来自: Siren蛋(如何) 2016-11-24 11:12:06

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  • Siren蛋

    Siren蛋 (如何) 2016-11-24 11:14:59

    【新概念三 Lesson 53】In the public interest 为了公众的利益
    The Scandinavian countries are much admired all over the world for their enlightened social policies. Sweden has evolved an excellent system for protecting the individual citizen from high-handed or incompetent public officers. The system has worked so well, that it has been adopted in other countries too.
    The Swedes were the first to recognize that public officials like civil servants, police officers, health inspectors or tax-collectors can make mistakes or act over-zealously in the belief that they are serving the public. As long ago as 1809, the Swedish Parliament introduced a scheme to safeguard the interest of the individual. A parliamentary committee representing all political parties appoints a person who is suitably qualified to investigate private grievances against the State. The official title of the person is ‘Justiteombudsman’, but the Swedes commonly refer to him as the ‘J. O.’ or ‘Ombudsman’. The Ombudsman is not subject to political pressure. He investigates complaints large and small that come to him from all levels of society. As complaints must be made in writing, the Ombudsman receives an average of 1, 200 letters a year. He has eight lawyer assistants to help him and he examines every single letter in detail. There is nothing secretive about the Ombudsman's work, for his correspondence is open to public inspection. If a citizen's complaint is justified, the Ombudsman will act on his behalf. The action he takes varies according to the nature of the complaint. He may gently reprimand an official or even suggest to parliament that a law be altered. The following case is a typical example of the Ombudsman's work.
    A foreigner living in a Swedish village wrote to the Ombudsman complaining that he had been ill-treated by the police, simply because he was a foreigner. The Ombudsman immediately wrote to the Chief of Police in the district asking him to send a record of the case. There was nothing in the record to show that the foreigner's complaint was justified and the Chief of Police strongly denied the accusation. It was impossible for the Ombudsman to take action, but when he received a similar complaint from another foreigner in the same village, he immediately sent one of his lawyers to investigate the matter. The lawyer ascertained that a policeman had indeed dealt roughly with foreigners on several occasions. The fact that the policeman was prejudiced against foreigners could not be recorded in the official files. It was only possible for the Ombudsman to find this out by sending one of his representatives to check the facts. The policeman in question was severely reprimanded and was informed that if any further complaints were lodged against him, he would be prosecuted. The Ombudsman's prompt action at once put an end to an unpleasant practice which might have gone unnoticed.

    【新概念三 Lesson 54】Instinct or cleverness? 是本能还是机智
    We have been brought up to fear insects. We regard them as unnecessary creatures that do more harm than good. We continually wage war on them, for they contaminate our food, carry diseases, or devour our crops. They sting or bite without provocation; they fly uninvited into our rooms on summer nights, or beat ageist our lighted windows. We live in dread not only of unpleasant insects like spiders or wasps, but of quite harmless one like moths. Reading about them increases our understanding without dispelling our fears. Knowing that the industrious ant lives in a highly organized society does nothing to prevent us from being filled with revulsion when we find hordes of them crawling over a carefully prepared picnic lunch. No matter how much we like honey, or how much we have read about the uncanny sense of direction which bees possess, we have a horror of being stung. Most of our fears are unreasonable, but they are impossible to erase. At the same time, however, insects are strangely fascinating. We enjoy reading about them, especially when we find that, like the praying mantis, they lead perfectly horrible lives. We enjoy staring at them, entranced as they go about their business, unaware (we hope) of our presence. Who has not stood in awe at the sight of a spider pouncing on a fly, or a column of ants triumphantly bearing home an enormous dead beetle?
    Last summer I spent days in the garden watching thousands of ants crawling up the trunk of my prize peach tree. The tree has grown against a warm wall on a sheltered side of the house. I am especially proud of it, not only because it has survived several severe winters, but because it occasionally produces luscious peaches. During the summer, I noticed that the leaves of the tree were beginning to wither. Clusters of tiny insects called aphides were to be found on the underside of the leaves. They were visited by a large colony of ants which obtained a sort of honey from them. I immediately embarked on an experiment which, even though if failed to get rid of the ants, kept me fascinated for twenty-four hours. I bound the base of the tree with sticky tape, making it impossible for the ants to reach the aphides. The tape was so stick that they did not dare to cross it. For a long time. I watched them scurrying around the base of the tree in bewilderment. I even went out at midnight with a torch and noted with satisfaction (and surprise) that the ants were still swarming around the sticky tape without being able to do anything about it. I got up early next morning hoping to find that the ants had given up in despair. Instead, I saw that they had discovered a new route. They were climbing up the wall of the house and then on to the leaves of the tree. I realized sadly that I had been completely defeated by their ingenuity. The ants had been quick to find an answer to my thoroughly unscientific methods!

