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  • 门外汉同样可以取得斐然的成绩
  • 2014/6/6 8:50:34
  • 业余爱好者常常被冠以外行的名号,但是看看人类历史,你会惊奇地发现,对于人类艺术和科学的发展,他们起着不可小觑的作用!他们做事纯粹出于喜好,执着付出丝毫不求回报,不仅钻研精神可嘉,而且取得的成绩斐然。难以想象,历史长河中若少了这些所谓的“门外汉”,人类文明的宝库里又会缺失多少智慧的“美钻”。

    We’re all the children of amateurs—amateur parents. There’s no government department that will certify you as a parent (thankfully), nor a university department where you get your Ph.D. in being a daddy, nor a professional body ready to strike you off for not following mothering standards. But any parent who’s held a newborn child in their arms has unconsciously taken the amateur’s oath: “I may not be a professional, but I’m going to do whatever it takes to act like one.”
    It’s a pity that too often we associate amateur with amateurish, and dismiss amateurs as second-rate pretenders to a professional throne. What we should remember is that the word amateur has its roots in the French word for love: amour. And amateurs do for love what professionals do for money.
    Of course, many professionals love what they do (and are lucky enough to get paid for it), and many amateurs deserve to have the term “amateurish” applied to their efforts. Having worked in an amateur theatre, I know too well how misplaced enthusiasm can override sense, resulting in a four-hour panto. But amateurs helped build the world we live in. At the beginnings of the scientific age, scientists themselves were amateurs. They toiled away examining nature to understand why things are the way they are. They invented physics, chemistry and biology.
    Although modern science may appear to be the preserve of a well-financed laboratory run by a Nobel-quality mind, the amateur scientist is not on the endangered species list. For example, amateurs play a crucial role in fields where large numbers of observations are needed. There are too many stars, comets and asteroids for only professional astronomers to keep an eye on, so we shouldn’t be surprised that Pluto was spotted by an amateur, Clyde Tombaugh, in 1930. And the whole field of radio astronomy got a kick start when, in 1937, amateur Grote Reber built a 9-metre dish in his back garden and plotted the first radio map of the sky.
    Keeping track of bird movements and numbers is greatly aided by flocks of amateur ornithologists who report their observations to bodies such as the British Trust for Ornithology, and amateur palaeontologists get in on the act when they uncover new fossils. In 1990, a sociologist uncovered unseen fossilized reptile tracks in New Mexico, much to the surprise of professional scientists.
    Even weather forecasting relies partly on amateurs who take thousands of measurements of temperatures and rainfall and report them to the US National Weather Service. Also in the US, the Society for Amateur Scientists helps promote the relationship between professionals and amateurs, showing the hobbyist how to communicate with professionals and how to get their work published and recognized. Its founder, Shawn Carlson, won a MacArthur Foundation “genius award” in 1999 honoring his creation.
    Amateurs are also doing well outside the sciences. In popular music, many bands get their start in a garage playing instruments with no formal training. Only very few musicians have spent years in a music academy, yet love for their music has brought us The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and every single rapper. Likewise, they help build the world we live in. Most authors are amateurs, partly because the money to be made from writing is so poor, and partly because it’s hard to get a job as an author. You have to be one to become one. I once asked the writer Alain de Botton about the role of amateurs. He responded nervously that he wouldn’t want to be operated on by an amateur brain surgeon, or flown by an amateur pilot. So I steered him back to the safer ground of amateur philosophy.
    In any pub in Britain you’ll find plenty of Friday-night philosophers waxing lyrical. But even in the world of serious philosophy, amateurs outrank the professionals. Many of the great philosophers were amateurs, from Schopenhauer and Nietzsche to Sartre. De Botton puts this down to university philosophy departments being so poor. But perhaps there’s another reason: if there’s one subject we all study and can be passionate about, it’s the human experience.
    So watch out when you’re down the pub: you might be sitting beside the next Nietzsche.

