Another place, another state

As for the part of the structure of the work, we will talk about it here. In discussing the plot structure and the relationship between the characters, we actually also discussed some of the ideas and concepts that Muzier presented in the novel. According to Jacobson’s classification, poetic language is metaphorical—compressing meaning together, while the narrative of the novel is metaphorical—moving one meaning to another. Therefore, when we discuss the structure of the novel, we can’t discuss the meaning it produces. However, modern German novels (especially Muzil) usually pay attention to the structure, character characterization and plot arrangement of the works. They are not eager to pursue the typical and fullness of the character, the fascination of the plot, and the style. Beautiful and tidy. Therefore, the structure of “People without Personality”, although important, is nothing but a huge container and skeleton. The purpose of the author is to load additional fillers in the gaps of this container or skeleton. If we borrow the concept of Lansheim, the so-called “muscle” part can be seen as a philosophical essay including discussion, speech, and consciousness activities. Since the thoughts and consciousness fragments involved in this part are very rich and complex, it is almost impossible for us to discuss them one by one. Therefore, we can only choose the main points, merge them slightly, and make a simple combing and comment from the following aspects.

When we discuss the content of these thought essays, we need to pay special attention to it: in “The person without personality”, many thoughts and feelings are stated through the words of the characters, and between the words and the shaping of these characters It constitutes some asymmetry. In the past, the creed of “what people say” is not applicable to Muzier. That is to say, in Muzier’s pen, stupid people will also say something very insightful. The despicable villain sometimes expresses noble opinions. A confused person is entirely likely to publish a logically strict statement. Very rich and controversial remarks. The personal character, behavior, and image are not always required to be consistent with their language. This “asymmetry” discourse narrative strategy is not the invention of Muzier. The Russian writer Dostoevsky is a more typical example.

(1) Knowledge and discourse

Once, General Sturm visited the National Library. When he found out that he had to read the 3.5 million books in the library, it would take at least 10,000 years to be shocked. At this moment, he realized the absurdity of the world and sent such a feeling:

This world is like a big scam. (p. 424)

With regard to the proliferation of books and the fear of human beings in the sea of ​​knowledge, in the 61st section of the second part of the novel, the author has this argument:

The full understanding of the process of human beings from the bloody blood to the flight of heaven is not more than the proof of a complete reading room. A bookcase as big as the earth can’t fit everything left. Knowledge. (p. 226)

According to Arnheim, in Germany at the time, more than 100 books were published every day, and more than 1,000 publications were created each year. “Everyone is writing, and everyone is doing whatever they want. No one wants to be responsible for the whole because of his own use of ideas.” (p. 522)

Muzil believes that the production of knowledge is an automated production. Our process of pursuing, disseminating and producing knowledge is rooted in the capitalist mode of production and strictly follows the beliefs and logic of capital expansion. The greed of human pursuit of knowledge is highly consistent with the greed of pursuing interests. Therefore, the pursuit of knowledge is fundamentally derived from “a pitiful desire to save” and “a kind of inner capitalism that is arrogant.” (p. 288)

In Muzier’s view, our life is not composed of human behavior, but the discourse system composed of opinions, opinions and essays, opinions and opposing oppositions. composition. That is to say, excess knowledge produces discourses that lose objects, and such discourses create new fashions, codes of conduct, and moral creeds that in turn guide or suppress human behavior. It can also be said that the world we live in today is a discourse world with a surplus of world views. Then in such a world, a person who has no knowledge at all and is not controlled by words will become the “barbarians” defined by Rousseau. In “The Man without Personality,” this barbarian is the murderer Mosbrugger. The author used such a metaphor to describe the real and cultural situation that Mosbrugge encountered:

He is like an uninhabited coral island, nestled in the sea of ​​an endless essay that invisibly surrounds him. (p. 494)

The author’s attitude towards the character of Mosbruggle is extremely complicated. On the one hand, because this character is far from being developed by a fast-developing society, and surrounded by an incomprehensible discourse world on an isolated island, his situation is naturally sympathetic; on the other hand, Mosbruggel is a “savage” “People” also represents a kind of simple and precious “original power.” This “original power” that is not polluted by the modern discourse system, in Muzil’s view, is the foundation of existence. Therefore, Muzier will also unconsciously express his envy of Mosbruggel’s situation. We know that in modern times, this “original power” has gained a brand new name, which is called “natural.” In the works of the English poet Wordsworth, the Japanese writer Shiga Zhishen and even the Chinese writer Shen Congwen, we can often see this kind of songs and praises that do not cover up the “original power”. Rousseau was the time to express his dislike of “new literature” and found the concept of “barbarians.” In his view, it seems that only “barbarians” can establish “autonomy of consciousness” from slavery and control of social discourse, which is usually made up of the poor, the oppressed, the powerful and the primitive. Composition. Rousseau once said:

Barbarians live their own lives, and people in society only know that they live in the opinions of others. They can also say that their views on the meaning of their existence are derived from the judgment of others. a

In Trillin’s view, “A whole 19th century, one of the main intentions of art was to evoke the meaning of existence in the hearts of the audience and to summon the primitive power that was weakened by highly developed culture.” b