    【新概念三 lesson 59】 Collecting 收藏
    People tend to amass possessions, sometimes without being aware of doing so. Indeed they can have a delightful surprise when they find something useful which they did not know they owned. Those who never have to move house become indiscriminate collectors of what can only be described as clutter. They leave unwanted objects in drawers, cupboards and attics for years, in the belief that they may one day need just those very things. As they grow old, people also accumulate belongings for two other reasons, lack of physical and mental energy, both of which are essential in turning out and throwing away, and sentiment. Things owned for a long time are full of associations with the past, perhaps with relatives who are dead, and so they gradually acquire a value beyond their true worth.
    Some things are collected deliberately in the home in an attempt to avoid waste. Among these I would list string and brown paper, kept by thrifty people when a parcel has been opened, to save buying these two requisites. Collecting small items can easily become a mania. I know someone who always cuts sketches out from newspapers of model clothes that she would like to buy, if she had the money. As she is not rich, the chances that she will ever be able to afford such purchases are remote; but she is never sufficiently strongminded to be able to stop the practice. It is a harmless habit, but it litters up her desk to such an extent that every time she opens it; loose bits of paper fall out in every direction.
    Collecting as a serious hobby is quite different and has many advantages. It provides relaxation for leisure hours, as just looking at one's treasures is always a joy. One does not have to go outside for amusement, since the collection is housed at home. Whatever it consists of, stamps, records, first editions of books, china, glass, antique furniture, pictures, model cars, stuffed birds, toy animals, there is always something to do in connection with it, from finding the right place for the latest addition, to verifying facts in reference books. This hobby educates one not only in the chosen subject, but also in general matters which have some bearing on it. There are also other benefits. One wants to meet like-minded collectors, to get advice, to compare notes, to exchange articles, to show off the latest find. So one's circle of friends grows. Soon the hobby leads to travel, perhaps to a meeting in another town, possibly a trip abroad in search of a rare specimen, for collectors are not confined to any one country. Over the years, one may well become an authority on one's hobby and will very probably be asked to give informal talks to little gatherings and then, if successful, to larger audiences. In this way self-confidence grows, first from mastering a subject, then from being able to talk about it. Collecting, by occupying spare time so constructively, makes a person contented, with no time for boredom.

    【新概念三 Lesson 60】 Too early and too late 太早和太晚
    Punctuality is a necessary habit in all public affairs in civilized society. Without it, nothing could ever be brought to a conclusion; everything would be in a state of chaos. Only in a sparsely-populated rural community is it possible to disregard it. In ordinary living, there can be some tolerance of unpunctuality. The intellectual, who is working on some abstruse problem, has everything coordinated and organized for the matter in hand. He is therefore forgiven, if late for a dinner party. But people are often reproached for unpunctuality when their only fault is cutting things fine. It is hard for energetic, quick-minded people to waste time, so they are often tempted to finish a job before setting out to keep an appointment. If no accidents occur on the way, like punctured tyres, diversions of traffic, sudden descent of fog, they will be on time. They are often more industrious, useful citizens than those who are never late. The over-punctual can be as much a trial to others as the unpunctual. The guest who arrives half an hour too soon is the greatest nuisance. Some friends of my family had this irritating habit. The only thing to do was ask them to come half an hour later than the other guests. Then they arrived just when we wanted them.
    If you are catching a train, it is always better to be comfortably early than even a fraction of a minute too late. Although being early may mean wasting a little time, this will be less than if you miss the train and have to wait an hour or more for the next one; and you avoid the frustration of arriving at the very moment when the train is drawing out of the station and being unable to get on it. An even harder situation is to be on the platform in good time for a train and still to see it go off without you. Such an experience befell a certain young girl the first time she was travelling alone.
    She entered the station twenty minutes before the train was due, since her parents had impressed upon her that it would be unforgivable to miss it and cause the friends with whom she was going to stay to make two journeys to meet her. She gave her luggage to a porter and showed him her ticket. To her horror he said that she was two hours too soon. She felt in her handbag for the piece of paper on which her father had written down all the details of the journey and gave it to the porter. He agreed that a train did come into the station at the time on the paper and that it did stop, but only to take on mail, not passengers. The girl asked to see a timetable, feeling sure that her father could not have made such a mistake. The porter went to fetch one and arrived back with the station master, who produced it with a flourish and pointed out a microscopic ‘o’ beside the time of the arrival of the train at his station; this little ‘o’ indicated that the train only stopped for mail. Just as that moment the train came into the station. The girl, tears streaming down her face, begged to be allowed to slip into the guard's van. But the station master was adamant: rules could not be broken. And she had to watch that train disappear towards her destination while she was left behind.

