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艺术能做什么? – 译学馆
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艺术能做什么?

What is Art for?

你可能认为这个问题的答案很简单。
You might think there was a simple answer to this.
毕竟我们知道大多数事物的用处,像这样
After all, we know how to say what most things are for, like this
或那样
or that
并且和以往不同,人们都成群结队的去博物馆。
And people flock to museums like never before,
因而他们有自己的目的。
so they must have their motives.
但是当谈到艺术,人们很奇怪地不敢太直接的询问它们是用
But when it comes to art, people get strangely afraid to ask too directly what it might all
来干什么的,因为
be for – because
好吧,包括你在内的每个人可能已经知道答案了
well, everyone except you might know the answer already
它可能很明了
It’s perhaps too obvious
也可能很复杂。
It’s perhaps too complicated
结果就是会陷入进退两难的沉寂和
The result is an awkward silence
产生很多疑惑。
and a lot of confusion.
但是可能去诠释艺术的用途是什么并不难。
But maybe it shouldn’t be that hard to say what art is for.
或许,我们可以尝试赋予艺术明确清晰的目的
Maybe we can have a go at ascribing certain rather clear purposes to art.
现在有五件艺术品可以帮助我们了解
Here’s five things art might be able to do for us:
有一个明显而且惊人的事实就是世上最受欢迎的艺术作品都表现出来
It’s an obvious but striking fact that the most popular works of art in the world show
美好的事情,比如说快乐的人,春天的花朵,蓝天
pretty things: happy people, flowers in spring, blue skies.
这是来自纽约大都会艺术博物馆,世界上卖的最好的明信片
This is the top selling postcard in the world from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
这种对于美好事物的热情让那些严谨的人感到担忧,他们很纳闷:难道人们已经忘了
This enthusiasm for prettiness worries serious types a lot. They wonder: have people forgotten
现实生活是什么样了吗?
what life is really like?
但是这种担心似乎是用错地方了的。我们需要美好的事物靠近我们,并不是因为
But that seems a misplaced worry. We need pretty things close to us not because we’re
我们正在渐渐忘记那些不好的事物,而是因为那些糟糕的事已经让我们非常苦恼,
in danger of forgetting the bad stuff, but because terrible problems weigh so heavily
以至于让我们慢慢陷入沮丧和绝望
on us, that we’re in danger of slipping into despair and depression.
那就是为什么美好的事物如此重要。那是一种希望的象征,是一种成就。
That’s why prettiness matters. It’s an emblem of hope, which is an achievement. Prettiness,
美好的事物,那些花、蓝天、草地上的孩子,瓶装并罐装着希望,
those flowers and blue skies and kids in meadows, is hope bottled and preserved, waiting for
等待着我们需要它的时候
us when we need it.
这个世界经常要求我们戴上一张快乐的面具,
The world often requires us to put on a cheerful facade
但那面具之下,却隐藏着我们不敢表达的悲伤和遗憾,
But beneath the surface, there’s a lot of sadness and regret that we can’t express
因为我们害怕被别人看成怪人,或失败者
from fear of seeming weird or a loser.
艺术可以做的一件事是,安慰处于痛苦的常态中的我们, 它可以和我们一起悲伤
One thing art can do is to reassure us of the normality of pain, it can be sad with
和为我们悲伤
and for us.
一些世界上最伟大的艺术作品之所以受人们喜爱,是因为它们有能力
Some of the world’s greatest works of art have been loved for their capacity to make
让我们内心的痛苦更多的表现出来。
the pain that’s inside all of us more publically visible and available.
就像放一首忧伤的音乐一样,忧郁的艺术作品不一定要使我们沮丧
Like putting on a sad piece of music, sombre works of art don’t have to depress us…
相反,它能使我们感受到那种广受欢迎的观点,即痛苦是人类生活的一部分
…rather they can give us the welcome feeling that pain is part of the human condition.
艺术反对商业社会的虚假乐观主义
Art fights the false optimism of commercial society
它的存在庄重地提醒着我们,每一种美好的生活,
It’s there to remind us with dignity that every good life has extraordinary amounts
都充满了许多我们想不到的困惑,痛苦,孤独和不幸
of confusion, suffering, loneliness and distress within it.
而因此我们不应通过认为我们仅仅因为
and that therefore we should never aggravate sadness by feeling we must be freakish simply
阅历丰富就富有想象力而加重悲伤
for experiencing quite a lot.
我们每个人在一定程度上都有点不平衡
All of us are a little unbalanced in some way.
我们要么太理智要么太情绪化,要么太汉子要么太女性化,要么太淡定
We’re too intellectual or too emotional, too masculine or too feminine, too calm or
要么太激动
too excitable…
我们所爱的艺术常常是某种吸引我们的事物,因为它能弥补我们所缺乏的东西:
The art we love is frequently something we’re drawn to because it compensates us for what
