2017年2月13日 星期一

John Berger and Susan Sontag (1983):HOW THE POWERFUL FEAR ART: LESSONS FROM JOHN BERGER ON FASCISM, ART, AND FIGHTING WITH ORWELL AND BERGER

















1:03:54

John Berger and Susan Sontag / To Tell A Story (1983)

hihlun

1 year ago
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John Berger and Susan Sontag exchange ideas on the 'lost art' of storytelling, 1983.
說故事的人──約翰‧伯格和蘇珊‧桑塔格的相對論

譯/陳慧敏

約翰‧伯格(John Berger)和蘇珊‧桑塔格(Susan Sontag)有許多共同點,兩個人都寫藝術和文學評論,都關心公共議題,他們分別寫下了《觀看的方式》和《論攝影》,成為視覺藝術和攝影領域重要的批判性理論,兩人同時也創作小說和短篇故事,伯格寫過劇本,桑塔格拍過電影。


伯格於今年1月2日於法國病逝,享年九十歲,而與癌症纏鬥多年的桑塔格則早在2004年離開人間。兩個人在1983年上英國第四頻道公司的Voices的節目,有段精彩的對話。桑塔格時年五十歲,而伯格為五十七歲,兩人沒有客套和矯情,彼此真誠對話,原來,兩人關懷雖相同,創作思路卻大不同。
故事出處:真實V.S.原創


伯格喜歡把作家稱為說故事的人,他認為,故事一開始都是從真實出發,呈現個人經驗,但說故事人很快就會加入自己觀察到的意義,將故事轉變成原創的小說,因而,故事總是揉合真實和原創,區別故事是真是假,對他是假命題。


然而,桑塔格認為,故事有許多模式,有些來自真實,但有些故事就是來自說故事人的想像力,她最喜歡的是充滿想像力的原創故事,這些故事能打動她,觸發想像力。因此,她並不認為故事必須重現個人經驗,重要的是,個人經驗要能幫助去理解故事。
故事細節:意義V.S.震撼人心


伯格認為,說故事的人決定要說一個故事,就是洞穿故事裡的意義,而在鋪陳出來的每個細節都飽含意義,由說故事的人、文本和讀者三種交互作用,產生出故事的主體。他解釋,「就像夢一樣,夢的所有情節都有意義。在夢裡,你可以經驗意義,不是事後才去詮釋這個夢。」


桑塔格認為,細節不是故事的根本,也不需飽含意義,就像是體驗夢境之後,夢境的細節沒有意義,而是決定要寫下來或告訴誰,才會賦予夢一個意義。她主張,故事細節必須要很有力道,很震撼人心。
故事的作用:避難所(Shelter) V.S 想像力(Fantasty)


伯格認定故事的作用,是提供避風港(Shelter),或者說是一種救援行動(rescuring operation),用以對抗我們身處的荒謬世界(the absurd)。


桑塔格認為,故事的另外一種功能,是啟發想像力,實際上,大部分的人並不認為自己活在荒謬世界,而是身處在想像力被切斷的生活,想像力靜止不動,而最棒的故事就是觸動想像力,把人們帶往遠方。
伯格:說故事的人是死亡的秘書


伯格把「說故事的人」定義為死亡的秘書。他想要寫的故事,都是在一個人死亡之後才開始,有人死了,代表這段生命變得有可讀性,說故事人如同死亡秘書(death secretary),以生命為題材,判斷發生在小村落的某個人故事,怎麼置放在當代的世界被理解,穿過黑暗,開始寫作,讓生命不被遺忘和忽略,可以往下延續。


伯格認為,「說故事人」既在世界的中心,站在主角位置,也同時保持若干距離,站在水平線,超越時間和空間,看到整個世界。


桑塔格並不認同作家是故事的中介,也不認為故事之外有一個整體世界。她認為,故事就是從說故事人的起始,說故事的人心中有一個原始的故事。


桑塔格直接點出,由於伯格居住在法國農村,擁有緊密的人際關係,居民成為他的特定優先讀者,既認識他筆下的主角,又能和他對話,這形塑伯格獨特的創作觀,這是其他當代作家少有的。
評論和小說


