如何形容六角扳手?

18 号在学校网上 request 了 Ursula K. Le Guin 的 No time to spare 后,今天终于收到了。

你是从 UW-Milwaukee 来的呀

Karen Joy Fowler 在这本书的前言中写道:

MANY YEARS AGO I recall seeing a cartoon in The New Yorker. Two men, one a seeker, the other a sage, sit on a ledge in front of a mountain cave, surrounded by cats. “The meaning of life is cats,” the sage is telling the seeker. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I can pinpoint the year of publication as 1996 and the cartoonist as Sam Gross.

The cartoon came back into my mind while reading this collection. I thought that if I climbed the mountain up to the cave of the wise Ursula Le Guin and posed the predictable question, I might get this very same answer. Or not. Le Guin is not predictable. She might say instead that “old age is for anyone who gets there.” Or that “fear is seldom wise and never kind.” Or she might tell me that “the grave is without egg.”

所以 “the grave is without egg” 是什么意思?我下意识地推测它是某种谚语或 slang,直到我在 Ursula 的这篇名叫 Without Egg 的博客中找到了答案:

The more complete the attention, the more you actually taste the egg.

It may be apparent by now that this whole blog is a subtle blow against double-tasking, and a paean to doing one single thing with, as the Bible puts it, “all thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”

Nor is there any breakfast there. The grave is without egg.

使用几乎完美的鸡蛋勺去品尝鸡蛋是 ceremony,更是 subtle art。如果你采用这样食用鸡蛋的方法,你必定会体会到实践这件事的难处。正如圣经所说,“凡你手所当做的的事要尽力去做;因为在你所必去的阴间没有工作,没有谋算,没有知识,也没有智慧”(传 9:10)。

这样的阴间不会有维也纳早餐,人死后的世界里也不会有鸡蛋。


我没有吃半熟水煮蛋的习惯,更没有用鸡蛋勺敲碎蛋壳用鸡蛋杯品尝鸡蛋的雅趣,但我可以理解 Ursula 在经历 without egg 事件后每日吃鸡蛋的习惯。不仅如此,如果我必须解释解释我对六角扳手这件普通的五金工具的执着,我想我在 Without Egg 这篇文章中找到了形容它的 perfect word:

Like all good tools, it gives pleasure by its pure aptness. It does one thing only, but does it perfectly, and nothing else can do it. Trying to eat an egg from the shell with a normal spoon is like mending a wristwatch with a hammer.