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美国人为何乐于倾诉而亚洲人却不然

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2016-07-20 17:29  来源:

Why Americans Are Obsessed with Telling Their Own Stories + Asians Aren’t
美国人为何乐于倾诉而亚洲人却不然
(选自《英语世界》2016年第7期)

美国人为何乐于倾诉而亚洲人却不然

文/王琪 译/任舒羽 审订/任东升
By Qi Wang[1]

We Americans are obsessed with telling our life stories. And it’s not just politicians and celebrities (did you know that former President Jimmy Carter wrote eight memoirs?). Stories aren’t just for the famous; there are memoirs written by ordinary people and those written for dogs and cats. And for the fame-hungry, there is reality television, where average people can turn into instant celebrities by revealing their personal dramas, including the ugliest and most intimate, to a mass audience. We have macroblogging, microblogging, instant messaging, status updates, Snapchat[2] “stories” and more.
我们美国人对自己的故事津津乐道,并非只有政客和名人如此(你知道美国前总统吉米·卡特写过八部个人回忆录吧)。讲故事可不只是名人的专属,普通百姓也写回忆录,甚至有人给爱犬爱猫作传。想一夜出名,有电视真人秀啊:普通人对观众展示他们自己的故事,暴丑态或揭隐私,就能一举成名。还可以写博客、发微博、发短信、更新状态、传照片“故事”,等等。

But the phenomenon isn’t simply the product of our technological world. Sharing personal stories is an essential ingredient in everyday conversations: We are eager to tell our stories and are fascinated by those of others. Even at preschool, “sharing time” is a common Monday-morning activity where the youngsters sit in a circle and take turns telling a story about something they did over the weekend.
然而,讲自己的故事可不单单是这个科技时代才有的现象。分享自己的故事是日常交流的重要部分:我们很想讲出自己的经历,也痴迷于别人的故事。即便在幼儿园,周一早上也流行“分享时间”游戏,孩子们围坐一圈轮流讲述上周末做的事。

So what is this obsession about? Why isn’t having an experience enough that we also have to talk about it? Psychologists have found that personal storytelling helps us shape our “selves.” In the process of sharing our stories, we are telling others and ourselves how our unique experiences make us who we are. Our stories, capturing intimate details and our innermost thoughts and feelings, can best separate ourselves from other selves. These other “me’s” serve as a looking glass against which the storyteller establishes him or herself as a separate, distinct individual.
那么,这种习惯是怎么回事呢?为什么有一种经历还不够还非要讲出来才行?心理学家发现,讲出自己的经历有助于“自我”的塑造。在分享个人经历过程中,就是要告诉别人、同时也告诉自己,那些独特的经历是怎样造就我们的。由于这些经历捕捉到亲密入微的细节以及内心深处的想法和感受,将“我”与“他”区分开来。而这些“我”就如同一面镜子,呈现出讲述者独一无二的自我。

Interestingly, this obsession is not necessarily shared by people from other cultures. In many Asian countries, for example, where talking about and drawing attention to oneself can be seen as socially inappropriate, people are often reluctant to share their life stories and do not encourage others to do so. Asian politicians and celebrities also shy away from writing about their lives, in contrast to their tell-all American peers. Even a man as great as Mahatma Gandhi had to wrestle with the idea of writing his autobiography, since producing a self-focused narrative contradicted the values of modesty.
有意思的是,这种喜好在其他文化里罕见。例如,在许多亚洲国家谈论自己引起关注会被认为在人前不够得体,人们不主动讲自己的人生经历,也不鼓励别人这么去做。与和盘托出的美国人不同,亚洲的政客和名人也回避撰写自传。即便是圣雄甘地这样的伟人,也纠结于要不要写自传,这是因为推出一本满篇自我的书有违谦逊的价值观。

When people do share their stories, whether in memoirs or casual conversation or psychological studies, they tend to focus more on external facts than personal details. Asians believe that a person is largely defined by his or her social status and relationships, leaving little reason to broadcast detailed and revealing personal stories to establish a unique self.
无论是通过回忆录、闲聊,还是心理研究,分享自己的经历时他们往往更注重外在事实而不太看重个人细节。亚洲人认为,一个人在很大程度上是由其社会地位和社会关系来决定的,实在无须详尽爆料自己的故事,来塑造独一无二的形象。

Ironically, the more unique we Americans strive to be, the greater our need to feel connected with others. In our culture of individuality, relationships are highly mobile and voluntary and can be easily formed or dissolved—so much so that individuals must actively maintain their relationships. Sharing personal stories brings us closer through the exchange of thoughts, feelings and desires. It connects us like many different nodes, holding our family, community and society together. This motivation to tell personal stories as a way of fostering relationships is not nearly as strong among Asians, for whom social relations are generally unconditional, obligatory and stable, and therefore require little maintenance. To intentionally recount one’s past for the purpose of making social connections could be seen as unnecessary or even improper.
可笑的是,我们美国人越是想独一无二,与他人建立联系的需求就越强烈。在我们这种个性主义的文化中,人际关系高度机动、随意,既容易结成又容易解散,如此一来每个人必须主动维持自己的人脉。通过交流想法、感受和追求,分享个人经历拉近彼此距离,如同许多不同的结点把我们的家庭、社区和社会网结起来。把讲故事作为培养人际关系的方式,这种动机在亚洲人中并不强烈。对亚洲人来说,社会关系通常是无条件的、义务的、稳定的,因而几乎无须维系。刻意靠讲述自己的故事来建立社会关系是多此一举,甚至不合时宜。

