One Writer's Beginnings
1 I learned from the age of two or three that any room in our house, at any time of day, was there to read in, or to be read to. My mother read to me. She'd read to me in the big bedroom in the mornings, when we were in her rocker together, which ticked in rhythm as we rocked, as though we had a cricket accompanying the story. She'd read to me in the dining room on winter afternoons in front of the coal fire, with our cuckoo clock ending the story with "Cuckoo", and at night when I'd got in my own bed. I must have given her no peace. Sometimes she read to me in the kitchen while she sat churning, and the churning sobbed along with any story. It was my ambition to have her read to me while I churned; once she granted my wish, but she read off my story before I brought her butter. She was an expressive reader. When she was reading "Puss in Boots," for instance, it was impossible not to know that she distrusted all cats.
2 It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they came from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them —with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself. Still illiterate, I was ready for them, committed to all the reading I could give them.
3 Neither of my parents had come from homes that could afford to buy many books, but though it must have been something of a strain on his salary, as the youngest officer in a young insurance company, my father was all the while carefully selecting and ordering away for what he and Mother thought we children should grow up with. They bought first for the future .
4 Besides the bookcase in the living room, which was always called "the library", there were the encyclopedia tables and dictionary stand under windows in our dining room. Here to help us grow up arguing around the dining room table were the Unabridged Webster, the Columbia Encyclopedia, Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia, the Lincoln Library of Information, and later the Book of Knowledge. In "the library", inside the bookcase were books I could soon begin on —and I did, reading them all alike and as they came, straight down their rows, top shelf to bottom. My mother read secondarily for information; she sank as a hedonist into novels. She read Dickens in the spirit in which she would have eloped with him. The novels of her girlhood that had stayed on in her imagination, besides those of Dickens and Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson, were Jane Eyre, Trilby, The Woman in White, Green Mansions, King Solomon's Mines.
5 To both my parents I owe my early acquaintance with a beloved Mark Twain. There was a full set of Mark Twain and a short set of Ring Lardner in our bookcase, and those were the volumes that in time united us all, parents and children.
6 Reading everything that stood before me was how I came upon a worn old book that had belonged to my father as a child. It was called Sanford and Merton. Is there anyone left who recognizes it, I wonder? It is the famous moral tale written by
Thomas Day in the 1780s, but of him no mention is made on the title page of this book; here it is Sanford and Merton in Words of One Syllable by Mary Godolphin. Here are the rich boy and the poor boy and Mr. Barlow, their teacher and interlocutor, in long discourses alternating with dramatic scenes —anger and rescue allotted to the rich and the poor respectively. It ends with not one but two morals, both engraved on rings: "Do what you ought, come what may," and "If we would be great, we must first learn to be good."
7 This book was lacking its front cover, the back held on by strips of pasted paper, now turned golden, in several layers, and the pages stained, flecked, and tattered around the edges; its garish illustrations had come unattached but were preserved, laid in. I had the feeling even in my heedless childhood that this was the only book my father as a little boy had had of his own. He had held onto it, and might have gone to sleep on its coverless face: he had lost his mother when he was seven. My father had never made any mention to his own children of the book, but he had brought it along with him from Ohio to our house and shelved it in our bookcase.
8 My mother had brought from West Virginia that set of Dickens: those books looked sad, too —they had been through fire and water before I was born, she told me
, and there they were, lined up —as I later realized, waiting for me.
9 I was presented, from as early as I can remember, with books of my own, which appeared on my birthday and Christmas morning. Indeed, my parents could not give me books enough. They must have sacrificed to give me on my sixth or seventh birthday —it was after I became a reader for myself-the ten-volume set of Our Wonder World. These were beautifully made, heavy books I would lie down with on
the floor in front of the dining room hearth, and more often than the rest volume 5, Every Child's Story Book, was under my eyes. There were the fairy tales —Grimm, Andersen, the English, the French, "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves"; and there was Aesop and Reynard the Fox; there were the myths and legends, Robin Hood, King Arthur, and St. George and the Dragon, even the history of Joan of Arc; a whack of Pilgrim's Progress and a long piece of Gulliver. They all carried their classic illustrations. I located myself in these pages and could go straight to the stories and pictures I loved; very often "The Yellow Dwarf" was first choice, with Walter Crane's Yellow Dwarf in full color making his terrifying appearance flanked by turkeys. Now that volume is as worn and backless and hanging apart as my father's poor Sanford and Merton. One measure of my love for Our Wonder World was that for a long time I wondered if I would go through fire and water for it as my mother had done for Charles Dickens; and the only comfort was to think I could ask my mother to do it for me.
