论激情 – About passion – 论激情 – English

人常常会感觉到生活之平淡。无论是否产生过激情,人的生活不可能常常处于激情之中,总是在激情之后归于平淡,或者干脆就是自始至终平平淡淡。

   人生中最典型的激情来自性的欲望,在二十岁时,人的性欲达到巅峰期,尤其是男性,从身体中产生出一种难以抑制的性欲,需要找到宣泄的渠道,多数人的性欲指向异性,所以会产生男女之间的结合冲动,这一冲动主要表现为肉欲,对对方身体的欲望,男人会喜欢女人的乳房、臀部这类第二性征,当然性欲的最终目标是女性生殖器(第一性征);女人也会喜欢男人的胡子、肌肉这类第二性征,而性欲的最终指向也是男性生殖器(第一性征)。

   人的这一激情状态实属自然,虽然有强弱之分,但是几乎人人会有,不需要特别的培育和修养。这种激情能够强烈到致病或升华的程度,二者是性欲寻求宣泄的不同路径所致:在性欲冲动得不到实现或被强力压制的时候,误入歧途,成为心理疾病,弗洛伊德的整套心理分析理论全都建立在对误入歧途的性欲的分析的基础之上;另一种情况下,得不到宣泄的性欲得以升华,在精神领域得到释放,创造出伟大的文学艺术作品。按照弗洛伊德的理论,所有的成功艺术家都是性欲冲动强烈、在原欲受阻的情况下最终得以升华的人。这一分析绝对是褒义,毫无贬义。

   相比之下,指向他人的精神上的激情似乎就不那么自然了,这种激情包括爱情和友情,是精神上的交流、宣泄冲动造成的。在比性欲少见的情况下,一个人对另一个人产生了精神投契的感觉,这一感觉的来源不像性欲那么明确,而且伴以幻象,即自己幻想中所喜欢的品质和特征。性欲的对象有容貌身材这类具体的表征,可以看得见摸得着,而精神喜爱的对象却没有此类具体表征可寻,只有由思想、话语和感觉稍稍泄露出来的抽象特征,甚至是可以意会不可言传的。因此从发生几率上来说,爱情和友情一类的激情的发生率比性欲激情的发生率要低很多。

   更加罕见的一种激情是创造的激情,它的来源比起精神交往冲动的来源更为神秘莫测,我怀疑它来自生命力的深处,是生命之泉的一种不安的宣泄和喷射冲动。绝大多数人根本与此无缘,终身不知它为何物,也感觉不到这种冲动和激情。它究竟来自哪里?谁才能拥有这种激情?真是无迹可寻。有种人们公认的说法:童年的不愉快造就小说家,或许提供了答案的一个线索。童年的折磨,无论是社会的不公还是生活的困窘,正好碰到一位敏感的孩子,使他感觉到超出常人的痛苦和折磨,就此种下了强烈的欲望和激情的种子,使得他终身不得安宁,如果他偏巧有艺术天赋,就会成为激情澎湃的文学家、画家和音乐家。莫言是一个例子,他儿时的困窘生存环境为他提供了写小说的激情;王小波是另一个例子,童年期他父亲的落难和世态炎凉也可以部分地解释他写小说的冲动。而此类激情应当是比肉体和精神交往的激情更为罕见的一种激情,是人类精神的瑰宝。

   谁可以拥有激情,可以拥有哪一类的激情,可以拥有多么强烈的激情,这在很大程度上都是无法预知和人为培养的,而且也并不是激情越多越好的。没有激情的生活比较平淡但却平静;有激情的生活比较浓烈但却不安。前者会有一个比较寡淡但是波澜不惊的人生;后者会拥有一个比较浓烈但是波澜起伏的人生。说到底,每个人会拥有什么样的人生也许是没得选择的,至少是有很多先赋因素的。如果没有激情,就平静度日;如果拥有激情,就尽情表达,让它自由奔放,酣畅淋漓地宣泄出来。处理得好,二者都可以拥有幸福快乐的人生。

People will often feel that much of life is quite ordinary. Whether or not someone has experienced bouts of passion, a person cannot spend their life constantly in a period of intense emotion. Invariably there is a return to ordinariness after an outbreak of passion, or for some people it may just be that from start to finish everything in life is ordinary.

