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高级英语第二册 7.The Libido for the Ugly

时间:2010-12-17 03:38来源:互联网 提供网友:wokan222   字体: [ ]

  7.The Libido for the Ugly
  H. L. Mencken
  1 On a Winter day some years ago, coming out of Pittsburgh on one of the expresses of the Pennsylvania Railroad, I rolled eastward for an hour through the coal and steel towns of Westmoreland county. It was familiar ground; boy and man, I had been through it often before. But somehow I had never quite sensed its appalling desolation. Here was the very heart of industrial America, the center of its most lucrative and characteristic activity, the boast and pride of the richest and grandest nation ever seen on earth--and here was a scene so dreadfully hideous , so intolerably bleak and forlorn that it reduced the whole aspiration of man to a macabre and depressing joke . Here was wealth beyond computation, almost beyond imagination--and here were human habitations so abominable that they would have disgraced a race of alley cats.
  2 I am not speaking of mere filth. One expects steel towns to be dirty. What I allude to is the unbroken and agonizing ugliness, the sheer revolting monstrousness, of every house in sight. From East Liberty to Greensburg, a distance of twenty-five miles, there was not one in sight from the train that did not insult and lacerate the eye. Some were so bad, and they were among the most pretentious --churches, stores, warehouses, and the like--that they were down-right startling; one blinked before them as one blinks before a man with his face shot away. A few linger in memory, horrible even there: a crazy little church just west of Jeannette, set like a dormer-window on the side of a bare leprous hill; the headquarters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars at another forlorn town, a steel stadium like a huge rattrap somewhere further down the line. But most of all I recall the general effect--of hideousness without a break. There was not a single decent house within eyerange from the Pittsburgh to the Greensburg yards. There was not one that was not misshapen, and there was not one that was not shabby.
  3 The country itself is not uncomely, despite the grime of the endless mills. It is, in form, a narrow river valley, with deep gullies running up into the hills. It is thickly settled, but not: noticeably overcrowded. There is still plenty of room for building, even in the larger towns, and there are very few solid blocks. Nearly every house, big and little, has space on all four sides. Obviously,
  if there were architects of any professional sense or dignity in the region, they would have perfected a chalet to hug the hillsides--a chalet with a high-pitched roof, to throw off the heavy Winter snows, but still essentially a low and clinging building, wider than it was tall. But what have they done? They have taken as their model a brick set on end. This they have converted into a thing of dingy clapboards with a narrow, low-pitched roof. And the whole they have set upon thin, preposterous brick piers . By the hundreds and thousands these abominable houses cover the bare hillsides, like gravestones in some gigantic and decaying cemetery. On their deep sides they are three, four and even five stories high; on their low sides they bury themselves swinishly in the mud. Not a fifth of them are perpendicular . They lean this way and that, hanging on to their bases precariously . And one and all they are streaked in grime, with dead and eczematous patches of paint peeping through the streaks.
  4 Now and then there is a house of brick. But what brick! When it is new it is the color of a fried egg. When it has taken on the patina of the mills it is the color of an egg long past all hope or caring. Was it necessary to adopt that shocking color? No more than it was necessary to set all of the houses on end. Red brick, even in a steel town, ages with some dignity. Let it become downright black, and it is still sightly , especially if its trimmings are of white stone, with soot in the depths and the high spots washed by the rain. But in Westmoreland they prefer that uremic yellow, and so they have the most loathsome towns and villages ever seen by mortal eye.
  5 I award this championship only after laborious research and incessant prayer. I have seen, I believe, all of the most unlovely towns of the world; they are all to be found in the United States. I have seen the mill towns of decomposing New England and the desert towns of Utah, Arizona and Texas. I am familiar with the back streets of Newark, Brooklyn and Chicago, and have made scientific explorations to Camden, N. J. and Newport News, Va. Safe in a Pullman , I have whirled through the g1oomy, Godforsaken villages of Iowa and Kansas, and the malarious tidewater hamlets of Georgia. I have been to Bridgeport, Conn., and to Los Angeles. But nowhere on this earth, at home or abroad, have I seen anything to compare to the villages that huddle aloha the line of the Pennsylvania from the Pittsburgh yards to Greensburg. They are incomparable in color, and they are incomparable in design. It is as if some titanic and aberrant genius , uncompromisingly inimical to man, had devoted all the ingenuity of Hell to the making of them. They show grotesqueries of ugliness that, in retrospect ,become almost diabolical .One cannot imagine mere human beings concocting such dreadful things, and one can scarcely imagine human beings bearing life in them.
