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我们对萌物的谜之痴恋

我们对萌物的谜之痴恋

我们翻译这篇文章的理由

现代人对可爱事物的迷恋可谓是一发不可收拾,从玩偶到手机壳、从生活用品到电脑屏保,处处皆是“可爱”的身影。可爱事物的影响范围也越来越广,在这些萌物面前,性别、年龄和身份皆被人们抛诸身后。也许有很多人这样做是为了解压,但是这绝不会是唯一理由。

——徐嘉茵

👇

我们对萌物的谜之痴恋

作者:Simon May

译者:李静轩 & 邵海灵

校对:邹世昌

策划:徐嘉茵

Why the power of cute is colonising our world

我们对萌物的谜之痴恋

In such uncertain and uneasy times, and with so much injustice, hate and intolerance threatening the world, don’t we have more serious things to focus on than the escapades of that feline girl-figure Hello Kitty? Or Pokémon, the video-game franchise that’s hot again in 2019 with a major US and UK film release for its rodent detective Pikachu, its YouTube trailer notching up more than 65 million hits and counting. Why the proliferation of emojis? Or the cute logos that adorn countless products, from computers and phones, to guns and food; from children’s toys and calendars, to condoms and contact lenses?
在如此动荡不安的时代,在一个被重重不公、仇恨和狭隘威胁着的世界里,我们却对猫脸女孩Hello Kitty的冒险故事乐此不疲,难道就没有比这更严肃的事情值得关注吗?还有宠物小精灵——随着《大侦探皮卡丘》在2019年上映,这部英美主创的动画片使神奇宝贝的电子游戏再度大热,其预告片在YouTube上的点击量已经达到了6500万,而且还在持续上升。为什么表情包数量激增?为什么从电脑到手机,从枪支到食品,从儿童玩具到日历,从避孕套到隐形眼镜,不计其数的产品商标都是那么的可爱?
The craze for all things cute is motivated, most obviously, by the urge to escape from precisely such a threatening world into a garden of innocence in which childlike qualities arouse deliciously protective feelings, and bestow contentment and solace. Cute cues include behaviours that appear helpless, harmless, charming and yielding, and anatomical features such as outsize heads, protruding foreheads, saucer-like eyes, retreating chins and clumsy gaits.
对可爱事物的痴迷,最显然的动机是逃离这个充满威胁的世界,躲进一个纯真无邪的花园,在这里,单纯和天真激发了我们的保护欲,给予我们满足和慰藉。对于看起来无助、无害、迷人、顺从的行为,以及像超大的脑袋、凸出的额头、圆盘般的眼睛、玲珑瘦削的下巴、笨拙的步伐等又呆又萌的体态特征,都让我们一见钟情,爱不释手。
Perhaps, as the Austrian scholar of animal behaviour Konrad Lorenz suggested in 1943, our response to these sorts of cues evolved to motivate us to give our offspring the extensive care and nurture that they need to prosper. According to Lorenz, the same visual cues can arouse us to equally intense – or possibly more intense – caregiving when we encounter them in exaggerated and distilled form in animals, such as birds and puppies, and even in dummy models, such as dolls and teddy bears.
正如奥地利动物行为学家康拉德•洛伦兹在1943年所言,也许我们对这类视觉特征进化出的这种反应,能激励我们无私地给予后代其成长所必需的照顾和养育。洛伦兹表示,当我们的眼睛看到这种呆萌特征浓缩于在动物身上(如小鸟或小狗),甚至是没有生命的玩偶身上(如洋娃娃和泰迪熊)时,也会被激起同样程度的保护欲,或者可能会更多。
The social psychologists Gary Sherman and Jonathan Haidt at the University of Virginia go so far as to consider the cuteness response as a ‘moral emotion’ par excellence: a ‘direct releaser of human sociality’ that stimulates us to expand our circle of altruistic concern to an ever-wider social sphere.
弗吉尼亚大学社会心理学家盖理•谢尔曼以及乔纳森•海特甚至认为,我们对于可爱的反应构成了一种超凡的“道德情感”,一种人类社会属性的直接释放,能够刺激我们无私地奉献到更多的社会领域中。
