2014年3月15日 星期六

Alain de Botton : The News: A User’s Manual ; 幸福建築及其他: By the Book


Alain de Botton, "The News: A User's Manual" | Talks at Google

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The news is everywhere. We can't stop constantly checking it on our computer screens, but what is this doing to our minds?…

News From the School of Life

Q. and A. February 26, 2014

The Swiss-born, London-based author Alain de Botton has spent his career applying great ideas of philosophy and literature to everyday life. He has argued that art could stand in for psychotherapy and that Proust can be read as a self-help guide. A few years ago, he stranded himself at Heathrow for a week to consider the modern meaning of airports. Mr. de Botton’s latest quotidian investigation, “The News: A User’s Manual,” takes on journalism, a force that he describes as omnipresent, informative and almost never enlightening.
His book coincides with the start of The Philosophers’ Mail, an online news site run by Mr. de Botton and financed by The School of Life, a pop philosophy institute in London that offers seminars on things like “How to Spend Time Alone.” The news site is modeled on The Daily Mail, a British tabloid, but it approaches celebrity news and global affairs as philosophically teachable moments. Paparazzi photographs of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are juxtaposed with quotes from Schopenhauer on the futility of love. Imagined interviews with the “souls” of David Beckham and Angela Merkel turn into discussions of the virtues of stoicism and steadfastness. A report about civil unrest in Ukraine becomes an inquiry into the nature of apathy, with a headline: “Kiev Is in Flames and I Don’t Care.” The site is edited by Richard Addis, a former executive editor of The Daily Mail, and the stories, while unsigned, are written by philosophers associated with The School of Life, including Damon Young and John Armstrong.
“The underlying kind of ambition is to say high-minded people have lived up in the tower too long,” Mr. de Botton said by telephone from London. “They need to step down into the street and make their case in the busy roar of the marketplace.”
The following is an edited version of a conversation with Mr. de Botton about the project.
Q. When did you decide the world needed a news site written by philosophers?
A. I was sitting around with a group of philosopher friends six months ago and someone told me that the average work of contemporary philosophy sold around 300 copies. Then someone else mentioned that the online version of The Daily Mail, the highest-ranking English-language news site in the world, is 40 million hits a day. And late one insomniac night I just went, O.K., imagine if you copied the Mail Online — the murders, the suicides, incest, whatever — but just captioned it differently. You can start with Taylor Swift, or a double-murder in a caravan, and go somewhere interesting.
Q. Your contention is that the regular news is fundamentally misleading in a way that has nothing to do with facts or accuracy.
A. I think because news is so focused on information-gathering it’s got a blind spot about this other task it really needs to be doing, which is getting information to matter for people. There are all sorts of paradoxes with the news, areas of slight confusion and missed opportunities. The classic one is what we call “world news.” World news tells us lots of things like: 300 people have just died in the Democratic Republic of Congo. People read this and just shrug their shoulders and go, “Well, I don’t care.” And they go to sleep. How extraordinary that we can ignore or neglect the deaths of hundreds. What’s going on? Is it that we’re monsters? No, it’s just that you can’t possibly care about the death of someone you never knew existed. The news focuses on the catastrophe but doesn’t give us the tools to understand the kind of steady state of a place. You have to be introduced to the lives of a people before you can start to care about what’s gone wrong with them.
Q. But isn’t news in the aggregate reflective of what the consumer wants? Don’t people ultimately get the news they deserve?
A. There’s definitely a view that the audience is debased. They need quick hits, and that’s why they’re going to go the Mail Online and read about deaths and scandals and they’re not going to read about Syria. That is a real challenge of our age. I think even serious news outlets that in the past could rely on their authority are having a harder time. We’re living in an anti-hierarchical age. You can’t simply say, “We are the BBC and you must listen to us. People will just go, ‘No, I’m finding Vice a little more exciting at the moment.”’
Q. What about neutrality — a value that so many news organizations hold near and dear. Do you think it’s overrated?
A. There is a view that bias is something that “bad” news organizations do, like Fox News. But the real distinction should be between good and bad bias. The opposite of bias is a neutral presentation of facts, but many of the great questions that surround our civilization demand a take, or would really benefit from a take. And we should be grown-up enough to leave it behind if we don’t like it. The BBC is truly the global exemplar of this problem. They’ll have a panel discussion on something like genital mutilation and they’ll have someone who is pro-genital mutilation and someone against genital mutilation. It’s like, Come on guys! What about coming to a view on this?
Q. There are no comments on The Philosophers’ Mail. In a post about why that is, the newspaper says that people are generally reasonable, but seem by their Internet comments to be “heartless, obsessive, unforgiving — in a word, little short of insane.”
A. Reading comments is comparable to reading someone’s journal. Sometimes people in extreme moods will go to their journal and they’ll write, “I hate everybody, I want to kill myself, everything’s hopeless.” Then they’ll go have a good cry and put the journal away. It’s really important that you don’t read that journal because it does not give you the truth about a person. It gives you what they were like in a particular mind-set. And if we want to live in a society where we love, and trust, and can talk to strangers, we shouldn’t read those things. Because it’s going to make it really hard to leave the house.


