美国文化 | 斯蒂芬·金的“穿越小说” Stephen King Goes to the Rescue of JFK


In all of Stephen King’s work there is an admixture of the ordinary and the supernatural — call it the weird quotidian. In his new novel, “11/22/63,” it is a rabbit hole into the past that pops up in Lisbon Falls, a woebegone corner of Maine.
斯蒂芬·金(Stephen King)的作品中往往有一个结合体,是那种司空见惯小事与匪夷所思奇景的结合体,也可以叫做“怪异的平常事”。在他的最新作品《11/22/63》当中,这样的事情就是通过兔子洞穿越到美国缅因州一个破败的角落:里斯本福尔斯(Lisbon Falls)。

On one end is 2011. An unpopular diner has finally been bought out by L. L. Bean. The diner — and the time portal inside it — may last a few more weeks in the footprint of a burned textile mill.
时间门的一端是在2011年。一家生意惨淡的餐馆最终被毕恩(L.L. Bean)买了下来。这家餐馆——时间门就在餐馆里面——坐落在一个被烧掉的纺织厂遗址上,还可能会经营几周。

On the other end is America under Eisenhower. The mill churns out white smoke. “Vertigo” is showing at the outdoor movie theater — on its first run. The Kennebec Fruit Company isn’t a curio for tourists; it sells oranges. And John Kennedy, the young senator from Massachusetts, is still alive.
时间门的另一端停留在艾森豪威尔执政时期的美国。磨房的烟囱冒着白烟,电影《迷魂记》(Vertigo)正在露天影院首映。肯纳贝克果品公司(Kennebec Fruit Company)在出售柑橘,尚且不是一个观光胜地。马萨诸塞州的年轻参议员约翰.肯尼迪(John Kennedy)仍然活着。

The rules of the rabbit hole into the past are outlined in the first pages of the novel. Al Templeton, the owner of the diner, explains them to Jake Epping, an English teacher at the local high school. Walk to the back of the pantry. Mind the 60-watt bulb overhead. Expect the smell of sulfur. And keep walking until you feel your foot fall.
小说的前几页, 借助餐馆老板艾尔·坦普勒顿(Al Templeton)之口简单介绍了通过兔子洞穿越到过去的规则。他为当地一所高中的英语老师杰克·埃平(Jake Epping)解释说:径直走到餐具室后边,小心头顶那个60瓦的灯泡;你会闻到硫磺的味道,然后一直走,最后会感觉自己的双脚在下沉。

Suddenly you’re back on Sept. 9, 1958. It’s 11:58 a.m. There are, Al says, only two conditions. One, it’s not a one-way trip. It doesn’t have to be. But when you return, no matter how long you’ve stayed in the past — two days, five years, whatever — only two minutes have gone by in the present. Two, each time you go back to the past, there is a reset. Like a Magic Slate. It’s 11:58 a.m., and everything you did on your previous trip has been erased.

With that, King dispenses with many of the mechanics of time-travel — and thank God for it. There is no extended discussion of the “grandfather paradox.” (“What if you killed your grandfather?” “Why on earth would you do that?”) The rules are simple.
有了这两个限制,金省掉了许多关于时间旅行的麻烦问题——谢天谢地。这里没有关于“祖父悖论”的冗长讨论(“如果你杀了你的祖父怎么办?” 、“你到底为什么要那么做?”)。这里的规则很简单。

There is a reason for this: King is after something bigger. “11/22/63” is a meditation on memory, love, loss, free will and necessity. It’s a blunderbuss of a book, rife with answers to questions: Can one man make a difference? Can history be changed, or does it snap back on itself like a rubber band? Does love conquer all? (The big stuff.)

Al — the scuttlebutt is that he is serving burgers made of dog, or cat — is dying of lung cancer. Coughing up blood into a pile of maxi-pads. He enlists Jake to do what he couldn’t: stop Lee Harvey Oswald. It’s a fabulous pitch. “Save Kennedy, save his brother. Save Martin Luther King. Stop the race riots. Stop Vietnam, maybe. . . . Get rid of one w

retched waif, buddy, and you could save millions of lives.”
餐馆老板艾尔——传言说他出售用狗肉或猫肉做的汉堡——得了肺癌,生命垂危,咳出来的血染红了一堆卫生巾。他要求杰克继续完成他未竟的事业:阻止李·哈维·奥斯瓦尔德(Lee Harvey Oswald)(刺杀约翰·肯尼迪的人——编者注)。这是一处神来之笔。“拯救肯尼迪,拯救他的兄弟,拯救马丁·路德·金。阻止种族骚乱,阻止越南战争,也许…除掉一个该死的家伙,老兄,你就可以拯救千百万人的生命。”

