Sunday, 30 December 2007

給Anita的信

Dearest Anita,

你好嗎?

時間過得真快,一霎眼,又是一年將盡的日子。

這一年,你做過些甚麼呢?到過甚麼地方去呢?

也許是終日忙這忙那,把以前的閒情逸致都丟開了,總覺得今年的日子跑得特別快,就像一把沙子,無論把手指如何捏緊,沙子還是簌簌的穿過指縫溜到地上去,想抓也抓不住。

時間跑得愈快,心裡就愈想停下來休息。不是適應不了急促的步伐,而是覺得神經繃得太緊,要好好放鬆一下。

相信你也知道,精神上的疲累,有時候比皮肉的損傷更磨人。

朋友都說我認真得過了頭,應該放輕鬆一點。但知易行難,有時候實在無法隨隨便便的接受某些事情。《帝女花》的長平公主有云:「求凰宴,莫設鳳臺,難從濁裡求。若是無緣,怎生將就?」姻緣固然如此,工作、生活又何嘗不是?

盡力做到最好,認真的過每一天,不只是你的教誨,也是一種應有的人生態度。

其實我從來不覺得自己過分認真或緊張,也許是經年累月的,早已把感覺內化,所以心跳加速、手心冒汗這些生理警號,從來極少出現;只有在覲見幾位重要人物的當兒,也許就會明顯一點,但心裡到底是喜孜孜的,出點洋相,那才叫真情流露嘛,對嗎?

無論如何,既然覺得精神疲累,難以放鬆,始終不能放手不管。三年前的痛苦教訓不敢稍忘,因此更應該坐言起行,對症下藥。

今年,終於達成了小時候的夢想,可以躲進完全屬於自己的小樓中,享受無拘無束的日子。當年和Steve討論病情時,他說過與人同住也可以是心理壓力的來源,對於我這種孤僻內向的人來說,實在再對也沒有了。《紅樓夢》的林黛玉,也是喜散不喜聚的,不過她是因為不喜歡盛筵過後的失落,而我,只不過是怕麻煩--既然來去也要孑然一身,不如早日適應,這才顯得與家人、朋友相聚時的可貴。因為不用天天見面,彼此有甚麼毛病和缺點,都可以因為相聚的緣故而視若無睹。若是天天相見,總有一天因為忍受不了而吵架,何苦來哉?俗語說「相見好,同住難」,其實就是這個道理。

我知道你一直喜歡熱鬧,相識滿天下,但在2002年的演唱會中,你還是忍不住洩漏了風聲:Leslie才是你唯一的好朋友。 Leslie當時就給你打圓場,但我們都明白是怎麼回事兒,只好長嘆一聲。要和一個懂得自己、值得信任、令自己感到安心舒坦,而且在他面前可以毫無保留地釋放自己的人交往,實在比登天還難。有時候即使親如父母、兄弟姊妹,倒不及相知相敬的朋友來得親切可信。雖說人心不古,但如今兄弟鬩牆、父母子女互相謀害、師生互相出賣的情況,的確比以前更多,也許就是因為彼此的關係實在太密切、太熟悉,引用「獨孤九劍」的概念,就是破綻大露,容易受制於人。從這個角度來看父子、兄弟和師生等本來應該很親厚的人際關係,的確是悲觀太過,對人性善良的一面、道德教育的效益也質疑太甚,但歸根究柢,正是因為人心生了病,連傳統的道德教育也失去應有效力的緣故。

也許我實在太喜歡胡思亂想了,總是提出很多自己無法解答的難題,庸人自擾,自尋煩惱。我能夠做的,就是學你一樣,做好自己的本分。在昨天晚上的紀念節目中,仍是毫無新意地說你在舞台上如何顛倒眾生、如何發熱發亮,個別人士甚至有借題發揮、宣傳自己之嫌。我以為自己會很生氣,但是竟然沒有。也許,因為我愈來愈清楚,你在我心裡的位置,已經沒必要再與誰誰誰比較來印證。

忽然又想起《紅樓夢》裡的幾句:

你證我證,心證意證。
是無有證,斯可云證。
無可云證,是立足境。
無立足境,方是乾淨。

一切盡在不言中。

最後借花獻佛,送你一首韓國歌迷給你做的music video。他們做得很用心,收集了很多你笑臉的照片,有現實的,也有戲裡的。說不出怎樣喜歡你的笑容,尤其是傻氣、促狹、開懷失態的笑,看著嘴角就會不由得跟著翹起來。配樂的英文歌也很好聽,我第一次聽就喜歡得不得了,重複又重複的播放,就是不想停下來。哪天練得熟了,再唱給你聽。

好了,下次再聊。祝你和Ann姊新年快樂,保重。

Truly yours,

Monday, 24 December 2007

A Christmas Prayer

How grateful I am to be able to have a quiet moment on my own on Christmas Eve.

For the first time, as far as I can remember, I am completely shut away from the noisy crowd hanging out on the busiest streets in town. For the first time, I cooked myself a quick Christmas dinner before watching a DVD and enjoying a beer. For the first time, I can enjoy the peace and tranquillity on my own, while the laughter of parties is lifting in the air from downstairs.

Some friends may say this is my hard-earned satisfaction by working throughout the years to make my childhood dream come true, but I know very well that it requires something more than mere hard work.

It is a Godsend privilege that I should treasure by all means.

Not surprisingly, it requires more than just hard work to achieve a dream. It takes patience, endurance and luck. While one may say patience and endurance is something that can be trained or cultivated, luck is not. And luck is perhaps the most important of all. Luck dictates when is the best timing to take action, what choices are available, what is the best choice to make, whether the process would end up in success or failure, so on and so forth. Luck is something out of human control and what makes life interesting and yet unpredictable. Luck is not something we can do anything to change. We can only stretch ourselves to learn how to accept it and deal with it if it is not working in our favour. Luck is never in our grasp, but hope and confidence is. Only hope and confidence can help us make a difference.

Perhaps one may say I'm being too pessimistic here, and I am. As someone who has spent considerable some time studying Daoist classics during teenage, I just don't want to play up too much the strength of human beings as many people out there do. We should acknowledge the fact that we have many limitations in terms of physical and mental powers and there is something far away from our stretch. This is why I have no difficulty in understanding God's teaching that we should all be humble and honest. Be humble to the Nature and all the creatures around us, and be honest when we come to admit our weaknesses. Only by being humble and honest can we be free from all sorts of fear and suspicions that may haunt our lives.

Thank you, my Lord, for helping me with all I have achieved this year. Without your help I wouldn't have been able to succeed. Please accept my gratitude and prayer for all my loved ones whom you have kindly received to your haven.

Amen.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Some Thoughts on Literary Theory

English literary/cultural critic Terry Eagleton was first introduced to me several years ago when I was taking the master degree in cultural management. Pardon me for my poor memory, but I didn't recall much of the context in which his Marxist criticism was discussed. All I could remember that he was one of the most renowned English cultural critics who originally focused their attention on literature, along with T S Eliot, Matthew Arnold and Raymond Williams.

Neither could I recall the reason why I picked up his best-known work Literary Theory: An Introduction. Perhaps I was just looking for something more thought-provoking to refresh myself in the realms of literature.

Even though I have only barely finished half of the book, I was mesmerised when reading the critical and succinct discussion on the fundamental questions about literature. Questions like "What is literature?" "What makes literature and what not?" "How literature should be read?" are never easy to answer, and yet so many of us have taken them for granted.

It is very interesting to see how different schools of thought define the characteristics of literature and how it should be read, simply because their perspectives are so much different from the traditional Chinese point of view that I'm personally more familiar with. It is even more interesting to see that while some critics believe that literature should be appreciated purely in its intrinsic terms, i.e., the special language used in literary works and the structures in which the words are organised, many others believe that literature does not exist in vacuum. How literature is read, understood and interpreted is inextricable from history and culture in which readers are bred. The discussion between form (language and the way language is used in literary works) and meaning becomes even more complicated when some critics view reading literature as a process of self-revelation or a means or promoting the status quo or social harmony (what a buzzword it is) dominated by a handful of educated bourgeois elite.

The debate between form and meaning seems interesting to me because from the traditional Chinese perspective, the preference for meaning is too strong and dominant to which form hardly poses any threat, let alone challenge. However, there were times when Chinese writers tended to focus their attention solely on extravagant language at the expense of meaning. But in terms of significance, those occasional renegade deviations were nothing compared with the emphasis on meaning, which is essentially derived from the Confucian belief in active engagement in public affairs. Therefore it is not uncommon to see expressions of personal emotions and romantic love to be interpreted in the light of current political developments in which the literary works were composed.

As far as I can recall, there was no established school of thought in literary criticism in imperial China. Probably the most prominent critic was Liu Xie with his masterpiece The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons. His sophisticated system of literary criticism covers both language and meaning but, not surprisingly, with the latter being dominant. Most of the literary criticisms in classic Chinese literature I can recall are merely trivial notes jotted down by educated readers as they read along. Those personal remarks were seldom backed up by a systematic scheme of thought as it was the case in the West.

Apparently I can give no definitive answer to explain why there is such a difference in Chinese and Western literary criticism. What came to my mind though is the fundamentally different perspectives of how China and the West see literary works, which may possibly be one of the underlying causes.

As mentioned, Confucianism values active engagement and participation in public affairs to achieve common good. This translates into a strong expectation of selfless commitment and contribution from the cultured men both from the mass, the imperial government and the educated scholars themselves. Realising the human weaknesses of any kind, Confucianism promotes a number of activities through which those weaknesses can be kept under control. Apparently writing is one of the recommended curricula of moral perfection. With that in mind, it is no surprise to see that literary works in imperial China, like many other aspects of life, are often judged not by their intrinsic values but by their relevance to the ultimate achievement of common good and moral perfection. Little substance or meaning would be recognised if this basic principle is not observed.

How about Western literature then? Based on my limited knowledge of literary history of the West, literary works seem to be less politically oriented as it was the case in China. Subject to further verification, Western writers seemed to be relatively free from political and moral pressures in terms of what to write and how. From Greek tragedies to Shakespearean plays, literary works of the West seemed to be more inclined for consumption and enjoyment. Apparently we can't deny any political or moral implications of those works, but it just doesn't seem as obvious as their Chinese counterparts of the time.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

A Month of Remembrance

Perhaps readers of this blog would wonder why I haven't written anything about current affairs in Hong Kong lately, including the much-touted Legislative Council By-election in which former chief secretary Anson Chan had a bitter victory over her former colleague Regina Ip.

