心靈成長之道

知名小說家出作業:創作藝術,然後銷毀 Kurt Vonnegut◎撰 from the book Letters of Note

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photograph by THE VOORHES

二○○六年,美國紐約市一位姓洛克伍德的英文老師,要學生寫信給他們最喜歡的作家,想辦法說動對方到學校參訪。有五個學生選了小說家寇特.馮內果。後來馮內果雖未親自前往哈維爾中學,但寫了底下這封信回覆同學。他是唯一回信的作家。

二○○六年十一月五日

致親愛的哈維爾中學洛克伍德老師與裴林、麥菲利、巴頓、墨瑞爾、康吉斯塔同學:

感謝諸位親切的來函,你們確實懂得如何鼓舞一個日薄西山的耄耋老人(八十四歲)。由於現在本人的容貌像極了一頭鬣蜥,如今已不再出席公開活動。

還有,我可以提供的建言不多,就是:練習一門藝術,不論是音樂、歌唱、舞蹈、演戲、素描、繪畫、雕塑、詩歌、小說、散文,或報導,不論水準高低,圖的不是名利,而是為了體驗變化,發掘個人內在,幫助心靈成長。

我是認真的!我的意思是,即刻開始從事藝術創作,並在往後的人生中創作不輟。你可以畫一幅滑稽或漂亮的洛克伍德老師肖像,送給她;放學後一路跳舞回家;然後邊淋浴邊唱歌⋯⋯等等、等等。也可以在馬鈴薯泥上畫張臉孔;假裝你是吸血鬼德古拉伯爵。

以下是今天的作業。如果你沒做,我希望洛克伍德老師把你當掉:寫一首六行詩,題目任選,但一定得押韻。沒有網子打不成網球,所以要盡全力寫到最好。但不要告訴任何人你在做什麼。不要拿給任何人看;也不要唸給任何人聽。就算是女朋友或爸媽或不管是誰,或者洛克伍德老師都不行,知道嗎?

然後把它撕成碎片,丟進幾個間隔很遠的垃圾桶內。你會發現自己已從這首詩獲得莫大的獎賞。你已經體會到變化,更了解自己的內在,而且已經使自己心靈成長。

願主祝福大家!

寇特.馮內果筆


馮內果著有十四本小說,包括經常名列二十世紀百大最佳英文著作的《第五號屠宰場》。



How to Grow Your Soul

In 2006, a New York City English teacher named Ms. Lockwood asked her students to write to their favorite author and persuade him or her to visit the school. Five of those pupils chose novelist Kurt Vonnegut. Though he never made the trip to Xavier High School, Vonnegut did respond to the students with the following letter. He was the only author to reply.

November 5, 2006

Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs. Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer, and Congiusta:

I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances anymore because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.

What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art—music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, ­poetry, fiction, essays, reportage—no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.

Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower, and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.

Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six-line poem about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?

Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces and discard them into widely
separated trash receptacles. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

God bless you all!

Kurt Vonnegut.

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