Mathias Marx
出生於瑞士、在倫敦定居的作家阿蘭·德·波頓(Alain de Botton)致力於把哲學和文學中的偉大思想運用於日常生活中。他認為藝術可以代替心理治療,而普魯斯特(Proust)的作品則可以當做勵志手冊。幾 年前,他把自己在倫敦希斯羅機場困了一個星期,來思考機場在現代生活中的意義。德·波頓先生最近的生活調查《新聞:使用者手冊》(The News: A User’s Manual)的主題是新聞。用德·波頓的話來說,新聞是一股無處不在的力量,為我們提供信息,但卻很少能帶給我們啟迪。
德·波頓近著出版的同時,他策劃的「哲學家郵報」(The Philosophers Mail) 網站也上線了。「哲學家郵報」是一個新聞網站,由「人生學校」—一個位於倫敦的通俗哲學學院出資。該學院開設一些諸如「如何獨處」這樣的講座。「哲學家郵 報」網站基於英國小報《每日郵報》(The Daily Mail)網站的模式。但是卻致力探究名人八卦和世界時事背後的哲學涵義。湯姆·克魯斯(Tom Cruise)和凱蒂·霍爾姆斯(Katie Holmes)的狗仔照片會配有叔本華關於愛之徒勞的語錄。 對大衛碧咸(David Beckham)和安吉拉·默克爾(Angela Merkel )「靈魂」的假想採訪其實是關於堅忍克己,持之以恆品德的討論。一篇關於烏克蘭警民衝突的報道變成了關於冷漠的探討——該報道的標題是「基輔在烈焰中燃 燒,而我根本不在乎」。網站的主編是《每日郵報》前執行主編理乍得·艾迪斯(Richard Addis)。網站的內容並沒有署名,是由與「人生學校」的哲學學者們執筆,供稿人包括戴蒙·楊(Damon Young)和約翰·阿姆斯特朗(John Armstrong)。
「我們的想法是,思想清高的人們在象牙塔里呆的時間太長了,」 德·波頓在倫敦接受電話採訪時說,「他們需要走出來到街上,到喧囂的集市上向普通人闡述他們的觀點。」
答:六個月前,在和一些哲學家朋友聚會時,有人告訴 我,現當代哲學家的著作平均下來每人只能賣出去300本。然後又有人提到《每日郵報》網站每天有四千萬的點擊量,是世界上點擊量最高的英語新聞網站。於是 在一個失眠的晚上,我突然就想到:如果照搬《每日郵報》——報道些謀殺,自殺,亂倫什麼的——但是卻給圖片配上不同的解說。可以用泰勒·斯威夫特 (Taylor Swift)或是一宗在拖車裡發生的雙重謀殺案作開頭,然後講點別的有趣的東西。
答:我認為新聞太注重搜集信息,而忽視了它另一項必 需的任務,那就是要使人們覺得信息事關於己。新聞里有着各種各樣的矛盾謬論,有些地方本來可以做得更好,卻被弄得模稜兩可。最好的例子就是我們所謂的「世 界新聞」。世界新聞告訴我們很多事:比如300人不久前在剛果民主共和國遇難身亡。人們讀到這則新聞會聳聳肩,說:「這關我什麼事。」然後去睡覺。我們對 成百人的死亡視而不見或是無動於衷,這多麼奇怪啊。這是怎麼了?難道我們是沒有人性的惡魔嗎?並不是這樣。你怎麼可能會去關心以前並不知道存在的一個人的 逝去?新聞聚焦災難本身,卻沒有給讀者提供了解災難發生地日常狀態的途徑。人們需要了解受災者的生活,然後才會關心他們遇到的困難。
答:有一種觀點是讀者品味低劣。他們要看熱門點擊。 所以他們會去《每日郵報》網站看死亡事件和各種醜聞,而不會去讀關於敘利亞局勢的報道。這對我們的時代確實是一個挑戰。在過去能依靠權威性引導讀者的嚴肅 新聞媒體現在日子也越來越不好過。我們生活在一個反階層的時代。你不能說:「我們是BBC,你必需聽我們的。」人們會說:「不,我覺得現在《Vice》 (專註藝術文化和新聞的新媒體雜誌,在Youtube上開有頻道——譯註)更有趣些。」
答:有一種觀點是,傾向性是「糟糕」的新聞機構才會 具有的特徵,比如福克斯電視新聞網(Fox)。但是區分新聞機構好壞的標準應該看它的傾向性是好還是壞。有傾向性的反面是對事實中立地呈現。但是跟我們文 明有關的許多宏大的問題都需要我們持有看法,有些問題或許可以從某種觀點中獲益。如果我們不喜歡某種觀點,我們應該成熟理性,不過於糾結。BBC在這一點 上是一個反面教材。他們會有一個關於割禮的討論。一些人反對,一些人贊成。你會覺得:夥計們,快點吧!你們到底能不能達成一個統一的見解?
答:讀評論就好像看某人的日記。有時人們在極端情 緒控制下會在日記里寫道:「我恨每個人,我想自殺,萬事無望。」然後他們大哭一場,就忘掉了日記這碼事。一定不要去讀那本日記,因為它並不能告訴你作者的 真實情況。它反映的是作者在某種情緒下的狀態。如果我們想要生活在一個互相關愛,互相信任,和陌生人說話也不會心存顧忌的社會裡,那我們就不該讀這些東 西。讀了的話你就再也不敢出門了。


