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费利西蒂·卡斯塔尼亚:疫情·反思·创作

来源:四川作家网 | 费利西蒂·卡斯塔尼亚  2020年12月11日16:05

当下对于文学最糟糕的事情是出现大量探讨新冠病毒的小说, 当然我不怀疑这种情况将会发生,事实上这种情况已经发生了,主要是在多部非小说类的散文集里,发表了观看疫情对我们生活影响的文章。我个人认为,没有经过时间和空间的沉淀,还有思考,不可能做出真正的观察。

我觉得在这个时期出来的最好作品应该不去提及新冠病毒,而去探索新冠在我们很多人的生活中造成的焦虑、渺茫和意外的喜悦瞬间。

我更感兴趣的是面对危机我们如何重新整合我们与所处的环境的关系。我认为在这个特殊时期最好的作品不是对外面的世界的反应,而是探索我们每个人的世界和生活怎样被缩小了。在写作中探索我们的家,我们小区,探索城市规划、建筑,我们与我们居住的空间的关系,以及居住空间如何定义了我们的身份,激发了我们的故事。

澳大利亚的作家大卫·马洛夫在他的《埃德蒙斯通街12号》一书里说我们所处的处所构成我们的财富和命运,并且是我们进入这个世界的唯一通道,可是这些话的意思现在被完全改变,尤其每晚的新闻总在提示着我们,我们的所在地和我们是谁,决定了我们对疫情的感受。

在疫情的初期,当悉尼大多数的学校和工作地点被迫关门的时候,我的美国编辑问我可不可以写一篇有关澳洲人对疫情的感受的文章在纽约发表,我拒绝了,我觉得我住在一个相对比较安全的国家,不应该由我来讨论这样一个痛苦的话题。我花了好多时间看着那些图像,在纽约很多大型冰柜卡车里装着没有地方可以埋葬的尸体。

而在世界的这一头,我跟我的丈夫和孩子们试图多出去野餐,来回避焦虑和恐慌不安,但野餐因为政府对室外聚集的新规定已经不允许了。我们住在澳洲发展最快的城市,但是突然之间城市变得静悄悄,人们找到很多非法的地方进行野餐,比如在空荡荡的办公楼的庭院里,没有游轮的轮渡站台上,以及古建筑的台阶上。现在回想起来这些都是值得写作的素材,我可以把很多小的细节填充到故事里,包括过去从来没有注意到的高楼大厦之间长着的古老的柠檬和青柠树,估计都是在白人殖民之前栽种的。我的孩子们采摘了好多包,把晒干的种子送给我们从来没有说过话的邻居门。邻居们又把茴香和东南亚的青柠种子放在我家门口,这又可以写到另外一个故事里。我现在还没有想好这个故事怎么写,但是有一天会写出来的。

我现在很感兴趣的一件事是,有研究表明儿童们在学习空间的辨识能力的同时开发了他们的阅读能力。也就是说,儿童在学会辨识街道,了解所处的地理知识的同时学习认字,就是他们同时学习阅读和辨识地方。我在想我们家里初学认字的孩子们会不会因为疫情而用不同的方式认识空间。我在想他们如果不是因为被迫呆在家里而观察到他们本来会忽略的事物。现在他们知道了澳洲人口最稠密的地方如此地安静的样子,不知道这会不会影响他们今后对这个地方的看法。

小说不是简单地对议题做出反应。小说帮助我们用复杂和繁复的方式去思考。我觉得就我而言,我会用这个阶段去反思更小的事物,以及更加当地化的地方。

(翻译:巩莉娜 校对:韩静)

Pandemic. Reflection. Creation.

Felicity Castagna

The worst thing that could happen to literature right now would be a flood of novels that explore Covid- 19, though I don’t doubt this will happen. It has already happened in fact, primarily in the area of non-fiction we’ve already had several collections of essays which look at the impact of the pandemic on our lives, something that I would argue is impossible for us to do well without time and space and contemplation.

The best work that will come out of this period, I suspect, will be work that bares no mention of Covid but which explores the anxiety, uncertainty and unexpected moments of joy it has created in so many of our lives.

I’m particularly interested in how our relationship to place is reconfigured in times of crisis. I think the best works of this period will be ones, not about our reactions with the wider world, but ones which look at the way that all of our worlds and our lives have become smaller. It will be writing that explores our homes, our suburbs; It will be writing that explores urban planning and architecture and the ways that our relationships with the spaces we inhabit define who we are and propel our stories.

The Australian writer David Malouf in his book 12 Edmonstone Street said that place ‘constitutes your fortune, your fate, and is your only entry into the world.’ Those words take on a completely different meaning now when the nightly news reminds us of how differently our experiences of this pandemic are depending on where you are in the world or who you are in the world.

Early on in the pandemic, when most schools and workplaces had shut down in Sydney I was asked by my American editor if I would like to contribute a piece on the Australian experience of the pandemic for a publication in New York. I said no, really because I didn’t feel that, living in a relatively safe country, I should be allowed to contribute to a discussion on such a painful topic. I had spent so many hours watching images of giant refrigerated trucks sitting in the back streets of New York, holding all those lifeless bodies that had nowhere else to go.

On my side of the world, my husband, my kids and I were attempting to block out all the anxiety and uncertainty of this period by having lots of picnics- something that had

become illegal because of new rules about congregating outdoors. We were living in Australia’s fastest growing city but it had suddenly become quiet and there were all sorts of places for illegal picnics to happen—in the courtyards of office buildings that were no longer occupied, at the ferry station that had no ferry’s and on the steps of boarded-up historical buildings. In retrospect that is something worth writing about, there’s a story there and I could fill it up with a lot of those small specific details of those places that I’d never noticed before all of this, like the fact that between all these sky scrapers there are ancient species of lemons and limes that would have grown here since pre-colonisation. My children gathered bags filled with them and passed their dried out seeds to neighbours we’d never talked to before: Now they leave fennel bulbs and kaffir lime on our doorstep and that’s become another story too, one I can’t quite articulate yet but might be able to in the future.

One of the things I’m interested in at the moment is the research which shows that children develop the ability to read at the same time as they become spatially literate. In other words, children learn to recognise streets and have a sense of their local geography at the same time that they learn to recognise words— they learn to read books and place at the same time. I wonder if my children who are in the early stages of literacy will read their space in a different way because of this pandemic. I wonder if they’ll notice things they might not have if we weren’t forced to stick so close to home. Now that they know what the centre of the most densely populated region of Australia looks and feels like in silence how will it change the way they see the place in the future?

Novels aren’t things that simply respond to issues. They help us to think in complex and complicated ways. I think for myself at least I’ll be using this period to reflect on smaller things and more local places.