By the way, in the Chinese literature and history tradition, it seems that the impetuousness of the dialogue or the literary rhetoric has always been vigilant. For example, the debate surrounding the so-called “quality distinction” and “name and defense” has never stopped in history. In the middle and late Ming Dynasty, with the gradual expansion of the scale of the economy, with the growing popularity of the words “indecent wandering”, the ideological circles also appeared the voice of “puppet” and “anti-puppet”. Wang Yangming even bluntly regarded “virtualism wins and practiced decline” as the sign and root of social unrest, and clearly stated that “authors” have an unshirkable responsibility for social chaos: “The world is not cured, only because of the text. Winning and dying. People see their own words, novelty is high, and they are praised by dazzling customs. They use the cleverness of the world to paint the eyes and ears of the world, so that the world can succumb to the literary words, so as to know the world. The fact that this is still true and the anti-Pak is still awkward is something that is written by all.”c

In addition, in “People without Personality”, Muzier has not forgotten to remind readers that the rules, ethics, laws and social organization systems generated by knowledge and discourse can also kill people. In “Quiet Don River”, Sholokhov quoted Lenin’s words to describe the power of modern social organizations – the so-called modern social organization, which can ask two unidentified farmers in Germany and Russia to rush To an unfamiliar area (such as Poland), squatting in the trench to shoot at each other. Hemingway’s famous novel “The Killer” attempts to explain to us how the rules kill people in big cities in peacetime. The increasingly close war of Muzier is clearly the product of words, ideas and rules.

In addition, Muzil also described another concept or rule of murder, which is the death caused by a traffic accident. I think Muzil is the first person to seriously think about such issues.

In the first section of the novel, the author took a lot of space to describe a traffic accident. An eyewitness of the accident made such a comment: According to US statistics, the number of people killed by cars in the country reached 190,000 a year, causing 450,000 injuries. (Page 7) In another episode, the author has made a similar estimate: compared to traditional carriages, Vienna’s modern fast-moving means of death is more than the number of people in India who have been eaten by tigers in history. need more. (p. 226) If we count the number of deaths in all traffic accidents worldwide after the car was invented, it would be a terrifying number – at least not less than a death in World War I or World War II. The sum of the numbers. In Muzier, traffic accidents are not just a simple social issue, but an important metaphor. In other words, Muzier provides us with an alternative perspective for reflecting on modern knowledge discourse. Muzil described such a huge contrast: whether the murderer Mosbrugge should be executed, causing a protracted and fierce debate (based on legal or humane considerations) by the national legal system and the intellectual community, while at the same time However, everyone is blind to the death of traffic accidents that may occur every minute on the street (the ethic of having a victim based on civilization or progress). So, what kind of social operating mechanism is it, in the name of progress or humanity, created such a contrast that we are used to?

As far as the history of fiction is concerned, the reflection, questioning and distrust of the knowledge system actually began in the period of Flaubert. In “Bourwar and Baiju”, the protagonist in Flaubert’s pen is in the old castle in the country to find a book that is strong and can withstand scrutiny. He is studying books and literature. What makes them painful and disappointed is that the various kinds of knowledge contradict each other and oppose each other. This contradiction and opposition make them feel at a loss. The object that Muzier questioned, in addition to the “knowledge” based on books and literature, points more to everyday social and cultural discourses – this is composed of speech, opinions and voices that are circulated everywhere. Speech system. In Muzier’s view, there is an anti-proposition behind any proposition. Any kind of opinion will form an objection. Any kind of value or cultural position will simultaneously call for the appearance of its opposite. The arguments and confrontations of various opinions will neither lead to a consistent consensus, nor will they form the synergy of a unified movement of the social community, nor will it produce the final truth. In a sense, opinions are just opinions. Its production depends on the complex interactive movement between social trends and personal situations. It is often instinctive or even arbitrary. Under the control of such a discourse system, the individual spirit and soul face a serious crisis, and history itself has lost its direction. Muzil did not rush to announce the end of history like Fushan, and he was more willing to describe the path of history as an arbitrary path:

(Historical road) is not a billiard road. When it is launched, it runs along a certain trajectory, but like a cloud road, like a road for people walking through the streets. This road is sometimes deflected by a shadow, sometimes by a group of people or some kind of strange decoration on the front of the house, and finally comes to a place where it has neither seen nor reached. (p. 333)

When we talked about the American scholar Trilling’s “Hone and True,” we discussed how the word “personal” appeared. In traditional society, people are people, not “persons.” The emergence of the word “individual” must have a premise that the concept of “social” has been widely used. Simply put, the concept of “individual” comes with the concept of “society.” However, once an “person” appears, it is always in a state of suspension or alienation. This is because the concept of “society” actually implies another concept, that is, “others.” Existentialism The so-called “others are hell” is not as many people have misunderstood. In the competition for survival, the existence of “others” has hindered the development of “I”. Philosophically, this famous saying should be understood in this way: because of the decline of tradition, individuals are thrown to the opposite side of society, surrounded by others, and individual behavior and meaning of existence must be identified by others; The opinions, opinions and discourses of others are affecting, restricting and threatening to “I” all the time. In explaining the famous saying of Sartre, Trilling further pointed out: “All the others, the entire public with varying degrees of sensibility and education, constitute this accredited false, proficient territory, they make modern The world’s monks and creatures are nothing. They blame us for our situation, and we become members of each other.” d I think, this is also David Lissman’s book in The Lonely Crowd, Today’s Society It is summarized as the reason for “a society guided by others.”

