不要吞吃命运的饼干——Michael Lewis

2013-08-21 10:06:06   Tag:

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著名作家Michael Lewis在2012年普林斯顿大学毕业典礼上的演讲(节选)

Thirty years ago I sat where you sat. I must have listened to some older person share his life experience. But I don't remember a word of it. I can't even tell you who spoke. What I do remember, vividly, is graduation. I'm told you're meant to be excited, perhaps even relieved, and maybe all of you are. I wasn't. I was totally outraged. Here I’d gone and given them four of the best years of my life and this is how they rewarded me, by throwing me out.
30年前,我坐在你所坐的地方。我一定也听过某位年长的人分享他的人生经历。但我已经一点都不记得了。我连是谁发言都没印象了。而在我记忆中仍栩栩如生的,是毕业。他们告诉我你应该很激动,或者感到轻松,也许你们现在就是这样。我却不同。我义愤填膺:我来到这里给了他们我人生中最好的四年,而他们就是这样报答我的——把我踢走。

At that moment I was sure of only one thing: I was of no possible economic value to the outside world. I'd majored in art history, for a start. Even then this was regarded as an act of insanity. I was almost certainly less prepared for the marketplace than most of you. Yet somehow I have wound up somehow rich and famous. Sort of. I'm going to explain, briefly, how that happened. I want you to understand just how mysterious careers can be, before you go out and have one yourself. I graduated from Princeton without ever having published a word of anything, anywhere. I didn't write for the Prince, or for anyone else. But at Princeton, studying art history, I felt the first twinge of literary ambition. It happened while working on my senior thesis. My adviser was a really gifted professor, an archaeologist named William Childs. The thesis tried to explain how the Italian sculptor Donatello used Greek and Roman sculpture, that's actually totally beside the point, but I've always wanted to tell someone. God knows what Professor Childs actually thought of it, but he helped me to become engrossed. More than engrossed: obsessed. When I handed it in I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life: I want to write senior theses. Or, to put it differently: to write books.
在那时我只确信一件事:我对外面的世界没有任何经济价值。我修的是艺术史,那是我的起点。即使在当时这也被视为疯子的行为。我为市场做的准备一定差过几乎在座的每一个人。而现在我竟摇身一变成了富人和名人。对吧,算是吧。我将简短的描述我是如何飞黄腾达的。我希望你们在走出校门追寻自己的事业前能够明白,事业发展本身是多么神秘。我从普林斯顿毕业的时候从来没有在任何地方任何时间发表任何东西。我没有为the Prince刊物或任何人写过任何文章。然而在普林斯顿大学,作为艺术史系的学生,我第一次有了在文学界施展抱负的冲动。这是在我写毕业论文的时候发生的。我的导师是个超有天分的教授,William Childs,一位考古学家。我毕业论文的题目是研究意大利雕塑家Donatello如何借鉴了希腊和罗马雕塑——其实这跟今天的题目半毛钱关系都没有,只是我一直喜欢让别人知道。神知道Childs教授是怎么看待这个题目的,但他却帮助我全心投入。不只是全心投入,根本就是痴迷。当我交上论文的那刻我知道了我这一生想要从事的事业:写高级论文,或者说,写书。

Then I went to my thesis defense. It was just a few yards from here, in McCormick Hall. I listened and waited for Professor Childs to say how well written my thesis was. He didn't. And so after about 45 minutes I finally said, "So. What did you think of the writing?" "Put it this way," he said. "Never try to make a living at it." And I didn't — not really. I did what everyone does who has no idea what to do with themselves: I went to graduate school. I wrote at nights, without much effect, mainly because I hadn't the first clue what I should write about. One night I was invited to a dinner, where I sat next to the wife of a big shot at a giant Wall Street investment bank, called Salomon Brothers. She more or less forced her husband to give me a job. I knew next to nothing about Salomon Brothers. But Salomon Brothers happened to be where Wall Street was being reinvented—into the place we have all come to know and love. When I got there I was assigned, almost arbitrarily, to the very best job in which to observe the growing madness: they turned me into the house expert on derivatives. A year and a half later Salomon Brothers was handing me a check for hundreds of thousands of dollars to give advice about derivatives to professional investors.
然后我去了论文答辩。地方离这不远,就在McCormick厅。我等待着希望听到Childs教授告诉我我的论文写得多么好。但他没有。于是等了45分钟后,我终于问,“那你怎么评价我的写作呢?”“这么说吧,”他说。 “千万不要靠这个谋生。”所以我放弃了——其实不是。我做了所有人不知道该做什么时做的那件事:去读研究生。我在晚上写作,没有造成什么影响,主要是因为我不知道该写哪些东西。一天晚上,我被邀请参加一个晚宴,我身旁的女士是一个华尔街投资银行的大佬的太太,那家银行叫做所罗门兄弟公司。她基本上迫使她的丈夫给了我一份工作。我那时对所罗门兄弟公司根本一无所知。但所罗门兄弟公司恰好处在华尔街转型的前线——转成那个如今我们都知道并爱的样子。当我到了那家公司,我被几乎随机的分配到了一份最好的工作,使我有机会观察这滋长中的疯狂:他们把我变成一个衍生产品的内部专家。一年半以后,所罗门兄弟开给我数十万美元的支票让我给专业投资者提供有关衍生产品的咨询。

Now I had something to write about: Salomon Brothers. Wall Street had become so unhinged that it was paying recent Princeton graduates who knew nothing about money small fortunes to pretend to be experts about money. I'd stumbled into my next senior thesis. I called up my father. I told him I was going to quit this job that now promised me millions of dollars to write a book for an advance of 40 grand. There was a long pause on the other end of the line. "You might just want to think about that," he said."Why?" "Stay at Salomon Brothers 10 years, make your fortune, and then write your books," he said. I didn't need to think about it. I knew what intellectual passion felt like — because I'd felt it here, at Princeton — and I wanted to feel it again. I was 26 years old. Had I waited until I was 36, I would never have done it. I would have forgotten the feeling.
现在,我有东西可写了:所罗门兄弟公司。华尔街已经变得如此的精神错乱,它会给普林斯顿一个对金钱一窍不通的新毕业生一大笔钱来假扮理财专家。我误打误撞找到了自己的下一部高级论文。我打给我爸爸。我告诉他我要辞掉这个百万美元的工作来写一本只有4万美元预付款的书。电话那边沉默了很久。 “也许你该再考虑一下,”他说。“为什么?”在所罗门兄弟公司再干10年,赚一大笔钱,然后再写你的书,”他说。我根本不需要考虑。我知道知性表达的激情是什么感觉——因为在这里,普林斯顿,我曾感受过——而我想重燃那份激情。我那时26岁。如果我真的等到36岁,我将永远无法写成那本书。我会已经忘记了那种感觉。

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