10 I believe I'm the only child I know of who grew up with this treasure in the house. I used to ask others, "Did you have Our Wonder World?" I'd have to tell them The Book of Knowledge could not hold a candle to it.
11 I live in gratitude to my parents for initiating me —as early as I begged for it, without keeping me waiting —into knowledge of the word, into reading and spelling, by way of the alphabet. They taught it to me at home in time for me to begin to read before starting to school.
12 Ever since I was first read to, then started reading to myself, there has never been
a line read that I didn't hear. As my eyes followed the sentence, a voice was saying it silently to me. It isn't my mother's voice, or the voice of any person I can identify, certainly not my own. It is human, but inward, and it is inwardly that I listen to it. It is to me the voice of the story or the poem itself. The cadence, whatever it is that asks you to believe, the feeling that resides in the printed word, reaches me through the reader-voice: I have supposed, but never found out, that this is the case with all readers —to read as listeners —and with all writers, to write as listeners. It may be part of the desire to write. The sound of what falls on the page begins the process of testing it for truth , for me. Whether I am right to trust so far I don't know. By now I don't know whether I could do either one, reading or writing, without the other.
13 My own words, when I am at work on a story, I hear too as they go, in the same voice that I hear when I read in books. When I write and the sound of it comes back to my ears, then I act to make my changes. I have always trusted this voice.
Let's Go Veggie!
1 If there was a single act that would improve your health, cut your risk of food-borne illnesses, and help preserve the environment and the welfare of millions of animals, would you do it?
2 The act I'm referring to is the choice you make every time you sit down to a meal.
3 More than a million Canadians have already acted: They have chosen to not eat meat. And the pace of change has been dramatic.
4 Vegetarian food sales are showing unparalleled growth. Especially popular are meat-free burgers and hot dogs, and the plant-based cuisines of India, China, Mexico, Italy and Japan.
5 Fuelling the shift toward vegetarianism have been the health recommendations of medical research. Study after study has uncovered the same basic truth: Plant foods lower your risk of chronic disease; animal foods increase it.
6 The American Dietetic Association says: "Scientific data suggest positive relationships between a vegetarian diet and reduced risk for several chronic degenerative diseases."
7 This past fall, after reviewing 4,500 studies on diet and cancer, the World Cancer Research Fund flatly stated: "We've been running the human biological engine on the wrong fuel."
8 This "wrong fuel" has helped boost the cost of degenerative disease in Canada to an estimated $400 billion a year, according to Bruce Holub, a professor of nutritional science at the University of Guelph.
9 Animal foods have serious nutritional drawbacks: They are devoid of fiber, contain far too much saturated fat and cholesterol, and may even carry traces of hormones, steroids and antibiotics. It makes little difference whether you eat beef, pork, chicken or fish.
10 Animal foods are also gaining notoriety as breeding grounds for E. coli, campylobacter and other bacteria that cause illness. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, six out of ten chickens are infected with salmonella. It's like playing Russian roulette with your health.
11 So why aren't governments doing anything about this? Unfortunately, they have bowed to pressure from powerful lobby groups such as the Beef Information Center, the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency and the Dairy Farmers of Canada. According to documents retrieved through the Freedom of Information Act, these groups forced changes to Canada's latest food guide before it was released in 1993.
12 This should come as no surprise: Even a minor reduction in recommended intakes of animal protein could cost these industries billions of dollars a year.
13 While health and food safety are compelling reasons for choosing a vegetarian lifestyle, there are also larger issues to consider. Animal-based agriculture is one of the most environmentally destructive industries on the face of the Earth.