Alain de Botton: By the Book

The author of “How to Think More About Sex” was impressed as a young man by Kierkegaard’s claim to read only “writings by men who have been executed.”
Illustration by Jillian Tamaki
Alain de Botton

What book is on your night stand now?
I’m reading “Zona,” the latest book by one of my favorite contemporary writers, Geoff Dyer. The premise of the book sounds immensely boring — an essay on Andrei Tarkovsky’s fim “Stalker” — but fortunately, like most of Dyer’s works, it isn’t about anything other than the author: his obsessions, his fears, his encroaching (and always endearing) feelings of insanity. The book is held together by the sheer quality of the author’s voice, a feat in itself. 

What was the last truly great book you read? 
I remain predictably in thrall to Marcel Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time.” There is so much in the novel, it’s possible for two committed Proustians to love it for entirely different reasons. Some like the dinner parties, some the art history, some the jealousy, some the young girls in bloom. The Proust I respond to is the psychological essayist who observes the motives and emotions of his characters with some of the forensic acuity (and dry deadly wit) of the great French moralists like Pascal, La Rochefoucauld and Stendhal; the Proust who writes things like: “There is no doubt that a person’s charms are less frequently a cause of love than a remark such as: ‘No, this evening I shan’t be free.’” 

What is your favorite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?
I’m devoted to the essay. This is a much less defined genre than, say, the history book or the novel. The kind of essays I have in mind come down in a line from Montaigne, and tackle large quasi — philosophical themes in a tone that is warm, human, digressive and touching. You feel like you have come to know a friend, not just a theme. I have loved essays by, among others, Emerson, Thoreau, Virginia Woolf, Donald Winnicott, Cyril Connolly, Joseph Brodsky, Lawrence Weschler, Milan Kundera, Julian Barnes, Adam Gopnik and Nicholson Baker. 

Have you read any good books on philosophy lately?
I have been consoled by Arthur Schopenhauer’s delightfully morbid pessimism in “The Wisdom of Life.” “We can regard our life as a uselessly disturbing episode in the blissful repose of nothingness,” he tells us. “It may be said of it: ‘It is bad today and every day it will get worse, until the worst of all happens.’ ” It’s a mistaken prejudice of our times to think that the only way to cheer someone up is to tell them something cheerful. Exaggerated tragic pronouncements work far better. 

