“The key to life is to accept the other”
In October 2002, Canadian writer Yann Martel (1963—) won the Booker Prize, the highest honor in the British literary world, for his novel “The Fantasy Drifting of Young Pi”. In 2016, his “Mountains of Portugal” was published. Mattel has been conceiving this work since university. Its content spanned from 1904 to 1981 and 1977, and it combines three seemingly unrelated but overlapping stories. The first story takes place during a journey. The 20th-century museum administrator Thomas and the 17th-century priest Ulysses use a diary to search for and think about faith; the second story revolves around the pathologist Osseby The dialogue between Otto and the two Marias began. The theme of the dialogue was faith and reason, which was full of magical colors. The third story tells the story of the Canadian MP Peter and the chimpanzee Otto who came to live together in Tuizelo, a high mountain in Portugal. experience.
Compared with “The Fantasy Drifting of Young Pi”, which “shows the great power of storytelling,” Mattel uses magical brushstrokes and allegories in “The Mountains of Portugal” to show human race, belief, blood, etc. and life. Thinking of related issues, behind the plot of polyphony, there are surging inquiries hidden. The protagonists of the three stories all lost their homeland and fell into a state of uncertain identity, but they never stopped searching and questioning.
Identity and Homeland
For the important concept of post-colonial research-“identity”, post-colonial theorist Homi Baba believes that it is in a constant repetitive change. This repetition occurs in the “gap” (or called cultural “Border”), which is the third space created by the collision of two cultures.
“The Fantasy Drifting of Young Pi”
The purpose of Baba’s point of view is to deconstruct the dualistic discourse system based on the western center. As Said, a literary theorist and critic, pointed out, “The reason why the East is said to be’Orientated’ is not only because it was subconsciously identified as’Oriental’ by the European public in the 19th century in a familiar way. And because it can be made-or domesticated-‘Oriental'”. In the third story of “The Mountains of Portugal”, the orangutan Otto was branded with the code name “65” by humans, which implies that the West has alienated the East in the form of digital codes, thereby incorporating the East into its own narrative. Such a state is destined to be within the narrative logic of the oppressed party. Therefore, it is impossible to break the dualistic discourse system by promoting the status of the oppressed. Therefore, the third space in dynamic and negotiation has become the focus of Baba’s attention. Therefore, the “other” has become the key to deconstruction and reshaping of identity.
In “Mountains of Portugal”, the three protagonists are in the third space formed by the opposition of different forces: Thomas contradicts the two attitudes of piety and disdain in the face of faith, and Osebio is in the balance between faith and reason. Persevering in the middle, Peter looks for the opposition between humans and animals. The narrative contexts of the three stories are overlapped, and the clues of “rebuilding the homeland” running through them emerge. When the protagonists in the third space are shaping their identities and constructing their homes, the orangutans appear as “absolute others”: in the story of Thomas and Osebio, it is the deconstruction of faith and reason, thus making the body The root cause of the homelessness of the people in it; in Peter’s story, it is the key to re-processing the relationship between the self and the other, and finally rebuilding the identity and homeland of the people in it.
Modern Civilized Homeland and the Fragmentation of Identity
In the first story, Martel used a lot of pen and ink to depict the colonial-colored decorations in a colonial merchant’s home. Animal organs became props to advertise the prosperity and prominence of the colonial sovereign state. The species that is destined to die” is pointedly referred to as “the bearer of national nostalgia”, which exposes the essence of the confrontation between human civilization and natural civilization, that is, civilization conquers barbarism through barbaric means, and ultimately leads to the destruction of the original homeland. , The people living in it are homeless.
When the colonial people lost their homeland, did the self-proclaimed Western colonists own their homeland? the answer is negative. The reason is that the support of the colonial homeland is faith and reason, and thus formed the fortress of western centrism. But in the eyes of colonial scholars, this support is extremely fragile. Just as Mattel deconstructed from within faith and reason in “The Mountains of Portugal”, he dispelled the power support used by modern civilization to construct homes, and expressed people’s confusion in the uncertainty of their identities.