健康和食品安全是选择素食生活方式令人信服的理由，但此外还有更为重大的因素要考虑。以饲养动物为基础的农业是世界上对环境破坏最严重的产业之一。14 Think for a moment abo
ut the vast resources required to raise, feed, shelter, transport, process and package the 500 million Canadian farm animals slaughtered each year. Water and energy are used at every step of the way. Alberta Agriculture calculates that it takes 10 to 20 times more energy to produce meat than to produce grain.
15 Less than a quarter of our agricultural land is used to feed people directly. The rest is devoted to grazing and growing food for animals. Ecosystems of forest, wetland and grassland have been decimated to fuel the demand for land. Using so much land heightens topsoil loss, the use of harsh fertilizers and pesticides, and the need for irrigation water from dammed rivers. If people can shift away from meat, much of this land could be converted back to wilderness.
16 The problem is that animals are inefficient at converting plants to edible flesh. It takes, for example, 8.4 kilograms of grain to produce one kilogram of pork, the U. S. government estimates.
17 After putting so many resources into animals, what do we get out? Manure —at
a rate of over 10,000 kilograms per second in Canada alone, according to the government. Environment Canada says cattle excrete 40 kilograms of manure for every kilogram of edible beef. A large egg factory can produce 50 to 100 tonnes of waste per week, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture estimates.
18 And where does it go? In the 1992 Ontario Groundwater Survey, 43 per cent of tested wells were contaminated with agricultural run-off containing fecal coliform bacteria and nitrates. Earlier this month, charges were laid against a large Alberta feedlot operator for dumping 30 million litres of cattle manure into the Bow River, "killing everything in its
path," as a news story described it.
19 And then there is methane, a primary contributing gas in global warming and ozone layer depletion. Excluding natural sources, 27 per cent of Canada's and 20 per cent of the world's methane comes from livestock.
20 John Robbins, author of the Pulitzer prize-nominated book Diet for a New America (Group West), said it best when he stated: "Eating lower on the food chain is perhaps the most potent single act we can take to halt the destruction of our environment and preserve our natural resources."
21 Our environment also includes the animals killed for their meat. It has become an accepted fact that today's factory-farmed animals live short, miserable, unnatural lives.
22 As part of my research at the University of Waterloo, I toured some of the country's largest "processing" plants. The experience has left me with recurring nightmares.
23 I saw "stubborn" cows being beaten and squealing pigs chased around the killing floor with electric calipers.
24 I looked on in utter shock as a cow missed the stun gun and was hoisted fully conscious upside down by its hind leg and cut to pieces, thrashing until its last breath.
25 Noticing my shock, the foreman remarked: "Who cares? They're going to die anyway."
26 Because it can cost hundreds of dollars per minute to stop the conveyor line, animal welfare comes second to profit. Over 150,000 animals are "processed" every hour of every working day in Canada, according to Agriculture Canada.
27 The picture gets uglier still. En route to slaughter, farm animals may legally spend anywhere from 36 to 72 hours without food, water or rest. They're not even afforded the "luxury" of temperature controlled trucks in extreme summer heat or sub-zero cold.
28 Agriculture Canada has estimated that more than 3 million Canadian farm animals die slow and painful deaths en route to slaughter each year.
29 I've also visited typical Canadian farms. Gone are the days when piglets snorted and roosters strutted their way about the barnyard. Most of today's modernized farms have long, windowless sheds in which animals live like prisoners their entire lives. I have seen chickens crammed four to a cage, nursing pigs separated from their young by iron bars and veal calves confined to crates so narrow they couldn't turn around. Few of these animals ever experience sunlight or fresh air —and most of their natural urges are denied.
30 Although it is difficult to face these harsh realities, it is even more difficult to ignore them. Three times a day, you make a decision that not only affects the quality of your life, but the rest of the living world. We hold in our knives and forks the power to change this world.
31 Consider the words of Albert Einstein: "Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as the Evolution to a vegetarian diet."