Jake Epping is a burned-out teacher with a seriously alcoholic ex-wife and nothing better to do than disappear into the past. The guilt trip works. And Epping falls into the past with a new name, George T. Amberson — as if time-travel required a new identity — and a clear mission. Correct the past. Undo some of the evils of the 20th century.
杰克是一名疲惫不堪的教师,还有个嗜酒如命的前妻,能够穿越到过去对他来说是一件再好不过的事情。歉疚之心产生了效果。杰克以乔治·安伯森(George T. Amberson)的名字——就跟时间旅行需要一个新身份似的——回到了过去,带着一个明确的目标:修改历史。铲除二十世纪的一些罪恶。

Once in 1958, however, Amberson is immediately confronted by a double mystery: the mystery of what really happened then, and the mystery of what might be otherwise.

Before George/Jake can alter the course of history, he has to know what actually occurred. Was it Oswald, shooting from the depository? Was it a conspiracy? Another shooter on the grassy knoll? How about George de Mohrenschildt, one persistent minor character in conspiracy thinking? They are the nightmare uncertainties of an event that has been over-examined, and never understood. Jake is a good person. He cannot kill Oswald without first knowing whether he was the responsible party, and a good part of the adventure is the investigation.
在乔治/杰克做出改变历史轨迹的动作之前,他必须了解当时的真实状况。从仓库大楼开枪射击的人是不是奥斯瓦德?这是一场阴谋吗?还是草丘上另有开枪射击的人?在阴谋论当中反复出现的小角色乔治·德·莫伦斯乔特(George de Mohrenschildt)又是怎么回事呢? 这些就是整个事件当中可怕的不确定性,追查这个事件的努力已经过了头,真相却始终没有查清。杰克是个好人,如果不能确定奥斯瓦德就是责任方,他绝不会下手。这样一来,相关的调查就成了这次旅行的重头戏。

Once in Dallas, Amberson has years to get to know Oswald, but he can’t just bust down the door. History is fragile; he has to peer around corners. He buys tape recorders and long-distance listening devices, moves into grubby neighborhoods, trails Oswald as he stashes his rifle. What he learns is no surprise. Oswald was unpleasant in ordinary ways. Emotional, violent with his wife, unsure of himself and desperate to change a broken world.

Did he kill Kennedy? It’s easy to see King, the writer and researcher, as a fellow time-traveler, hopelessly curious about what Oswald might say on tape or reveal while strolling around Fort Worth. But the past, the novel repeatedly reminds us, is obdurate. Under interrogation, it guards its darkest secrets. Weeks before the 22nd, Amberson is living below the Oswalds, and he still can’t be sure: “I tried the distance mic, standing on a chair and holding the Tupperware bowl almost against the ceiling. With it I could hear Lee talking and de Mohrenschildt’s occasional replies, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying.”
奥斯瓦德杀了肯尼迪吗?我们可以明显地看出来,小说作者、资料搜集者金也是一个时光旅行者,非常好奇奥斯瓦德留下了一些什么口供,在沃斯堡(Fort Worth)市内闲逛的时候又有些什么表现。但小说一再提醒我们,历史是非常执拗的。即便你竭力追查,它依然不会吐露它最黑暗的秘密。在22号到来之前的几周里,乔治·安伯森一直住在奥斯瓦尔德楼下,但仍不能确定:“我试过远距离收音麦克,还站在椅子上,把特百惠的碗往上举,几乎顶到了天花板。这样我就能听到李的谈话,和德·莫伦斯乔特偶尔的回复,但是我听不清楚他们在说什么。”