“The Mountains of Portugal”
Homeless Faith: Thomas and Ulises journey
Thomas initial death will be the third in the space between the faith of piety and disdain, of the Thomas family homes to maintain blood burst in the hands of the spouse’s death can not be removed After his cross, Thomas believed that God was the chief culprit in destroying his homeland, and realized that “in the face of faith, there are only extreme attitudes, either convinced or scorned”. So he decided to provoke the authority of God. After reading the diary of Father Ulysses, he drove to Portugal to find the orangutan cross statue that could deny the existence of God.
During the journey, Ulysses’ thoughts on colonization and beliefs were presented to us in the form of a diary: He took the initiative to request priests who went to the colony of Sao Tome to become slaves, in order to dedicate his life to those who are regarded as grassy by humans but not by God. Forgotten souls. But when he stared at the “chimpanzee” (black slave) in the cellar, he found that he was not a benevolent Christian, but a brutal Roman soldier. The bishop’s claim that “the angels of heaven and the sinners of hell are divided into levels, so there should be levels in the world” shocked him. It turns out that God’s will has been used as a fig leaf for colonization by mankind. So he carved the image of the crucified Jesus on the cross into a gorilla to prove the fall of mankind. This behavior of Ulysses not only degraded the authority of God, but also deconstructed the support of the colonial belief from within the belief, and “absolute equality between lives” became the power support for him to build his spiritual home, so he took this piece of The land is called “Esta é a minha casa” (“This is home”).
Ulysses’ experience made Thomas a great desire for “this is home”, and it also implies that Thomas’ search for the orangutan on the cross is not just to provoke God, but to desire homeland. He believes that Ulysses found his home by denying God, but he does not understand that the “equality of life” symbolized by the orangutan cross is the true meaning of home. When the orangutan completed the dissolution of faith, Thomas understood that “we are just ordinary animals… there is no more sacred connection between us and God.” However, he killed a child and changed from a “victim” to a “violent”, so he had to call the priest for solace in order to expel the guilt of murdering others. Therefore, when the orangutans disintegrated the sacredness of faith, and sin had to seek the salvation of faith, Thomas was caught in the contradiction between denying faith and accepting faith, drifting away from the third dimension, and ultimately homeless.
Eternal rational way back: Eusebio Maria dialogue with the two
second story of Eusebio played a dual role of the pathologist and the Christian identity of the physician’s symbol of rationality, identity means that the faith of believers. Eusebio insisted on the sacredness of faith, and was unwilling to give up the science of reason, so he fell into the third space where faith and reason oppose each other. As his wife (the first Maria) said: “Our age is the most enduring. Isn’t the challenge the combination of faith and reason?”
Maria found the answer to this problem. She compared Agatha Christie’s novels and gospel books, and found that whether it was a detective novel or a fable of Jesus, their world was “full of physical suffering and soul suffering.” Maria’s death provides Osebio with a lever to balance faith and reason: the process of dissecting a corpse is not only to find the cause of death, but the key is to discover that Jesus is with himself through anatomy, and faith and reason can be merged into a constructive spirit. The power of the homeland, in which Osebio was able to establish his own identity.
However, the arrival of another Maria dispelled this power. Unlike her parents who advocate abstinence, Maria enjoys the pleasure that sexual desire brings her and her husband Raphael. This kind of pleasure goes against the asceticism of Christianity. It is a contempt for faith and affirmation of self-existence. It can be said that people’s instinctive desire dissolves faith. In the process of dissecting Raphael’s body, Osebio discovered Raphael’s objects during his lifetime. The most magical thing is that there are a chimpanzee and a bear cub lying in the belly of the body. In Ousebio’s view, the significance of anatomy is to find the cause of death to prove the scientific nature of medicine, but Raphael is full of irrational mystery and magic, which undoubtedly gave medicine a resounding slap in the face, rational The power also dissipated. The root cause of Ousebio’s “homeless” state is also the collapse of faith and reason, so he had to endure the pain of being forcibly separated from his insisted beliefs. And his idea of trying to build a spiritual home by balancing the two has become an empty talk, and Osebio can only continue to wander.