  6 Are they so frightful because the valley is full of foreigners--dull, insensate brutes, with no love of beauty in them? Then why didn't these foreigners set up similar abominations in the countries that they came from? You will, in fact, find nothing of the sort in Europe--save perhaps in the more putrid parts of England. There is scarcely an ugly village on the whole Continent. The peasants, however poor, somehow manage to make themselves graceful and charming habitations, even in Spain. But in the American village and small town the pull is always toward ugliness, and in that Westmoreland valley it has been yielded to with an eagerness bordering upon passion. It is incredible that mere ignorance should have achieved such masterpieces of horror.
  7 On certain levels of the American race, indeed, there seems to be a positive libido for the ugly, as on other and less Christian levels there is a libido for the beautiful. It is impossible to put down the wallpaper that defaces the average American home of the lower middle class to mere inadvertence ,, or to the, , ob, sc, en, e hu, mor of the, manufacturers. Such ghastly designs, it must be obvious, give a genuine delight to a certain type of mind. They meet, in some unfathomable way, its obscure and unintelligible demands. The taste for them is as enigmatical and yet as common as the taste for dogmatic theology and the poetry of Edgar A Guest.
  8 Thus I suspect (though confessedly without knowing) that the vast majority of the honest folk of Westmoreland county, and especially the 100% Americans among them, actually admire the houses they live in, and are proud of them. For the same money they could get vastly better ones, but they prefer what they have got. Certainly there was no pressure upon the Veterans of Foreign Wars to choose the dreadful edifice that bears their banner, for there are plenty of vacant buildings along the trackside, and some of them are appreciably better. They might, in- deed, have built a better one of their own. But they chose that clapboarded horror with their eyes open, and having chosen it, they let it mellow into its present shocking depravity. They like it as it is: beside it, the Parthenon would no doubt offend them. In precisely the same way the authors of the rat-trap stadium that I have mentioned made a deliberate choice: After painfully designing and erecting it, they made it perfect in their own sight by putting a completely impossible penthouse painted a staring yellow, on top of it. The effect is that of a fat woman with a black eye. It is that of a Presbyterian grinning. But they like it.
  9 Here is something that the psychologists have so far neglected: the love of ugliness for its own sake, the lust to make the world intolerable. Its habitat is the United States. Out of the melting pot emerges a race which hates beauty as it hates truth. The etiology of this madness deserves a great deal more study than it has got. There must be causes behind it; it arises and flourishes in obedience to biological laws, and not as a mere act of God. What, precisely, are the terms of those laws? And why do they run stronger in America than elsewhere? Let some honest Privat Dozent in pathological sociology apply himself to the problem.
  (from Reading for Rhetoric by Caroline Shrodes,Clifford A, Josephson, James R. Wilson )