32 Bon appetite.
The Truth About Lying
1. I've been wanting to write on
a subject that intrigues and challenges me: the subject of lying. I've found it very difficult to do. Everyone I've talked to has a quite intense and personal but often rather intolerant point of view about what we can —and can never never —tell lies about. I've finally reached the conclusion that I can't present any ultimate conclusions, for too many people would promptly disagree. Instead, I'd like to present a series of moral puzzles, all concerned with lying. I'll tell you what I think about them. Do you agree?
2. Most of the people I've talked with say that they find social lying acceptable
and necessary. They think it's the civilized way for folks to behave. Without these little white lies, they say, our relationships would be short and brutish and nasty. It's arrogant, they say, to insist on being so incorruptible and so brave that you cause other people unnecessary embarrassment or pain by compulsively assailing them with your honesty. I basically agree. What about you?
3. Will you say to people, when it simply isn't true, "I like your new hairdo," "You're looking much better," "it's so nice to see you," "I had a wonderful time"?
4. Will you praise hideous presents and homely kids?
5. Will you decline invitations with "We're busy that night —so sorry we can't come," when the truth is you'd rather stay home than dine with the So-and-sos?
6. And even though, as I do, you
may prefer the polite evasion of "You really cooked up a storm "instead of "The soup" —which tastes like warmed-over coffee —"is wonderful," will you, if you must, proclaim it wonderful?
7. There's one man I know who absolutely refuses to tell social lies. "I can't play that game," he says; "I'm simply not made that way." And his answer to the argument that saying nice things to someone doesn't cost anything is, "Yes, it does —it destroys your credibility." Now, he won't, unsolicited, offer his views on the painting you just bought, but you don't ask his frank opinion unless you want frank, and his silence at those moments when the rest of us liars are muttering, "Isn't it lovely?" is, for the most part, eloquent enough. My friend does not indulge in what he calls "flattery, false praise and mellifluous comments." When others tell fibs he will not go along. He says that social lying
is lying, that little white lies are still lies. And he feels that telling lies is morally wrong. What about you?
8. Many people tell peace-keeping lies: lies designed to avoid irritation or argument, lies designed to shelter the liar from possible blame or pain; lies (or so it is rationalized) designed to keep trouble at bay without hurting anyone.
9. I tell these lies at times, and yet I always feel they're wrong. I understand why we tell them, but still they feel wrong. And whenever I lie so that someone won't disapprove of me or think less of me or holler at me, I feel I'm a bit of a coward, I feel I'm dodging responsibility, I feel...guilty. What about you?
10. Do you, when you're late for a date because you overslept, say that you're late because you got caught in a traffic jam?
11. Do you, when you forget to call a friend, say that you called several times but the line was busy?
12. Do you, when you didn't remember that it was your father's birthday, say that his present must be delayed in the mail?
13. And when you're planning a weekend in New York City and you're not in the mood to visit your mother, who lives there, do you conceal —with a lie, if you must —the fact that you'll be in New York? Or do you have the courage —or is it the cruelty? —to say, "I'll be in New York, but sorry —I
don't plan on seeing you"?
14. (Dave and his wife Elaine have two quite different points of view on this very subject. He calls her a coward. She says she's being wise. He says she must assert her right to visit New York sometimes and not see her mother. To which she always patiently replies: "Why should we have useless fights? My mother's too old to change. We get along much better when I lie to her.") (戴夫和妻子伊莱恩正是在这个问题上有两种颇不相同的观点。他称她为懦夫。她说自己处理这事是明智的。他说她应该维护自己有的时候去纽约但不去看望母亲的权利。对此她总是耐心地回答说：“我们何必无谓地争吵呢？我母亲年纪大了，不会改了。我对她说个谎，我们相处得就更好。”)
15. Finally, do you keep the peace by telling your husband lies on the subject of money? Do you reduce what you really paid for your shoes? And in general do you find yourself ready, willing and able to lie to him when you make absurd mistakes or lose or break things?
16. "I used to have a romantic idea that part of intimacy was confessing every dumb thing that you did to your husband. But after a couple of years of that," says Laura, "have I changed my mind!"
17. And having changed her mind, she finds herself telling peacekeeping lies. And yes,
I tell them too. What about you?