Then, when the opinions and discourses of others evolve into a cliché that is full of society and breed rapidly, how should personal autonomy be maintained? I think this is one of the core issues that Muzier is concerned about. In addition, Muzil also warned that the arrogance of injustice, the cliché of people who can’t find directions, and the innocent arguments of who can’t convince anyone, if it lasts for a long time, the “unjustness of violence” will debut again. . (p. 549) This is because people are tamed by culture, but it is an illusion. Fundamentally, people are always simple and rude animals that are blessed by the original force. When all kinds of opinions are not disputed for a long time, when people are tired, they will start to call for “rescue” of violence. In this sense, Muzier predicted the emergence of the Nazis and the outbreak of the Second World War. What is amazing is that “The person without personality” has not finished writing yet, and the war of the Second World War has swept across Europe. Therefore, Coetze sees “The Person without Personality” as a novel that “has been overtaken by history during writing.”

In general, the absurdity and guilt of the individual’s existence revealed by Muzier is in line with Kafka. The difference is that Muzil’s object of reflection and criticism not only points to the state machine and social system represented by the social legal system, but also points to the discourse itself.

Needless to say, in the world we live in today, the productive capacity of knowledge, the speed of dissemination of words, and the coverage are far from being comparable to those of Muzier’s era. Today, the annual book publishing of a country in China The amount has reached more than 250,000. Muzil accurately foresees the arrival of the “public opinion era” controlled by the news media and the publishing industry. He asserted: “The future poets and philosophers will emerge from the path of journalism!” (p. 597) However, when the opinions of “others” are rushed to us through the mobile client, we are again How to judge, which are useful knowledge or information, which are just sneak peeks to defraud traffic or click-through rate, which are just secretions of various emotions? Therefore, rereading “People without Personality” today is still very meaningful for us to deeply understand and understand the cultural environment of today’s society.

(2) Science and ethics

Muzil received good natural science training in his early years. When he described the real world, he not only used a lot of scientific and engineering concepts and vocabulary, but also intentionally or unintentionally misappropriated special rhetoric similar to “scientific papers”. To a certain extent, this work gives a calm and objective observational perspective, a speculative “phenomenological” style, and a special style of narration and discussion. So, how does Muzil view the role of science itself, especially science, in today’s society?

In the 102nd section of the novel, when Ulrich and the extremist Hans Sepp argued, he seriously reminded the other party: the invention of the aircraft and the vacuum cleaner, the maid’s bath room, both hygienic and comfortable The emergence of modern citizen apartments, of course, means the progress of the times. Muzil does not deny that science has brought many benefits to mankind. However, Ulrich further believes that because the progress of science is always reflected in the part of life, and our life is generally meaningless, so this kind of progress also fundamentally means a regression. (p. 448)

Although the opinion of the protagonist Ulrich is not entirely representative of the author’s position, we can also roughly glimpse Muzil’s basic attitude towards modern science from this debate.

In Ulrich’s view, the development of science brings us a small convenience in life, which may not be worth mentioning at all compared with the enormous irreparable damage caused by science to the basic survival of human beings. Ulrich sees science as a mixture of magic, fairy tales and religion. Of course, it is also a new ethical or ideological myth.

It is said to be magic, not only because science is a highly intellectual level of game ritual, but as science’s understanding of the world advances, scientific conclusions always have strange “flips” at regular intervals. Things that are reversed will be constantly re-inverted – in the name of science, common sense is declared a fallacy; the sin’s sewage will suddenly turn into a clear mountain creek; something that has always been considered wrong and despised by us One day will become a new idea that we are honored. Moreover, science has different views from ordinary people on all issues that it considers to be its own supervisor.

To say that science is a fairy tale is because the creation of science is rooted in the ancient dreams and desires of human beings, just like the boots that can take seven steps in one step, and the first to nurture the imagination of the car. (p. 33) But the problem is that once science is produced, it moves forward on its own, leaving humans far behind themselves. When human beings become slaves to machines, they will fall into endless worries, but science itself has never been carefree. It has always been as beautiful as a fairy tale world. Science has its own character and is not affected by human desires. As the world reaches its end, science is still happy to provide us with the last paper on the study of formic acid. (p. 229)

To say that science is religion is because science reconstructs the rationality and morality of the contemporary world. It destroys traditional beliefs and creates new beliefs. This belief is more rigorous, courageous, and flexible than traditional beliefs, and it is infiltrated and supported by the rigorous and sharp mathematical logic of a knife. (page 33)

In “The Person without Personality”, on the scientific issue, Muzier published many painful and pessimistic arguments through Ulrich, a “private scholar” who is proficient in mathematics. However, in general, Muzil’s resentment and dislike of science is mainly directed at the abuse of science, and the principles and ethics of science attempt to cover the arrogance of all spheres of life. As Nietzsche once pointed out, doubting the meaning of religion does not mean giving humanity to science. Science can neither direct us to live or indicate the road. “People can only come in handy if they know where they want to go.” f. Like Nietzsche, Lev Tolstoy, and Max Weber, Muzil struggled to oppose the transfer of human soul to scientific jurisdiction. The spiritual life of man is given to science to take care of.