兩個人都是一手寫評論,一手寫小說。伯格說,這兩種文體對他沒有差別,他最大的挑戰是他一開始怎麼去看一段生命的模式,怎麼去抓到這段生命還沒有被說出來的意義,這些意義存在,猶如音樂旋律、色彩型態或者像是幾何圖形,他必須去捕捉之後,用文字去描述他感覺到的非文字部分。。


然而,桑塔格卻換腦袋才能工作。她說,當她寫評論的時候,她一直思考自己講的是否為真實,因為她得為言論扛責,不過,轉身寫小說,是因為她心中響起聲音,有了語言,有個句子盤旋不去,腦袋出現聲音彼此對話,好奇的她開始跟著聲音往下走,去追問發生什麼事,而成為故事。


桑塔格形容她創作的過程,有時候她得停一停,因為心中的聲音停了,有時候卻一天可以快筆寫五頁。有時候,她聽到了故事的最後一句話,她去回溯事情發生的原因,再用語言、聲音和音調呈現出一個故事。


伯格回應說,他不是「用聽的」去挖掘故事,而是用看的,他ㄧ開始最大的困難都是思索怎麼去看人們所處的情況,這通常得花三分之二的寫作時間,也許是幾個月或幾年,隨後,聲音會突然出現,於是,他就寫下來。














HOW THE POWERFUL FEAR ART: LESSONS FROM JOHN BERGER
ON FASCISM, ART, AND FIGHTING WITH ORWELL AND BERGER
February 13, 2017 By Scott Esposito

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I recently read an essay that has not left my mind. Day to day I find myself touching its polished, textured enamel like a talisman, a good luck charm at a time when I really need one. It’s the sort of essay that I instantly knew had changed the way I think, and about which I expect to continue thinking for a very long time.

It was written by John Berger. I had always meant to start reading Berger again, for when I was much younger Ways of Seeing changed the way I saw everything. It’s one of those rare books whose pages I can still remember turning, underlining almost every single word. Ever since then I knew Berger had much more to tell me. So, when this incomparably limber, truthful mind died on January 2, at 90 years of age, having lived just long enough to see the waste that two noble democracies had been put to, I knew it was time to start again with him.

On the day Berger left us, so many people came out to honor this author who had elevated their lives, and I was moved. There is a special kind of passionate, self-abnegating community that can form around great artists and their works, and to be caught up in it is so powerful. I wanted to be one of them. Providentially, a copy of Berger’s essay collection Keeping a Rendezvous came into my hands—one of those who owed Berger so much wanted to share it with me. I eagerly took it, and later that day when I turned to page one, my jaw hit the floor.

Berger’s essay “Miners” is a tiny thing, barely more than a page. It begins with a beautifully paced, copiously long sentence that lists all of the odious things that will let us know when “they are out to break you”: “When the just cause is defeated, when the courageous are humiliated, when men proven at pit-bottom and pit-head are treated like trash, when nobility is shat upon . . .” For masses of virtuous men and women throughout England, wrote Berger, that hour had arrived—they could hear it striking, they knew it was time to declare themselves, to find how they will fight for what is right.
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Our good essayist knows precisely what he will do when such an avenger happens upon his door: “I would shield any such hero to my fullest capacity.” And if while Berger is giving these souls sanctuary they should reveal a predilection for the arts, he would persuade them to put down their weapon and take up a brush, for “it’s possible you may achieve what you are setting out to do in another way.” It is not only the warrior that can right wrongs but also the artist.

Having set an impeccable table, Berger then delivers us the main dish:

I can’t tell you what art does and how it does it, but I know that often art has judged the judges, pleaded revenge to the innocent and shown to the future what the past suffered, so that it has never been forgotten. I know too that the powerful fear art, whatever its form, when it does this, and that amongst the people such art sometimes runs like a rumor and a legend because it makes sense of what life’s brutalities cannot, a sense that unites us, for it is inseparable from a justice at last. Art, when it functions like this, becomes a meeting-place of the invisible, the irreducible, the enduring, guts, and honor.

This is a quote that blistered my mind. Among the many things I love about it, perhaps the best is how Berger draws justice and art so tightly together. We are used to thinking of justice as meted out in actions—the judge delivering a sentence, the army repulsing the invader, the oppressed finally reaching their freedom—but here Berger poses art as a different kind of justice. Timeless, a portable justice that is rejuvenated from place to place, generation to generation.

