CATTI成绩查询入口 CATTI考试公告栏 CATTI考试报名入口
公众号:高斋翻译学堂 公众号:高斋外刊双语精读
英译汉:Beauty——Scott Russell Sanders
文章来源:官方文章 发布时间:2019-07-12 11:53 作者:官方文章 点击:

第17届韩素音青年翻译比赛英译汉原文及参考译文
原文

Beauty

Scott Russell Sanders

Judging from the scientists I know, including Eva and Ruth, and those whom I’ve read about, you can’t pursue the laws of nature very long without bumping into beauty. “I don’t know if it’s the same beauty you see in the sunset,” a friend tells me, “but it feels the same.” This friend is a physicist, who has spent a long career deciphering what must be happening in the interior of stars. He recalls for me this thrill on grasping for the first time Dirac’s equations describing quantum mechanics, or those of Einstein describing relativity. “They’re so beautiful,” he says, “you can see immediately they have to be true. Or at least on the way toward truth.” I ask him what makes a theory beautiful, and he replies, “Simplicity, symmetry, elegance, and power.”

Why nature should conform to theories we find beautiful is far from obvious. The most incomprehensible thing about the universe, as Einstein said, is that it’s comprehensible. How unlikely, that a short-lived biped on a two-bit planet should be able to gauge the speed of light, lay bare the structure of an atom, or calculate the gravitational tug of a black hole. We’re a long way from understanding everything, but we do understand a great deal about how nature behaves. Generation after generation, we puzzle out formulas, test them, and find, to an astonishing degree, that nature agrees. An architect draws designs on flimsy paper, and her buildings stand up through earthquakes. We launch a satellite into orbit and use it to bounce messages from continent to continent. The machine on which I write these words embodies hundreds of insights into the workings of the material world, insights that are confirmed by every burst of letters on the screen, and I stare at that screen through lenses that obey the laws of optics first worked out in detail by Isaac Newton.

By discerning patterns in the universe, Newton believed, he was tracing the hand of God. Scientists in our day have largely abandoned the notion of a Creator as an unnecessary hypothesis, or at least an untestable one. While they share Newton’s faith that the universe is ruled everywhere by a coherent set of rules, they cannot say, as scientists, how these particular rules came to govern things. You can do science without believing in a divine Legislator, but not without believing in laws.

I spent my teenage years scrambling up the mountain of mathematics. Midway up the slope, however, I staggered to a halt, gasping in the rarefied air, well before I reached the heights where the equations of Einstein and Dirac would have made sense. Nowadays I add, subtract, multiply, and do long division when no calculator is handy, and I can do algebra and geometry and even trigonometry in a pinch, but that is about all that I’ve kept from the language of numbers. Still, I remember glimpsing patterns in mathematics that seemed as bold and beautiful as a skyful of stars.

I’m never more aware of the limitations of language than when I try to describe beauty. Language can create its own loveliness, of course, but it cannot deliver to us the radiance we apprehend in the world, any more than a photograph can capture the stunning swiftness of a hawk or the withering power of a supernova. Eva’s wedding album holds only a faint glimmer of the wedding itself. All that pictures or words can do is gesture beyond themselves toward the fleeting glory that stirs our hearts. So I keep gesturing.

“All nature is meant to make us think of paradise,” Thomas Merton observed. Because the Creation puts on a nonstop show, beauty is free and inexhaustible, but we need training in order to perceive more than the most obvious kinds. Even fifteen billion years or so after the Big Bang, echoes of that event still linger in the form of background radiation, only a few degrees above absolute zero. Just so, I believe, the experience of beauty is an echo of the order and power that permeate the universe. To measure background radiation, we need subtle instruments; to measure beauty, we need alert intelligence and our five keen senses.

Anyone with eyes can take delight in a face or a flower. You need training, however, to perceive the beauty in mathematics or physics or chess, in the architecture of a tree, the design of a bird’s wing, or the shiver of breath through a flute. For most of human history, the training has come from elders who taught the young how to pay attention. By paying attention, we learn to savor all sorts of patterns, from quantum mechanics to patchwork quilts. This predilection brings with it a clear evolutionary advantage, for the ability to recognize patterns helped our ancestors to select mates, find food, avoid predators. But the same advantage would apply to all species, and yet we alone compose symphonies and crossword puzzles, carve stone into statues, map time and space.

Have we merely carried our animal need for shrewd perceptions to an absurd extreme? Or have we stumbled onto a deep congruence between the structure of our minds and the structure of the universe?

I am persuaded the latter is true. I am convinced there’s more to beauty than biology, more than cultural convention. It flows around and through us in such abundance, and in such myriad forms, as to exceed by a wide margin any mere evolutionary need. Which is not to say that beauty has nothing to do with survival: I think it has everything to do with survival. Beauty feeds us from the same source that created us. It reminds us of the shaping power that reaches through the flower stem and through our own hands. It restores our faith in the generosity of nature. By giving us a taste of the kinship between our own small minds and the great Mind of the Cosmos, beauty reassures us that we are exactly and wonderfully made for life on this glorious planet, in this magnificent universe. I find in that affinity a profound source of meaning and hope. A universe so prodigal of beauty may actually need us to notice and respond, may need our sharp eyes and brimming hearts and teeming minds, in order to close the circuit of Creation.