它平衡了我们。
we lack: it counterbalances us.
当我们被一件艺术作品感动的时候,或许是因为它集中地包含了许多
When we’re moved by a work of art, it may be because it contains concentrated dose of
我们在自己的生活中所更需要的品质
qualities we need more of in our lives.
或许它充满了我们所羡慕的那份宁静,但是我们自己却没有拥有
Perhaps it’s full of the serenity we admire, but don’t have enough of
或许它包含了我们所渴望的那份温柔,但是我们的工作和人际关系
Perhaps it’s got the tenderness we long for, but that our jobs and relationships are
目前正缺乏这份温柔
currently lacking
或许它包含了一种痛苦和戏剧性,我们不得不抑制,但是又想
Or perhaps it’s suffused with a pain and drama we’ve had to stifle but want to get
继续拥有
in touch with.
有时候,整个社会都会喜欢上某一种艺术风格,因为它在努力尝试着
Sometimes a whole society falls in love with a certain style in art, because it’s trying
重新平衡自己,就像18世纪晚期的法国
to rebalance itself, like France in the late 18th century
希望大卫可以成为纠正他们堕落的人,或者是19世纪的英国,
that wanted David as a corrective to its decadence, or Britain in the 19th century that looked
希望拉斐尔前派艺术家可以应对残酷的工业化的影响
to the pre-Raphaelites to counter the effects of brutal industrialisation
一个国家或者一个人所谓的”美丽”,最直接的证明了
The art a country or a person calls ‘beautiful’ gives you vital clues as to what is missing
他们正在遗失的东西
in them.
是艺术的力量帮助我们变得更完美,更平衡,更理智
It’s in the power of art to help us be more rounded, more balanced and more sane.
媒体正在不断暗示我们什么才是迷人的和重要的
The media is constantly giving us hints about what’s glamorous and important
艺术也告诉我们什么是迷人的和重要的,但是幸运的是——
Art also tells us about what’s glamorous and important, but fortunately  – given that
假设你今年又没有被奥斯卡邀请——因为奥斯卡通常都会选择一些
you weren’t invited again to the Oscars this year – it usually picks on some very
不一样的类型
different things.
阿尔布雷特·丢勒让草变得熠熠生辉
Albrecht Durer makes grass look glamorous
约翰·康斯特布尔将我们的注意力转向天空
John Constable draws our attention to the skies:
梵高提醒我们应该留意橙色
Van Gogh reminds us that oranges are worth paying attention to
马歇尔·杜尚让我们重新观察表面上的世俗
Marcel Duchamp challenges us to look again at the seemingly mundane
这些艺术家不是最好应被忽视的虚伪的迷人角色
These artists aren’t falsely glamorising things that are better ignored, they’re
他们公平地梳理一种在严重扭曲、不公平对待真理的现实世界中被世人忽视的价值观
justly teasing out a value that’s been neglected by a world with a deeply distorted and unfair
艺术让魅力物归原主
sense of what truly matters. Art returns glamour to its rightful place, highlighting what is
标明了什么是真正值得欣赏的
genuinely worth appreciating.
没什么比优秀的艺术更能宣传:那些鼓励你战斗
Nothing seems further from good art than propaganda; the sort encouraging you to fight
或政府支持的
or what government to support
但是一种思考艺术的角度是:它是一种宣传
But one way to think about art is that it is a sort of propaganda, in the sense of a
一种激励并支持你的工具——只有在
tool that motivates and energises you for a cause – only it is propaganda on behalf
代替了一些世上最重要的情感和态度时才宣传——
of some of the most important and nicest emotions and attitudes in the world – which it uses
运用它的能力创造并接近新的吸引力
its skills to make newly appealling and accessible.
它可能仅仅宣传生活
It might be propaganda about the simple life:
或扩大视野的需要
Or about the need to broaden one’s horizons
或更幽默、温柔的生活方式
Or about a more playful, tender approach to life
它强迫压下人性最好的部分 给它们一个平台
It’s a force that stands up for the best sides of human nature and gives them a platform
在嘈杂、混乱的世界中的权力
and an authority in a noisy, distracted world.
长久以来 艺术因其自身的优点吸引了有点多的崇敬和奥秘
For too long, art has attracted a little too much reverence and mystique for its own good.
它在场时 我们就像会见了一个非常著名的人 我们变得僵硬 失去了
In its presence, we’re like someone meeting a very famous person. We get stiff and lose
我们的自发性
our spontaneity.
我们应该放轻松 就像我们对音乐做的
We should relax around it, as we already do with music:
并且学习因其真正价值而使用它:作为一个为了更好的我们的持续的支持者
and learn to use it for what it’s really meant for: as a constant source of support
和鼓励者
and encouragement for our better selves.

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