Obviously my attention was diverted to something more urgent and interesting. But it didn't mean that I have lost sight on what was going on.

I must admit that I didn't give a damn to the high-profile showdown between two retired senior government officials, which seemed nothing but an extravagant farce of democracy in Hong Kong style. The appalling tactics to sustain public attention and to solicit electorate support were designed to be misleading and provoking. They only reminded me of the bunch of hooligans fighting for the helm of Taiwan who would smear their rivals by whatever means they can think of.

Perhaps I didn't pay enough attention to the press, but I couldn't help wondering why nobody seems to remember the first anniversary of the demolition of the old Star Ferry Pier and its clock tower in Central. The prevalent silence in the local media on this matter is awfully disappointing. Just 367 days ago, on 16 December 2006, the old pier and its clock tower that together embraced countless fond memories of at least three generations in Hong Kong was brutally devastated by a bunch of baby-boomers obsessed with the way they perceive the world. They were too stubborn to be convinced of the significance of history as much as economic gains until they were forced to yield to enormous political pressure, which would, not surprisingly, put their own interests at stake.

After our recent visit to the controversial King Yin Lane on Stubbs Road, Shirley was quite right to say that to educate fellow folks in Hong Kong about the value of history, essentially our past and our story, is the only effective means of changing people's minds. However, as a pessimist, I can't help worrying about the school curriculum, which has been so hopelessly dominated by the same group of baby-boomers who know little, if anything at all, about education and what it is supposed to achieve. Chinese history and Chinese language were among the first victims of education reforms that were introduced simply for the sake of introduction and, ultimately, personal gains. I just can't imagine what would happen if the same group of people start thinking about "teaching" our next generations about heritage conservation as if they know what they are talking about.

The 70th anniversary of the Rape of Nanjing on 13 December is also another significant date deserving public attention. The fact that Japan has yet to officially apologise for the atrocities it brought to its neighbours during the Second World War, let alone taking concrete steps to compensate its neighbours and reassure them of its commitment to peace, is by all means regretful and annoying. Apparently the ambiguity and reluctance to fully acknowledge and accept its responsibility is deep-rooted in its culture and history. Japan is never known for as a culture that appreciates candidness and openness, especially when it comes to the conceding of guilt. That's why it is so hopelessly frustrating to make Japan, in particular its political leaders, bold enough to take a ground-breaking step out of the shadow that has been haunting the country for decades. No matter how strong the arguments are, the Japanese would only interpret them in the same way - that its neighbours are trying hard to embarrass Japan and to make it look bad and inferior.

But Japan is never the only one to blame for its evasive attitude. It was even more unfortunate for the Chinese people, who had probably suffered more than any of their neighbours under Japanese invasion, to have two generous leaders who reportedly volunteered to waive any official indemnity from Japan. This generosity, of course, has to be compensated later and elsewhere, even until today.

This is why I find it least tolerable to see the witnesses of the Rape of Nanjing and other victims of the Second World War died in anguish and resentment. Most of them just wanted a formal apology and some compensation, more in ritual than in real terms, to be assured that Japan truly regrets what its forefathers did to them.

As we can see from the examples mentioned above, one does not require a degree in cultural studies to understand the politics of disappearance. In the simplest terms, disappearance provides the perfect platform to start things from scratch, which is much easier than to manage a thorny issue with undesired roots and unpredictable consequences and divert it to the direction in which we would like things to develop. To achieve disappearance is easy. Removal is a common tactic, while neglect is another. What bothers me though is that so many people seem to be too obsessed with the immediate effect of those quick fixes, losing sight to the long-term and irreversible harm that can last for generations.

Monday, 17 December 2007

The First Month of New Experience

Today marks the first completed month since I moved in my new haven. It is certainly a fresh experience that I have been longing for since childhood. It is not exciting as I originally thought, but is certainly rewarding and satisfying.

It took just about a week to establish the daily schedule of how tasks of housework are completed, but there were always something unexpected that came up in the last moment and disrupted a perfect plan for the evening. While I barely managed to hold my tempers and keep things going as smoothly as possible, I couldn't help wondering if those nuisances were meant to be inevitable in the transition.

The short trip to Sichuan with Shirley, Daphne and Tianliang was certainly refreshing. Looking at the photos of Jiuzhaigou and Mount Emei, as well as the lovely pandas, the refreshing and relaxing breakaway seemed so remote that I can hardly believe that we had such a wonderful time just three weeks ago.

Now that everything seems settled and my home computer finally fixed (phew - what a relief to be able to remove the Trojan caught from a client's office through the USB memory stick), I can move on to realise the ultimate purpose of moving out - to focus on my reading and writing.

Even though the daily commutation takes less than one hour in total, it still provides a valuable quiet moment to indulge myself in the longed-for pleasure of reading. Nothing compares to the joy of picking up a book that has long been abandoned for some reason and making good progress on a daily basis.

The pleasure doesn't just stop there. Better utilisation of time at home with a well-planned schedule is equally rewarding. I can now finish dinner and washing early and spend an hour or two almost every day on books, films or TV dramas, without eating too much into the sleeping hours.

What else can I ask for? Perhaps just a few more hours for workout during the week.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

四川印象之四

即使對成都毫無期盼,但匆匆逛了一圈,還是覺得有點失望。

已經不計較當地導遊小王對成都跡近媚諂的讚美--畢竟是人之常情,有誰願意在陌生人面前承認自己故鄉的不是?有誰願意坦然把故鄉的缺點告訴萍水相逢的遊客?當然是擇善而從了--還是覺得四川欠缺了一點點成熟大度的風範。

漫步於野趣天然、滿目蒼翠的四川郊外,十分佩服當局保持自然風貌與發展旅遊之間所取得的平衡,甚至可以說是值得全國各地借鑑的楷模;但來到了身為首府的成都,卻瞥見一種繁華背後的自卑,令人深感不是味兒。

撇開甚麼「錦里仿古一條街」那些千篇一律的「假古董」不談,最明顯的是到處充斥著以外國地名命名的高樓大廈,甚麼「溫哥華公寓」、「德國堡壘」等等,不一而足,比香港那些「君臨天下」、「擎天半島」、「名門」等所謂「豪宅」的名字,好不了多少。

如果說香港的「豪宅」名稱代表著一種不可一世的暴發戶嘴臉,那麼成都以外國地名為房屋命名,又是否代表著一種自信不足、誤以為「外國月亮比較圓」的心理?

儘管成都位處西陲,與中原相距萬里,畢竟是擁有二千多年歷史的古城,何必如此妄自菲薄?如今成都仍保留不少具有地方特色的街名,如琴台路、武侯祠大街、青羊上街等,足為明證。不是跟外國攀附就是和自家人斤斤計較,就連建設地鐵系統的投資金額也要和重慶一較高下,又有甚麼意義?須知道地鐵系統是為了造福市民而建設的項目,重點不在於投資多少,而在於系統和路線設計是否恰當、施工是否安全、系統建成後的營運是否便捷有效,達到疏導交通、方便市民和遊客的目標。如果成都當局認為投資建設地鐵是一種「面子工程」,那跟當年石崇、王愷比富的浮誇淺薄有何分別?

也許有人說,批評人家容易,自我批評卻難。誠然,但我批評成都,絲毫沒有把香港捧到天上去的意思。其實,身為土生土長的香港人,我比誰都清楚香港的深層次矛盾,只可惜「喝香港水、流香港血」的當政者似乎還沒有意識到問題有多嚴重,仍舊只看重眼前的蠅頭小利,甘願被浮沙上的繁華蒙蔽了眼睛。我只是不想看到像成都那樣內涵豐富、本來可以活出自己個性和尊嚴的古城,像香港一樣迷失了自己。

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

四川印象之三

這次到四川,本來沒想過要看熊貓,但因為朋友愛看,也就湊湊熱鬧,參加行程最後一天的自費節目。

看熊貓的地點位於成都外緣的保育基地,距市中心約三十分鐘車程。保育中心看起來和一般動物園沒有太大分別,但設有多個研究室和保育室,把不同年齡和狀況的熊貓分隔照顧。

園中道路蜿蜒,竹海森森,滿目生涼,好一座設計上乘的園林。

原來除了黑白兩色的大熊貓外,園中也飼養了不少看起來像浣熊、遍身棕紅色短毛的小熊貓。大熊貓比較像熊,小熊貓則像貓,倒也有趣。

雖然沒有機會像許老爺那樣親親大熊貓,但與大、小熊貓只有十呎八呎左右的距離,沒有圍牆和玻璃阻隔,看著牠們鮮蹦活跳的模樣兒,逗得大夥兒童心大起,情不自禁大呼小叫起來。

最後來到一些較為年長的大熊貓的居處,碰巧管理員拋過去一堆新鮮竹子,幾隻本來自得其樂的熊貓,都一窩蜂上前去搶竹子,吃得津津有味。看著他們的饞相,實在令人忍俊不禁。也許,自己也比牠們好不了多少。

Sunday, 2 December 2007

四川印象之二

有道是「黃山歸來不看山,九寨歸來不看水」,竊以為是有點過譽了,但在零下十餘度的深秋時分,沐浴在萬里無雲的晴空中,一邊漫步談笑,一邊欣賞清澈泓亮的青山碧水,確是心曠神怡,煩惱全消,連不知怎地遺失了暖壺,也沒怎麼放在心上了。

四川是眾所周知的盆地,四面被高山環繞,只有成都一帶的中部是平原,地勢就像一隻平底鍋。這次旅程以看山為主,即使來到有名的高山湖泊九寨溝,我還是對起伏連綿的山嶺和姿態萬千的草木比較有興趣。

更別說峨眉山了。金庸小說場景已成為到內地旅遊的重要指標之一。峨眉山是小東邪郭襄開宗立派之地,光是這一點已足以構成前往峨眉山的推動力有餘,甚麼「中國四大佛教名山」,倒是沒放在心上。

孔子說過:「知者樂水,仁者樂山。」不過,我倒寧願自己有多一點智慧。嘿嘿。

四川印象之一

和幾位老友匆匆到四川玩了幾天,本來沒有太大的期望,倒是喜出望外。

數年前在雲南高山症發作的狼狽相仍然歷歷在目,所以一直對位處海拔三千米以上的九寨溝和峨眉山(總算弄清楚「峨眉」二字的正寫了)有點戒心,唯恐歷史重演。也許這陣子疏於運動,肺活量稍有下降;加上自己暗地提防,刻意放慢腳步,結果玩得十分愉快。正如Shirley她們說的,我能吃能睡,打呼打個不亦樂乎,也是難得的輕鬆。