    【新概念四 Lesson 1】 Finding fossil man 发现化石人
    We can read of things that happened 5,000 years ago in the Near East, where people first learned to write.But there are some parts of the world where even now people cannot write. The only way that they can preserve their history is to recount it as sagas----legends handed down from one generation of story-tellers to another. These legends are useful because they can tell us something about migrations of people who lived long ago, but none could write down what they did. Anthropologists wondered where the remote ancestors of the Polynesian peoples now living in the Pacific Islands came from. The sagas of these people explain that some of them came from Indonesia about 2,000 years ago.
    But the first people who were like ourselves lived so long ago that even their sagas, if they had any, are forgotten. So archaeologists have neither history nor legends to help them to find out where the first‘modern men’ came from.
    Fortunately, however, ancient men made tools of stone, especially flint, because this is easier to shape than other kinds. They may also have used wood and skins, but these have rotted away. Stone does not decay, and so the tools of long ago have remained when even thebones of the men who made them have disappeared without trace.

    【新概念四 Lesson 2】 Spare that spider不要伤害蜘蛛
    Why, you may wonder, should spiders be our friends? Because they destroy so many insects, and insects include some of the greatest enemies of the human race.Insects would make it impossible for us to live in the world; they would devour all our crops and kill our flocks and herds, if it were not for the protection we get from insect-eating animals.We owe a lot to the birds and beasts who eat insects but all of them put together kill only a fraction of the number destroyed by spiders.Moreover, unlike some of the other insect eaters, spiders never do the least harm to us or our belongings.
    Spiders are not insects, as many people think, nor even nearly related to them.One can tell the difference almost at a glance, for a spider always has eight legs and an insect never more than six.
    How many spiders are engaged in this work on our behalf? One authority on spiders made a census of the spiders in a grass field in the south of England, and he estimated that there were more than 2,250,000 in one acre; that is something like 6,000,000 spiders of different kinds on a football pitch.Spiders are busy for at least half the year in killing insects.It is impossible to make more than the wildest guess at how many they kill, but they are hungry creatures, not content with only three meals a day.It has been estimated that the weight of all the insects destroyed by spiders in Britain in one year would be greater than the total weight of all the human beings in the country.

    【新概念四 Lesson 3】 Matterhorn man马特霍恩山区人
    Modern alpinists try to climb mountains by a route which will give them good sport, and the more difficult it is, the more highly it is regarded.In the pioneering days, however, this was not the case at all.The early climbers were looking for the easiest way to the top, because the summit was the prize they sought, especially if it had never been attained before.It is true that during their explorations they often faced difficulties and dangers of the most perilous nature, equipped in a manner which would make a modern climber shudder at the thought, but they did not go out of their way to court such excitement.They had a single aim, a solitary goal---the top!
    It is hard for us to realize nowadays how difficult it was for the pioneers.Except for one or two places such as Zermatt and Chamonix, which had rapidly become popular, Alpine villages tended to be impoverished settlements cut off from civilization by the high mountains.Such inns as there were generally dirty and flea-ridden; the food simply local cheese accompanied by bread often twelve months old, all washed down with coarse wine.Often a valley boasted no inn at all, and climbers found shelter wherever they could---sometimes with the local priest (who was usually as poor as his parishioners), sometimes with shepherds or cheese-makers.Invariably the background was the same: dirt and poverty, and very uncomfortable.For men accustomed to eating seven-course dinners and sleeping between fine linen sheets at home, the change to the Alps must have been very hard indeed.

  • Siren蛋

    Siren蛋 (如何) 2016-11-24 11:15:48

    【新概念四 Lesson 6】 The sporting spirit体育的精神
    I am always amazed when I hear people saying that sport creates goodwill between the nations, and that if only the common peoples of the world could meet one another at football or cricket, they would have no inclination to meet on the battlefield.Even if one didn't know from concrete examples (the 1936 Olympic Games, for instance) that international sporting contests lead to orgies of hatred, one could deduce it fromgeneral principles.
    Nearly all the sports practiced nowadays are competitive.You play to win, and the game has little meaning unless you do your utmost to win.On the village green, where you pick up sides and no feeling of local patriotism is involved, it is possible to play simply for the fun and exercise: but as soon as the question of prestige arises, as soon as you feel that you and some larger unit will be disgraced if you lose, the most savage combative instincts are aroused.Anyone who has played even in a school football match knows this.At the international level, sport is frankly mimic warfare.But the significant thing is not the behavior of the players but the attitude of the spectators: and, behind the spectators, of the nations who work themselves into furies over these absurd contests, and seriously believe --- at any rate for short periods --- that running, jumping and kicking a ball are tests of national virtue.