This is justice that behaves according to a kind of logic that simple restitution does not. It partakes in what only art can do for us. No matter how wise, a verdict handed down by the Supreme Court is always open to reinterpretation, it can be improved by a future decision more in tune with justice. Laws can be updated and enhanced, punishments are often commuted and re-evaluated. This kind of justice changes with the times, hopefully drawing ever closer to a perfection that we are not likely to reach. But art is not like this. With art we prize the original; it would be very, very wrong to change a masterpiece, for that would strike at its singular capacity to give us its particular testament. You cannot improve a masterpiece, you can only detract from its perfection.

Looking at these two kinds of justice, I think of George Orwell, who almost perished in the Republicans’ losing struggle against the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War. He and so many other young men and women wanted a certain kind of justice in Spain, a justice that became a key symbolic struggle of their generation. Although their work was certainly not in vain—for they are still spoken of today, and we still learn from their example—Orwell and his fellow soldiers did fail. The Republicans lost. Thousands of good people perished. The justice they aimed toward was not done.

Orwell returned home and he began to write, producing several masterpieces of world literature. The justice he sought in Spain was of a very different kind than the justice he attained when he wrote these novels and essays, including his final work, 1984. It is of the kind Berger alludes to: enabling a community of the likeminded that will never forget the crimes of the past and that will do everything to prevent the crimes of the future. Orwell’s words do more than nudge each new generation toward independent thought, they instill a passionate love of freedom and a hatred of totalitarianism, and they give us the vocabulary we need to channel these emotions into arguments and actions that win elections and persuade a populace.

I will use myself as an example: I first discovered Orwell when I was barely a teenager. Almost accidentally, I picked up 1984 at a library used-book sale, not really knowing what it was, only buying it because the book’s enormous aura had somehow penetrated what was then a rather naïve mind. A librarian there, an energetic young man of perhaps 30 who mentored me and so many other of us, was galvanized when he saw that I was to buy it: he snatched it from my hand and declared that Orwell had been right about everything. I had no idea what he meant by that, but I understood his excitement.

I read it, and in all frankness it opened up a world to me. It gave me vivid images, unforgettable expressions, and powerful ideas that at last breathed into existence thoughts I was ready for, but had not had the wherewithal to think. It also granted me entry to a society of friends. I instinctively knew that I was one of those who had nothing to fear from 1984 and who would always fling it in the face of evil, and over the years I found others who felt the same. In no small part because of that book I went on to study political science, to learn precisely what fascism was, how the land was sown for its arrival, why it came to some parts of Europe and not others, how we might know it if it ever came here. The book too enabled me to pay this knowledge forward: as that librarian did two decades ago, I have encouraged many readers to pick it up.

Speaking of, 1984 continues to make its justice in our time. It is again a best-seller, and in my own corner of the world a mysterious benefactor has begun buying copies for independent bookstores, making them available for free to whoever wants to read Orwell. Her efforts have proven contagious: I myself bought a handful to give away at a nearby independent bookstore, and other local readers have done the same. So far this project has been featured in the local media, as well as on CNN and the BBC. I have been following the coverage, and each time there is a great fascination with the idea of giving away Orwell as a response to Trump. This symbol is powerful. The originator of this project has remained anonymous: she only says that she hopes to be a spark.

When I began this column, one of the first things I did was to challenge writers and artists to create their own unique responses to our dismal politics. I will renew that call today. The protests we have participated in at the airports and on behalf of women’s rights, not to mention all of the phone calls, letters to Congress, and meetings of thousands of action groups across the nation, have filled me with a kind of euphoria and an abiding hope for the future of America. This political organizing is indispensible. We must have it in order to serve the sort of justice that we achieved when those who had done no harm to America, save for their religious faith and nation of birth, were once again allowed to come and go in this nation of ours. We must continue to serve as much of this justice as we can, but we must also remember the sort of justice that Berger wrote of and that is being perpetuated right this second as people who never before thought of reading 1984 now engage with a book that will change their world.

Books to Share with Everybody You Can

1984 by George Orwell

Ways of Seeing by John Berger

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

Aliens and Anorexia by Chris Kraus

Waiting for God by Simone Weil

Postwar by Tony Judt

The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt
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