But if cuteness were merely about the charming, innocent and unthreatening, or if our attraction to it were motivated just by protective instincts, or the search for infantile and reassuring distractions from the anxieties of today’s world, it wouldn’t be so ubiquitous. Those qualities speak only of what we might call the ‘sweet’ end of a whole spectrum of cuteness. As we move toward the ‘uncanny’ end, sweet qualities get distorted into something darker, more indeterminate and more wounded. Something like Jeff Koons’s Balloon Dog series (1994-2000), which seems at once powerful (made of stainless steel) and powerless (hollow and lacking a face, mouth or eyes). It is hulking yet vulnerable-seeming, familiar and also unfamiliar, reassuringly innocent and also unsafe, defective, knowing. It both comforts us in a world of unnerving uncertainty – and gives voice to that same world, but crucially in a lighthearted register.
大部分人喜爱可爱的事物,不仅仅因为他们的迷人、天真和无害,不仅仅因为我们的保护本能,也不仅仅因为我们想要在现今这个焦虑的世界中找到一方让人安心的纯真净土。其实可爱的范围非常大,我们所谈的可爱只是其范围中比较“甜蜜”的部分。当我们深入其中探索时,甜蜜就会变得更加黑暗、更加费解、更加脆弱,就像杰夫•昆斯的气球狗系列雕塑(1994-2000),气球狗由不锈钢制成,但其实内里中空,也没有五官,只是看起来很坚硬罢了。它看起来既庞大又脆弱,既熟悉又陌生,既让人感到无比纯真,又让人觉得危险、狡猾、有瑕疵。它给予了我们慰藉,但又用轻松愉快的语气大声传达着这个世界的焦虑。
This faintly menacing subversion of boundaries – between the fragile and the resilient, the reassuring and the unsettling, the innocent and the knowing – when presented in cute’s frivolous, teasing idiom, is central to its immense popularity.
可爱以轻浮和调侃的表现暗中破坏着一条条边界,脆弱和柔韧,安心和慌张,纯真和狡猾……而这也是其广受欢迎的根本原因。
Cute is above all a teasing expression of the unclarity, uncertainty, uncanniness and the continuous flux or ‘becoming’ that our era detects at the heart of all existence, living and nonliving. In the ever-changing styles and objects that exemplify it, it is nothing if not transient, and it lacks any claim to lasting significance. Plus it exploits the way that indeterminacy, when pressed beyond a certain point, becomes menacing – which is a reality that cute is able to render beguiling precisely because it does so trivially, charmingly, unmenacingly. Cute expresses an intuition that life has no firm foundations, no enduring, stable ‘being’, and that, as the philosopher Martin Heidegger intimated, the only ground for life lies in the acceptance of its ungroundedness. And it often does so with something like the ‘artifice and exaggeration’, expressed in a manner that ‘dethrones the serious’ or fails in its seriousness, that the cultural critic Susan Sontag attributed to camp.
“可爱”一词归根到底,是对我们这个时代从一切有生命和无生命的存在之中嗅出的那种模糊不清、暗昧不明、摇摆不定、神秘怪异和瞬息万变的调侃。那些体现出“可爱”特质的风格和物品时刻不停地在改变,转瞬即逝,无法捕捉,没有任何一样具有持久存在的意义和必要。不但如此,它还利用了不确定性的另一个特点,即一旦施压到某个临界点,不确定性就会转化为骇人的威胁和恐吓。而事实上,可爱的确能被用作坑蒙拐骗之途,因为在可爱的面具下,邪恶能以看似迷人讨巧、人畜无害的方式,不知不觉地达成目的。可爱传递了一个直觉,即生命本来就没有稳固的根基,没有永存不变的意义,没有安定稳妥的生活,正如哲学家马丁•海德格尔暗示的,生命存在的唯一根基,是接受生命本无根基的事实。而这一理念往往是靠艺术技巧和夸张造作传递出来的,就像文化批评家苏珊•桑塔格对“浮夸”一词的定义一样,“把严肃主题推下神坛”,通过破坏严肃来达到“可爱”的效果。