李白詩云:「蜀道難,難於上青天。」所以一直有個印象,就是四川的山路比雲南還要崎嶇難走,誰知不然。在九寨溝和峨眉山,柏油山路均鋪得光滑整潔,雖然山勢險峻、道路蜿蜒,路面尚算寬敞,有些路段甚至比香港半山的馬路更寬闊。相比當年在虎跳峽與無遮無擋的懸崖相距不過數寸、前往麗江路上遇到落石擋路的驚險,九寨溝和峨眉山那幾個一百八十度的急彎,卻是微不足道了。

坦白說,一直對四川興趣缺缺,從來不是心目中必到的旅遊地區。這次雖然不至於愛上四川,倒是十二分的佩服他們在保護環境和公共衛生方面的成就。

內地公共衛生為人詬病多年,如今來到二十一世紀,終於看到一點成績來。以水聞名於世的九寨溝,終於做到了一塵不染的地步。在山上大大小小的各個湖泊(當地土語稱為「海子」),均是清澈見底,沒有半點垃圾,十數米深的湖水,看上去就像只有幾呎那樣,連水中的小魚和枝葉也是筋絡分明,實屬難得。須知道九寨溝就像一個橫跨幾座山峰的巨型郊野公園,不但遊人如鯽,山上仍有三個藏族村寨,污染是無可避免的事。誰知道兩天進溝,始終乾淨整潔,連廢紙、果皮也沒見到(可惜後來離開時在九寨溝入口外的溪水看到一塊果皮,確是美中不足),如何不教人驚喜?一路上看見很多貌似藏民的清潔工巡弋於各個景點,真可謂十步一人,也許這就是九寨溝始終保持嬌艷潔亮的真正原因。

此外,無論在九寨溝、峨眉山還是成都鬧市,路旁的垃圾箱均分兩格,一格專門收集廢紙、鋁罐等可回收垃圾,另一格則是果皮、食物渣滓等不可回收垃圾,壁壘分明,一目瞭然。好奇觀察了一下,似乎本地居民和遊客也能遵守指示,亂扔的情況不算太多。

內地一直令人皺眉的公共廁所,來到四川似乎可以挽回不少聲望。在市區和峨眉山這些人工規劃、建設較多的地方不說,即使在以天然無雕飾見著的九寨溝,公共廁所都是以流動廁所的形式設於景點附近,但乾淨衛生,毫無異味,照明充足,的確令人驚喜。有趣的是,馬桶旁邊均設有感應器,遊人使用廁所後,套在馬桶上的膠墊會自動向下滾動,帶走穢物,同時轉出一段乾淨的膠墊。一天收集下來的穢物則會於閉園後運出山外清理。如果全國各地的野外景區也能參考這種設計,同時棄用塑膠,改以可自然分解的物料製造收集袋,那就真是功德無量,十全十美了。

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Mission Completed

What a great sense of achievement it is. I finally moved into my new haven today after seven months of anxiety and restlessness.

While my mother keeps subtly reminding me of how lucky I am by asking about my peers, I can't help being proud of myself for making a childhood dream come true before my next birthday.

Certainly today is the beginning of a new chapter of life. Before worrying about anything else, let me have some quality sleep and sweet dreams that have been missing for months.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Another Milestone, One More Step Ahead

Despite the hectic schedules and tremendous pressure at work, I think it was a right decision to start moving in my inventory of books and CDs sooner than later. Otherwise the delay would have been indefinite and dreadful.

While stocking the bookshelves is no-brainer but a tedious physical exercise, the creation of a book database in a proper way is where the real challenge sets in. I have created book records previously but never managed to keep them updated due to the absence of proper storage. That's why it was so annoying to see I have bought redundant copies of a few titles when ploughing through the some 750 volumes over the last two days. Now that I have no more excuses not to keep my library records up-to-date going forward.

Looking at the walls of bookshelves that are only two-third full, I couldn't help giving a sigh of relief and wearing a smile of satisfaction. What a sense of achievement it is!

The next step would be creating another database of CDs, VCDs and DVDs. Since there are fewer copies and now they are already sitting in different cubicles by category, it shouldn't take as long as a full weekend.

It just takes another step forward to reach the project finishing line. Again, hope this would happen sooner than later.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

當時只道是尋常--從《金玉滿堂》說起

這陣子忙得七竅生煙、心煩氣躁,想起Rosalind說過對Fiona在《金玉滿堂》裡的演出印象深刻,忍不住上網找了一些片段來看。

果然不錯。Fiona演一個純樸憨厚,又帶點傻氣的小婦人,可愛極了。後來她發覺丈夫不忠,那些淚水在眼眶裡打轉、無聲落淚的模樣兒,著實叫人心酸。

我對這劇沒甚麼印象,只記得是那些衣飾、布景、道具黃澄澄一片,曬死人不償命的賀年劇集,名稱都是甚麼《金玉滿堂》、《錦繡良緣》之類的「揮春常用字」,哪齣是哪齣也分不清楚。若不是Rosalind說起,根本不知道Fiona有份演出,而且可能是她離開無線前的最後作品。就像早前看1996年版《笑傲江湖》時那樣,看得興高采烈之餘,忍不住一直責問自己:「為甚麼以前沒發覺Fiona的戲演得那麼好?」

轉念想起《金玉滿堂》已是七、八年前的舊作,突然驚覺自己這二十年來,其實不斷在追尋一些有意無意之間錯過了的東西。

錯過的原因有兩種,一是因為生不逢時,二是因為心有旁騖,視而不見,「當時只道是尋常」。

因為生不逢時而錯過的,在蛛網塵封的灰黃之中,彷彿都有一抹艷媚的薔薇色,總是令人魂牽夢縈、意馬心猿。即使集體回憶、文化身分等潮爆名詞未必算得到自己的頭上來,還是忍不住沾沾自喜一番,彷彿懂得那一丁點兒皮毛,就足以在誰誰誰面前耀武揚威一番了。看,從陳幼堅到王家衛到G.O.D.,哪一個不是販賣支離破碎、out of context的陳穀子爛芝麻?

因為心有旁騖而錯過的,卻是怪不得旁人,只能怨自己。大夥兒同桌吃飯,各自修行,誰叫你點的菜跟別人不一樣?吃不著也是活該。

當然,不是說每個人也要點相同的菜,這種剝奪自由選擇權利的事情絕對不能鼓吹。但欲壑難填,看到人家吃得津津有味,明知自己未必吃得下,還是忍不住想分一杯羹。至於是否真的好吃,或者比自己原來點的菜更好吃,那就看各人的造化了。

總之,無論是哪一種原因而錯過了,往後總有更多的理由催促自己亡羊補牢。然而,愈是想把錯過了的東西追回來,遺漏的只有更多,結果弄得那張wish list比纏腳布還要長。

跟「過去」比賽,尤其是在「過去」不值錢的香港,本來就是吃力不討好的事情,結局永遠只能是身心俱疲。當真是應了莊子那一句:「吾生也有涯,而知也無涯。以有涯隨無涯,殆已。」

儘管慶幸自己仍有機會看到Fiona的舊作,又忍不住質問自己,這種追逐還要維持到甚麼時候。為甚麼不能像小時候那樣安分守己,不問好壞,照單全收。

其實已經不是第一次嘗試追尋錯過了的好風光,差不多過去二十年也是在這種追逐裡度過的,只是不同時期有不同的目標罷了。但來到這一刻,真是疲累不堪,覺得自己好像傻瓜一樣,明擺在眼前的偏不稀罕,卻去苦苦追尋一些早已遠去、甚至湮沒了的東西,簡直就是自討苦吃。

其實,生性慵懶如我,又怎會捨易求難?只不過擺在眼前的,真的無法令人心動。

唯其心動,才能鼓足力量去做那些無法以理性衡量和理解的傻事。

也許,我早就應該明白,為甚麼如此喜歡自討苦吃。

Saturday, 27 October 2007

A Miraculous Encounter

I think I owe God a serious gesture of gratitude for granting me an opportunity to see Fiona in person so soon.

I am simply overwhelmed with joy.

There are a number of reasons for that. For one thing, she seems to have put on some weight and her face is glowing with happiness, warmth and satisfaction. This is exactly what I have been dying to know and see.

For another, she played extraordinarily well in her first appearance in a musical. At a time when she didn't have a line, she simply spared no time to do whatever she could not to grab attention but to fulfil what her character would have done as if it ever existed in real life. While I must confess that I spent all the time following her movements on stage, there is no question that she deserves the strongest possible compliment for a tremendous job done. Bar none.

How privileged I was to be able to present her in person a bouquet of peach-coloured roses and a letter after the performance was completed. Her lovely small face lighting up with surprise and innocent excitement just seemed unforgettable. Making someone you admire happy is just a wonderful experience.

What was even more unforgettable to me was that she gave me a big hug when I congratulated her for a great performance. I never thought that such a sincere but small compliment would make her so excited. Who was I to her to deserve such a miraculous encounter like this? Since that particular moment I just felt like my favourite Jin Yong character Ren Yingying was throwing herself in my arms. Then I found myself flung into a dream that would be too good to be true.

Dear Fiona, just a quick note to thank and congratulate you for a great show. Make sure you take some good rest tonight. May I wish you every success in the performances to come.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

A Major Milestone

What a relief it was when Xavier called to tell me that renovation of my new home has been completed after three full months of work.

Finally.

I couldn't help giving a sigh of relief and satisfaction.

In general, the project worked out smoothly despite some delays and minor issues, such as the removal of the light bulb at the doorstep by mistake and the problems in identifying a vendor that accepts special orders for the picture to be craved on the frosted glass. In any case, these were inevitable anyway and I was not very much concerned.

However, the six-week delay apparently has drained my reserve of patience and I'm now more eager than ever to move in. Yet I need to plan properly for the packing and unpacking, which can only be equally annoying and time-consuming.

Hopefully my rationality is still strong enough to suppress the boiling restlessness.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

《雪梅香》--重讀《笑傲江湖》有感

世間事,因緣迥異總傷情。念珠沉微水,池魚枉惹凶刑。算盡良謀勝當恃,到頭無計欲推枰。可憐那,蟪蛄之年,何似冥靈? 盈盈,抱殘缺,守靜虛懷,莫問崢嶸。勘破迷津,急風驟雨難驚。且自逍遙沒人管,但憑琴劍寄心聲。長相憶,竹巷綢繆,陰滿中庭。

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Happy Birthday, Anita!