    【新概念四 Lesson 15】 Secrecy in industry 工业中的秘密
    Two factors weigh heavily against the effectiveness of scientific research in industry. One is the general atmosphere of secrecy in which it is carried out, the other the lack of freedom of the individual research worker. In so far as any inquiry is a secret one, it naturally limits all those engaged in carrying it out from effective contact with their fellow scientists either in other countries or in universities, or even, often enough, in other departments of the same firm. The degree of secrecy naturally varies considerably. Some of the bigger firms are engaged in researches which are of such general and fundamental nature that it is a positive advantage to them not to keep them secret. Yet a great many processes depending on such research are sought for with complete secrecy until the stage at which patents can be taken out. Even more processes are never patented at all but kept as secret processes. This applies particularly to chemical industries, where chance discoveries play a much larger part than they do in physical and mechanical industries. Sometimes the secrecy goes to such an extent that the whole nature of the research cannot be mentioned. Many firms, for instance, have great difficulty in obtaining technical or scientific books from libraries because they are unwilling to have their names entered as having taken out such and such a book for fear the agents of other firms should be able to trace the kind of research they are likely to be undertaking.

    【新概念四 Lesson 16】 The modern city 现代城市
    In the organization of industrial life the influence of the factory upon the physiological and mental state of the workers has been completely neglected.Modern industry is based on the conception of the maximum production at lowest cost, in order that an individual or a group of individuals may earn as much money as possible.It has expanded without any idea of the true nature of the human beings who run the machines, and without giving any consideration to the effects produced on the individuals and on their descendants by the artificial mode of existence imposed by the factory.The great cities have been built with no regard for us.||The shape and dimensions of the skyscrapers depend entirely on the necessity of obtaining the maximum income per square foot of ground, and of offering to the tenants offices and apartments that please them.This caused the construction of gigantic buildings where too large masses of human beings are crowded together.Civilized men like such a way of living.While they enjoy the comfort and banal luxury of their dwelling, they do not realize that they are deprived of the necessities of life.The modern city consists of monstrous edifices and of dark, narrow streets full of petrol fumes and toxic gases, torn by the noise of the taxi-cabs, lorries and buses, and thronged ceaselessly by great crowds.||Obviously, it has not been planned for the good of its inhabitants. ||

    【新概念四 Lesson 22】 Knowledge and progress 知识和进步
    Why does the idea of progress loom so large in the modern world? Surely because progress of a particular kind is actually taking place around us and is becoming more and more manifest.Although mankind has undergone no general improvement in intelligence or morality, it has made extraordinary progress in the accumulation of knowledge.|| Knowledge began to increase as soon as the thoughts of one individual could be communicated to another by means of speech.With the invention of writing, a great advance was made,for knowledge could then be not only communicated but also stored.Libraries made education possible, and education in its turn added to libraries: the growth of knowledge followed a kind of compound-interest law,which was greatly enhanced by the invention of printing.All this was comparatively slow until, with the coming of science, the tempo was suddenly raised.Then knowledge began to be accumulated according to a systematic plan.The trickle became a stream; the stream has now become a torrent.|| Moreover, as soon as new knowledge is acquired, it is now turned to practical account.What is called‘modern civilization’is not the result of a balanced development of all man's nature, but of accumulated knowledge applied to practical life.The problem now facing humanity is: What is going to be done with all this knowledge? As is so often pointed out, knowledge is a two-edged weapon which can be used equally for good or evil.It is now being used indifferently for both.Could any spectacle, for instance, be more grimly whimsical than that of gunners using science to shatter men's bodies while, close at hand, surgeons use it to restore them? We have to ask ourselves very seriously what will happen if this twofold use of knowledge, with its ever-increasing power,continues.||

    【新概念四 Lesson 32】 Galileo reborn 伽利略的复生
    In his own lifetime Galileo was the centre of violent controversy; but the scientific dust has long since settled, and today we can see even his famous clash with the Inquisition in something like its proper perspective. But, in contrast, it is only in modern times that Galileo has become a problem child for historians of science.
    The old view of Galileo was delightfully uncomplicated. He was, above all, a man who experimented: who despised the prejudices and book learning of the Aristotelians, who put his questions to nature instead of to the ancients, and who drew his conclusions fearlessly. He had been the first to turn a telescope to the sky, and he had seen there evidence enough to overthrow Aristotle and Ptolemy together. He was the man who climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa and dropped various weights from the top, who rolled balls down inclined planes, and then generalized the results of his many experiments into the famous law of free fall.
    But a closer study of the evidence, supported by a deeper sense of the period, and particularly by a new consciousness of the philosophical undercurrents in the scientific revolution, has profoundly modified this view of Galileo. Today, although the old Galileo lives on in many popular writings, among historians of science a new and more sophisticated picture has emerged. At the same time our sympathy for Galileo's opponents has grown somewhat. His telescopic observations are justly immortal; they aroused great interest at the time, they had important theoretical consequences, and they provided a striking demonstration of the potentialities hidden in instruments and apparatus. But can we blame those who looked and failed to see what Galileo saw, if we remember that to use a telescope at the limit of its powers calls for long experience and intimate familiarity with one's instrument? Was the philosopher who refused to look through Galileo's telescope more culpable than those who alleged that the spiral nebulae observed with Lord Rosse's great telescope in the eighteen-forties were scratches left by the grinder? We can perhaps forgive those who said the moons of Jupiter were produced by Galileo's spyglass if we recall that in his day, as for centuries before, curved glass was the popular contrivance for producing not truth but illusion, untruth; and if a single curved glass would distort nature, how much more would a pair of them?

