《The Moon and Sixpence》

《月亮和六便士》中的英国画家 Charles Strickland 是以法国印象派大师 Paul Gauguin 为原型塑造的人物,更是将 Paul Gauguin 人性中疯狂那一面提取出来塑造的角色。书中以 “我” 来介绍 Strickland,但 “我” 和 Strickland 并不熟络,两人之间的关系总会保持一定的距离。这样的设计真是巧妙,可以将 Strickland 普通、屈于物质的一面一笔带过,专注刻画他对绘画的执着和疯狂。

他追求的东西,我不太明白,或许连他自己都不明白;我又一次感到,他是一个对什么东西容易着魔的人。他的脑子,似乎不太正常.

当读到 Strickland 为了绘画,抛弃家庭以及现有的一切这一情节,我脑海中蹦出的第一反应,是这家伙的脑前额叶不会出问题了吧?但继续看下去,也可以发现毛姆给出的解释: Strickland生活在“幻想”之中,现实对他而言毫无意义。

他对金钱无动于衷。他对名声不屑一顾。但你不必赞美他抵挡住了诱惑,因为我们大多数人妥协让步的名利,对他而言根本不算诱惑。妥协,在他的头脑中根本不存在。他住在巴黎,比底比斯沙漠的隐士还要孤独。他从不求人,只要能让他一个人待着。他一心一意,追求理想,为了实现它,不惜牺牲自己——这一点,很多人都能做到——甚至牺牲别人。

因为 Strickland 的影响,Blanche Stroeve 选择自杀。在“我”的质问下,Strickland 对“我”主动说了全书中最多的话,也表明了他即使抛弃了物质需求,仍然不能算作一个“圣人”。

“我不需要爱情。我没有时间恋爱。这是人性的弱点。我是个男人,有时候我需要女人。当我的欲望满足了,我就会去忙别的事情。真是讨厌,我无法克制自己的欲望;它囚禁着我的精神;我希望有一天,我可以不受欲望支配,自由自在地去工作。因为女人除了爱情什么也不懂,所以她们把爱情看得非常重要,简直荒谬。她们还想说服我们,让我们相信这就是生活的全部。实际上,这是微不足道的一部分。我只知道欲望。这是正常的、健康的。爱情是一种病。女人是我取乐的工具;我没耐心让她们当我的什么助手、搭档、伴侣。”

性欲在Strickland身上并不起眼。可以说很不重要。甚至,让他讨厌。他的灵魂在别处。他有狂暴的激情,有时候欲望占据了他的身心,迫使他一时纵情狂欢,但他对这种本能感到非常厌恶,因为这剥夺了他内心的宁静。

Strickland 毫不在意 Blanche 的死活,不仅因为他对这个女人没有多少感情(即使她在 Strickland 最脆弱的时候照顾了他很久),还因为 Strickland 从始至终都不在意别人的眼光。这一点应该是作者所刻意追求的,毛姆本身和主人公原型高更都经历过受人凌辱和歧视的时期,在小说里就通过 Strickland 表达,他人的看法对于一个对艺术极端热忱的人来说毫无意义。我看到 Blanche 自杀这一情节时,相比与愤怒,更多的是无奈,是对于 Strickland 的冷漠和 Blanche 的不幸,也如作者说的:

Strickland是一个可恶的人,但我依然认为,他很伟大。

在路上,Strickland 一直没有朋友,但他散发的精神还是吸引了一批信徒。

人们随随便便谈论美,却不知美为何物,这个词已被用滥了,失去了它原有的力量;所有的鸡零狗碎都以美为名,使美本身的含义荡然无存。一件衣服,一只狗,一篇布道辞,都很美,但当人们和真正的美相遇,反而辨认不出。人们极力掩饰自己毫无价值的思想,这种虚伪的夸张,让他们的感觉变得迟钝。

“攫住Strickland的,是一种创造美的激情。这让他一刻也不得安宁。让他四处奔走。他是一个永远跋涉的朝圣者,被一种神圣的怀乡之情所困扰,他体内的魔鬼对他冷酷无情。有些人追求真理,坚定不移,为了实现它,不惜将他们自己的世界完全推翻。Strickland也是这样,他所追求的美,等同于真理。像他这样的人,我只能深表同情。”

接近小说尾声,有句话借人物 Captain Brunot 之口说出:

“Did I not tell you that I, too, in my way was an artist? I realised in myself the same desire as animated him (Strickland). But whereas his medium was paint, mine has been life.”

普通的艺术需要艺术家欣赏,极致的艺术可以让所有人欣赏

He was aiming at something, I knew not what, and perhaps he hardly knew himself; and I got again more strongly the impression of a man possessed. He did not seem quite sane. It seemed to me that he would not show his pictures because he was really not interested in them. He lived in a dream, and the reality meant nothing to him.

“I don’t think of the past. The only thing that matters is the everlasting present.”

Chapter XXI

Unconsciously, perhaps, we treasure the power we have over people by their regard for our opinion of them, and we hate those upon whom we have no such influence. I suppose it is the bitterest wound to human pride.

Chapter XLI

Character? I should have thought it needed a good deal of character to throw up a career after half an hour’s meditation, because you saw in another way of living a more intense significance. And it required still more character never to regret the sudden step.

Chapter L

“And the passion that held Strickland was a passion to create beauty. It gave him no peace. It urged him hither and thither. He was eternally a pilgrim, haunted by a divine nostalgia, and the demon within him was ruthless. There are men whose desire for truth is so great that to attain it they will shatter the very foundation of their world. Of such was Strickland, only beauty with him took the place of truth. I could only feel for him a profound compassion.”

Chapter LIV

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