Ulrich used diamonds as a metaphor to discuss the important difference between “scientific environment” and “spiritual environment” with Diotima: a piece of diamond, whether it is produced in Africa or Asia, is always a piece of diamond. Because all the diamond components are the same, the difference in origin or environment can be neglected. But if the object we are discussing is not diamond, but human, then the situation will be reversed. We can of course say that both Asians and Africans are human beings, but because of the differences in natural, social and cultural environments, their personalities will be very different. Here, environmental factors (including religion, culture, and customs) become the most important factor in understanding people. If we only understand people in the sense of “components” (ie science), then all differences, individuality and uniqueness will be erased. And when all these things that indicate personality and their belongings are removed, people will eventually lose themselves and nothing will remain. (pp. 529-530)

Sadly, we live today in an era in which science and ethics dominate everything. Therefore, in Muzier’s view, the speciality and difference space of human beings are becoming smaller and smaller. With the birth of “ordinary people”, the “people” in the true sense are disappearing. In Heidegger’s concept, the so-called “ordinary people” is actually a “no such person” because everyone is a person. Ulrich once said to his friend Walter:

People have become another look. It is no longer a good person to face a perfect world, but something humanity moves in a general nutrient solution. (page 201)

This is a very famous statement. The German writer Wickbaum, who lived in the same era as Muzil, has a similar description in the novel “The Man in the Restaurant” (1931):

If you go out for a trip… sit in the hall for an hour and take a closer look, you will find that these people have no face. They are nothing but imitations of each other. They are all dead, but they don’t even know…h

Muzil believes that the rationality and morality established in accordance with the general principles of science is such a nutrient solution. This kind of morality is not prepared for “persons with individuality”, it is just an average. This average establishes a new time chain for the past, present and future. We are not actually living, but we are worrying about or raising money for a problematic future. People are more like being sentenced to life imprisonment, being held in a detention center and doing preparatory work for the future without real end. And as the years go by, the feeling of the necessity of existence in his life has slowly exhausted himself like an oil lamp. (p. 548)

Ulrich understands the morality of today’s world:

The morality that has been passed on to us is like this, as if people sent us outside on a rope that was swaying over an abyss… and didn’t give us any other ideas, just persuaded us: Just straighten yours. body. (p. 715)

This ultimately led to a paradox: everything is ethical, and only morality itself is not ethical. (p. 960) Just because the overall state of morality is so desperate, Ulrich has turned his attention to its opposite, immoral. Ulrich found that “only in the bad things that have not been completely worn out like good things, there is still some moral vitality” (p. 766). In short, immoral things have more than moral things. vitality. In this case, trying to extract the power of ascending or descending action from immoral things becomes a moral act. Thus, Ulrich issued his declaration of action:

Just because reality no longer makes sense, people must regain unreality. (p. 532)

Here, I have to say a few more words.

We must not simply interpret the character Ulrich as an anti-moral person, a person who advocates irrationality, or a person with anti-social personality. If we understand the meaning of this character in this way, it will fall into a bigger mistake. In fact, Ulrich tried to establish the principle of life, but in order to separate himself from the average of the unbearable reality, keep a certain distance from the real world. Although Ulrich’s meditation on the moral level has gone far enough, his basic behavior is generally in line with the social ethics. His life creed seems to be: The more people despise the world, the more they should be clean.

(3) About personality

Almost in 1941, the representative of the Frankfurt School, Adorno, published an important paper: “On Pop Music.” I have recommended this article to my classmates on many occasions. In my opinion, the core issue that Adorno wants to discuss is actually not very relevant to music creation. He wants to reveal the general state of the cultural industry through the production process of “pop music”. From the production and dissemination of “pop music”, Adorno discovered two important characteristics of contemporary pop culture: standardization and hypocritical personalization. First, the production and production of popular culture follows the standardization process of modern industry – from the overall design, music structure and rhythm arrangement, to music typology, all standardized. Even when musicians struggle to avoid standardization, it is still standardized. In Adorno’s view, the production of music is not much different from the production of cars on the assembly line. Secondly, the so-called musical personality does not attempt to present the special relationship between the composer’s personal feelings and the world (such as Beethoven), but is only devoted to stimulating the senses of the audience through various decorative style changes, thus guiding and Satisfy consumption. Or strong or resentful emotions can be created as you wish by simply changing rhythms, melodies, and harmony. Therefore, the personality of pop music is false – just like a car, without any adjustment or renewal of the engine, it can still make it look a certain personality by changing the style of the phoenix tail of the car. In order to stimulate the public’s desire for consumption.

The reason why I want to mention the article “On Pop Music” is because Muzil’s view of “personality” and basic ideas have a striking similarity with Adorno.

In “The Person without Personality,” Muzier talks about “personality” in many places. Although the author’s problems are too detailed and complicated, and the descriptions in many places are contradictory, in general, Muzier’s views on the issue of “personality” are still clear and unified. I believe that the personality that Muzier explores has broad and narrow meanings.

From a broad perspective, Muzier’s personality has obvious derogatory colors. It mainly means social differences, cultural particularities, and the freedom of individual behavior, and the so-called uniformity and universality. Sex and average form an opposite. Although Muzier does not use the concept of “standardization”, his views are very close to Adorno: the cultural and moral “average” rooted in modern science and industrial systems, the cultural and human personality. At the same time, there is a great threat and destruction.

From a narrow point of view, Muzier’s “personality” refers to a certain social individual, a certain personal color that is manifested by the difference in personality, taste, identity and behavior. At this level, Muzil uses this concept in the sense of criticism or irony. That is to say, like Adorno, he believes that the “personality” presented in today’s society is hypocritical, cowardly, unrecognizable, and even ridiculous. The term “personality” here includes the following contents in addition to the “personal color” mentioned above:

1. Utilitarian achievements of utilitarianism.

2. The degree of integration between the individual and the real society.

3. The recognizability of the personal identity shown in the process of integration into society.

It is because of the true sense of personality that it becomes as rare as the hen’s teeth, and the hypocritical personality will prevail and accelerate reproduction. Whether it is Diotima, Bona, such a “cultural woman” with strong cultural vanity, or the maid, Laxier, and the little black slave Soliman, they are spared no effort to pursue and establish their own personality. Even the rough man like General Sturm is also showing his own distinctive cultural taste through the collection of small knives, in order to win the praise of the knowledge. When pursuing “personality” becomes a fashion, when European girls are bent on shortening their hair and skirts, “Christian morality of 1,920 years, millions of deceased people who have a shocking war and A German poetry forest that sizzles the shame of a woman can not delay it for a moment.” (p. 376)

If we want to pick out a “most individual” character in the whole novel, this character is of course not Ahnheim. Muzil was shaped by placing Arnheim on the opposite side of Ulrich. Arnheim combines the identity of bankers, adventurers, writers and scholars, and has achieved everyone’s praise in the secular society, whether it is power, money, or his knowledge, cultural cultivation, and temperament. Enheim is a model of this era. He is in the center of the world’s dazzling stage, looking forward to self-improvement, and between the gestures, will “naturally” show extraordinary temperament, and all kinds of “personality” that can be recognized at a glance.

However, even the personality radiated from such a character is still weak. Because the most important foundation that supports his personality is nothing else, it is money. In other words, the dazzling, individualistic radiance of Arnheim’s body is nothing but the refraction of money:

For a rich man, “Every human nose will inevitably smell a soft, independent, accustomed to giving orders, getting used to picking fat, scorning the world, and constantly aware of the power of responsibility. From the rise of high and stable income, people can see from the image of such a person that it is nurtured by a selection of world powers and updated every day. Money is on the surface of this breath, like liquid juice. Loop like a flower.” (p. 386)

Muzil realized that in today’s society, money has become the most important prerequisite for personality. There is such a word that is very popular in today’s Chinese society, that is, “willfulness.” In the past, the term “willfulness” was often used to describe the “disbelief” that a beloved child showed, and now it means some kind of corrupt “freedom” in the adult world. If this freedom is also an enviable “personality”, then this personality is invariably subject to the blessing of money. And if there is a problem with the individual’s financial situation, this personality will fade like a flower. (p. 386)

Contrary to Arnheim, Ulrich has no secular achievements, even a fixed and legitimate career, and deliberately keeps a distance from social life. There is no identifiable and worthy identity in his body, so he is a “person without personality.”

However, compared with many people who pursue “false personality”, Ulrich’s body has some precious and uncertain “authenticity.” Here, Muzier hints at such a strange dialectic: in today’s society, it is only possible to finally become a true personality by turning itself into a person without personality.

Therefore, we can also say that in “The person without personality”, Ulrich is actually the most individual person.

(4) emotional problems

I don’t know if you are reading the novel “The person without personality”, have you noticed a strange phenomenon: every woman who appears in the novel has some kind of implicit or obvious love for Ulrich. There are almost no exceptions. Leotina, Bona, Diotima, Clarisse, Geda, and even Datima’s little maid, Laxi, are all the same.

But Ulrich has no interest in all these women.

Leotina’s greed for food made Ulrich disgusted. When Ulrich was with Leotina, there seemed to be only one thing to do, that is, to feed her constantly; Ulri The emotions of Xi and Bona were only maintained for a short period of fourteen days. Her over-exciting desire also made Ulrich fear; then, what about the beautiful salon host Diotima? When Diotima tried to tease his emotions many times, Ulrich often forced her to use a ambiguous indifference; his association with Nietzsche Clarisse was both sly and pure, but in vain let the latter’s husband Walter burned in the fire; he tried to go to bed with Geda, but not out of love and desire, but was inspired by a kind of moth-like self-sacrificing spirit – he tried to pass the Geda In love, the poor little girl was saved from the encirclement of a group of rogue suitors. Unfortunately, he did not succeed in the end.

So, how should we understand the relationship between Ulrich and women, and how to understand Ulrich’s adventures in the emotional world? We simply describe Ulrich as a cynical hunter, or, conversely, understand him as a “silentist” who is indifferent to women’s natural indifference and loses the ability to love. It is all wrong.

Does anyone remember that there is such a woman in the novel, her existence, in the heart of Ulrich, igniting a passionate flaming flame, so that Ulrich is deeply immersed in it, completely unable to extricate himself. Who is this woman? Do you still have an impression?

It’s quite right, it’s the lady of the major.

In the fourth volume of The Dreamland, Plato illustrates the three components of the human soul that are related to each other and independent through the mouth of Socrates: reason, desire and passion. Reason and desire are easier to understand, so what is passion? For example, in Lev Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina, the emotional relationship between Anna and Karensky is a passion. If we simply understand the relationship between the two as a general affair or extramarital affair, it can only be said that we did not understand Tolstoy’s novel at all. In a sense, Tolstoy merely rewrote the theme of “Serbia” in “Odyssey”.

The same is true between Ulrich and the lady of the major – it is not a desire, but a more ancient passion that does not accept the control of intelligence. When they took the horse out for a walk, the passion burst like a lightning. In an instant, the Queen’s wife felt that she had “a fire from her wrist to her knees” and she was shocked. The two almost fell on the moss on the side of the road and kissed each other frantically. (p. 114)

Regrettably, such blazing emotions just flashed through in Ulrich’s life. Afterwards, Ulrich came alone to an island on the beach and quietly chewed his emotional memories with the lady of the major. The last thing that saved him from this passion was not reason, but a deep perception of the indiscriminate order in the world. Like Nietzsche, he realized a deeper feeling that exists in the “heart of the world”, just like the “love” of two trees – precisely because their lives are close at the roots, and thus between each other No need to talk about love. Needless to say, Ulrich’s understanding of this sublimated emotion has a strong mysticism.