If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be? The prime minister? 
Your president is a complex case, a man of passion, courage and oratory. And also, a diligent, prickly, practical law professor. I’ve got a weakness for the former side, so would want to put books in front of him that could bolster what I think of as his best impulses. I’d particularly keep him close to Whitman and Thoreau, those great American voices of openhearted humanity, daring and liberty. As for the British prime minister, he urgently needs to read John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, and read up on constitutional matters from a historical perspective. 

What were your favorite books as a child? Did you have a favorite character or hero?
I was a very un-literary child, which might reassure parents with kids who don’t read. Lego was my thing, as well as practical books like “See Inside a Nuclear Power Station.” It wasn’t till early adolescence that I saw the point of books and then it was the old stalwart, “The Catcher in the Rye,” that got me going. By 16, I was lost — often in the philosophy aisles, in a moody and melodramatic state. I was impressed by Kierkegaard’s claim that he was going to read only “writings by men who have been executed.” 

What books had the greatest influence on you when you were a student?
The French essayist Roland Barthes was, and in many ways continues to be, my greatest influence. I responded to his way of approaching very large topics (love, the meaning of literature, photography) in oblique ways, with great formal innovation and originality. His essay on photography, “Camera Lucida,”明室 is a model of what a highly rigorous but personal essay should be like. I couldn’t have written my first book, “On Love,” without reading his “A Lover’s Discourse.” Barthes taught me courage and innovation at the level of form.  

What was the last book that made you cry? 
I’m always close to tears reading Judith Kerr’s delightful children’s story, “The Tiger Who Came to Tea.” It tells of a tiger who turns up, quite unexpectedly, at teatime at the house of a girl called Sophie and her mother. You’d expect them to panic, but they take the appearance of this visitor entirely in their stride — and their reaction is a subtle invitation for us to approach life’s unexpected challenges with resilience and good humor.  

The last book that made you laugh?
I’ve been reading a nonfiction cartoon called “Couch Fiction,” by a British psychoanalyst, Phillippa Perry. The book is simply the best single volume on analysis I’ve ever read, and takes us through one man’s analysis, and his attempts to resolve a range of problem with his mother and his girlfriend. It’s done with images and speech bubbles by Junko Graat; it’s constantly charming and always deeply accurate and thought-provoking. 

The last book that made you furious?
I got very angry about the food industry reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s excellent “Eating Animals.” Now, a few years later, I’m bewildered and deeply worried by the way one can be impressed and moved by a book and yet do absolutely nothing about one’s indignation and simply put all the good arguments to one’s side — frightening evidence of the impotence of books in the hands of fickle readers. 

What’s the best love story you’ve ever read?
Goethe’s “Sorrows of Young Werther” is like a distillation of all the themes of the Western approach to love. It’s also a study in immaturity. Werther’s love for Charlotte depends on not being reciprocated. Had she said yes, his love might have foundered in the routines of child care. In other words, it’s a love story that subtly points out how much the standard love story doesn’t prepare us for what mature relationships are like. It’s a book that should be given to the young, with warning. 

Are there any architects that you think are also particularly good writers? What are your favorite books on architecture?
Le Corbusier is an outstanding writer. His ideas achieved their impact in large measure because he could write so convincingly. His style is utterly clear, brusque, funny and polemical in the best way. His books are beautifully laid out with captions and images. I recommend “Towards a New Architecture.” It’s a deep pity that while Le Corbusier’s style has been much copied by architects, very few have drawn the right lessons from him about literature and prose style.