Reconstruct the life and identity of their homes
in the opening story of Peter, Peter Martel by drawing on the success of the occupation state and the perfect family life, sketched a picture of a harmonious and beautiful home. But when the pen was changed, this kind of warmth and harmony was broken, and it was replaced by Peter’s exhaustion of the blood relationship of human society and his dislike of political work. The home he built by his professional identity and blood relationship was like a mirrored flower, not a real home. .
But he encountered a turning point in rebuilding his homeland-the chimpanzee Otto. When stepping into Otto’s iron cage, Peter was instinctively frightened. French writer Franz Fanon described the contradictory attitudes of whites towards blacks as “blacks are an indispensable target and scapegoat in the white world.” This argument applies not only to different skin colors, but also to different races. Peter’s initial attitude towards Otto was also the same: Otto’s strength and figure made Peter frightened, but the confrontation with Otto made Peter feel happy and relaxed. So Peter began to call Otto by “he” instead of “it”, and realized that “this life is not an object”. A pet chimpanzee who was supposed to obey Peter, but gave him sincere and warmth that he could not get from the human world, so Peter was willing to shake hands and talk with Otto, and finally established a close partnership, which undoubtedly promoted Otto to On an equal position with human beings. The foundation of this intimacy is the complete equality between Peter and Otto. In this regard, Martel puts more emphasis on the dialogue between Peter (self) and Otto (other).
Otto is an undoubted other and a conquered object than Peter, but Peter gave up violent means and communicated with Otto in a friendly and equal manner. The dialogue between Peter and Otto reflected his consciousness of seeing Otto as an independent living entity: he asked Otto why he smashed the cup in the restaurant, and interpreted 9 answers based on Otto’s “Ah oh oh” answer; He understood Otto’s 11 behaviors as Otto’s rewards and accepted them with gratitude. Peter also experienced the Dasein of time in Otto: Otto is happy to enjoy the time of resting alone, and refuses to be disturbed by anyone. In this time field, Peter deeply felt that he and Otto both have “absolute freedom”; Otto is not someone’s possession, he has his own joys, sorrows, sorrows, and sorrows. He can communicate, get along and even spend time together. Partner for the rest of his life. Thus, in the process of expecting Otto’s response to himself, Peter realized that “this is home”, and being with Otto is the real home.
The relationship between Peter and Otto provides us with a sample of getting along with others. The essence behind it is the coexistence and symbiosis of modern civilization and primitive civilization. Peter has multiple emotions, including fear, for Otto. This is not only because he regards Otto as a life partner, but also implies the instinctive feelings of modern civilization for primitive civilization, that is, the vision of natural innocent living conditions, and the inability to decipher everything. Fear caused by natural force majeure. It is this kind of feeling that makes Peter realize the reality of his living in the present-free from the arrogance of human beings and the sadness of immersive memories. Although Otto has come to the end of life in Peter’s arms, he is inexplicably relieved, because the power of love and life will be integrated into the flow of time. As long as the home is still there, love and life will repeat itself, endlessly. !
Thomas was “homeless”, Osebio was on the “home”, and Peter finally returned to “home”. If the focus of the first two stories is to deconstruct the fragile spiritual home and unstable identity established by modern civilization through faith and reason, then Peter’s story symbolizes the construction of human beings by reprocessing the relationship with the other. Brand new home and re-established his identity. With the ever-increasing relationship between people in the context of globalization, the West re-examines and reflects on colonial history, and the East is also striving to construct its own cultural discourse. Contradictions and conflicts will only hurt both sides. How the West and the East, modern civilization and primitive civilization, human civilization and natural civilization get along, how to build a home in a multicultural context, and where human beings should be in it are all issues worthy of our in-depth consideration. Although the “Mountain of Portugal” failed to solve these problems, it provided us with a solution, as the author Martel said: “The keynote of life is about accepting the’other’-someone other than you.”