Parents in the U.S. and Asia differ in how they share memories with their young children. American parents regard parent-child bonding as the No.1 priority of personal storytelling: They encourage children to share their stories, pay great attention to and are sympathetic with children’s thoughts and feelings, and create opportunities to re-experience the past with children. Asian parents, by contrast, engage their children in telling personal stories less frequently and view such activities as less formative and important than Americans parents. When they do talk about a child’s experiences, they are not particularly concerned with parent-child bonding but tend to focus on disciplining the child.
和年幼的孩子们分享回忆,美国家长和亚洲家长的做法也不一样。美国家长把亲子关系作为讲自己故事的首要目标,他们鼓励孩子分享自己的故事,关注孩子内心所思所想并且感同身受,创造机会和孩子重温过往。相比之下,亚洲父母不怎么让孩子讲自己的故事,也不像美国家长那样认为孩子讲故事关乎孩子成长而且有必要。他们谈起孩子的经历时,关注的不是亲子关系,而是管教孩子。

In America, a culture founded on the pursuit of happiness, we are also motivated to tell our stories for therapeutic purposes. We talk about our success stories with others, especially those who will cheer us on, so that we can capitalize on our positive feelings about ourselves. We share our failures, frustrations and traumas with others to seek sympathy, advice, and social support, in the hope that we will feel better.
美国文化根植于对幸福的追求,讲故事还抱着治愈的目的。我们跟别人谈论我们的成功,尤其是喜欢跟为我们加油鼓掌的人谈论。这样,我们能更好的利用积极的心态。我们诉说自己的失败、挫折、痛苦,寻求同情、建议,甚至社会支持,希望能够感觉好些。

In Waiting for Godot, Estragon hears many voices talking about their lives. Vladimir comments, “To have lived is not enough for them,” and Estragon agrees, “They have to talk about it.” Americans, more than other cultures, seem to embrace that need to talk about it. And whether our appetite for personal storytelling is about validating an experience, establishing an identity or soothing psychic pain, it would appear that the drive to share our stories is picking up speed.
在《等待戈多》中,埃斯特拉贡的耳边萦绕着许多声音,在讲述着各自的故事。弗拉迪米尔说:“经历过,对他们来说还不够。”埃斯特拉贡赞同道:“他们还得说道说道。”比起其他文化里的人,美国人似乎有更多说道自己的需求,津津乐道自己的故事来强化某段经历也罢,建立某种身份也罢,抑或抚慰心理创痛也罢,分享故事的兴致恐怕是越来越浓。

[1]康奈尔大学人类发展学华裔女教授,曾获北京大学心理学学士学位,后在哈佛大学获心理学博士学位,是记忆和文化研究领域杰出的心理学家。
[2]由斯坦福大学两位学生开发的一款“阅后即焚”照片分享应用。利用该应用程序,用户可以拍照、录制视频、添加文字和图画,并将它们发送到自己在该应用上的好友列表。该应用中,所有照片都有一个1到10秒的生命期,用户拍了发送给好友后,这些照片会根据用户所预先设定的时间自动销毁。

杂志简介

由商务印书馆主办的《英语世界》杂志创刊于1981年。该刊是一本面向大学师生及其他英语爱好者的阅读学习类刊物,系中国第一家英汉对照的英语学习杂志。该刊宗旨是“文拓视野、译悦心灵”,向以内容新颖、形式活泼而著称。创刊以来,由于选文隽永雅致,刊中文章经常受到《读者》、《青年文摘》等杂志转载。先后荣获 “编校质量奖”、“全国百种重点社科期刊”、“国家期刊提名奖”、 “优秀期刊奖”等荣誉。2009年,中国期刊协会授予该刊“新中国60年有影响力的期刊”证书。
欢迎在邮局订购《英语世界》杂志,邮发代号为2-445

主编简介

  • 陈羽纶陈羽纶(1917~2010),《英语世界》杂志首任主编,教授级资深编审。 曾多年担任英语教科书、英语读物、英语词典的编译及审订工作。1988年作为翻译家被收入《中国翻译家词典》,1988~1989年美国纽约大学、英国布鲁内尔大学与英国基尔大学访问学者。1991年被国家人事部定为早期回国定居有特殊贡献专家,享受国务院发放一级津贴待遇。2003年12月获中国出版工作者协会、中国韬奋基金会颁发的第八届中国韬奋出版奖。

  • 徐式谷徐式谷(1935~ ),江苏扬州人,《英语世界》第二任主编,北京商务印书馆编审,前副总编辑,中国译协理事、副秘书长,重庆大学兼职教授,第九届、第十届全国政协委员。有《笛福文选》等译著多种,并发表过多篇译学文论,被中国翻译协会授予“资深翻译家”称号,被中国期刊协会授予“新中国60年有影响力期刊人”称号。

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