译文

美在其中

    我认识的科学家,像伊凡和卢斯,还有我通过阅读了解的科学家,普遍认为人们在探索自然界规律的过程中,很快便能与美不期而遇。“我不清楚那份美是否如你从日落中感受到的一样,”一位朋友对我说,“但对我而言,两者是一样的。”朋友是位物理学家,长期致力于解开恒星内部的奥秘。他向我回忆起第一次领会狄拉克的量子力学方程式和爱因斯坦的相对论方程式时,他是如何欣喜若狂。“它们如此美丽,”朋友说道,“你几乎马上明白这就是真理,或者至少是在通往真理的大道上。”当被问及是什么让理论如此美丽时,他的回答是,“简洁,对称,优美,力量。” 

    优美的理论和自然为何如此吻合?这不是个轻易就能回答的问题。正如爱因斯坦所言,宇宙最大的不可知性就在于它的可知性。多么不可思议啊!在这个微不足道的星球上,那天不予寿的双足动物竟能测出光速,解开原子的结构之谜,算出黑洞的地心引力。洞悉宇宙的一切奥秘任重而道远,但我们的确已能解释相当多的自然现象。一代又一代人苦苦思索着复杂的公式,反复验算,最后发现它们与自然惊人的吻合。建筑师绘蓝图于薄纸,她的建筑历经地震屹然不倒。我们送卫星上轨道,利用它进行洲际信息传输。我写下这番话的机器包含了数百个我们对物质世界运行方式的理解,屏幕上跳出的每一个字母都在佐证这些理解的正确性;透过镜片我注视着屏幕,是艾萨克·牛顿首先解开了镜片所要遵循的光学原理这一难题。 

    牛顿认为自己研究天体的运行方式是在寻找所谓的“神臂”。当代的科学家大多已摒弃造物主这一不切实际的假说,至少是因为无法进行验证。牛顿认为宇宙的一切都被内在统一的法则主宰,对于这一观点科学家们并无异议,但他们无法科学解释这一切是如何进行的。你可以不信奉神圣的上帝而进行科学研究,但抛弃了规律,你将寸步难行。 

少年时代,我勇攀数学高峰。然而抵达半山腰时,我蹒跚而止,在稀薄的空气中气喘吁吁,远未达到能够理解爱因斯坦和狄拉克的方程式这一高度。如今,当手头没有计算器时,我手工运算加法,减法,乘法和繁琐的除法,必要时我还会去手工运算代数,几何,甚至是三角函数,但这几乎就是我从数字语言中学到的全部知识。不过,我不会忘记当回首这些数学图形时,它们醒目而美丽,宛如那璀璨的满天星辰。

每当试图描绘美丽,我感触最深的是语言的苍白无力。诚然,语言有其自身生动的一面,但亦无法描绘世间所有的美丽,就像照片捕捉不了雄鹰的迅疾和超新星的坍缩。伊凡婚礼写真集上的照片如今只是些模糊的回忆。那稍纵即逝,令人心潮澎湃的美丽,岂是照片和语言所能表达的呢?于是其中之美我只能意会。

“自然的美丽是为了让我们认为她就是天堂。”托马斯·默顿有过这番评述。天地万物的衍变是永不停息的过程,美丽因此不受羁绊,层出不穷,但是若想能感受到不同寻常的美,还得经过一番专门培养才行。虽然大爆炸发生在150亿年前,但它的影响仍以本底辐射的形式存留世间,这种辐射只稍稍高出绝对零度。正因为如此,我认为体验美丽就是在回应宇宙中无所不在的秩序与力量。测量本底辐射,需要精密的仪器;而感受美,需要明辨的智慧和五大敏锐的感官。

欣赏一张美丽的面孔或一朵娇艳的花儿,仅凭双眼就能做到。然而没有经过专门培养,你将无法领略数学和物理学的缜密,国际象棋的奥妙,树木结构的精致,无法发现鸟类翅膀那精巧的构造,和气流穿越笛身时那优美的颤动。在相当长的人类历史长河中,这种培养由长者教导幼者如何善于发现来完成。学会这一本领之后,我们始能欣赏各种形式的美丽,大到量子力学,小到百袖被罩。对美的向往让人类在进化过程中获益匪浅,我们祖先择偶,觅食和躲避猛兽都离不开辨别美丑这一能力。但同样的进化优势适用于任意物种,为何只有人类能够谱写交响乐,编写纵横格填字游戏,把石头雕刻成塑像,使时空呈对应关系呢?    

是否我们过于明察秋毫,让这一动物的本能需求走向了荒谬的极端?抑或思维的结构与宇宙的结构能够不谋而合,只是因为我们偶得其理?

后一种说法更令我折服。我深信,较之世间万物,遑论文化习俗,美丽更为丰富多彩。它就在我们身边,数量之大,形式之多,远远超出简单的进化之需求。有人说美和人类的生存毫无关系,而我认为两者息息相关。美从创造了我们的大自然处汲取源泉,哺育着我们。让我们牢记花茎的塑造力和双手的塑造力同样伟大。让我们重拾旧有的信仰,感激自然的慷慨赠予。给我们机会体验自己那些微不足道的思想和智慧之神的共通之处,让我们信心十足,原来自己竟也如此神奇,有理由以生命的形式生存于这美丽的星球,存续于这壮丽的宇宙。于天人之暗合处,无穷的意义和无尽的希冀皆为我所得。宇宙之美如此包罗万象,莫不是在诱导我们去留意,并热情回应?莫不是要我们以敏锐的目光,热情洋溢的心和丰富的思想去穷尽万物之美?

高斋翻译1.jpg

01电话 | 19909236459

微信:zhulili9966
QQ:1936295050