Oz’s Description of a Thousand Darknesses

  Oz came from two prominent families, the paternal Klausners and the matrilineal Musmans. Almost none of the relatives and friends of these two families who stayed in Soviet Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Hungary and other places escaped the death of the Nazis. Some of them stayed by choice—until it was too late. They didn’t want to believe that the thick cloud over their heads would really rain down to destroy their lives.
  They naively think that as long as they work tirelessly to teach their children to be “well-mannered”, “don’t argue with non-Jews under any circumstances”, don’t “hold your head high”, “speak softly and smile when talking to them …don’t let them feel that we have ambitions to improve our status, and don’t give them any excuse to accuse us of being greedy”, then the hostility surrounding them will gradually dissolve or even erode. They will eventually be accepted by the European mainstream cultural circle that they are proud of. Ozzy’s grandfather even applied for German citizenship amid widespread anti-Semitism, although it was rejected.
  This self-deceiving ignorance can actually be traced back to the Garden of Eden. After the man named Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he naively thought that with a few leaves, he could cover up his shame, please God, and maybe escape the wrath that would never be restored.
  Such naivety and ignorance can not only be traced back to ancient times, but also extend to modern times. Not only does it damage the eyesight of those involved, it also transmits the same disease to bystanders. As the Nazi regime was hatching, the Soviet Union was undergoing an extensive purge.
  When a person who speaks carelessly is taken from the office and sent to the Gulag, his colleagues will secretly breathe a sigh of relief, glad that they did not speak out, glad that the same disaster did not happen to them, just like devout Christians Watching silently as their Jewish neighbor was taken away by the SS.
  In the year not long after Hitler committed suicide by taking poison, an incident of American soldiers raping a Chinese female student occurred in the city of Beiping. At the dining table in the restaurant at the foot of the imperial city, the common people were more curious about the female students than they were about the American soldiers. People speculated why a well-known lady would go out on Christmas Eve when newspapers had warned of possible troubles. Was the cheongsam she wore that night too short and the slit too high?
  This layer of innocence and ignorance is like a black cloth covering the eyes of the parties involved, making them lose their sense of direction and ability to judge the current situation. It also finds the most respectable cover for the silence of the onlookers, even gloating. It teaches people to think that a slightly tighter skirt, a slightly tighter mouth, and a less personal character may safely escape a disaster belonging to the times.
  In addition to innocence, among the multiple darknesses described by Ozzy, there is another layer called shame and guilt. Shame and guilt have many layers, almost as rich as darkness itself, ranging from philosophical propositions such as life in the universe to a serving of cheese from the wrong origin. The Klausner family and the Mussmann family lost many relatives and friends in World War II. The Nazis took away their lives and property, but left behind their memories.
  The living are not only guilty of their own survival, but also for occasionally indulging in happy memories before the war, and they even feel ashamed of the few happy moments in their barren life, because they enjoyed the free sunshine in the “ancestral land” At the time, thousands of Jewish survivors were still living in displacement in refugee camps around the world two years after the war ended.
  Adults don’t realize how insignificant it feels to hold a child beneath all their shame and guilt. This child named Amos was born in Jerusalem. He has neither pre-war European memories nor experienced Nazi persecution. A child’s sense of shame and guilt is inherited from an adult, almost as non-selectable as a genetic disease.
  He blamed himself for wasting a kilowatt-hour of electricity and a drop of water, he felt guilty for giving a bouquet of gladiolus that could only last for four or five days to his relatives and friends during festivals, and he was ashamed of not supporting kibbutz products because he was greedy for the high-quality and cheap cheese in Arab villages. His country is still in the predicament of being besieged on all sides, and he has not done his share.
  When he was a guest at the home of a prominent Arab neighbor, he accidentally injured the host’s son. He was worried about this for many years, because he did not take on the responsibility of promoting “mutual relations between two good-neighborly peoples” placed on his shoulders by his parents. understanding” is a major mission.