First of all, I would like to thank all those Anita's fans who have devoted time, money and hard work to organise the ongoing commemorative exhibition in Tsim Sha Tsui. It is not an extravagant exhibition, but certainly one filled with great love for and cherished memories of our Queen.

What a pity that I missed the deadline for donations. I feel somewhat ashamed enjoying the hard-earned results of those who worked on this project without any contribution.

Walking along the Promenade on a breezy autumn evening is by all means refreshing and relaxing. But it is equally heart-breaking to read the billboards of a retrospect of Anita's colourful and respectful life, knowing that I can no longer see her anywhere in this world. In the years to come, I can only cling to her legacy of songs and films that have made, and will continue to make, my life more colourful and enjoyable than it should have been.

Just a few hours before her 44th birthday, a sense of loss and hollowness took over me when I reviewed her remarkably successful career on the display boards. It reminded me of all the fond memories of her singing and dancing during my days of carefree happiness and disappointment. I expected tears running down my cheeks, but they didn't. They barely managed to wet my eyes.

While the paper models of Anita's famous characters and album covers looked perfectly glamorous in the backdrop of Hong Kong's glittering skyline at night, they only reminded me of the emptiness and sorrow following the permanent loss of her Godsend talent in entertainment and sympathy for the disadvantaged. Her kindness and integrity as a performer and a philanthropist will find no substitute.

Looking beyond the shoulders of her paper models into the Symphony of Lights across the harbour, I couldn't help giving a big sigh of sadness and frustration. The glittery visible to the eye simply can't disguise the lack of strength and substance deep inside the heart of Hong Kong.

How can I miss you less, my dear?

Just let me wish you a very Happy Birthday, Your Majesty.

P.S. Don't cry, my dear. It was my honour and pleasure to celebrate your birthday. I am flattered to have you thinking about me by giving me the good weather just now. Take care.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

戲裡戲外--新版《笑傲江湖》觀後記(外一章)

再讀一遍《笑傲江湖》,開始有點明白,為甚麼會被一九九六年的電視改編本,迷得七葷八素。

撇開甚麼情節忠於原著、編導演俱佳的陳腔濫調不談,光是一位比原著還要可親可敬的任盈盈,已經抵得上十年八載的魂牽夢縈。這些日子以來強睜倦眼,寫下這十篇八篇自娛意義大於一切的夢囈癡語,又算得了甚麼?

戲還沒看到一半,已知編劇的仁兄仁姐定然是任大小姐的粉絲。難得有機會如此理直氣壯地假公濟私,自然出盡水磨功夫,為任大小姐搖旗吶喊,像沖哥那樣狠狠大鬧一場。瞧著螢幕上的任大小姐時而靦腆、時而溫婉、時而含嗔薄怒、時而活潑淘氣的模樣,不只是從書裡走出來一般,而是比書裡的還要可愛幾分,心花怒放之餘,心底又不免湧起一陣陣「吾道不孤」的喜慰。

多少年了,總覺得戲劇裡的任大小姐,不是面目全非,就是可有可無,大有虎落平陽之嘆。做粉絲的,除了恨得牙癢癢,又能怎地?好容易出了一位神態、性情都符合原著的,自然喜從天降,難以自抑。狂喜之情,只怕比當日令狐沖得到風清揚指點劍術時,有過之而無不及。

儘管在香港無線流水作業製作模式的荼毒下,編劇的想像力有限,沒有想出甚麼好的點子,畢竟是對任大小姐的一番心意,還是值得記述一下:

首先,任盈盈背負令狐沖到少林寺求醫,甘願囚於寺中,換取方證把《易筋經》授予令狐沖治傷。但令狐沖醒來之後,不肯加入少林,拂袖而去,方證也沒有即時把任盈盈釋放。後來任盈盈和令狐沖談起此事,仍說:「這老和尚說起來卻又是一片道理。他說留我在少室山,是盼望以佛法化去我的甚麼暴戾之氣,當真胡說八道之至。」(第二十八回〈積雪〉)

沒想到佛法無邊,戲裡居然把任盈盈開始時心浮氣躁、動輒以銀針刺死飛蛾的暴戾之氣(第二十一集),給薰陶成主動放走飛蛾的和顏悅色(第二十八集),為後來她所做的一切做好了有力的鋪墊。如果沒有這場戲,後來她那些聽了少林寺小沙彌受傷慘叫便挺身而出;見到樹上小狗受傷就觸動了惻隱之心(小狗也會爬樹?);對父親誅滅正派、血洗江湖的雄圖大計不以為然等仁善之舉,固然沾不上半點邊兒;而她那些「帶領日月神教重歸正途,按照創教之始行事」等豪言壯語(第四十三集),也就無從說起。

不過最好笑的是,任大小姐離開少林寺之前,居然向方證大師求贈佛經!要是任大小姐看到了,不知會有甚麼感受?不過方證、定閒、定逸三位佛門高德,肯定對她大增好感,心想魔教妖女頗有慧根,孺子可教;可能又想令狐沖果然慧眼識佳人,不如暗地裡助他倆一把,也是一場功德,呵呵……

第二,縱觀全劇,任盈盈始終沒有利用「三尸腦神丹」脅逼下屬,即使為了對付岳不群,用的也是假藥。從此可見那些江湖上三山五嶽的人馬,對任大小姐確是心悅誠服,並非事出無奈。

這是我最欣賞、最喜歡、最贊成的改編處。雖說任盈盈出身魔教,行事乖張狠辣,本在情理之中;但以毒藥威逼於人,卻似乎不合她的性情。既然她可以不厭其煩替群豪向東方不敗求情取藥,惻隱之心昭然可見,自己又怎會用這等下三濫的手段逼人就範?要殺便殺,倒還乾脆;強人所難,卻不見得是任大小姐那杯茶。

第三,岳靈珊被林平之刺傷,得到令狐沖和任盈盈搭救,暫保性命。令狐沖一副心思都放在小師妹身上,連任盈盈為採藥而受傷也不知道,只怒氣沖沖的怪她沒有好好守著小師妹。任盈盈眼見兩人有說有笑,岳靈珊更打斷她和令狐沖情意綿綿的練劍,逕自和大師哥同練「沖靈劍法」(!)。任盈盈心裡自是又酸又苦,忍了又忍,終於忍不下去,留書出走(第三十七至三十八集)。

這一段並非原著所有,明顯是編劇加油添醋的效果。坦白說,到現在想起來還是頭皮發麻、滿身雞皮疙瘩。總覺得這一段的情節太老套,言語太肉麻,實在有損任大小姐的高情逸態。她既然懂得「你既無心我便休」,要走就走便了,何必留下書信?信中自稱為「妾」,已是不倫不類之極--試想自負才識的李清照,當年雖則顛沛流離,身遭不幸,何曾賤稱自己為「妾」?何況任盈盈還是雲英未嫁的呀!信裡又說甚麼「岳姑娘際遇坎坷,而品性馴良,實君之良配,日後宜加善待。我倆雖屬有緣,可惜無分。君當放開懷抱,勿以為念。妾當每日祝禱,祈君多福多壽,事事逢凶化吉」云云,更是一派瓊瑤式以退為進的技倆,端的令人毛骨悚然。

若是換了別人,寫下這封書信倒是不足為奇;因為總有人覺得離去之前,沒有給對方留下片言隻語,好像欠缺了一個交代。其實,如果對方真的對自己毫無情意,又或者自己決心斷絕來往,還畫蛇添足幹嗎?那些看似撫慰、實則怨妒的言語,與其說是給對方一個交代,不如說是給自己的超渡。反正對方有情無情,聽了心裡也不好受,總算是給自己出了一口惡氣。但任大小姐是何等樣人?如此俗不可耐的行徑,又豈是矜持清逸的任大小姐所屑為?

第四,任盈盈身中東方不敗種下的「三尸腦神丹」劇毒,無藥可治,讓令狐沖表演了一下殉情,以示對她的真心(第四十三集)。

這當然又是編劇仁兄仁姐的傑作,並非原著所有。其實這也罷了,最煽情催淚的莫過於播放令狐沖回憶的片段時,配上林憶蓮哀怨纏綿的舊歌《當我眼前只有你》。曲中那蕩氣迴腸的二胡伴奏,恐怕比莫大先生的胡琴還要淒涼幾分,令人不忍卒聽。

更耐人尋味的是林憶蓮反覆詠唱的詞句:

當我眼前只有你
當你背後總有我
在路途上一雙一對
但背影相差算多不算多?

一字一淚,觸目驚心。

就算我死心眼兒好了。這幾句歌詞,明明是說自己癡心守候,對方卻始終漠然相對,教人捉摸不透。即使兩個人走在一起,仍是貌合神離。難道任盈盈和令狐沖之間,真的是這樣嗎?這到底是編導和配樂師的Freudian slip,還是疏忽大意的無心之失?

無論如何,還是那一句,總覺得這場戲煽情有餘,感人不足,落了下乘,實在可惜。不是說情理不通,只是覺得氣氛全然不對。既然編劇花了那麼多篇幅在前面鋪敘令狐沖和任盈盈的相知相守,又何必再灑狗血?莫說是跟令狐沖朝夕相對的恆山派大中小尼姑,就連粗魯無文的江湖豪傑和不問世事的少林高僧、莫大先生等都看出來了,還怕觀眾看不出來?

