to the title’s question must be: “I can’t choose how to mourn them, as your verb, ‘shall,’ suggests. I can mourn them only haplessly, accidentally, by surviving them. So I shall mourn them just by living.” But I spoke recently to a friend about this story, and she thought that I had missed something. “Isn’t it also about becoming one’s parents, about taking on their very habits and tics after they disappear? So it’s also about preserving those habits once they’ve disappeared, whether you want to or not.” My friend told me that before her mother died she had had very little interest in gardening (one of her mother’s passions); after her mother’s death, she began to garden, and it now brings her real happiness.
If you are mourning your parents by becoming them, then presumably you can mourn them before they are dead: certainly, I have spent my thirties and forties journeying through a long realization that I am decisively my parents’ child, that I am destined to share many of their gestures and habits, and that this slow process of becoming them, or becoming more like them, is, like the Roman ave atque vale, both an address and a farewell.
如果想通过活出父母的样子来纪念他们，那么你现在就应该有所行动。当然，在我三四十岁这段时光里，我花了很长时间才接受我无论如何都是父母生的这一事实，我必然会表现出和他们相似的体态，拥有相同的习惯。这段缓慢前行的人生旅程，正是我向他们迈进的过程，或者说我正慢慢变得越来越像他们，就像拉丁语“ave atque vale”说的那样，是致意，也是告别。
译注：ave atque vale, hail and farewell : I salute you, and goodbye —used especially in a eulogy to a hero.
My parents are still alive, in their mid-eighties now. But in the past two years my wife has watched both her parents die—her father, quickly, of esophageal cancer, and her mother, more slowly, from the effects of dementia. She bore one kind of grief for her father; and she bore a slightly different grief for her mother, for an absence that was the anticipation of loss, followed finally by the completion of that loss—grief in stages, terraced grief. I say to her, “I haven’t yet had to go through any of what you’ve gone through.” And she replies, “But you will, you know that, and it won’t be so long.”
My parents know much better than I do that it won’t be so long; that their life together is precarious, and balances on the little plinth of their fading health. There is nothing unique in this prospect: it’s just their age, and mine. Twice this year, my father has been hospitalized. When he disappears like that, my mother struggles to survive, because she has macular degeneration and can’t see. The second time, I raced over to damp Scotland, to find her almost confined to the dining room, where there is a strong (and pungently ugly) electric fire, and living essentially on cereal; the carpet under the dining table was littered with oats, like the floor of a hamster’s cage. When my father returned home, he had a cane for the first time in his robust life, and seemed much weaker. My brother took him around the supermarket in a wheelchair.
I spent a week at my parents’ home, helping out, and it took a couple of days for me to register that something was missing. It nagged at me, faintly, and then more strongly, and finally I realized that there was no music in the house. In fact, it occurred to me, there had been no music during several previous visits I’d made. I asked my father why he was no longer listening to music, and was shocked to discover that his CD player had been broken for more than a year, and that he had put off replacing it because a new one seemed expensive. He was much less perturbed than I was by this state of affairs. I could hardly imagine my parents’ life without thinking of him sitting in an armchair, while Haydn or Beethoven or Schubert played. But, of course, this idea of him is an old memory of mine, and thus a picture of a younger man’s habits—he is the middle-aged father of my childhood, not the rather different old man whom I don’t see often enough because I live three thousand miles away, a man who doesn’t care too much whether he listens to music or not. So, even as I become him, he becomes someone else.
Most likely, he is simply too busy looking after my mother to have time to relax. He is the cook, the driver, the shopper, the banker, the person who uses the computer, who gets wood or coal for the fire, who mends things when they break, who puts the cat out and who locks up at night. Perhaps he is too busy being anxious about my mother, being slightly afraid for both of them, to sit as he used to, triumphant and calm and secure.
Or perhaps this is just my fear projected onto him. When I was a teen-ager, I used to think that Philip Larkin’s line about how life is first boredom, then fear, was right about boredom (those Sundays) and wrong about fear. What’s so fearful about life? Now, at forty-seven, I think it should be the other way around: life is first fear, then boredom (as perhaps the fearful Larkin of “Aubade” knew). Fear for oneself, fear for those one loves. I sleep very poorly these days; I lie awake, full of apprehensions. All kinds of them, starting with the small stuff, and rising. How absurd that I should be paid to write book reviews! How long is that likely to last? And what’s the point of the bloody things? Why on earth would the money not run out? Will I be alive in five years? Isn’t some kind of mortal disease likely? How will I cope with death and loss—with the death of my parents, or, worse, and unimaginably, of my wife, or children? How appalling to lose one’s mind, as my mother-in-law did! Or to lose all mobility, but not one’s mind, and become a prisoner, like the late Tony Judt. If I faced such a diagnosis, would I have the courage to kill myself? Does my father have pancreatic cancer? And on and on.
There is nothing very particular about these anxieties. They’re banal, even a little comic, as the mother in Per Petterson’s novel “I Curse the River of Time” understands when some bad medical news is delivered. She had lain awake, night after night, worried about dying of lung cancer: “And then I get cancer of the stomach. What a waste of time!” It’s just the river of time; and a waste of time. But there it is. And sometimes I murmur to myself, repetitively, partly to calm myself down, “How shall I mourn them?” How indeed? For it sounds like the title of a beautiful song, a German lament, something my father might have listened to on a Sunday afternoon, when he still did.