18. Protective lies are lies folks tell —often quite serious lies —because they're convinced that the truth would be too damaging. They lie because they feel there are certain human values that supersede the wrong of having lied. They lie, not for personal gain, but because they believe it's for the good of the person they're lying to. They lie to those they love, to those who trust them most of all, on the grounds that breaking this trust is justified.
19. They may lie to their children on money or marital matters.
20. They may lie to the dying about the state of their health.
21. They may lie to their closest friend because the truth about her talents or son or psyche would be —or so they insist —utterly devastating.
22. I sometimes tell such lies, but I'm aware that it's quite presumptuous to claim I know what's best for others to know. That's called playing God . That's called manipulation and control. And we never can be sure, once we start to juggle lies, just where they'll land, exactly where they'll roll.
23. And furthermore, we may find ourselves lying in order to back up the lies that are backing up the lie we initially told.
24. And furthermore —let's be honest —if conditions were reversed, we certainly wouldn't want anyone lying to us.
25. Yet, having said all that, I
still believe that there are times when protective lies must nonetheless be told. What about you?
26. Another group of lies are trust-keeping lies, lies that involve triangulation, with A (that's you) telling lies to B on behalf of C (whose trust you'd promised to keep). Most people concede that once you've agreed not to betray a friend's confidence, you can't betray it, even if you must lie. But I've talked with people who don't want you telling them anything that they might be called on to lie about.
27. "I don't tell lies for myself," says Fran, "and I don't want to have to tell them for other people." Which means, she agrees, that if
her best friend is having an affair, she absolutely doesn't want to know about it. “我不为自己说谎，”弗兰说，“我也不愿为别人说谎。”她承认，这就意味着如果她最好的朋友有风流韵事的话，她绝对不想知道。
28. "Are you saying," her best friend asks, "that you'd betray me?"
29. Fran is very pained but very adamant. "I wouldn't want to betray you, so…don't tell me anything about it."
30. Fran's best friend is shocked. What about you?
31. Do you believe you can have close friends if you're not prepared to receive their deepest secrets?
32. Do you believe you must always lie for your friends?
33. Do you believe, if your friend tells a secret that turns out to be quite immoral or illegal, that once you've promised to keep it, you must keep it?
34. And what if your friend were your boss —if you were perhaps one of the President's men —would you betray or lie for him over, say, Watergate?
35. As you can see, these issues get terribly sticky.
36. It's my belief that once we've promised to
keep a trust, we must tell lies to keep it. I also believe that we can't tell Watergate lies. And if these two statements strike you as quite contradictory, you're right —they're quite contradictory. But for now they're the best I can do. What about you?
37. There are those who have no talent for lying.
38. "Over the years, I tried to lie," a friend of mine explained, "but I always got found out and I always got punished. I guess I gave myself away because I feel guilty about any kind of lying. It looks as if I'm stuck with telling the truth."
39. For those of us, however, who are good at telling lies, for those of us who lie and don't get caught, the question of whether or not to lie can be a hard and serious moral problem. I liked the remark of a friend of mine who said, "I'm willing to lie. But just as a last resort —the truth's always better."
40. "Because," he explained, "though others may completely accept the lie I'm telling, I don't."
41. I tend to feel that way too.
42. What about you?
Take This Fish and Look at It
1 It was more than fifteen years ago that I entered the laboratory of Professor Agassiz, and told him I had enrolled my name in the Scientific School as a student of natural history . He asked me a few questions about my object in coming, my antecedents generally, the mode in which I afterwards proposed to use the knowledge I might acquire, and, finally, whether I wished to study any special branch. To the latter I replied that while I wished to be well grounded in all departments of zoology, I purposed to devote myself especially to insects.
2 "When do you wish to begin?" he asked.
3 "Now," I replied.
4 This seemed to please him, and with an energetic "Very well!" he reached from a shelf a huge jar of specimens in yellow alcohol. "Take this fish," he said, "and look at it; we call it a haemulon; by and by I will ask
what you have seen."
5 With that he left me, but in a moment returned with explicit instructions as to the care of the object entrusted to me.