    【新概念四 Lesson 33】 Education 教育
    Education is one of the key words of our time. A man without an education, many of us believe, is an unfortunate victim of adverse circumstances, deprived of one of the greatest twentieth-century opportunities. Convinced of the importance of education, modern states ‘invest’ in institutions of learning to get back ‘interest’ in the form of a large group of enlightened young men and women who are potential leaders. Education, with its cycles of instruction so carefully worked out, punctuated by text-books----those purchasable wells of wisdom----what would civilization be like without its benefits?
    So much is certain: that we would have doctors and preachers, lawyers and defendants, marriages and births---but our spiritual outlook would be different. We would lay less stress on ‘facts and figures’ and more on a good memory, on applied psychology, and on the capacity of a man to get along with his fellow-citizens. If our educational system were fashioned after its bookless past we would have the most democratic form of ‘college’ imaginable. Among tribal people all knowledge inherited by tradition is shared by all; it is taught to every member of the tribe so that in this respect everybody is equally equipped for life.
    It is the ideal condition of the ‘equal start’ which only our most progressive forms of modern education try to regain. In primitive cultures the obligation to seek and to receive the traditional instruction is binding to all. There are no ‘illiterates’----if the term can be applied to peoples without a script----while our own compulsory school attendance became law in Germany in 1642, in France in 1806, and in England in 1876, and is still non-existent in a number of ‘civilized’ nations. This shows how long it was before we deemed it necessary to make sure that all our children could share in the knowledge accumulated by the ‘happy few’ during the past centuries.
    Education in the wilderness is not a matter of monetary means. All are entitled to an equal start. There is none of the hurry which, in our society, often hampers the full development of a growing personality. There, a child grows up under the ever-present attention of his parents; therefore the jungles and the savannahs know of no ‘juvenile delinquency’. No necessity of making a living away from home results in neglect of children, and no father is confronted with his inability to ‘buy’ an education for his child.

    【新概念四 Lesson 34】Adolescence 青春期
    Parents are often upset when their children praise the homes of their friends and regard it as a slur on their own cooking, or cleaning, or furniture, and often are foolish enough to let the adolescents see that they are annoyed. They may even accuse them of disloyalty, or make some spiteful remark about the friends' parents. Such a loss of dignity and descent into childish behavior on the part of the adults deeply shocks the adolescents, and makes them resolve that in future they will not talk to their parents about the places or people they visit. Before very long the parents will be complaining that the child is so secretive and never tells them anything, but they seldom realize that they have brought this on themselves.
    Disillusionment with the parents, however good and adequate they may be both as parents and as individuals, is to some degree inevitable. Most children have such a high ideal of their parents, unless the parents themselves have been unsatisfactory, that it can hardly hope to stand up to a realistic evaluation. Parents would be greatly surprised and deeply touched if they realized how much belief their children usually have in their character and infallibility, and how much this faith means to a child. If parents were prepared for this adolescent reaction, and realized that it was a sign that the child was growing up and developing valuable powers of observation and independent judgment, they would not be so hurt, and therefore would not drive the child into opposition by resenting and resisting it.
    The adolescent, with his passion for sincerity, always respects a parent who admits that he is wrong, or ignorant, or even that he has been unfair or unjust. What the child cannot forgive is the parents' refusal to admit these charges if the child knows them to be true.
    Victorian parents believed that they kept their dignity by retreating behind an unreasoning authoritarian attitude; in fact they did nothing of the kind, but children were then too cowed to let them know how they really felt. Today we tend to go to the other extreme, but on the whole this is a healthier attitude both for the child and the parent. It is always wiser and safer to face up to reality, however painful it may be at the moment.