《如何思考性這件事》(How to Think More About Sex)的作者年輕時看到克爾愷郭爾(Kierkegaard)說他只讀「被處死的人寫的作品」,大為震撼。
我在讀我最喜歡的其中一位當代作家傑夫·戴爾(Geoff Dyer)的新作《地帶》(Zona)。這本書的主題聽起來非常無味——關於安德列·塔科夫斯基(Andrei Tarkovsky)的電影《潛行者》(Stalker)的隨筆——但幸運的是,像戴爾的大部分作品一樣,它其實講述的是作者自己:他的痴迷,他的恐懼, 他越來越強烈的(還總是討人歡喜的)瘋狂感。這本書全靠作者的聲音將其撐起,這本身就是一個成就。
我一直很痴迷馬塞爾·普魯斯特(Marcel Proust)的《追憶似水年華》(In Search of Lost Time)。這本小說內涵豐富,兩個忠誠的普魯斯特迷可能因為完全不同的原因而愛上這本書。有的喜歡裡面的晚宴,有的喜歡其中講述的藝術史,有的喜歡書中 對嫉妒的描繪,有的則喜歡裡面正值花樣年華的女孩。而我喜歡的普魯斯特是他作為心理散文家的那一面,他以帕斯卡(Pascal)、拉羅什富科(La Rochefoucauld)和司湯達(Stendhal)等偉大的法國道德家們的那種法醫般的敏銳(加上十足的冷幽默),觀察他筆下人物的動機和情感; 我喜歡他寫的這樣的句子:「毫無疑問,生髮出愛情的,往往不是一個人的魅力,而是他說的這樣的話:『不,我今晚沒空。』」
我鍾愛散文。這種體裁不像歷史書或者小說那樣有那麼多限 定。我頭腦中的散文是自蒙田(Montaigne)一脈相承下來的,以溫暖的、人性化的、隨意的、感人的語調,來處理大量的准哲學主題。你會覺得你認識了 一個朋友,而不只是一類主題。我喜歡的散文家很多,比如愛默生(Emerson)、梭羅(Thoreau)、弗吉尼亞·伍爾夫(Virginia Woolf)、唐納德·溫尼科特(Donald Winnicott)、西里爾·康諾利(Cyril Connolly)、約瑟夫·布羅茨基(Joseph Brodsky)、勞倫斯·韋施勒(Lawrence Weschler)、米蘭·昆德拉(Milan Kundera)、朱利安·巴恩斯(Julian Barnes)、亞當·高普尼克(Adam Gopnik)和尼克爾森·貝克(Nicholson Baker)。
亞瑟·叔本華(Arthur Schopenhauer)的《人生的智慧》(The Wisdom of Life) 中愉悅而病態的悲觀主義帶給我很多慰藉。他告訴我們,「我們可以把生命看作是『虛無』所具有的充滿喜悅安寧中的一段毫無用處、令人不安的插曲。」「也許可 以這麼說:『今天很糟糕,而且以後只會越來越糟,直到最糟糕的事情發生。』」我們的時代有個錯誤的成見,認為讓一個人高興起來的唯一方法是告訴他高興的 事。而實際上,告訴他一些誇張的悲哀的事,效果要好得多。
你們的總統是個複雜的人,他充滿激情、勇氣和雄辯。同時他 也是一個勤奮、易怒、務實的法律專家。我偏愛前面那一方面,所以我想在他面前放一些能幫助他產生正確的直覺的書。我會特別讓他關注惠特曼 (Whitman)和梭羅,這兩位偉大的美國作家有着坦誠的仁慈、勇氣和自由。至於英國首相,他迫切需要讀一讀約翰·洛克(John Locke)和托馬斯·霍布斯(Thomas Hobbes)的作品,從歷史的角度去看待憲法問題。
我小時候很不喜歡文學,父母們是不是可以因此不必那麼擔心 孩子們不愛讀書。我喜歡的是樂高積木,以及一些實用性的書,比如《核電站內部探秘》(See Inside a Nuclear Power Station)。直到青春期的早期,我才意識到書的意義,然後讓我繼續讀下去的是經典著作《麥田裡的守望者》(The Catcher in the Rye)。16歲的時候,我有點迷茫——通常是在哲學書架的通道里,在一種鬱鬱寡歡、戲劇化的狀態里。讓我印象深刻的一點是,克爾愷郭爾 (Kierkegaard)聲稱他只讀「被處死的人寫的作品」。
法國散文家羅蘭·巴特(Roland Barthes)對我的影響最大,直到現在他在很多方面還在影響着我。我喜歡他用隱晦的方式談論非常大的主題(像是愛、文學的意義、攝影),在形式上很新 穎、有獨創性。他關於攝影的散文《投影描繪器》(Camera Lucida),是高度嚴密而又私人化的散文的典範。如果我沒有讀過他的《戀人絮語》(A Lover』s Discourse),我不可能寫出我的第一本書《關於愛》(On Love)。巴特在形式層面上教給了我勇氣和創新。