    我们都是业余人士的孩子,因为我们的父母全是业余的。没有哪个政府部门会颁个执照来证明你是一个父亲或者母亲(谢天谢地没有),没有哪个大学院系能给你授个“老爸”博士学位,也没有哪个专业机构会因为你达不到“母亲标准”而将你扫地出门。然而,任何父母,只要怀里抱着他们新生的孩子,不自觉地都会以业余爱好者的名义信誓旦旦:“也许我不是专业人士,但我会想方设法表现得像个专业人士。”
    遗憾的是,我们常常把“业余”与“外行”混为一谈,常常把业余爱好者看成是充当专业人士的二流“冒牌货”而对他们嗤之以鼻。我们应该记住,“amateur”这个词源于法语中表示“爱”的一个词——amour。对于做同样一件事,业余爱好者是出于热爱,而专业人士为的却是金钱。
    当然了,许多专业人士也热爱他们所做的事情(并且能幸运地拿到报酬);而从不少业余爱好者的表现来看,说他们外行也确实不为过。我曾在一家业余剧院工作过,对于这种事情再清楚不过了:热情要是用错了地方,人就会失去理智,最终的结果只能是花四个小时的工夫,演一出滑稽可笑的闹剧。但话说回来,我们生活的这个世界却是在业余爱好者的帮助下建立起来的。科学时代伊始,科学家本身就是业余爱好者。他们艰苦地探索大自然,试图弄清事物的来龙去脉。他们创立了物理学、化学和生物学。
    虽然从表面上看,现代科学研究仿佛成了由诺贝尔级的科学家掌管、科研资金雄厚的实验室的专属领域,但业余科学家们并未就此销声匿迹。比方说,在需要大批观察报告的领域,业余人士就发挥着至关重要的作用。对于专业天文学家而言,那些恒星、彗星和小行星实在是太多了,无法对它们一一进行密切察看。因此,对于冥王星由业余爱好者克莱德·汤博于1930年发现这件事,我们不应该感到意外。而在1937年,业余爱好者格罗特·雷伯更是在自家后院里建造了一架直径九米的抛物面金属镜,绘制出了第一幅射电天文图,从而成为射电天文学领域的开拓者。
    了解和掌握鸟类迁徙的情况和数量,离不开大批业余鸟类学者的巨大贡献,是他们将自己的观察记录报告给英国鸟类学基金会之类的组织。而在发掘新化石方面,业余古生物学家也表现积极。1990年,一位社会学家在新墨西哥州发现了前所未见的爬行动物的化石踪迹,令专业科学家都颇感惊讶。
    就连气象预报在某种程度上也要依赖业余爱好者,他们记录下数千份气温和降雨量数据,然后报告给美国国家气象局。同样在美国,在业余科学家协会的协助下,专业人士与业余爱好者之间的关系得以促进和发展,这也给业余爱好者提供了一个机会:学习如何与专业人士沟通有无,如何让自己的成果得以发表,并受到认可。1999年,该协会创办人肖恩·卡尔森因创立业余科学家协会而荣获麦克阿瑟基金会“天才奖”。
    业余爱好者的出色表现并不仅仅局限于科学领域。就拿流行音乐来说吧,许多乐队起初都是在车库里排练和演奏的,并没有受过正规的训练。只有为数很少的音乐人上过音乐学院。然而,对于音乐的热爱还是成就了甲壳虫、滚石和一个个说唱歌手,让我们尽享耳福。与科学家一样,他们也为建设我们生活的这个世界贡献了一份力量。大多数作家都是业余的,这一方面是因为专职写作挣钱太少,另一方面则是因为要想找一份作家的工作亦非易事。要想当一名作家,你得是这块料才行。有一次,我请作家阿兰·德波顿谈谈业余爱好者的作用,他不安地回答说,他反正是不会让一个业余脑外科医生给自己动手术的,也不会乘坐业余飞行员驾驶的飞机。于是,我换了个话题,请他谈谈对业余哲学家的看法,这个好歹比较安全。
    在英国,每到星期五晚上,随便走进哪一家酒馆,你都会发现哲学家们在兴致勃勃地交谈。不过,即便是在严肃的哲学领域,业余爱好者的名声也盛于专业人士。许多伟大的哲学家都是业余哲学爱好者,其中就包括叔本华、尼采和萨特。德波顿将其归咎于大学哲学系水平太差,但是也许另有来由:如果有这样一门学科,我们人人学习,且热情不减,那就说明这门学科代表的是人类经验。
    所以,泡酒吧的时候可要小心了:坐在你身边的那个人,或许就是下一个尼采。

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