In “11/22/63,” we get glimpses of a nimbus of evil that surrounds the world. There are no single crimes. Each act of cruelty or violence is somehow associated — harmonized, King would suggest — with every other act. Inside the past, Amberson learns there are no accidents, no inadvertencies. Just an infernal machine. (Tick, tock.) He says: “Coincidences happen, but I’ve come to believe they are actually quite rare. Something is at work, O.K.? Somewhere in the universe (or behind it), a great machine is ticking and turning its fabulous gears.”
在《11/22/63》这本小说中,读者可以觉察到一股邪气笼罩着整个世界,没有单独存在的犯罪,每一个残忍行为或暴力行径在某种程度上都是与其他行为互相联系的——按照金的说法,互相协调。身处历史内部,乔治·安伯森了解到这里并没有意外事故,也没有任何疏忽,有的只是一部罪恶的机器。(滴答,滴答。)他说:“巧合的确存在。可我已经认定,巧合是非常少见的东西。冥冥之中一定有什么东西在操纵,明白吗?宇宙之中(或者是宇宙之外),一定有一台庞大的机器转动着无比精巧的齿轮, 滴答,滴答。”

There is a darker what-if. What if history is too forceful to redirect? What if jiggering the engine produces no favorable outcome — merely a postponement of the inevitable? If he had lived, Kennedy might not have escalated the war in Vietnam, and might have kept America out of a bloody mire. But we don’t know. What if we were headed there anyway? Then our tampering might only make things worse. It is not historical inevitability, but something close.

Yet Amberson’s own story is poetic and moving. It’s complicated by romance: he falls in love with Sadie, the new school librarian in Jodie, Tex., his new hometown. The real events aren’t historical, they’re very small — giving advice to a football player, staging the school play, doing the Lindy Hop with Sadie. We are brought back to the weird quotidian, endlessly surrounded by the detritus of civilization: Kresge’s, Ban-Lon, Aqua Velva, Studebaker. At first I found myself mildly irritated by the endless swirl of products. But I came — honestly — to love it. The past is full: of slogans and fry cooks and beautiful cars. And King has an excellent feel for how all of that transpires within the forward roll of history.
然而,乔治·安伯森自己的故事却是充满诗意、感人至深的。浪漫的情节使他的故事更加复杂:安伯森与莎蒂相爱,这个女孩是德克萨斯州约迪镇新来的学校图书管理员,安伯森的新家就在这个镇上。他们之间的事情很琐碎,没有什么历史意义,无非是给一名橄榄球运动员提提建议、组织学校演出、跳跳林迪舞而已。小说把读者带回了怪诞的日常事务当中,处处都是那个年代的痕迹:克雷斯基百货商店(Kresge’s)、班纶衣物(Ban-Lon)、Aqua Velva男士用品、斯图贝克(Studebaker)轿车(该公司于1966年停产倒闭——编者注)。最开始我发现自己被这些数不清的品牌惹怒了,但是老实说,我慢慢地喜欢上了它们。小说拥有十足的历史感,充满了过去的各种宣传口号、煎炸食品和漂亮汽车。金拥有敏锐的历史触觉,他体察到这些生活琐事在滚滚向前的历史中渐渐消失的过程。

In my favorite passage, King writes: “For a moment everything was clear, and when that happens you see that the world is barely there at all. Don’t we all secretly know this? It’s a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes pretending to be wheels and cogs, a dreamclock chiming beneath a mystery-glass we call life. . . . A universe of horror and loss surrounding a single lighted stage where mortals dance in defiance of the dark.”

King has said that he struggled with the idea for this book for more than 30 years. One can see why. In fiction, we can decide who did or did not kill Kennedy. Writer’s choice (and King chooses). But he pays his debts to history in other ways — by showing the machine and, at the same time, the simplest human knots, the love stories behind history: Sadie and George, Jack and Jackie.

It all adds up to one of the best time-travel stories since H. G. Wells. King has captured something wonderful. Could it be the bottomlessness of reality? The closer you get to history, the more mysterious it becomes. He has written a deeply romantic and pessimistic book. It’s romantic about the real possibility of love, and pessimistic about everything else.
总而言之,这是自赫伯特·乔治·威尔斯(H.G. Wells)以来最好的时间旅行小说之一。金捕捉到了某种妙不可言的东西。我们可不可以说,这种东西就是现实所具有的那种深不可测的性质呢?你离历史越近,历史本身就变得越神秘。金完成了一部非常浪漫、悲情的书。浪漫之处在于爱情的真实可能性,除此以外就都是悲情的韵味。

In King’s earlier, more overtly supernatural novels, the quotidian is interrupted by some unspeakable horror. In “11/22/63,” the quotidian contains the horror, something real and familiar. It’s indifferent to human lives, and it is inescapable. It is time.

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