在讀朱迪絲·克爾(Judith Kerr) 可愛的兒童故事《老虎來喝下午茶》(The Tiger Who Came to Tea)時,我始終被感動得要流下淚來。它講的是一位叫蘇菲(Sophie)的小女孩和她的媽媽在房子里喝下午茶的時候,一隻老虎意外出現了。你以為她們 會嚇壞了,但實際上她們非常從容地應對這位來客——她們的反應是在悄悄暗示我們要用達觀的態度和好心情來應對生活中意想不到的挑戰。
我一直在讀一本非虛構類的漫畫書,名叫《沙發小說》 (Couch Fiction),作者是英國心理分析學家菲利帕·佩里(Phillippa Perry)。這本書是我讀過的最好的心理分析圖書,帶我們探視了一個男人對自己與母親和女友之間的一系列問題的分析,以及他努力解決這些問題的嘗試。裡 面的圖畫和對白是瓊科·格拉特(Junko Graat)創作的;這本書有很多地方很有趣,而且總是一語中的,發人深省。
我在讀喬納森·薩夫蘭·弗埃(Jonathan Safran Foer)精彩的《吃掉動物》(Eating Animals)一書時,對食品行業非常氣憤。這本書如此震撼和感動了我,可是幾年過去了,我卻沒有就自己的義憤採取任何行動,而只是站在了正義這一邊, 我為此感到迷惑和深深的焦慮。這也令人恐懼地證明,在變化無常的讀者手中,書籍有時完全不起作用。
歌德(Goethe)的《少年維特之煩惱》 (Sorrows of Young Werther)像是西方愛情故事所有主題的精華。它也是對「不成熟」的一種探究。維特對夏洛特(Charlotte)的愛的基石是他的愛無法得到回報。 假設夏洛特答應了他,也許他的愛早已化為烏有了。換句話說,這個愛情故事巧妙地指出了標準的愛情故事在多大程度上向我們隱藏了成熟的戀情的真實面貌。應該 讓年輕人看看這本書,它有一種警示作用。
勒·柯布西耶(Le Corbusier)是一位非常出色的作家。他的思想能夠產生那麼大的影響,很大程度上是因為他的文章很有說服力。他的風格特別清晰、直率、有趣、善辯。 他的書配有美麗的插圖和圖片。我推薦《走向新建築》(Towards a New Architecture)這本書。非常遺憾的是,儘管很多建築師在模仿勒·柯布西耶的風格,但是極少有人從他那裡吸取了關於文學和散文風格的正確經驗。
我想見見約翰·拉斯金(John Ruskin),他對我的影響很大,他對理想社會(在建築和道德方面)的不同尋常的願景不斷地啟發著我。他在世的時候感到悲傷、孤獨、被迫害、被誤解。我想試試做他的朋友。
我的人生在很多方面被蒙田、司湯達、弗洛依德和W.H.奧 登(W. H. Auden)控制(以及毀滅)着。我經常想起W. G.西博爾德(W. G. Sebald)和雷沙德·卡普欽斯基(Ryszard Kapuscinski)。當代作家中我喜歡諾曼·梅勒(Norman Mailer),儘管他跟我不是同一代人。他被人遺忘的著作《月之火》(Of a Fire on the Moon)讓我着迷,這本書是關於科技和美國的長篇散文,內容豐富,值得更多人閱讀。在世的作家中,我非常喜歡的有:米蘭·昆德拉、米歇爾·維勒貝克 (Michel Houellebecq)、菲利普·羅斯(Philip Roth)和尼克爾森·貝克。
我會選西奧多·澤爾丁(Theodore Zeldin)的《情感的歷史》(Intimate History of Humanity),這本美麗的書嘗試把歷史的宏大主題與個人心靈的需求聯繫起來。我還會推薦恩斯特·岡布里奇(Ernst Gombrich)的《藝術與幻覺》(Art and Illusion),這本書探索的是視覺藝術和心理學。人在青春期會經常產生絕望的情緒,所以我建議他/她讀一些像帕斯卡和喬蘭(Cioran)這樣的悲 觀主義者的作品,以獲得慰藉。我特別推薦一本悲傷、辛酸、探索性的小書,名叫《不平靜的墳墓》(The Unquiet Grave),作者是西里爾·康諾利(署的是他的筆名Palinurus)。
我想讀克里斯·韋爾(Chris Ware)的新書《構築故事》(Building Stories),不幸的是這本書一度脫銷(這是一個極大的疏忽),最近才又有供貨。同時,我覺得道格拉斯·庫普蘭(Douglas Coupland)寫的關於馬歇爾·麥克盧漢(Marshall McLuhan)的最新小書,會給我帶來一段美好時光。