In life the archetypal form of passion is sexual desire. In our twenties we reach the hightide of lust and, for men especially, this is a type of hard to control sexual urge that surges forth from the body and which forces us to seek an outlet for release. For most people these urges are directed towards the opposite sex and this creates an urge for bonding between men and women. This urge is most importantly manifested in carnal desire. In this desire for the body of the opposite sex, men are drawn towards secondary level sexual characteristics like women’s breasts and hips, though of course the ultimate aim is the women’s genitalia (the primary sexual feature). Likewise women can be drawn to second order sexual characteristics such as men’s beards or muscles, though again their desires are ultimately directed towards the genitals (the primary sexual characteristic).

This form of passion in humans is quite natural and, though it may differ in intensity, almost all people experience this innately without need for education or nurture. This sort of passion can be so intense as to lead to neurosis or to sublimation. These are both results of following different paths in the search for release: if sexual desire is not released or is repressed, things can go awry leading to mental illness. The whole of Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis is built upon an analysis of sexual urges gone astray. In other cases, the sexual desire which is not satisfied can reach sublimation, which is a release in the spiritual realm, through the creation of great literary or artistic works. According to Freud’s theory, all successful artists have a strong sexual impulse which is somehow blocked in its original form, and has been satisfied through sublimation. This analysis is definitely a compliment, it is not derogatory.

In contrast, spiritual passions directed towards other people do not seem as natural. This sort of passion, which includes romantic love and friendship, is a spiritual communication, a release brought about by impulses. In rare cases, like if a person has passionately friendly feelings towards someone else, the source of this feeling is not as clear as with sexual desire, and is accompanied by an illusion of their fantasized about qualities and features. Objects of sexual desire have bodily features which act as a tangible indicator, something that can be seen and touched, whereas the object of spiritual desire does not have these concrete features, only that which stems from ideas or abstract characteristics that can leak out through words and feelings or that may even be inexpressible through words and can only be grasped intuitively. Therefore romantic love and friendship are passions less likely to occur than sexual desire.

An even rarer type of passion is the creative passion, and the source of this impulse is even more mysterious than the source of the passion to communicate spiritually. I suspect that it comes from the depths of our life, and is like a disturbance in the wellspring of the human heart, which cannot find proper release, and comes out in sudden jets. Most people simply don’t experience this at all, they stay away from it for their all life, and never know this kind of passion. But where does it really come from? Who will experience this kind of passion? It is a real mystery. There is a widely accepted saying which may provide some hint of an answer: an unhappy childhood makes a novelist. Should a sensitive child happen to be struck by a tormented childhood, no matter because of societal injustice or financial difficulties in life, this can cause that person to experience torment and suffering beyond that of the normal person. This can sow the seed of intense sexual desire and passion and prevent that person from experiencing a feeling of calm through their whole life. If such a person should also happen to have artistic talent, they may become a writer, artist or musician riven by passion. Mo Yan is an example, embarrassment towards his childhood environment gave him a passion for writing fiction; Wang Xiaobo is another example, the misfortunes and inconsistencies in his father’s life during in childhood may explain his urge to write fiction. But such a passion is a rarer thing than the desire for physical and spiritual contact, and is the treasure of the human spirit.

Who will experience passion, what type of passion will they experience, and how strong these passions will be, is to a large degree unpredictable and not something that can be cultivated. And it would be wrong to say that the greater the passion the better. A life without passion is dull but peaceful; a life with passion is more intense but also more troubled. The former is likely to lead an uneventful life, but one that is not wracked by storms. The later will have a more intense, yet more climactic life. In the end the life each of us leads is not something we have can have a choice over with much of it predetermined by factors beyond our control. If there is no passion, the days will pass peacefully. If you are passionate you can enjoy its expression and let it flow forth. Handled well both can enjoy a fortunate and happy life.

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julien.leyrereply
October 27, 2013 at 1:09 pm

The original translation of the first two paragraphs was produced by 周琼 and 于广友 from Nanjing University during our first Nanjing Marco Polo Project translation Salon at Banpocun Cafe, 26 October 2013

A digest of online China – June 19-25 | Marco Polo Project blogreply
July 25, 2014 at 12:39 pm

[…] on her blog about more psychological and philosophical topics – such at the importance of ‘Passion‘ for those willing to lead a satisfying life. Posted on July 25, 2014 by julien • […]

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