  我说的不仅仅是脏。钢铁城镇的脏是人们意料之中的事。我指的是所看到的房子没有一幢不是丑陋得令人难受,畸形古怪得让人作呕的。从东自由镇到格林斯堡,在这全长25英里的路上,从火车上看去,没有一幢房子不让人看了感到眼睛不舒服和难受。有的房子糟得吓人,而这些房子竞还是一些最重要的建筑--教堂、商店、仓库等等。人们惊愕地看着这些房子,就像是看见一个脸给子弹崩掉的人一样。有的留在记忆里,甚至回忆起来也是可怕的:珍尼特西面的一所样子稀奇古怪的小教堂,就像一扇老虎窗贴在一面光秃秃的、似有麻风散鳞的山坡上;参加过国外战争的退伍军人总部,设在珍尼特过去不远的另一个凄凉的小镇上。沿铁路线向东不远处的一座钢架,就像一个巨大的捕鼠器。但我回忆里出现的 三要还是一个总的印象--连绵不断的丑陋。从匹兹堡到格林斯 堡火车调车场,放眼望去,没有一幢像样的房子。没有一幢不是歪歪扭扭的,没有一幢不是破破烂烂的。
  尽管到处是林立的工厂,遍地弥漫着烟尘,这一地区的自然 霉仟并不差。就地形而论,这儿是一条狭窄的河谷,其中流淌着一道道发源自山间的深溪。这儿的人口虽然稠密,但并无过分拥挤的 迹象,即使在一些较大的城镇中,建筑方面也还大有发展的余地。 这儿很少见到有高密度排列的建筑楼群,几乎每一幢房屋,无论 大小,其四周都还有剩余的空地。显然,如果这一地区有几个稍有职业责任感或荣誉感的建筑师的话,他们准会紧依山坡建造一些美观雅致的瑞士式山地小木屋--一种有着便于冬季排除积雪的陡坡屋顶,宽度大于高度,依山而建的低矮的小木屋。可是,他们实际上是怎么做的呢?他们把直立的砖块作为造房的模式,造出了一种用肮脏的护墙板围成的不伦不类的房屋,屋顶又窄又平,而且整个地安放在一些单薄的、奇形怪状的砖垛上。这种丑陋不堪的房屋成百上千地遍布于一个个光秃秃的山坡上,就像是一些墓碑竖立在广阔荒凉的坟场上。这些房屋高的一侧约有三四层,甚至五层楼高,而低的一侧看去却像一群埋在烂泥潭里的猪猡。垂直式的房屋不到五分之一,大部分房屋都是那样东倒西歪,摇摇欲坠地固定在地基上。每幢房屋上都积有一道道的尘垢印痕,而那一道道 垢痕的间隙中,还隐隐约约露出一些像湿疹痂一样的油漆斑痕。
  这里涉及到一个心理学家迄今未加重视的问题,即为了丑本身的价值而爱丑(非因其他利益驱动而爱丑),急欲将世界打扮得丑不可耐的变态心理。这种心理的孳生地就是美国。从美国这个大熔炉中产生出了一个新的种族,他们像仇视真理一样地仇视美。这种变态心理的产生根源值得进行更多的研究,它的背后一定隐藏着某些原因,其产生和发展肯定受到某些生物学规律的制约,而不能简单地看成是出于上帝的安排。那么,这些规律的具体内容究竟是什么呢?为什么它们在美国比在其他任何地方更为盛行?这个问题还是让某位像德国大学的无薪教师那样正直的社会病理学 家去研究吧。
  libido (n.) : psychic energy generally;specifically,a basic form of psychic energy,comprising the positive。loving instincts manifested variously at different stages of personality development欲望
  lucrative (adj.) : producing wealth or profit;profitable;remunerative有利可图的;赚钱的
  hideous (adj.) : horrible to see,hear,etc.;very ugly or revolting;dreadful骇人听闻的;非常丑陋的;可怕的
  forlorn (adj.) : in pitiful condition;wretched;miserable可怜的;悲惨的;不幸的
  macabre (adj.) : gruesome;grim and horrible;ghastly可怕的;令人毛骨悚然的;恐怖的
  computation (n.) : the act of computing;calculation 计算
  abominable (adj.) : nasty and disgusting;vile;loathsome讨厌的,可恶的
  alley (n.) : a narrow street or walk;specifically,a lane behind a row of buildings or between two rows of buildings that face on adjacent streets胡同;小巷;小街
  filth (n.) : disgustingly offensive dirt,garbage,etc.污秽,污物;垃圾
  allude (v.) : refer in a casual or indirect way(随便或间接)提到,涉及;暗指
  monstrousness (n.) : strange shape奇形怪状
  lacerate (v.) : tear jaggedly;mangle(something soft,as flesh);wound or hurt(one's feelings,etc.)deeply;distress撕裂;割碎(肉等软组织);伤害(感情等);使…伤心
  pretentious (adj.) : making claims,explicit or implicit,to some distinction,importance,dignity,or excellence自负的;自命不凡的;自大的
  linger (v.) : continue to stay,esp.through reluctance to leave逗留(尤指不愿离开)
  downright (adv.) : thoroughly;utterly;really彻底地,完全地;真正地
  dormer (n.) : a window set upright in a sloping roof屋顶窗
  leprous (adj.) : of or like leprosy;having leprosy麻风的;似麻风的;患麻风病的
  rat-trap (n.) : a trap for catching rats捕鼠夹(子)
  misshapen (adj.) : badly shaped;deformed奇形怪状的;畸形的
  uncomely (adj.) : having unpleasant appearance不美观的,不好看的
  grime (n.) : dirt,esp.sooty dirt,rubbed into or covering a surface,as of the skin(尤指经摩擦而深入或覆盖皮肤等表面的)积垢;污秽
  gully (n.) : a channel or hollow worn by running water; small,narrow ravine沟壑,狭沟,冲沟
  chalet (n.) : a type of Swiss house,built of wood with balconies and overhanging eaves(瑞士的木造)农舍,山上小舍
  highpitched (adj.) : steep in slope said of roofs)(屋顶)坡度陡的
  dingy (adj.) : dirty-colored;not bright or clean;grimy不干净的;不明亮的;弄脏的
  clapboard (n.) : a thin,narrow board with one edge thicker than the other,used as siding护墙板,隔板
  preposterous (adj.) : so contrary to nature,reason, or common sense as to be laughable;absurd;ridiculous反常的;乖戾的;十分荒谬的;愚蠢的
  pier (n.) : a heavy column,usually square. used to support weight,as at the end of an arch角柱;支柱
  cemetery (n.) : a place for the burial of the dead;graveyard公墓,墓地;坟场
  swinish (adj.) : of or like a swine;beastly;piggish;coarse,etc.猪(似)的;鄙贱的;粗俗的