译者注:“艺术技巧和夸张造作”这个词组之所以广为人知,是因为2019年的Met Gala(大都会博物馆慈善晚宴)主题是“Camp: Notes on Fashion”,其灵感取自美国作家Susan Sontag于1964年撰写的文章《Note on Camp》。在那篇文章里,Sontag写道:“The essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration. (浮夸本质上就是对非自然事物的爱好——对艺术技巧和夸张造作的格外欣赏。)”

This ‘unpindownability’, as we might call it, that pervades cute – the erosion of borders between what used to be seen as distinct or discontinuous realms, such as childhood and adulthood – is also reflected in the blurred gender of many cute objects such as Balloon Dog or a lot of Pokémon. It is reflected, too, in their frequent blending of human and nonhuman forms, as in the cat-girl Hello Kitty. And in their often undefinable age. For though cute objects might appear childlike, it can be strikingly hard to say, as with ET, whether they are young or old – sometimes seeming to be, in human terms, both.
原本在人们眼中泾渭分明的边界和无法连续的概念,比如童年与成年,现在却在“可爱”的腐蚀下模糊了界限。这种渗透于“可爱”之中的、我们姑且称为“不可定位”的特质,也体现于很多可爱之物模糊化的性别中,比如杰夫•昆斯的“气球狗”和很多宠物小精灵。这些可爱之物的造型往往融合了人类和非人的外形特征,比如长着猫咪脑袋的小女孩Hello Kitty,这也反映出了“可爱”在本质上的模糊性。这种模糊性还体现于它们难以判断的年龄,因为这些可爱之物虽然看起来像小孩子,但要让你说它们究竟年轻还是老,有时却比登天还难,比如ET外星人——但有时候呢,用人类的话来说,它们仿佛鹤发童颜,似乎很老,又似乎比谁都年轻。
In such ways, cute is attuned to an era that is no longer so wedded to such hallowed dichotomies as masculine and feminine, sexual and nonsexual, adult and child, being and becoming, transient and eternal, body and soul, absolute and contingent, and even good and bad – dichotomies that once structured ideals but that are now taken to be more fluid or porous.
就这样,可爱融入了这个时代的旋律,一个不再崇尚二元对立的时代,阳刚与阴柔,性别与无性别,成人与儿童,存在与成为,短暂与永恒,身体与灵魂,绝对与相对,甚至良善与邪恶——这些非此即彼的概念一度塑造了许多理想的楷模,现在却开始崩塌瓦解了。
Moreover, as a sensibility, cute is incompatible with the modern cult of sincerity and authenticity, which dates from the 18th century and assumes that each of us has an ‘inner’ authentic self – or at least a set of beliefs, feelings, drives and tastes that uniquely identifies us, and that we can clearly grasp and know to be truthfully expressed. Cute has nothing to do with showing inwardness. In its more uncanny forms, at least, it steps entirely aside from our prevailing faith that we can know – and control – when we are being sincere and authentic.
不但如此,作为感知能力之一,可爱和那种始于18世纪对真诚和确实性的疯狂崇拜是无法兼容的。那种理念认为每个人的“内心深处”都有一个真正的自我——或者至少有一套信念、情感、动机和品味,是独一无二,单单属于我们的,是把我们从茫茫众生中区分出来的,也是我们可以捕捉到、感知到、并且忠实地表达出来的。可爱却与袒露内心的真实自我没有半毛钱关系。在它离奇古怪的外表下,至少有一个完全偏离主流信念的认知,它绝不认为只要我们真诚地面对别人和自己,就能了解并掌控真正的自我。
Although attraction to such cute objects as the mouthless, fingerless Hello Kitty can express a desire for power, cuteness can also parody and subvert power by playing with the viewer’s sense of her own power, now painting her into a dominant pose, now sowing uncertainty about who is really in charge, now making her realise that the cute one’s surrender is actually a way of entrapping her, now making demands for care or protection from her.
尽管对无嘴也无脚的Hello Kitty的痴迷能体现出我们对权力的渴望,但可爱也能通过玩弄观者对自我权力的认知来恶搞权力,从而颠覆权力。比如一会儿把观者放在一个掌控者的位置,一会儿又在观者心中种下不确定的种子,搞不清到底谁才是老大,从而让人们意识到,那个可爱的东西之所以降服于你,其实不过是一个陷阱,让你甘愿听命于它,为它付出更多关爱和保护。
For this reason, cute is one – perhaps very trivial, very tentative – way of exploring whether and how the paradigm of power can be exited. Indeed, this might explain why cute has stormed popular culture in those parts of the world – notably the US, Europe and above all Japan – that since the Second World War have sought, intermittently and with many setbacks, to reduce the role of power in determining the structure of human relations and, most conspicuously, of international relations.
正因为如此,可爱是一种——或许是非常微小的、尝试性的——探索,探索我们颠覆权力范式的可能和方式。事实上,这或许解释了为什么可爱已经在某些国家刮起了一股流行文化的旋风——美国、欧洲和日本。因为自从二战结束以来,尽管面临很多挑战和阻碍,这些国家从未停止过设法减少权力对人际关系的影响,尤其是权力在塑造国际关系的过程中发挥的作用。

我们对萌物的谜之痴恋

  • 本文原载于 Aeon

  • 原文链接:https://aeon.co/ideas/why-the-power-of-cute-is-colonising-our-world

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我们对萌物的谜之痴恋

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