  He could not help feeling guilty about the sight of his Arab neighbors being forced to abandon their ancestral homeland by United Nations resolutions. But the Jewish blood flowing in his body made him feel ashamed of that guilt. He is ashamed of his father’s pale, emaciated and clumsy image of an intellectual who seems to have “two left hands”. He aspires to be “a steadfast pioneer, the salt of the earth, a hero of the Hebrew revolution”, and when he finally breaks free from his father’s shackles and comes to the kibbutz, he feels guilty about his irresistible urge to read and write.

  Among the shame and guilt that he has carried all his life, the heaviest layer is about his mother’s death. His mother, who was suffering from depression, left home and committed suicide when he was twelve years old. The unusual manner of the mother’s death was a silent and loud announcement of the failure of love in a family to a close-knit community with little privacy.
  The child feels that if he “doesn’t throw his clothes all over the floor…is willing to take out the trash every night…doesn’t make noise, doesn’t forget to turn off the lights…don’t be so social, don’t be so skinny”, maybe the mother does would be another option.
  The mother did not die in the gloomy SS gas chamber, but died in the sunny “ancestral land”. The shame and self-blame the child felt were like shadows, which followed him all his life inseparably, so that later The child and the father have never been able to mention the mother, even if it is a word, as if she has never been in this world, and has never conceived his life.
  Shame and guilt come from all directions, the direction is disorganized, and the force is fierce. Standing in the wind, this child named Amos is twisted into a twist by various forces, and loses the possibility of growing up healthily and smoothly. He didn’t have a stomach strong enough to digest the love and expectations that his family poured into him. Love is heavy, and expectations are even heavier. They are like sticky food, accumulating in his body day after day and year after year into toxins that are difficult to expel. The only way for a child to save himself is writing, because writing is the only detoxification method within his reach.
  In the life of Amos there was also a darkness called fear. In the cramped space where the Klausner family couldn’t even make a bed—this home was just a refraction of almost all the living spaces in Jerusalem at that time, and a twenty-five-watt electric light was only enough to cut a small gap in the night. hole. The hole can only be smaller, not larger, because the pioneers of the kibbutz are still working under the flickering candlelight, and the Klausners “how can they forget them like Rothschild sitting in the bright forty Under the watt light”? Along the edge of the hole cut out by the twenty-five-watt light, all kinds of darkness spread freely like sewage in the gutter.
  In addition, the darkness is shrouded, with various insects growing under their bodies, but fear is not. Fear is a soft filler, injected like latex into the boundary line between darkness and darkness, embellishing all the darkness into a whole without a single flaw.
  For example, Grandma Schromidt was extremely afraid of bacteria, and spent her entire life persecuting vegetables, fruits, clothing, furniture, and even her own and other people’s bodies as cruelly as Hitler did to Jews, until she died in the bath. Another example is that Mr. Klausner, who is rich in books and books, is extremely afraid that he will be forgotten by later generations. He must interpret every gathering of relatives and friends, large or small, as a release ceremony and record ceremony of a certain academic article of his literary point of view. .
  Father Arieh’s fears were much more complex than Schlomid’s grandma, Uncle Klausner. Ariye is knowledgeable and proficient in many foreign languages. If there is no war, he should naturally become a professor and scholar working in a certain European university.
  But Hitler completely rewrote the trajectory of his life. After the diaspora, the number of experts and scholars gathered in Jerusalem even exceeded the number of students, and the possibility of Arieh’s tenure at the university became slim, and he was reduced to a bibliographer editing cards in the thick dust.
  He inherited the origin of the family, advocated knowledge and order, and the social hierarchy naturally extended from the two, and he always maintained a “tiptoe” attitude towards Uncle Klausner, who taught at the Hebrew University. Respectfully listen to gestures, and teach your sons to do the same. While indulging in self-made etymological dry humor, Arieh couldn’t help but be drawn to the image of the “poet-worker-revolutionary” in his blue overalls and bronzed skin, who intrude into his late-night dreams Here, summoning his passion for life.