  perpendicular (adj.) : exactly upright;vertical. straight up or down垂直的;矗立的
  precarious (adj.) : uncertain;insecure;risky不稳定的;不安全的;危险的
  eczematous (adj.) : of itching skin disease湿疹的
  patina (n.) : a fine crust or film on bronze or copper.usually green or greenish-blue,formed by natural oxidation and often valued as being ornamental(青铜器上的)绿锈
  uremia (n.) : a toxic condition caused by the presence in the blood of waste produts normally eliminated in the urine and resulting from a failure of the kidneys to secrete urine尿毒症
  loathsome (adj.) : causing loathing;disgusting;abhorrent;detestable讨厌的;厌恶的;令人作呕的
  laborious (adj.) : involving much hard work;difficult. industrious;hard-working费力的;困难的;勤劳的;辛苦的
  incessant (adj.) : never ceasing;continuing or being repeated without stopping or in a way that seems endless:constant不停的,连续的;不间断的
  decompose (v.) : break up or separate into basic components or parts;rot分解;(使)腐烂,(使)腐败
  forsake (v.) : give up;renounce(a habit,idea,etc.);leave;abandon抛弃,放弃(思想、习惯等);遗弃;背弃
  malarious (adj.) : of fever conveyed by mosquitoes疟疾的;空气污浊的
  hamlet (n.) : a very small village小村庄
  incomparable (adj.) : no beyond comparison;unequalled;matchless无与伦比的,举世无双的;无敌的,无比的
  titanic (adj.) : of great size,strength,or power巨大的;力大无比的;有极大权力的
  aberrant (adj.) : turning away from what is right,true,etc.:deviating from what is normal or typical与正确或真实情况相背的;偏离常规的;反常的
  uncompromising (adj.) : not compromising or yielding;firm;inflexiable;determined不妥协的;坚定的;不让步的;坚决的
  inimical (adj.) : 1ike an enemy;hostile;unfriendly;adverse;unfavorable敌人似的;敌对的;不友好的;相反的;不利的
  ingenuity (n.) : cleverness,originality,skill,etc.机智;创造力,独创性;熟练
  grotesquery (n.) : the quality or state of being grotesque奇形怪状;怪诞
  retrospect (n.) : a looking back on or thinking about things past;contemplation or survey of the past回顾,回想;追溯
  diabolical (adj.) : of the devil or devils;fiendish恶魔的;残忍的,凶暴的
  concoct (v.) : devise,invent,or plan计划,策划;虚构,编造
  insensate (adj.) : not feeling,or not capable of feeling,sensation无感觉的,无知觉的
  brute (n.) : an animal;a person who is brutal or very stupid,gross,sensual,etc.畜生;笨蛋,粗野的人
  abomination (adj.) : great hatred,and disgust;anything hateful and disgusting憎恨,厌恶;令人讨厌的东西
  putrid (adj.) : decomposing;rotten and foul-smelling腐烂的,腐败的
  deface (v.) : spoil the appearance of;disfigure;mar损坏…的外表;丑化
  inadvertence (n.) : the quality of being inadvertent;oversight;mistake掉以轻心,粗心大意;疏漏;错误
  obscene (adj.) : offensive to one's feelings,or to prevailing notions,of modesty of decency;lewd;disgusting猥亵的;诲淫的;可憎的
  unfathomable (adj.) : which cannot be understood;which cannot be reached不可理解的;深不可测的
  enigmatical (adj.) : of or like an enigma;perplexing;baffling谜一般的,谜似的;不可思议的,费解的
  dogmatic (adj.) : of or like dogma;doctrinal教条(主义)的;教义的
  edifice (n.) : a building,esp.a large,imposing one建筑物;尤指大型建筑物,大厦
  depravity (n.) : a depraved condition;corruption;wickedness堕落,腐化,腐败
  penthouse (n.) : a small structure,esp.one with a sloping roof,attached to a larger building小棚屋,(尤指靠在大楼边上搭的)披屋
  lust (n.) : a desire to gratify the senses;bodily appetite欲望;贪欲
  etiology (n.) : the assignment of a cause,or the cause assignment本源,原因(的说明)
  pathological (adj.) : of pathology;of or concerned with diseases病理学的;病理上的
  短语 (Expressions)
  border upon :   to be like;almost be相近,类似
  例: His emotion is bordering upon hysteria.他的情绪接近歇斯底里。
  put down…to :   tbe attribute to归因于
  例: I put Jane's moodiness down to the stress she was under.我认为简由于所承受的压力而闷闷不乐。

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