We roughly summarize it. Ulrich did not show any interest in the women around him, apparently because he gained important revelation from the ardent emotional experience that the Queen’s wife gave him. If we say that we divide the emotional world between men and women into two parts, reality and non-reality, there is no doubt that what Ulrich is pursuing is the “unrealistic” feeling. Because he realized that the emotional world of reality has been polluted by too many desires, vanity, and utilitarian purposes, he tried to turn to unreality and hope to find his own place of life from unrealistic emotions.

Having said that, I suddenly remembered one thing.

This semester, I am also attending classes for undergraduates. Not long ago I recommended a novel to them, which is Andre Gide’s masterpiece “Narrow Door”. Several students found me after class and complained to me in unison that they could not understand this novel. I went home at night and thought about it for a long time. I even found out the work and looked at it again. I didn’t think there was any difficulty. I couldn’t understand why the students couldn’t understand. Later, when I talked to my friends about this, his words finally made me realize that our generation was born before and after the Cultural Revolution. When we were in adolescence, the exchanges between men and women were still strictly restricted. The so-called love is nothing but an illusion that exists in consciousness and has strong unreality. To put it simply, our concept of love, with its own political and moral constraints, has been nurtured by mysticism. Therefore, when we read the transcendental “non-realistic love” described in Narrow Gate, we feel empathy. But today’s situation is completely different. In a society that is too utilitarian, our sense of “metaphysical” love, the mysterious charm of the “unrealized love” may have gradually lost its ability to perceive.

Finally, let’s talk about the relationship between Ulrich and Agat.

In the first and second parts of the novel, as readers, we hardly know that Ulrich has a sister. In the third part, because of the sudden death of his father, the brothers and sisters returned to their hometown X City from different places, and the author had to trace and supplement the existence of Agat. For Ulrich, because the brothers and sisters are separated from each other all the year round, there is no position of his sister in his consciousness. Therefore, when they first met in the father’s old house, the sister gave him the feeling of being strange and novel – she was like another woman who was not related to Ulrich.

Let us first look at the situation when the brothers and sisters just met:

Ulrich wears a large soft wool casual dress, almost ugly costumes, black and gray checkered patterns, cuffs, ankles and waist. Perhaps because of chance or some mysterious arrangement, Ulrich was surprised to find that the tall, blond-haired sister had almost the same costume as herself: she was wearing a gray and ochre checkered striped suit. It is also like a costume for a male harlequin. It is no wonder that Agart immediately showed his joy when he saw Ulrich. He said to his brother, “I don’t know, we are twins!” (p. 625)

This description of the costumes of the characters has extremely rich hints, and we must not skip them easily. First of all, although Agaite is a beautiful and charming woman, she appeared in front of her brother as a “male ugly” dress. In other words, the author consciously blurs the gender of Agat here. Secondly, when the brothers and sisters met for the first time after many years of separation, they wore the same style of clothes, which also showed that their two words and deeds had a mysterious consistency. By supplementing the narrative, we know that in the game of childhood, the brother and sister In the end, they share some secrets that are unknown. Finally, just because they are not twins, the word “twin” also has a special meaning.

Next, the sister’s male dress, let Ulrich think of the “God” and “Goddess” in the original religion, he guessed that in ancient times, everyone was a hermaphrodite “two sexes” – big Naturally, giving men a nipple and giving women a residue of male roots may be some kind of proof. (p. 638) Whether Ulrich’s “androgynous theory” has historical evolution or biological basis, we don’t have to go deeper, but here we need to pay attention to the author’s image in shaping Agat. In the beginning, she was presented as Ulrich’s dreamy “other self.” For Ulrich, the image of sister Agath is the image of the self reflected in the mirror. The so-called masculine attire and the vagueness of gender, the connection of souls or minds, and the illusion of twins are all emphasis on this image.

After Ulrich saw the sister, he had such an inner activity:

He felt that from there he went to the door and walked towards him. He himself: just more beautiful than him, and immersed in a radiance, he never saw his image in such glory. For the first time, he was stunned by the idea that his sister was a dreamy reappearance and variation of himself. (p. 643)

With the above analysis, we can understand why we can’t simply understand the “cohabitation” life of the two brothers and sisters in Vienna as incest. For Ulrich, the sister is the half that she lost, and it is the bridge connecting herself to the secular society. With the presence of a younger sister, he can reshape the integrity of everyday life and gain the same dignity as ordinary people. Cohabitation with my sister is also a hidden challenge and protest against existing morality. The isolated island established by the brothers and sisters in the city, both in life and outside of life, symbolizes the “another place” that Ulrich has been searching for for many years. The relationship he and his sister built in cohabitation is a mixture of metaphysical love, brotherhood, and confidant friendship, as well as purification and transcendence.

In Ulrich’s imagination and design, cohabitation with his sister is a philosophical survival experiment, at least in terms of reason, it is consistent with Ulrich’s consistent motivation to create a “non-real life.” Of course, we can’t say that there is absolutely no ambiguous element in Ulrich’s consciousness, but his assumptions are generally clear and rational, and the purpose is to transcend utilitarian love or gender relations and establish A new life that is as beautiful as a fairy tale, like spring water flowing into the valley from all directions. (p. 878)

But the problem is that Agath is completely different from his brother in the imagination of “cohabitation.”