  But Ariel was afraid of everything that attracted him. In his mind, the boundary between love and fear was constantly shifting and blurring, like the borders between certain parts of Europe. He never taught his son any language other than Hebrew, because he was afraid that European culture would have a “fatal temptation” for his son, as it had for his predecessors, and thus plunge him into another Auschwitz trap.
  When his son reached school age, he hesitated for a long time between traditional religious schools and labor house schools, and finally chose black (religious) education because he felt that “the end of religion is just around the corner, and progress will soon drive it out” .
  The source of every fear in Ariel can be traced back to death, and every time he makes a choice at the crossroads, there is a monster from Auschwitz crawling. He passed this fear gene along with his blood to his son Amos.
  Under the shadow of fear, Amos timidly opened his eyes to observe the world, gradually entered into it, and nourished his own fear. The experience of the concentration camp is not so much that he heard it from the mouth of the adults, but rather that he understood it from the silent eyes of the adults.
  He feared that once the British troops withdrew, Jerusalem would become another concentration camp within a few days, “killing not even a single child”. So he would rather grow up to be a book than a book writer, because a book “at least has a good chance of surviving on its own.”
  As he entered the hazy adolescence, he developed a new fear—of irrepressible acts of self-abuse. He couldn’t resist the huge thrust of hormones, but he was always in fear of facing the bed at night and being alone. He was afraid of the harsh punitive consequences of this “dirty act”, and he even associated his mother’s suicide with his own self-abuse as a causal relationship for a long time.
  One way to escape from fear—at least when he was a kid—was daydreaming. He dreamed of being a firefighter who lived up to the image of tough neo-Hebrew heroism, of a book in which it was possible to survive any holocaust, of a man who could mobilize armies with ingenuity, A commander who has absolute control over his own life and the lives of others. When he was fifteen, he finally put his daydream into action: he resolutely broke free from the shackles of his family, changed his surname to join Kibbutz Khurda, and lived there for thirty-one years.
  On the road of fear, the son leaves his father far behind. Arieh was blocked by fear, and he stopped at the intersection of every decision. Amos is not. Amos carried fear on his shoulders like luggage, and crossed one threshold after another. The son walked a longer distance, and the son, unfortunately, saw the growth of fear—disillusionment.
  Amos saw every value of life shattered before his eyes. Amos saw his father cry for the first time during those days when he stayed up all night waiting for the announcement of the UN resolution on the partition of Israel. But the excitement and enthusiasm brought to him that day still linger, and the new regime has begun to reveal every bit of loopholes and flaws. Disappointed by the old survivors who described them as haggard and weak, he turned to worship the healthy and rough new generation of Hebrew pioneers who would never be allergic to ultraviolet rays.
  Out of rebellion against intellectual cultivation and social order, he joined the kibbutz without hesitation, but once he entered the tedious physical labor track of the kibbutz, he couldn’t overcome his private reading and writing ideas. He finally understands that he is always the other in this world, “no exposure to the sun can turn me into a real one of them.”
  Amos’ cognition has gone through a series of reincarnation and negation: every social value he pursued, after replacing the former, was negated by the latter, and then replaced. Life seems to be a chain of bubbles, full of hallucinations, with occasional flashes of color that end up in nothingness and darkness.
  Such thick and richly layered darkness extends all the way from the Garden of Eden, almost as long as human history. Ozzy is neither its creator nor its discoverer, nor can it be its terminator. Oz just brings it so close to our eyes that we see the ugly face of human nature without excuse.
  The last thing I have to mention is the quality of the translation. Zhong Zhiqing’s translation is elegant and fluent, with paragraphs and chapters cohesively, and almost completely lacks the translation accent that can be seen everywhere in current foreign literature translations. The translator’s informative annotations have greatly benefited ordinary readers who do not know the human history of Israel. Ozzy’s description of a thousand kinds of darkness finally did not lose its rich layers and textures on the way to Chinese.

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