話雖如此,說不定有很多任大小姐的粉絲仍然感謝編劇露了這麼兩手,讓沒讀過原著的觀眾對任大小姐的同情分暴增十倍,總算是一場功德。一味以任大小姐的清雅幽遠的君子胸襟來衡量編劇的努力,也可能太不近人情了些。

事實上,編劇比金庸更早肯定令狐沖對任盈盈的情意,才是任大小姐各位粉絲最應該感恩之處。大概是在少林寺三戰之後,令狐沖在山洞裡向任盈盈說的那一番話,文字幾乎與原著一樣,但戲裡令狐沖說話的態度,與原著裡他的模棱兩可、搖擺不定,絕對不可同日而語。後來兩人為任我行療傷,全身被大雪蓋住,無意間聽到岳不群夫婦的對答,金庸只寫令狐沖如何激動如狂,於任盈盈的反應則隻字不提。但戲裡總算沒有忘掉任大小姐,讓她流露了傷心難過的神色;而看當時令狐沖的眉梢眼角,也似乎很在意任盈盈的感受,怕她難堪。此後令狐沖對待任盈盈,也似乎沒有原著中那層朦朦朧朧的隔閡,而是全心全意的信任和愛護。

平心而論,這些小節太也瑣碎,甚至很容易被人忽略,未必能改變其他人對任盈盈的誤解。但在我看來,就像是郭靖當日在江南七怪面前漲紅了臉、結結巴巴地為黃蓉辯護,說她不是小妖女一樣--即使未必幫得上甚麼忙,那份真摯的擁護之情,還是令人打從心底裡感動。

Sunday, 7 October 2007

文海隨筆--重讀《笑傲江湖》

終於一鼓作氣,又讀完了一遍《笑傲江湖》原著。

只是沒想到,竟對任盈盈別有一番體會。

任大小姐仍是我最喜愛的金庸女主角。她的豁達大度、恬淡自持,實在令人心折。令狐沖出身寒微,對權力不感興趣,只是天性使然;任盈盈自幼尊貴,早已得享權力的好處,卻能看破黑木崖上金碧輝煌的迷魂陣,寧願隱居陋巷,琴簫自娛,但求平靜安逸、逍遙自在,愈發令人肅然起敬。

古語有云:「由奢入儉難。」出身嬌貴的豪門千金,要適應平民百姓為口奔馳的日子,尚且千難萬難;更何況是被捧在雲端上受人敬拜、權操生死的任大小姐?

不過,總覺得金庸寫任盈盈,筆法撲朔迷離,矛盾甚多。以前沒有深思箇中因由,只道金庸不太懂得女兒家的心事。如今重讀不知第幾遍,這種感受更是強烈,甚至覺得金庸對任盈盈的心情,就像令狐沖那樣搖擺不定,到結局還是無法讓人看得真切。也許,他的心情就像「獨孤九劍」的要旨那樣,一切皆視乎對方的反應而定,自己心底是甚麼想法,卻是模棱兩可。否則的話,這些年來也不會有那麼多讀者,為了令狐沖有沒有真心愛上任盈盈而爭辯不休。

我無意再趕這淌渾水,因為這個問題,恐怕連令狐沖和金庸自己也答不上來。旁人吵得再起勁,也只是不著邊際的臆測而已。

記得少年時初讀原著,曾經一廂情願地認為令狐沖對任盈盈的感情,不只是感恩圖報那麼簡單。即使任盈盈在他心目中的地位未必比得上岳靈珊,兩人畢竟也共過患難,而且任盈盈是世上少有真正理解他、信任他、尊重他的人。他和任盈盈之間的默契和親暱,其實遠在岳靈珊之上。

不過,這次重讀原著,就發覺金庸在令狐沖對任盈盈的隔閡方面著墨甚重,頗覺不是味兒。又想起有不少男讀者都說任盈盈機關算盡,把令狐沖玩弄於股掌之間,更忍不住喟然長嘆。

書中三番四次地強調,令狐沖對於任盈盈,始終帶著三分畏懼。即使他和任盈盈經歷了五霸岡聚會、少林寺治傷、少林寺三戰賭約,他仍覺得眼前的女子可望而不可即。

隨手抄了幾段原著印證如下(附註冊數及頁碼以香港明河社於一九八四年出版的修訂本為準):

第十七回〈傾心〉:「令狐沖心下駭然:『這婆婆單憑一句話,便將他們發配去東海荒島,一輩子不許回來。這些人反而歡天喜地,如得大赦,可真教人不懂了。』他默不作聲的行走,心頭思潮起伏,只覺身後跟隨著的那位婆婆實是生平從所未聞的怪人,思忖:『只盼一路前去,別再遇見五霸岡上的朋友。他們一番熱心,為治我的病而來,倘若給婆婆撞見了,不是刺瞎雙目,便得罰去荒島充軍,豈不冤枉?這樣看來,黃島主、祖千要我說從來沒見過他們,五霸岡上群豪片刻間散得乾乾淨淨,都是因為怕了這婆婆。她……她到底是怎麼一個可怖的大魔頭?』想到此處,不由自主的連打兩個寒噤。」(第二冊,頁706)

第二十五回〈聞訊〉:「莫大先生這麼一笑,令狐沖登時滿臉通紅,情知他這番話不錯,但群豪服了自己,只不過是在瞧在盈盈的面上,而盈盈日後知道,一定要大發脾氣,突然間心念一動:『盈盈對我情意深重,可是她臉皮子薄,最怕旁人笑話於她,說她對我落花有意,而我卻流水無情。我要報答她這番厚意,務須教江湖上好漢眾口紛傳,說道令狐沖對任大小姐一往情深,為了她性命也不要了。我須孤身去闖少林,能救得出她來,那是最好,倘若救不出,也要鬧得眾所周知。』」(第三冊,頁1053)

第二十六回〈圍寺〉:「令狐沖道:『是誰當盟主,那是小事一件,只須救得聖姑出來,在下便是粉身碎骨,也所甘願。』這幾句話倒不是隨口胡謅,他感激盈盈為己捨身,若要他為盈盈而死,那是一往無前,決不用想上一想。不過如在平日,這念頭在自己心頭思量也就是了,不用向人宣之於口,此刻卻要拚命顯得多情多義,好叫旁人不去笑話盈盈。」(第三冊,頁1059)

第二十八回〈積雪〉:「盈盈柔聲道:『你為甚麼嘆氣?你後悔識得我嗎?』令狐沖道:『沒有,沒有!我怎會後悔?你為了我,寧肯把性命送在少林寺裡,我以後粉身碎骨,也報不了你的大恩。』盈盈凝視他雙目,道:『你為甚麼說這等話?你直到現下,心中還是在將我當作外人。』令狐沖內心一陣慚愧,在他心中,確然總是對她有一層隔膜,說道:『是我說錯了,自今而後,我要死心塌地的對你好。』這句話一出口,不禁想到:『小師妹呢?小師妹?難道我從此忘了小師妹?』盈盈眼光中閃出喜悅的光芒,道:『沖哥,你這是真心話呢,還是哄我?』令狐沖當此之時,再也不自計及對岳靈珊銘心刻骨的相思,全心全意的道:『我若是哄你,教我天打雷劈,不得好死。』」(第三冊,頁1156)

第三十回〈密議〉:「賈布手持一對判官筆,和盈盈手中一長一短的雙劍鬥得甚緊。令狐沖和盈盈交往,初時是聞其聲而不見其人,隨後是見其威懾群豪而不知其所由,感其深情而不知其所蹤。當日她手殺少林弟子,力鬥方生大師,令狐沖也只是見其影而不見其形,直至此刻,才初次正面見到她和人相鬥。但見她身形輕靈,倏來倏往,劍招攻人,出手詭奇,長短劍或虛或實,極盡飄忽,雖然一個實實在在的人便在眼前,令狐沖心中,仍是覺得飄飄緲緲,如煙如霧。」(第三冊,頁1245)

反覆看了這幾段,還有最後一回〈曲諧〉中,任盈盈笑靨如花,令狐沖卻愀然不樂的對比,實在忍不住再三嘆息。難怪那些不相信任盈盈的傢伙,都說她巧施妙計,把令狐沖「收服」得燙燙貼貼。看〈曲諧〉裡任盈盈像勝利者一般的笑容,誰也免不了暗忖,令狐沖就是她「主動出擊,運籌帷幄」的成果。

這明顯是金庸故意營造的錯覺。他在《笑傲江湖》的後記裡也寫得清楚明白:「令狐沖當情意緊纏住岳靈珊身上之時,是不得自由的。只有到了青紗外的大路上,他和盈盈同處大車之中,對岳靈珊的癡情終於消失了,他才得到心靈上的解脫。本書結束時,盈盈伸手扣住令狐沖的手腕,嘆道:『想不到我任盈盈竟也終身和一隻大馬猴鎖在一起,再也不分開了。』盈盈的愛情得到圓滿,她是心滿意足的,令狐沖的自由卻又被鎖住了。或許,只有在儀琳的片面愛情之中,他的個性才極少受到拘束。」

真是豈有此理。任盈盈是世上唯一真正懂得和尊重令狐沖心意的人,怎會不明白他喜歡無拘無束、逍遙自在?任我行重出江湖後,三番四次強邀令狐沖加入日月神教,任盈盈貴為教主女兒、神教聖姑,何曾勸過令狐沖半句?少林寺中,令狐沖和岳不群比劍只守不攻,任我行要女兒站到另一邊提醒令狐沖,她卻紋絲不動,深信「兩情相悅,貴乎自然」,令狐沖要是顧慮到她,自然會設法取勝,不願徒增他的壓力。封禪臺上,任盈盈把令狐沖和岳靈珊比劍時的情意綿綿、失魂落魄都看在眼裡,卻始終不動聲色。在華山天琴峽,她跳進牆裡給令狐沖打開岳靈珊住處的門閂,又悄沒聲息的掩上房門,讓令狐沖獨自在小師妹的閨房裡痛哭悼亡。這樣玲瓏慧黠、進退有度的女子,怎會鎖住令狐沖的自由?如果說令狐沖只有在儀琳面前,才受到極少拘束,那豈不是說,兩情相悅、與別人有感情交流,本身就是一種束縛?既然如此,天生不喜拘束的令狐沖,又何必苦戀岳靈珊,和那麼多師兄弟和江湖豪傑生死相許,自尋煩惱?

說穿了,無論金庸也好,令狐沖也好,甚至那些說任盈盈對令狐沖欲擒故縱的人,在任盈盈的豁達從容面前,都顯得十二分渺小自卑。令狐沖對任盈盈那些令人氣惱的畏懼,可能就是金庸自己的寫照。內心深處,也許令狐沖壓根兒不相信單憑片言隻語就足以置人於死地的魔教聖姑,居然對自己這個無名無利的華山棄徒深情如斯。他甚至可能誤以為任盈盈主動示愛,背後隱藏著甚麼不可告人的陰謀。只有在恆山懸空寺靈龜閣一役,令狐沖見任盈盈明知毒水腐肌化骨,也毫不猶豫地擋在他身前,他才真正相信,任大小姐的確是真心真意愛上了他這個「胡鬧任性,輕浮好酒」的無行浪子。

說到這裡,又忍不住投訴金庸的大男人主義迂腐透頂,俗不可耐。如果相愛貴乎自然、貴乎真誠,何必理會雙方身分高低、誰是主動誰是被動?為甚麼貴為蒙古郡主而工於心計的趙敏,一旦「棄暗投明」就贏得那麼多男讀者的垂青,但胸襟廣闊、光風霽月的任大小姐,對令狐沖一直尊重愛惜,卻招來那麼多齷齪無理的污蔑?

