“Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.”

-J.K. Rowling

你知道「麻瓜」(muggle)指的是什麼嗎?你知道「佛地魔」(Lord Voldemort)是誰嗎?你想去「霍格華茲魔法學校」(Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry)上課嗎?你知道「九又四分之三月台」(platform nine and three-quarters)在哪裡嗎?如果你壓根兒沒有聽過這些奇怪的名詞,你肯定會被全球廣大的《哈利波特》(Harry Potter)迷嘲笑。畢竟,《哈利波特》系列作品在台灣已經掀起長達10年的旋風,作者J.K.羅琳(Joanne Kathleen Rowling)筆下的魔法世界,已經在無數大人、小孩的腦中,植入了奇幻的神祕種子。

在羅琳這位奇幻女王眼中,

世界可以是何種面貌?

“How to get onto the platform nine and three-quarters?...All you have to do is walk straight at the barrier between platforms nine and ten. Don't stop and don't be scared, and then you'll crash into it. That's very important. Best do it at a hit of a run if you're nervous.”

“There were a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts: wide, sweeping ones; narrow, rickety ones; some that led somewhere different on a Friday; some with a vanishing step halfway up that you had to remember to jump. Then there were doors that wouldn't open unless you asked politely, or tickled them in exactly the right place, and doors that weren't really doors at all, but solid walls just pretending. It was also very hard to remember where anything was, because it all seemed to move around a lot. The people in the portraits kept going to visit each other.”

“Harry has never been the star of a Quidditch (魁地奇世界盃) team, scoring points while riding a broom far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to hatch a dragon, and has never worn a cloak of invisibility.”

這麼奇幻的想像力並不是出自一位成天無憂無慮、不愁吃穿的少女筆下,羅琳的現實人生曾經充滿了黑暗與磨難,或許正與哈利波特如出一轍,為了生存與目標,強韌地展現一個生命如何用愛與勇氣,挺身力抗黑暗與磨難,終而歷劫歸來。

她在2008年應邀前往哈佛大學演講,題目為「失敗帶來的紅利以及想像的重要性」(The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination),談到她人生中難忘的失意時光:

“Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it's fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”

那時,不到30歲的羅琳就得了憂鬱症。那段萬念俱灰的日子,自小好奇心濃厚的羅琳,甚至對事物失去了感覺,也懷疑快樂是否就此遠去。《哈利波特》裡,全身罩著斗蓬,會吸走人們希望、幸福與生存渴望,只留下痛苦與駭人回憶的「催狂魔」(Dementors),就是在那段低潮時創作出來的。

“Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.”

縱使自小充滿想像力,羅琳還是想像不到,自己可以因為「想像力」而獲得今日的成就。

“I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that could never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension.”

幸運的是,人生傳統定義中的「失敗」,卻讓羅琳的想像力有機會再度奔馳。

“So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

“Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.”

現在,羅琳可以隨心所欲地去逛最愛的「蒂芬妮」(Tiffany),購買昂貴漂亮的衣服與鞋子,十指也經常擦著醒目的紅色蔻丹。但她那雙像小孩般澄澈晶亮,偶爾摻了點神祕的碧綠色眼睛始終沒變。她的筆也沒有停下,一直不斷地進行創作,希望把自己的想像力發揮得淋漓盡致。她的創作就像她的官方網站(http://www.jkrowling.com)一樣,充滿了奇幻氛圍,第一眼就能讓人眼睛一亮。難得的是,即使擁有全球盛名,她卻能保持平常心地看待自己的創作,不害怕從高處跌下。

“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.” (在這種情況下,你的失敗來自於放棄生活)

了解更多英語奇幻世界,請上網:www.core-

corner.com。

#idea #想像 #想像力 #奇幻 #Failure