    【新概念四 Lesson 36】 The cost of government 政府的开支
    If a nation is essentially disunited, it is left to the government to hold it together. This increases the expense of government, and reduces correspondingly the amount of economic resources that could be used for developing the country. And it should not be forgotten how small those resources are in a poor and backward country. Where the cost of government is high, resources for development are correspondingly low.
    This may be illustrated by comparing the position of a nation with that of a private business enterprise. An enterprise has to incur certain costs and expenses in order to stay in business. For our purposes, we are concerned only with one kind of cost---the cost of managing and administering the business. Such administrative overheads in a business are analogous to the cost of government in a nation. The administrative overheads of a business are low to the extent that everyone working in the business can be trusted to behave in a way that best promotes the interests of the firm. If they can each be trusted to take such responsibilities, and to exercise such initiative as falls within their sphere, then administrative overhead will be low. It will be low because it will be necessary to have only one man looking after each job, without having another man to check upon what he is doing, keep him in line, and report on him to someone else. But if no one can be trusted to act in a loyal and responsible manner towards his job, then the business will require armies of administrators, checkers, and foremen, and administrative overheads will rise correspondingly. As administrative overhead rises, so the earnings of the business, after meeting the expense of administration, will fall; and the business will have less money to distribute as dividends or invest directly in its future progress and development.
    It is precisely the same with a nation. To the extent that the people can be relied upon to behave in a loyal and responsible manner, the government does not require armies of police and civil servants to keep them in order. But if a nation is disunited, the government cannot be sure that the actions of the people will be in the interests of the nation; and it will have to watch, check, and control the people accordingly. A disunited nation therefore has to incur unduly high costs of government.

    【新概念四 Lesson 37】 The process of ageing 衰老过程
    At the age of twelve years, the human body is at its most vigorous. It has yet to reach its full size and strength, and its owner his or her full intelligence; but at this age the likelihood of death is least. Earlier, we were infants and young children, and consequently more vulnerable; later, we shall undergo a progressive loss of our vigour and resistance which, though imperceptible at first, will finally become so steep that we can live no longer, however well we look after ourselves, and however well society, and our doctors, look after us. This decline in vigour with the passing of time is called ageing. It is one of the most unpleasant discoveries which we all make that we must decline in this way, that if we escape wars, accidents and diseases we shall eventually ‘die of old age’, and that this happens at a rate which differs little from person to person, so that there are heavy odds in favour of our dying between the ages of sixty-five and eighty. Some of us will die sooner, a few will live longer----on into a ninth or tenth decade. But the chances are against it, and there is a virtual limit on how long we can hope to remain alive, however lucky and robust we are.
    Normal people tend to forget this process unless and until they are reminded of it. We are so familiar with the fact that man ages, that people have for years assumed that the process of losing vigour with time, of becoming more likely to die the older we get, was something self-evident, like the cooling of a hot kettle or the wearing-out of a pair of shoes. They have also assumed that all animals, and probably other organisms such as trees, or even the universe itself, must in the nature of things ‘wear out’. Most animals we commonly observe do in fact age as we do, if given the chance to live long enough; and mechanical systems like a wound watch, or the sun, do in fact run out of energy in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics (whether the whole universe does so is a moot point at present). But these are not analogous to what happens when man ages. A run-down watch is still a watch and can be rewound. An old watch, by contrast, becomes so worn and unreliable that it eventually is not worth mending. But a watch could never repair itself----it does not consist of living parts, only of metal, which wears away by friction. We could, at one time, repair ourselves----well enough, at least, to overcome all but the most instantly fatal illnesses and accidents. Between twelve and eighty years we gradually lose this power; an illness which at twelve would knock us over, at eighty can knock us out, and into our grave. If we could stay as vigorous as we are at twelve, it would take about 700 years for half of us to die, and another 700 for the survivors to be reduced by half again.

    【新概念四 Lesson 39】 What every writer wants 作家之所需
    I have known very few writers, but those I have known, and whom I respect, confess at once that they have little idea where they are going when they first set pen to paper. They have a character, perhaps two; they are in that condition of eager discomfort which passes for inspiration; all admit radical changes of destination once the journey has begun; one, to my certain knowledge, spent nine months on a novel about Kashmir, then reset the whole thing in the Scottish Highlands. I never heard of anyone making a ‘skeleton’, as we were taught at school. In the breaking and remaking, in the timing, interweaving, beginning afresh, the writer comes to discern things in his material which were not consciously in his mind when he began. This organic process, often leading to moments of extraordinary self-discovery, is of an indescribable fascination. A blurred image appears; he adds a brushstroke and another, and it is gone; but something was there, and he will not rest till he has captured it. Sometimes the yeast within a writer outlives a book he has written. I have heard of writers who read nothing but their own books; like adolescents they stand before the mirror, and still cannot fathom the exact outline of the vision before them. For the same reason, writers talk interminably about their own books, winkling out hidden meanings, super-imposing new ones, begging response from those around them. Of course a writer doing this is misunderstood: he might as well try to explain a crime or a love affair. He is also, incidentally, an unforgivable bore.
    This temptation to cover the distance between himself and the reader, to study his image in the sight of those who do not know him, can be his undoing: he has begun to write to please.
    A young English writer made the pertinent observation a year or two back that the talent goes into the first draft, and the art into the drafts that follow. For this reason also the writer, like any other artist, has no resting place, no crowd or movement in which he may take comfort, no judgment from outside which can replace the judgment from within. A writer makes order out of the anarchy of his heart; he submits himself to a more ruthless discipline than any critic dreamed of, and when he flirts with fame, he is taking time off from living with himself, from the search for what his world contains at its inmost point.