我真的不明白。

突然記起,那些認為令狐沖沒有愛上任盈盈的讀者,都喜歡把任盈盈比作《紅樓夢》的薛寶釵,說她始終得不到令狐沖的心,「縱然是齊眉舉案,到底意難平」云云。

然而,真正意難平的,大概只是那些在任盈盈的磊落胸懷之前,顯得自卑渺小、心胸狹隘、無地自容的傢伙,而不是任盈盈。

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Preoccupation And Repression

Not surprisingly, the screening of Director Ang Lee's award-winning Lust, Caution has stirred up another round of fuss among many people in Hong Kong. It has been quite some time since any other film received the same level of recognition among the local audience.

Again, there is now a compelling reason for everyone to spare more than two-and-a-half hours in the cinema. Admitting that you haven't watched an extremely popular film like your friends and colleagues did is by no means noble. The incapability of engaging in a conversation about the plot, the characters or, more importantly, the sex scenes in the case of Lust, Caution, is deemed to be unbearably embarrassing. Interestingly, most of us in Hong Kong are taught to believe that we shall never become a laughing stock just by being different - something that is not acceptable and subject to contempt and disgrace.

Highlighting the eyebrow-raising sex scenes in the promotion campaign was obviously a deliberate effort to arouse attention to highest possible limit. This tactic is proved to be particularly effective for the local audience who is generally addicted to the excitement of voyeurism.

Few in Hong Kong have read Eileen Chang's masterpieces, let alone being a fan of hers. But it takes nothing to appreciate sensual pleasure, be it real or hyper-real on the silver screen.

How sad it is to spend too much time and effort focusing on the sex scenes, which were designed to deliver a message rather than being a message by themselves. Too many commentators, including those Christian fundamentalists who called for a boycott of the film because of the episode that takes up no more than one-tenth of the length of the film, seem to have lost sight of the full picture.

People who are blinded by prejudice think the others are blind as they are. People who are preoccupied by sex find sexual references in everything they see. As the Buddhist teaching says, "Wind doesn't move anything but it's your heart that makes you see things move." As we can see in communication theories, perception is often a self-imposed belief or even indulgence rather than something of objective existence.

Actually, to my own surprise, the sex scenes were the most natural and the least embarrassing I have ever seen, even though the actor and the actress were nude. I found something in the atmosphere that was much more powerful and breath-taking than what the couple was doing -  repression.

It was repression of love, repression of desire, and repression of conscience. It was a story with a motif that has been tirelessly explored and vividly depicted by Director Lee throughout these years.

Like many other characters portrayed by Director Lee in his previous works, both Wang Chia-chi and Mr Yee were victims of repression. Their subtle movements and facial expressions, and sometimes even their expressionless faces, had so much more to tell than the words they muttered.

In the setting of a war-torn China, repression seemed to be the only means of survival and deterrent to overwhelming fear. Just look at the faceless crowds on the streets of Shanghai in the film. Be they Chinese, Japanese or Europeans. There was little difference, if any at all, between sexes and nationalities before fear and repression.

Coincidently, repression is also a common theme in Eileen Chang's literary works, though it is often disguised skilfully in torture, absurdity and indifference. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Director Lee is, in my opinion, the most successful and truthful presenter of Eileen Chang's fiction in the format of film. He obviously has an insightful understanding of Eileen Chang's work as if she had told him what she wanted to deliver between the lines. What is even more important is his unmatched mastery of script, cinematography, music, props and any other component to the finest detail. What I found most impressive was the extravagant re-construction of the streets of Hong Kong and Shanghai during the 1940s. It was certainly extraordinary but indispensable in setting up the right context and atmosphere. This is particularly important in representing the fiction of Eileen Chang, who herself devoted a lot of ink in such trivial details of food, clothing and accessories of the characters. Comparing to his counterparts in Hong Kong or Mainland China, Director Lee apparently has a much stronger grasp of the "soul" of Eileen Chang's works.

Director Lee should find all his hard work and daunting efforts paid off when Lust, Caution is so far the most acclaimed adopted film of Eileen Chang's novels. As far as I can remember, he is the only person who is widely recognised by Eileen Chang's fans as a truthful and successful presenter of her works. No other director, despite their efforts and reputation, has ever received unanimous commendation as Director Lee does.

This is certainly a piece of good news for Eileen Chang's fans. For the first time in history, we now have the first glimpse of hope of having a pair of truly good hands to introduce one of the greatest modern Chinese writers to non-Chinese readers through cinema.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

《眼兒媚》(兩首)--詠任盈盈

凝碧幽篁影森森,簾內冷香侵。良宵淡月,爐煙款吐,獨理瑤琴。
波雲詭譎江湖事,未許繞青襟。暖風疏雨,詩情酒意,唯寄清音。

幽徑欣迎義君臨,雅奏滌愁深。衷腸盡訴,感懷弦外,暗自傾心。
癡情喜得汪涵報,患難證同衾。孤山竹巷,琴簫淡酒,淺唱低斟。

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

懺情記之梁珮玲篇

從來沒想過會為梁珮玲寫一篇文章。

說穿了,只為她演的任盈盈,實在令人喜出望外。

繼莉娜之後,再次被技術擊倒,反抗無效。

曾經捫心自問,會不會是把自己對任大小姐的欽敬和仰慕,都投射到演員身上去了?

似乎是,又似乎不是。原著的任大小姐自然是最好的,本來應該衝著聖姑的金面,給扮演她的演員寬容幾分。然而戲看下來,卻不見得誰來演這個角色也要給她賣帳。這些年來,不能賣帳、不應賣帳的還是多一些。

小時候很喜歡陳秀珠演的任盈盈,磊落大方、溫柔靦腆之中,仍有三分威嚴和冷傲,魅力非凡。後來讀了原著,又覺得稍欠了一些甚麼,卻說不出所以然來,只好諉過於編劇,設計那個灑狗血的三流結局,真是令人搖頭。

後來陸續看了一些改編本的《笑傲江湖》,有些著力刻劃任盈盈溫婉可敬的一面,有些則把任大小姐貶為可有可無的配角,都沒能引起一些深刻的感受,只是一味暗罵編劇亂改瞎掰,把好端端的《笑傲江湖》弄得亂七八糟,不成模樣。

本來十分慶幸還有機會看到十一年前轟動兩岸的「新版」《笑傲江湖》,只怕期望愈高,失望愈大,沒料到居然是推陳出新,青出於藍。初看還不覺甚麼,但關機之後,滿腦子忙不迭重播某些片段,我就知道自己又著了誰的道兒。好像吃了一記力道剛猛的吸星大法,勉強支撐了一會兒,內傷才狠狠的發作出來。

梁珮玲演任盈盈勝在甚麼地方?說來說去還是「神似」二字。也許每個讀者對任盈盈都有獨特的想像,但那麼多人眾口一詞說梁珮玲演「活」了他們心目中的任大小姐,也就是說她的演繹符合了大部分讀者的想像,功力之深湛,可見一斑。

不是說編導沒有功勞,但看戲嘛,始終還是以演員的部分最搶眼。較諸呂頌賢演令狐沖的疏淡隨意,梁珮玲的演法顯然更細膩、更能符合宜喜宜嗔、恩威並濟的任大小姐。看看老頭子、祖千秋和計無施三個老粗高談闊論任盈盈怎樣傾心於令狐沖的時候,她那焦急、害羞、尷尬、薄怒、不知怎樣面對令狐沖的神情,細緻淋漓,遠勝令狐沖那一臉不懷好意的微笑。其實,以令狐沖的重情,他聽了老頭子等人的話,應該感激任盈盈垂青才對。

上網翻查一下資料,赫然發現梁珮玲可能是飾演金庸改編劇女主角的最高紀錄保持者。她加入無線的首部作品就是一九八七年的「新版」《書劍恩仇錄》,飾演香香公主喀絲麗。後來陸續演過九十年代「金庸小說前傳系列」的《九陰真經》(馮衡)和《中神通王重陽》(林朝英),當然還有《笑傲江湖》的任盈盈。若論擔任金庸改編劇女主角的次數,印象中沒有哪一位女演員能望其項背。

有人說,如果演員在演藝生涯中,只有一部令人難忘的代表作,未免有點悲哀。言下之意,一時難說得清。也許是慨嘆喜愛的演員沒能遇上更好的作品,也許只是綿裡藏針的諷刺。

其實,那也不盡然。

戲劇不是個人創作,成功與否,個人的努力和本領固然重要,也得看天時、地利、人和配合。人生在世,有多少是努力的成果,又有多少是冥冥中的巧合?戲如人生,莫不如此。

要造就一部成功的戲劇並不容易;若是珠玉在前,要打破先入為主的偏見,更是難上加難。能塑造一個口碑載道、好評如潮的角色,已是了不起的成就。多少人演了一輩子的戲,連個名字都沒人叫得出來?即使天縱奇才如曹雪芹,留給後世的也只是一部散佚了的《紅樓夢》。

所以,我不會因為沒能看到梁珮玲更多、更好的作品而感到可惜。能看到令人喜出望外的任盈盈,已是難得的機緣。聽說她去年在交通意外受傷後康復理想,如今過著簡樸充實的生活,我應該感恩的。

May God bless you, Fiona.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

新舊之間--新版《笑傲江湖》觀後記之三(完)

看完新版《笑傲江湖》,心情又是興奮,又是惆悵。

一直很喜歡任盈盈,每讀一遍原著,就喜歡多幾分;看完了戲,更喜歡她了。這幾天想起她和她的沖哥在一起說笑玩鬧的片段,總會忍不住傻笑起來。只是不明白那些編劇,為甚麼總喜歡給光風霽月的神教聖姑,編派一些矯揉造作的兒女之態。海量汪涵、玲瓏剔透如任盈盈,本來就不應該像金庸寫的那麼靦腆害羞。說她文靜內向也就罷了,要她像通俗言情小說的女主角一般哭哭啼啼,未免太委屈了她。



很喜歡新版任盈盈按照原著「沖哥」、「沖哥」的叫令狐沖,而不是舊版那麼見外的「令狐大哥」。可惜梁珮玲(我還是喜歡她的原名)的造型東洋味道太濃、服飾稀奇古怪,再加上那些「出走讓愛」、「中毒後無藥可救」的老套兼灑狗血情節,讓我對這版任盈盈的觀感大打折扣。然而這一版著力描寫任盈盈的少女情態,不只是臉皮薄嫩,也有頑皮活潑、俏麗可愛的一面(尤其是在婚宴上聽了令狐沖和桃谷四仙胡說八道之後,向令狐沖撒嬌時那三分薄怒、三分著急、三分害羞的神態,真是可愛極了),與陳秀珠的舊版偏重任盈盈的恬淡內斂、神秘莫測,仍可算是平分秋色。

要是能把兩個版本的任盈盈拼合在一起,可有多好。

看新版的時候,腦袋裡難免與小時候看的舊版對照一番。平心而論,新版的選角絕對不比舊版差,而且主角和配角人選恰當,水準平均,實屬難得。例如新版由鮑方飾演風清揚,就比舊版的劉江有說服力得多。陳少霞飾演岳靈珊,天真可愛,也比當年的戚美珍更勝一籌。

至於書中人人欽仰的寧中則,坦白說,白茵和李麗麗兩位都無法令人滿意。也許是劇本所限,她們都集中表現寧中則對華山弟子的溫柔慈愛,忽略了「無雙無對,寧氏一劍」的豪邁磊落,誠屬遺憾。如果只是一般慈愛和善、諒解子弟的師娘,那寧中則還是名動江湖的「女俠」嗎?