 幸福建築 台北:先覺2007/2013.1 7刷
艾倫.狄波頓(Alain de Botton)
   狄波頓才氣橫溢,文章智趣兼備,使他不僅風靡英倫,外國出版社也爭相出版他的作品,目前已有二十多國語言的譯本。書評人康納立(Cressida Connolly)讚嘆狄波頓是「英國文壇的奇葩」;另一位書評人葛雷茲布魯克(Philip Glazebrook)認為:「這種奇才作家,恐怕連掃帚的傳記都寫得出來,而且這柄掃帚在他筆下絕對是活靈活現的。」
   台灣大學外國語文學系畢業。曾獲全國大專翻譯比賽文史組首獎、梁實秋文學獎及文建會文學翻譯獎等翻譯獎項,目前為專職譯者。譯有《微型殺手》《我愛身分 地位》(先覺出版)、《品牌思考很簡單》《100個創造歷史的故事》《不可不知的100位思想家》《101個兩難的哲學問題》《西元3000年影響世界的 100人》《非暴力抗爭》(究竟出版)等書。


  • 叢書系列:人文思潮
  • 規格:平裝 / 320頁 / 25k / 普級 / 單色印刷 / 初版
  • 出版地:台灣


If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you want to know? 
I would have liked to meet John Ruskin, who has been a big influence on me, and whose eccentric visions of the ideal society (at the level of architecture and morality) I am constantly inspired by. He felt sad, persecuted, lonely and misunderstood. I would have wanted to try to be his friend. 

And if you could meet a character from literature, who would it be?
Proust’s Albertine sounds high maintenance but rewarding — and, in my eyes, a proper woman, a tomboy, rather than a hermaphrodite. 

Who are your favorite writers of all time? And among your contemporaries? 
My life has been variously overtaken (and ruined by) Montaigne, Stendhal, Freud and W. H. Auden. I think a lot about W. G. Sebald and Ryszard Kapuscinski. A contemporary of sorts, albeit in a different generation, was Norman Mailer. His largely forgotten book, “Of a Fire on the Moon,” fascinates me: a big sprawling essay on technology and America that deserves a wider audience. Among the living, I deeply love: Milan Kundera, Michel Houellebecq, Philip Roth and Nicholson Baker. 

And if you had to give a young person a list of books to be read above all others to prepare for adulthood, what would you include?
I’d give them Theodore Zeldin’s “Intimate History of Humanity,” a beautiful attempt to connect up the large themes of history with the needs of the individual soul. I’d point them to Ernst Gombrich’s “Art and Illusion,” which opens up the visual arts and psychology. There’s a lot of despair in adolescence, so I’d recommend comfort from pessimists like Pascal and Cioran. I’d especially give them a sad, poignant, questing little book called “The Unquiet Grave” by Cyril Connolly (written under the alias Palinurus). 

What are you planning to read next?
I’d love to read Chris Ware’s new book, “Building Stories,” which was unfortunately out of stock (an extraordinary oversight) and has just become available again. In the meantime, I feel I’m going to have a great time with Douglas Coupland’s new little book about Marshall McLuhan.

 Alain de Botton

2009.09.06 04:02 am


The Consolations of Philosophy. 作者:Alain de Botton/著
 The Consolation of Philosophy: Revised Edition (Penguin Classics)
Ancius Boethius (Author), Victor Watts (Translator, Preface,

根據此書的封面說明 這是法國翻譯本的插圖
不過內文說 的女神的左右手 的東西弄反了

‘Why else does slippery Fortune change
So much, and punishment more fit
For crime oppress the innocent?’
Written in prison before his brutal execution in AD 524, Boethius’s The Consolation of Philosophy is a conversation between the ailing prisoner and his ‘nurse’ Philosophy, whose instruction restores him to health and brings him to enlightenment. Boethius was an eminent public figure who had risen to great political heights in the court of King Theodoric when he was implicated in conspiracy and condemned to death. Although a Christian, it was to the pagan Greek philosophers that he turned for inspiration following his abrupt fall from grace. With great clarity of thought and philosophical brilliance, Boethius adopted the classical model of the dialogue to debate the vagaries of Fortune, and to explore the nature of happiness, good and evil, fate and free will.
Victor Watts’s English translation makes The Consolation of Philosophy accessible to the modern reader while losing nothing of its poetic artistry and breadth of vision. This edition includes an introduction discussing Boethius’s life and writings, a bibliography, glossary and notes.