The Importance of Elsewhere


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Walking out of the car repair shop by Highway 101 in San Rafael, the stunning sunset scene made me forgot where and when we were for a nano second. The elevated highway and the traffic on it seemed to be irrelevant, so did the giant industrial size shopping center and this American life.

Five minutes later it’s all gone, the rosy clouds, the evening glow, and the illumination. The cars on 101 were still moving in slow motion, coming from somewhere, passing by me and the car repair shop and the shopping center, moving on to somewhere else.

Then those words came to my mind. Elsewhere. Absente. Ailleurs. Life is Elsewhere. La vraie vie est absente. La vie est ailleurs. 我生本无乡,心安是归处。此心安处是吾乡。Home is where heart is. Rimbaud. Kundera. Larkin. BAI Juyi. SU Dongpo.

The Importance Of Elsewhere

Philip Larkin

Lonely in Ireland, since it was not home,
Strangeness made sense. The salt rebuff of speech,
Insisting so on difference, made me welcome:
Once that was recognised, we were in touch

Their draughty streets, end-on to hills, the faint
Archaic smell of dockland, like a stable,
The herring-hawker’s cry, dwindling, went
To prove me separate, not unworkable.

Living in England has no such excuse:
These are my customs and establishments
It would be much more serious to refuse.
Here no elsewhere underwrites my existence.

(1955,6,13)

他乡的意义

爱尔兰是孤独的,因为它不是故乡,
疏离从而产生意义。言语的辛辣冷漠,
如此与众不同,亦使我受到欢迎:
一旦意识到此处,我们开始接近

他们的街道风穿堂而过,通往远山,隐约
古老的码头气息,宛若马厩,
鲱鱼小贩的叫卖声,渐行渐远,
印证我的特立独行,并非难以为继。

生活在英格兰就无法使用如此借口:
这些是我的风俗习惯以及规矩
拒绝它们将带来更加严重的后果。
只有这里,再没有他乡支撑我的存在。

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