I don’t know if you have noticed two details in the novel: First, Agath modified his father’s will and tried to cut off his connection with her husband Hagoel forever, that is, for the future with his brother. In the cohabitation life in Vienna, she made a long-term plan, leaving no retreat for herself. Second, in addition to his abhorrent husband, Haggier, Agath also has a sincere first love lover. For many years, she has been quietly in love with him and cherished his portrait. However, when she left for Vienna to meet her brother, she frowned. The last time she looked at the young lover, then threw the wooden box with his portrait into the sundries and used a small box of poison. Replaced its location. This seems to unmistakably convey to us a message that Agath is either living with his brother or committing suicide. For her, death is nothing else, it is the mascot and amulet of life.

On the surface, Agath is happy, gentle and cheerful, and has a natural balance in life, but in fact the darkness of her inner world is much deeper than Ulrich, in the face of her own emotional choices. At the time, it was more decisive, brave and more unscrupulous than Ulrich. Since she can face the father’s body to engage in mischief – she put a stocking ribbon on her thigh into her father’s pocket, indicating that the custom and morality of her binding is minimal. In fact, she treats her brother as a true lover and confidant. In this respect, the work is handled quite concealed. In addition, the new family she and her brother formed was only a rebellious choice after being tired of marriage life. For the feasibility of this lifestyle, Agath did not think deeply. This laid the foundation for the irreconcilable contradiction that occurred when the two lived together in Vienna.

When Agath and Ulrich broke out in the first conflict, Agat left home alone and went to a deserted cemetery on the outskirts of the city. A stranger named Lintner gave her such advice:

The marriage system itself is a kind of regulation that human beings as a whole, in order to prevent the loss of control of passion and to prevent self-unreliability. The refusal of this regulation and the overall harm is greater than the disappointment of the body we are very afraid of. (pp. 909-910)

In Flaubert’s “Bourwar and Baiju”, two simple-minded scribes, after unexpectedly getting a huge legacy, left the noisy and chaotic Paris and went to the distant countryside to create more ethical new life. But they ended up failing. At the end of the novel, these two physically and mentally exhausted young people returned to Paris again. They came to the department where they had resigned, and asked to be allowed to go back to work as a scribe. In “The Man without Personality”, whether it is Ulrich or Agath, their dreams and life experiments are also doomed to failure. As for saying, Agart will eventually return to her husband, Hucklewell, like Buval and Bai Juzhen. Because the novel is not finished, we are not here to guess.

6. Summary

We are here to end the explanation of Robert Muzier’s “People without Personality”. Next, we have to make a summary of the three-week course.

The image of the author presented in The Man Without Personality is both a prophet and a diagnostician. He examines the modern social life in the long history of human development, reveals the dual dilemmas faced by traditional cultural values ​​and the values ​​of modern liberal culture; his operational mechanism, culture and knowledge discourse, and spirituality The state of mind, moral ethics, and the state of personal emotions have been meticulously dissected and analyzed in an attempt to make the pulse of the times as a whole. He described in detail the series of serious divisions or confrontations that are taking place in the world: the opposition between modernity and tradition, the opposition between culture and nature, the opposition between self and others, the opposition between reality and non-reality, and the opposition between mathematics and mysticism. The opposition between morality and anti-morality, the opposition between personality and social discourse, and so on.

If we want to sum up a holistic and representative thing from the things that Muzier wrote, I want to find a constant symbol from the various social phenomena he tries to dissect. I think this thing or The symbol is the modern city. That is to say, behind these various kinds of opposites, there is still a more important opposition, that is, the opposition between the city and the country. Although Muzier hardly wrote the village from the front, when he described the modern city of Vienna, the human civilization that has lasted for thousands of years, as an important road sign or reference, has always been looming in his words. So we can also say that Muzil is actually a diagnostician in modern cities.

We know that the iconic event that the urban population surpassed the rural population for the first time in human history occurred in the mid-19th century and was not far from the era of Muzier. We simply compare Muzier’s Vienna with Baudel’s Paris, Engels or Thomas Hardy’s Manchester and London, and understand why “God created the country and the people created the town. “i will become a buzzword of that era; why the recording, writing, and accusation of the city will be the focus of modernity issues of that era. Regarding this aspect of the issue, I think I will have the opportunity to discuss it in detail later.

What we need to pay special attention to is that Muzil’s depiction of modern cities has also developed a new set of narrative aesthetics. He did not, like Dickens, reproduce the urban landscape, streets and landscapes in an all-round way, trying to find the typical characteristics of the city and expressing it, but adopting a phenomenological approach. Specifically, Muzil never directly describes the urban landscape. His concern is how the city’s houses, cars, shop windows, and church spires act on people’s consciousness, intuition, and senses. How can they be ignored by observers? Captured; how the city’s flow of people merged into the sum of the faces, merged into the arms, thighs, and teeth of the army, walking on the street without specific goals. At this point, Muzier and Proust are in the same way. The difference is that Proust’s phenomenology is closer to the structure of poetry, while Muzier is more dependent on the abstraction of mathematics and natural science.

Speaking of phenomenology, some students still don’t understand this concept. I will add a little more here. To put it simply, Kant’s “self-contained” or “self-contained”, those things that have not yet been fully recognized by us and have not yet appeared, are phenomena. For phenomenologists, nothing is what they are, they just look like this. Just because what we know is often submerged in the vast ocean of discourse, concept, prejudice, and worldview construction, “returning to the thing itself” has become a motto of phenomenology. If we must define the concept of “phenomenon”, I think it refers to the content of the thing itself and how it is presented. For example, what a teacup is actually, how to define it, the phenomenon learns to put it in parentheses and ignore it. What is more concerned with phenomenology is the intuition that our consciousness generates when it stays on the teacup. Undoubtedly, such a way of observing and treating things has had a profound impact on Muzil and Proust. Everyone can read the story of “The person without personality” or “Reminiscence like water”.