6 "No man is fit to be a naturalist," said he, "who does not know how to take care of specimens."
7 I was to keep the fish before me in a tin tray, and occasionally moisten the surface with alcohol from the jar, always taking care to replace the stopper tightly. Those were not the days of ground-glass stoppers and elegantly shaped exhibition jars; all the old students will recall the huge neckless glass bottles with their leaky, wax-besmeared corks, half eaten by insects, and begrimed with cellar dust. Entomology was a cleaner science than ichthyology, but the example of the Professor, who had unhesitatingly plunged to the bottom of the jar to produce the fish, was infectious; and though this alcohol had a "very ancient and fishlike smell,"
I really dared not show any aversion within these sacred precincts, and treated the alcohol as though it were pure water. Still I was conscious of a passing feeling of disappointment, for gazing at a fish did not commend itself to an ardent entomologist. My friends at home, too, were annoyed when they discovered that no amount of eau-de-Cologne would drown the perfume which haunted me like a shadow.
8 In ten minutes I had seen all that could be seen in that fish, and started in search of the Professor —who had, however, left the Museum; and when I returned, after lingering over some of the odd animals stored in the upper apartment, my specimen was dry all over. I dashed the fluid over the fish as if to resuscitate the beast from a fainting fit, and looked with anxiety for a return of the normal sloppy appearance. This little excitement over, nothing was to be done but to return to a steadfast gaze at my mute companion. Half an hour passed —an hour —another hour; the fish
began to look loathsome. I turned it over and around; looked it in the face —ghastly; from behind, beneath, above, sideways, at three-quarters' view —just as ghastly. I was in despair; at an early hour I concluded that lunch was necessary; so, with infinite relief, the fish was carefully replaced in the jar, and for an hour I was free.
9 On my return, I learned that Professor Agassiz had been at the Museum, but had gone, and would not return for several hours. My fellow-students were too busy to be disturbed by continued conversation. Slowly I drew forth that hideous fish, and with a feeling of desperation again looked at it. I might not use a magnifying-glass; instruments of all kinds were interdicted. My two hands, my two eyes, and the fish: it seemed a most limited field. I pushed my finger down its throat to feel how sharp the teeth were. I began to count the scales in the different rows, until I was convinced that was nonsense. At last a happy thought struck me —I would draw the fish; and with surprise I began to discover new features in the creature. Just then the Professor returned.
10 "That is right," said he; "a pencil is one of the best of eyes. I am glad to notice, too, that you keep your specimen wet, and your bottle corked." 对了，”他说，“笔的目光也是最敏锐的。而且，令人高兴的是，我还注意到你的标本没有干，瓶子也是塞住的。”
11 With these encouraging words, he added: "Well, what is it like?"
12 He listened attentively to my brief rehearsal of the structure of parts whose names were still unknown to me: the fringed gill-arches and movable operculum; the pores of the head, fleshy lips and lidless eyes; the lateral line, the spinous fins and forked tail; the compressed and arched body. When I finished, he waited as if
expecting more, and then, with an air of disappointment:
13 "You have not looked very carefully; why," he continued more earnestly, "you haven't even seen one of the most conspicuous features of the animal, which is plainly before your eyes as the fish itself; look again, look again!" and he left me to my misery.
14 I was piqued; I was mortified. Still more of that wretched fish! But now I set myself to my task with a will, and discovered one new thing after another, until I saw how just the Professor's criticism had been. The afternoon passed quickly; and when, towards its close, the Professor inquired:
15 "Do you see it yet?"
16 "No," I replied, "I am certain I do not, but I see how little I saw before."
17 "That is next best," said he, earnestly, "but I won't hear you now; put away your fish and go home; perhaps you will be ready with a better answer in the morning. I will examine you before you look at the fish."
18 This was disconcerting. Not only must I think of my fish all night, studying, without the object before me, what this unknown but most visible feature might be; but also, without reviewing my discoveries, I must give an exact account of them the next day.
I had a bad memory; so I walked home by Charles River in a distracted state, with my two perplexities.
19 The cordial greeting from the Professor the next morning was reassuring; here