  • Siren蛋

    Siren蛋 (如何) 2016-11-24 11:15:57

    【新概念四 Lesson 44】 Patterns of culture 文化的模式
    Custom has not commonly been regarded as a subject of any great moment. The inner workings of our own brains we feel to be uniquely worthy of investigation, but custom, we have a way of thinking, is behavior at its most commonplace. As a matter of fact, it is the other way around. Traditional custom, taken the world over, is a mass of detailed behavior more astonishing than what any one person can ever evolve in individual actions, no matter how aberrant. Yet that is a rather trivial aspect of the matter. The fact of first-rate importance is the predominant role that custom plays in experience and in belief, and the very great varieties it may manifest.
    No man ever looks at the world with pristine eyes. He sees it edited by a definite set of customs and institutions and ways of thinking. Even in his philosophical probings he cannot go behind these stereotypes; his very concepts of the true and the false will still have reference to his particular traditional customs. John Dewey has said in all seriousness that the part played by custom in shaping the behavior of the individual, as against any way in which he can affect traditional custom, is as the proportion of the total vocabulary of his mother tongue against those words of his own baby talk that are taken up into the vernacular of his family. When one seriously studies the social orders that have had the opportunity to develop autonomously, the figure becomes no more than an exact and matter-of-fact observation. The life history of the individual is first and foremost an accommodation to the patterns and standards traditionally handed down in his community. From the moment of his birth, the customs into which he is born shape his experience and behavior. By the time he can talk, he is the little creature of his culture, and by the time he is grown and able to take part in its activities, its habits are his habits, its beliefs his beliefs, its impossibilities his impossibilities. Every child that is born into his group will share them with him, and no child born into one on the opposite side of the globe can ever achieve the thousandth part. There is no social problem it is more incumbent upon us to understand than this of the role of custom. Until we are intelligent as to its laws and varieties, the main complicating facts of human life must remain unintelligible.
    The study of custom can be profitable only after certain preliminary propositions have been accepted, and some of these propositions have been violently opposed. In the first place, any scientific study requires that there be no preferential weighting of one or another of the items in the series it selects for its consideration. In all the less controversial fields, like the study of cacti or termites or the nature of nebulae, the necessary method of study is to group the relevant material and to take note of all possible variant forms and conditions. In this way, we have learned all that we know of the laws of astronomy, or of the habits of the social insects, let us say. It is only in the study of man himself that the major social sciences have substituted the study of one local variation, that of Western civilization.
    Anthropology was by definition impossible, as long as these distinctions between ourselves and the primitive, ourselves and the barbarian, ourselves and the pagan, held sway over people's minds. It was necessary first to arrive at that degree of sophistication where we no longer set our own belief against our neighbor’s superstition. It was necessary to recognize that these institutions which are based on the same premises, let us say the supernatural, must be considered together, our own among the rest.

    【新概念四 Lesson 46】 Hobbies业余爱好
    A gifted American psychologist has said, ‘Worry is a spasm of the emotion; the mind catches hold of something and will not let it go.’ It is useless to argue with the mind in this condition. The stronger the will, the more futile the task. One can only gently insinuate something else into its convulsive grasp. And if this something else is rightly chosen, if it is really attended by the illumination of another field of interest, gradually, and often quite swiftly, the old undue grip relaxes and the process of recuperation and repair begins.
    The cultivation of a hobby and new forms of interest is therefore a policy of the first importance to a public man. But this is not a business that can be undertaken in a day or swiftly improvised by a mere command of the will. The growth of alternative mental interests is a long process. The seeds must be carefully chosen; they must fall on good ground; they must be sedulously tended, if the vivifying fruits are to be at hand when needed.
    To be really happy and really safe, one ought to have at least two or three hobbies, and they must all be real. It is no use starting late in life to say: ‘I will take an interest in this or that.’ Such an attempt only aggravates the strain of mental effort. A man may acquire great knowledge of topics unconnected with his daily work, and yet get hardly any benefit or relief. It is no use doing what you like; you have got to like what you do. Broadly speaking, human beings may be divided into three classes: those who are toiled to death, those who are worried to death, and those who are bored to death. It is no use offering the manual laborer, tired out with a hard week's sweat and effort, the chance of playing a game of football or baseball on Saturday afternoon. It is no use inviting the politician or the professional or business man, who has been working or worrying about serious things for six days, to work or worry about trifling things at the weekend.
    As for the unfortunate people who can command everything they want, who can gratify every caprice and lay their hands on almost every object of desire----for them a new pleasure, a new excitement is only an additional satiation. In vain they rush frantically round from place to place, trying to escape from avenging boredom by mere clatter and motion. For them discipline in one form or another is the most hopeful path.
    It may also be said that rational, industrious, useful human beings are divided into two classes: first, those whose work is work and whose pleasure is pleasure; and secondly, those whose work and pleasure are one. Of these the former are the majority. They have their compensations. The long hours in the office or the factory bring with them as their reward, not only the means of sustenance, but a keen appetite for pleasure even in its simplest and most modest forms. But Fortune's favored children belong to the second class.Their life is a natural harmony. For them the working hours are never long enough. Each day is a holiday, and ordinary holidays, when they come, are grudged as enforced interruptions in an absorbing vocation. Yet to both classes, the need of an alternative outlook, of a change of atmosphere, of a diversion of effort, is essential. Indeed, it may well be that those whose work is their pleasure are those who most need the means of banishing it at intervals from their minds.
    一个人要想真正感到幸福和平安,至少应有两三种爱好,而且都比较实际。到了晚年才开始说:“我会对这个或那个发生兴趣”,已没有用了。这种愿望只能加剧精神紧张。一个人可能会获得与其日常工作无关的某些课题的渊博知识,而没有从中得到什么实益或宽慰。干你所喜欢的事是没有用的,你得喜欢你所干的事。泛泛地说,人可以分为 3类:劳累至死的人、忧虑至死的人、无聊至死的人。对于流汗出力干了一周苦活的体力劳动者来说,让他们在星期六下午再踢足球或打垒球是不合适的;同样,对于为严肃的公务操劳或烦恼了6天的政界人士、专业技术人员、商人来说,在周末再让他们为琐事而动脑子和忧虑也是无益的。