In general, Muzil, as a prophet, is a pessimist. When he issued an early warning to the future, he was worried about the fate of mankind. Muzier predicted the abuse of modern media power – as the main carrier and producer of discourse, it will play a more important role in the future social life. He predicted the rise of feminism around the world and warned that the “difficult times” of men have begun. He asserts that the outbreak of war is only due to the desire for simple violence when people lose patience in the face of various words; and the reason why the revolution occurs is because of the cohesiveness of the false satisfaction that once supported the soul. It is a constant wear and tear.

Muzil regards the entire era of modernity as a transitional era of short or long. Correspondingly, he believes that the end of mankind may come two thousand years later, or it may come early in the day after tomorrow. The reason why the last days come after two thousand years is because we usually can’t see the horizon that indicates the disaster, so we mistakenly believe that we still have time to get lost. He said that the last day may come the day after tomorrow because the horizon of disaster is not static. It sometimes suddenly flows and rushes toward us. In a sense, Muzier saw the outbreak of the Second World War when he was alive, and saw the disaster that rushed toward us.

It is precisely because Muzil regards the development trend of the entire modern society as a process of “continuing to fall”, and this process will not end because of the end of the two world wars. In a sense, our era today may not have come out of Muzier’s sight. If the sentence is not appropriate, we have often felt like this in the recent period. The current world situation, especially in Europe, and the era of Muzier’s life—specifically, the First World War In the era before and after the outbreak, there was always similarity in one way or another. Therefore, the unparalleled metaphor and cautionary meaning of the “person without personality” in this worldly work will not be degraded over time.

Muzier is an honest person. His pessimistic warnings about the future era did not prevent him from finding a way out for individuals of this era. Of course, Muzil is not a revolutionary or a social reformist – he has never tried to find ways to transform reality and put it into action. However, Muzier is not a nihilist who passively avoids the world, nor is it a cynical extremist. His hero, Ulrich, has been looking for a way to save his soul. From the opposite side of culture and knowledge, he found the “original power”; from the opposite side of mathematics, he found mysticism; from the opposite side of reality, he discovered the unrealistic alienation state; from the opposite of social morality, he saw the non-moral place. Implied vitality, thus establishing its own values ​​and philosophy of life.

Specifically, this philosophy of life is devoted to finding “another place” or “another state” in a disgusting real world: neither integrating into life nor fleeing life; Among them, it is outside the reality. Rescuing the individual soul and spirit is strictly limited to the level of “self-consciousness”. By adjusting the distance between the self and the world, by changing the way the self perceives the world, it gains some kind of “negative freedom” with mysticism. . But we must see that the place that Ulrich is looking for is both a place and a place. It is a place because it really pinpoints and preserves our long-term dream of “freedom”; it is not a place because it is nothing but a utopia of personal inner consciousness and in a certain sense exacerbates the individual and the world. Split. Therefore, we can also regard Ulrich’s philosophy of life as a kind of “retreat” that separates individuals from the real world. Fundamentally speaking, there is no way out. For example, once you leave your father’s financial support, once you lose the rich legacy that your father left behind, Ulrich’s way of living and detaching from life will immediately encounter problems. I can’t keep it for a day.

However, then again, Ulrich is obsessed with establishing such a philosophy of life, and there is no reason. At least in Muzier’s view, the various crises that emerged in the real world were first and foremost a cultural crisis. It is not caused by pure class contradictions, ethnic contradictions and social injustices, but is derived from the utilitarian discourse and cultural concepts of modern society. It poses a great threat to “personality” and “freedom” and makes individuals survive. The goal was lost overall. Then, logically speaking, to eliminate this crisis, we cannot rely solely on revolution and social improvement, but must pass cultural presupposition and pass the premise of “self-awareness” or “epiphany”. Therefore, the epistemology of Muzier or Ulrich still has a certain significance today.

Finally, we also recognize that the metaphysical epistemology established by The Man without Personality is an integral part, or a link, of the history of modern and contemporary thought. Muzier’s cultural philosophy is in line with Nietzsche, Kant and Schopenhauer, and there is also a clear spiritual connection with Husserl, the early Lukacs, Benjamin, Heidegger and others. In terms of literature, Muzier’s writing practice, with Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Kafka, Baudelaire, Thomas Mann, Canetti, Proust, Coronation Others, whether it is worldview, methodology, or rhetoric, have important inheritance and commonality.

Of course, in a sense, we can also view Muzil’s “person without personality” as a response to the American writer Melville’s “Wall Street Story” – I am referring to Melville’s The short story “The scribe Pattobi.” Melville, as we know it, is the author of the great marine novel Beluga. However, his “Batto”, which was published in 1853, has made a name for himself in recent years, which has attracted more and more attention and discussion in the literary, philosophical and ideological circles. Bartobe has also become a proper noun and is used to refer to specific groups of people who do not cooperate, reject or voluntarily conceal. j

It can also be said that the Bartoby written by Melville is the first “person without personality” in the history of literature; and Ulrich, who is written by Muzier, is a typical “Bartobi”. . Bartobe’s famous mantra “I would prefer not to” is like a ghost that once reverberated in the sky of history and now lingers in every dark corner of the real world.