同樣地,新舊兩版的任我行,也不能令我信服。總覺得他們狂妄有餘,威武不足,跟眼高手低的岳不群和左冷禪沒甚麼分別。劉兆銘和羅樂林,只能說是演出平穩,誰也搶不了誰的鋒頭。

不過呢,岳不群和左冷禪這兩個五嶽劍派的哥兒們,還是覺得舊版的曾江和楊澤霖稍勝。就算是舊版《射鵰》東邪、西毒的延續篇罷,好像只有他倆才有一份沉穩內斂、棋逢敵手的宗師風範。王偉稍欠書卷氣,縱然衣飾樸素,還是像老闆而不像書生;陳鴻烈少了三分霸氣,卻多了幾分浮躁和陰險,演左冷禪還欠一點點火候。

年紀稍長的好處,就是可以沉緬在美好的回憶中嬉戲,玩個不亦樂乎。看新版的祖千秋居然是舊版的桃谷六仙之一(鄭藩生)、舊版的啞婆婆「晉升」為新版恆山派的儀和(鄭少萍)、舊版的楊蓮亭變成了新版的沖虛道長(談泉慶)、新版的向問天就是舊版的風清揚,也就是舊版《射鵰》的完顏洪烈和新版《射鵰》的鐵木真(劉江),就像是多年不見的老友跟自己開玩笑一樣,即使化了妝、換了衣裳,還是認得出來,親切如昔。

看著螢幕上一張張熟悉的臉孔,也免不了感嘆時光飛逝。二十多年前的舊版,固然早已人面全非;就連十多年前的新版,很多演員早已引退,甚至已經過世了。例如新版的綠竹翁(羅國維)、游迅(黃天鐸)和風清揚(鮑方);舊版的林震南(關海山)、方證大師(白文彪),已先後在這十多年間因病去世。其餘很多演員,也為了不同的原因離開了香港,甚至退出演藝圈,各奔前程去了。繼續留在演藝圈的,有人成為了國際知名的巨星(例如周潤發,不過他仍然親切如昔,毫無架子,不時在街上和市民合照),有人從主角變成了配角(例如陳秀珠),另有一些人則仍然在配角的崗位上默默耕耘。所謂「各有前因莫羨人」,際遇是羨慕不來的,但冷眼旁觀,仍不免教人嘆息再三。

也許,是時候重讀《笑傲江湖》,重新領略令狐沖和任盈盈恬淡無爭、清靜自持的境界了。

附錄:無線兩版《笑傲江湖》演員表

人物演員(1984年版)演員(1996年版)
令狐沖周潤發呂頌賢
任盈盈陳秀珠梁珮玲(梁藝齡)
岳靈珊戚美珍陳少霞(陳采嵐)
林平之董偉何寶生
儀琳黃曼凝何美鈿
岳不群曾江王偉
寧中則白茵李麗麗
左冷禪楊澤霖陳鴻烈
定閒蘇杏璇梁舜燕
定逸黃文慧羅蘭
定靜佩雲梁葆貞
任我行劉兆銘羅樂林
向問天馬宗德劉江
東方不敗江毅魯振順
楊蓮亭談泉慶李耀敬
方證白文彪張英才
方生蘇漢生何壁堅
沖虛余子明談泉慶
莫大高雄孫季卿
天門道人吳業光譚一清
林震南關海山朱鐵和
林夫人南紅黃愷欣
綠竹翁劉國誠羅國維
劉正風任達華黎耀祥
曲洋甘國衛黎漢持
曲非煙朱小寶唐寧(江麗娜)
風清揚劉江鮑方
不戒和尚葉天行華忠男
啞婆婆鄭少萍馮素波
田伯光劉丹鄭柏麟(鄭君熾)
藍鳳凰陳復生談珮珊
勞德諾戴志偉陳榮峻
陸大有曾偉明李家強
米為義劉青雲游飆
向大年關禮傑
余滄海駱應鈞關菁
木高峰秦煌鄭雷
黃鍾公吳孟達陳中堅
黑白子林文偉梁欽棋
禿筆翁麥皓為李龍基
丹青生徐廣林鄺佐輝
桃根仙何廣倫郭德信
桃幹仙龍天生
桃枝仙鄭藩生焦雄
桃花仙陳狄克虞天偉
桃葉仙陳國權
桃實仙廖駿雄博君
老頭子朱剛蔡國慶
老不死韋以茵
祖千秋郭鋒鄭家生(鄭藩生)
計無施羅國維古明華
平一指方傑沈威

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

形神之間--新版《笑傲江湖》觀後記之二

中國傳統的審美觀一直很強調形神之別,就像《笑傲江湖》華山派的劍宗、氣宗之爭那麼壁壘分明。若論形神之別,又以「神韻」為先,「形神兼備」往往被奉為改編作品最上乘的境界,「形神俱無」固然是四不像,「有形無神」也是常見的貶詞。

我一向「重神輕形」,很看重氣質、神韻等「只可意會,難以言傳」之美,而非五官、體態等「有形」之美。人人趨之若鶩的所謂俊男美女,在我眼中,他們的吸引力往往比不上散發著某種獨特氣質的人。

本來呢,「美」之為物,就是一種很主觀、很個人的看法,難以一概而論。即使是大部分人認為「美」的人和事,總會有極少數的人對那些人和事無動於衷。

只是沒想到,看了新版《笑傲江湖》之後,竟然啟發我思考形神之別的本質。

很多觀眾都說呂頌賢演「活」了令狐沖,都說他的灑脫不覊、率性隨意,跟原著裡的令狐沖一模一樣;彷彿讀過金庸原著的電視觀眾,即使與令狐沖素未謀面,仍有某種共識,知道令狐沖的灑脫不覊、率性隨意,可以透過某種長相的演員,以及他某些言談舉止來具體呈現的。

為甚麼會這樣?氣質不是屬於比較抽象、難以言傳的「神韻」嗎?借用李安導演的名言,不是每個人心目中都應該有一個「不一樣」的令狐沖嗎?為何那麼多人眾口一詞,評定呂頌賢的令狐沖符合原著描寫?

這就是引領我開始鑽牛角尖的問題。

《笑傲江湖》原著是透過文字來塑造令狐沖的形象的。儘管每一個方塊字都有特定的含意,但要在大部分讀者心目中建立一種毫無爭議的具體形象,殊不容易,甚至可以說是沒有可能的。

須知道,文字是連接抽象和具體之間的紐帶,但這條紐帶有多長或多短,未必有客觀的標準,要視乎使用文字和接收訊息雙方的思維能力。文字寫得好,就表示內容易於理解;寫得差,就是辭不達意、莫名其妙,這道理不難明白。修辭、剪裁、敘事角度等技巧,已屬另一個更高層次的範疇,與文字論述事理,表達思想、感情的基本功能不可同日而語。

金庸的文字雅俗共賞,流暢生動,毋庸置疑,但始終沒可能把抽象的東西完全變得具體起來。令狐沖性格上公認的「瀟灑」、「率性」等概念,其實都是很抽象的東西,光靠辭典裡的解釋根本無法讓人充分理解,讀者往往要結合自己的認知和經驗,才可能得出一個粗略的印象。例如《碧血劍》裡袁承志營救焦公禮一段,就是因為他沒見過真正疏狂瀟灑的人,不知道金蛇郎君的「疏狂瀟灑」到底是甚麼模樣,所以裝成金蛇郎君的使者時,非常笨拙,滑稽之至,恐怕連焦公禮也暗暗搖頭。

由此可見,性格、氣質等屬於「神韻」範疇的東西,即使可以透過文字表達,仍有機會因應每個接收訊息者在認知和經驗方面的差異,而造成不同的效果和感覺。這也是為甚麼討論改編自文學作品的戲劇演出時,觀眾往往就演員「是否神似」持有不同的意見。

呂頌賢演的令狐沖,在九十年代香港無線金庸改編劇開到荼薇、新版舊版孰優孰劣的爭議聲中,贏得好評如潮,經久不衰,實在非常難得。看網友支持他的熱烈程度,足以媲美當年翁美玲演黃蓉、黃日華演郭靖,甚至秦煌演老頑童一樣,讓觀眾奉為一代典範。到底他有哪些過人之處?

先談外在的「形」。原著裡的令狐沖「長方臉蛋、劍眉薄唇」(第五回〈治傷〉),呂頌賢最多只是符合長臉的要求,其實他臉型稍尖,並非方形臉;「劍眉薄唇」云云,更談不上。儘管化妝可以彌補這方面的不足,但看戲裡的造型,化妝師似乎沒有在這方面著力太多。何況男子漢大丈夫,要塗上厚厚的油彩來修飾唇線,似乎也說不過去。

既然外形不太符合,那麼神韻呢?

我必須承認自己也同意其他觀眾說的,呂頌賢果然名不虛傳,比周潤發更符合我心目中的令狐沖。但若是尋根問柢,到底他的演繹怎麼個像法,比周潤發優勝在甚麼地方,連我這樣喜歡說三道四的老觀眾也無法有條不紊地說出個所以然來。不是很奇怪嗎?