    【新概念四 Lesson 47】The great escape大逃亡
    Economy is one powerful motive for camping, since after the initial outlay upon equipment, or through hiring it, the total expense can be far less than the cost of hotels. But, contrary to a popular assumption, it is far from being the only one, or even the greatest. The man who manoeuvres carelessly into his twenty pounds' worth of space at one of Europe's myriad permanent sites may find himself bumping a Bentley. More likely, Ford Escort will be hub to hub with Renault or Mercedes, but rarely with bicycles made for two.
    That the equipment of modern camping becomes yearly more sophisticated is an entertaining paradox for the cynic, a brighter promise for the hopeful traveller who has sworn to get away from it all. It also provides---and some student sociologist might care to base his thesis upon the phenomenon----an escape of another kind. The modern traveller is often a man who dislikes the Splendide and the Bellavista(都是旅馆名), not because he cannot afford, or shuns their material comforts, but because he is afraid of them. Affluent he may be, but he is by no means sure what to tip the doorman or the chambermaid. Master in his own house, he has little idea of when to say boo(呸,表不满) to a maitre d`hotel.(总管)对旅馆管事不满.
    From all such fears camping releases him. Granted, a snobbery of camping itself, based upon equipment and techniques, already exists; but it is of a kind that, if he meets it, he can readily understand and deal with. There is no superior ‘they’ in the shape of managements and hotel hierarchies to darken his holiday days.
    To such motives, yet another must be added. The contemporary phenomenon of car worship is to be explained not least by the sense of independence and freedom that ownership entails. To this pleasure camping gives an exquisite refinement.
    From one's own front door to home or foreign hills or sands and back again, everything is to hand. Not only are the means of arriving at the holiday paradise entirely within one's own command and keeping, but the means of escape from holiday hell (if the beach proves too crowded, the local weather too inclement) are there, outside----or, as likely, part of----the tent.
    Idealists have objected to the practice of camping, as to the package tour, that the traveller abroadthereby denies himself the opportunity of getting to know the people of the country visited. Insularity and self-containment, it is argued, go hand in hand. The opinion does not survive experience of a popular Continental camping place. Holiday hotels tend to cater for one nationality of visitors especially, sometimes exclusively. Camping sites, by contrast, are highly cosmopolitan. Granted, a preponderance of Germans is a characteristic that seems common to most Mediterranean sites; but as yet there is no overwhelmingly specialized patronage. Notices forbidding the open-air drying of clothes, or the use of water points for car washing, or those inviting ‘our camping friends’ to a dance or a boat trip are printed not only in French or Italian or Spanish, but also in English, German and Dutch. At meal times the odour of sauerkraut vies with that of garlic. The Frenchman's breakfast coffee competes with the Englishman's bacon and eggs.
    Whether the remarkable growth of organized camping means the eventual death of the more independent kind is hard to say. Municipalities naturally want to secure the campers'site fees and other custom. Police are wary of itinerants who cannot be traced to a recognized camp boundary or to four walls. But most probably it will all depend upon campers themselves: how many heath fires they cause; how much litter they leave; in short, whether or not they wholly alienate landowners and those who live in the countryside. Only good scouting is likely to preserve the freedoms so dear to the heart of the eternal Boy Scout.(童子军)


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