說到底,這只是一種最直接、最原始的感覺,好像捕捉了一些甚麼,但卻看不見、抓不住,只有心神領會。

談到形神之別,還想補記一筆關於八十年代和九十年代金庸劇的改編手法。這裡也是我思考形神之別的另一個方向。

八十年代是無線金庸改編劇的黃金時代,《天龍八部》、《射鵰英雄傳》、《神鵰俠侶》和《鹿鼎記》可算是其中最膾炙人口的作品。像我這樣喝香港電視奶水長大的觀眾,自然對那時的電視劇有一份很深厚的感情。即使情節給改得亂七八糟,仍然瑕不掩瑜,甚至覺得金庸改編劇,以至所有武俠劇,理應如此,沒有其他更好的演繹方法。

到了九十年代無線重拍金庸改編劇時(同樣是以《天龍八部》、《射鵰英雄傳》和《神鵰俠侶》三部人物眾多、最為人熟悉的金庸小說為主),情節方面比八十年代的舊版更忠於原著,編劇自行創作或補充原著不足的場面明顯減少,但吸引力居然驟減,令我迷糊了好一陣子。

大概而言,九十年代的改編劇,雖云忠於原著,但拍下來就像一篇篇流水帳,缺乏了引人入勝的起伏跌宕,令人覺得徒具金庸小說之形,少了原著令人愛不釋手的吸引力。八十年代的舊版雖然有不少瞎吹亂掰的情節,卻往往讓人看得欲罷不能,實在莫名其妙。

我承認「先入為主」的意識在作祟,而且「戀舊情意結」非常嚴重。不過,平心而論,九十年代的版本拍得不差,選角也不會比八十年代的版本遜色太多。例如新版《神鵰》的選角,與舊版可算各擅勝場,勢均力敵;而新版《天龍八部》和《笑傲江湖》,整體而言比舊版更勝一籌,尤其是《笑傲江湖》。《天龍八部》的主角選得很恰當,但配角較弱;而《笑傲江湖》則勝在主角和配角兩相宜。

然而,談到選角是否恰當的問題,似乎又要回到形神之別來做判斷。

也許,我還沒有能力解答自己提出的問題,只好期諸日後,寄望高明了。

Monday, 10 September 2007

沖盈之間--新版《笑傲江湖》觀後記之一

自小很喜歡《笑傲江湖》。年紀愈長,愈是喜歡。每讀一遍,喜歡的感覺就加深幾分。即使只是戲劇或其他形式的改編本,也興沖沖的去湊熱鬧,不甘後人,樂此不疲。

感謝Web 2.0世代,終於讓我看到好評如潮的無線「新版」《笑傲江湖》了。

說是「新版」,其實已是十一年前的作品了。劇中的主要演員早已風流雲散,連很多配角也退下來了。

不過,看了那麼多版本的《笑傲江湖》,不論整體優劣,總是意難平。

因為,目前沒有一位編劇能把任大小姐寫好。

我不明白,寫好任大小姐有這麼難嗎?還是編劇沒有把原著讀通,對任大小姐有偏見?

說起來,喜歡任盈盈的似乎以女讀者佔大多數,男讀者絕無僅有。也曾聽過不少男讀者說任盈盈「厲害」,令人望而生畏,不敢「喜歡」云云。

那麼,機關算盡的黃蓉何嘗不厲害?為甚麼少女時代的聰明機變就是可愛,中年以後的深謀遠慮就是可憎?任大小姐思慮縝密、洞察人情,而且磊落大度,極有君子之風,為甚麼居然令人覺得敬而遠之?

我真的不明白。

以戲論戲,任大小姐的問題總是出在結局之上。無線新舊兩個改編劇版本,大致上忠於原著,可是來到「曲諧」之前,卻非要讓任大小姐身中劇毒,讓她的沖哥表演一下憂急如焚,甚至以身殉情不可。

為甚麼要這樣?與其說是編劇認為原著的結局太平淡,喜歡弄得峰迴路轉、引人入勝,不如說他們壓根兒不相信令狐沖能放下小師妹的心結,對任大小姐產生愛慕之情。

很多讀者都覺得令狐沖對任盈盈只有感恩,沒有「真正的愛情」。令狐沖答應和盈盈廝守終生,只是為了報答她為自己所做的一切。但「真正的愛情」是甚麼?怎樣才算愛?怎樣才算感恩?夫妻相守,是否一定要有純粹、真正的愛情,才稱得上神仙眷屬?楊過對小龍女矢志不渝,難道就是為因為虛無縹緲的愛情,完全沒有感恩相報的情義在內?

元好問的難題問了差不多一千年,始終無人可以提供一個圓滿的答案。這大概又是因人而異的罷?不過,愛情應該令人愉快、溫暖,令人感到備受尊重、信任和愛護;這些特質大概不會有人反對罷?令狐沖和任盈盈在一起的時候,完全沒有矯飾,不用擔心對方誤會,可以隨意和她說「公公婆婆」、「小桃谷六仙」的笑話,這都是跟岳靈珊在一起的時候無法享受的輕鬆自在。我甚至可以斷言,令狐沖只有和任盈盈在一起的時候,才能活出真正的自己。這源於任盈盈對他的信任和瞭解,而對於灑脫不覊、追求精神自由的令狐沖來說,信任和理解正是他在人際關係之中最看重的一環。誰相信他、誰明白他,他就會剖腹掏心的相待。他待師娘寧中則如此,任盈盈也是一樣。

所以,我認為令狐沖和任盈盈一起經歷了那麼多,根本不用亂灑狗血來強調令狐沖是真心真意的愛慕任盈盈,這樣做反而褻瀆了他倆盡在不言中的親暱。

即使令狐沖對任盈盈真箇是感恩重於一般人所認知的愛情,那又如何?這都不妨礙他倆相敬相知,相扶相守。做夫妻的,即使再恩愛百倍,也離不開這八個字。

Saturday, 8 September 2007

From the Face of A Great Man


I never give a damn when the streets of Hong Kong are flooded with people carrying Louis Vuitton bags. But I must give a credit to Louis Vuitton for its latest advertising campaign that features former president of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) Mikhail Gorbachev. It is the best print advertisement I have seen.

The advertising campaign launched last August features more than the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1990. Andre Agassi and his wife Stefanie Graf, the "young" tennis stars of my time as opposed to John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl, also starred in another print ad of the same campaign.

Understandably, the emotional connotations of these two print ads are designed to be different. Surprisingly, however, it was the one featuring Mr Gorbachev that has stirred up quite a bit of emotions inside me rather than that of Steffi (what the press used to call her in the 1980s and early 1990s) and Andre.

Let me be honest and upfront: I know very little about Mr Gorbachev and the USSR. All I know comes from the biased and selective news reports in the media. My family and school education hammered in me the Western ideology that anything behind the iron curtains of communist regimes, be it China or Russia, is subject to scepticism, allegation and wild imagination.

Perhaps Mr Gorbachev is the first Russian communist who successfully breaks through the stereotypes imposed by his Western rivals during the Cold War. In the innocent eyes of a teenager, Mr Gorbachev just didn't look like any of his predecessors or peers in China during the 1980s. He looked civilised, cultured, confident and sincere. He had, and still has, a strong charisma of intellectuality, kindness and understanding that was not found in the big names of his time, be it Ronald Reagan, George Bush or even Margaret Thatcher.

Mr Gorbachev's bold but unsuccessful reforms of glasnost, perestroika and uskoreniye were proven to be too much for the vulnerable giant of the USSR, but his courage and resolution to replace the Cold War with co-operation, respect and understanding was by all means adorable. Some critics may say that the balance between two superpowers, despite their hostility and lack of trust, might have helped prevent the bloodshed and tragedies in the Middle East since the First Gulf War. But in the course of history, aftermath and consequences can never be calculated and predictable as much as we want and hope.

Now the teenager who admired Mr Gorbachev as a seemingly more approachable heavyweight of world politics has grown into a woman in her mid-thirties engaged in the communication business for more than a decade. Of course I know it could have been a well-designed branding campaign to create and sustain the positive perceptions of the former leader of the world's largest country. But I don't believe that any sensible human being would bother to sustain these efforts in an image-building exercise even after a disgraceful end to his/her career. Rather, I would tend to believe that the public image of Mr Gorbachev was nothing but a manifesto of what he truly believes, and what makes him the person he is. His apology to the people of Azerbaijan for the suppression of a nationalist movement for independence in Black January of 1990 was one of the examples of his respectable courage and commitment to the well-being of the mankind.

Having said that, it should also be noted that as the last president of the USSR, a regime that no longer exists, he is subject to much less pressure than any other political leader to take responsibility and confess of making those decisions during his tenure.

What I like most of the LV print ad featuring Mr Gorbachev is that it vividly captures the intellectuality of the former USSR president and the whole bunch of historical events in early 1990s that eventually changed the outlook of the world. Choosing the Berlin Wall as the backdrop is certainly the outcome of some clever calculations. What strike me most, however, are the seemingly uneasy gestures of Mr Gorbachev - once again an object of criticism for some folks.

It is understandable that Mr Gorbachev would seem uneasy passing by the Berlin Wall, where the quest for freedom and nationalistic independence in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s first sparked off. I wonder what comes up to his mind at that moment when he remembered that his reforms calling for more openness and transparency incidentally became one of the underlying factors to the revolutionary changes later in the decade and early the next. The photographer skilfully captured the complex and delicate thinking in the great man's mind.

Mr Gorbachev's far-reaching stare outside the window, his subdued facial expression and slightly opened lips tell so much more than the advertiser and the photographer intended to tell. The portrayal transcends its inherent nature of being a print ad to become a piece of art that embraces history and human nature with a remarkable aesthetic taste.

Obviously the print ad was very successful in leveraging Mr Gorbachev's personal profile and historical significance to highlight the heritage and quality of the brand. But the print ad fails to change my stubborn prejudice of luxury brands such as LV and alike. Whether or not Mr Gorbachev carries an LV bag or a Samsonite suitcase makes no difference to me. In my opinion, he is one of the great men of mankind who shall be remembered for what he has achieved and changed, intentionally or incidentally.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Let My Reflective Instinct Rule A While

It has been quite a while since I discussed work in this blog. While there is no obvious reason not to talk about work here, there seems to be plenty of compelling and interesting things to write on.

But I decided to leave a few words on what happened recently. Just to let the pressure go like the streaming sweat on my back when I run on the treadmill.

Be it inertia. Be it stress. Be it anything that distracts me from what I should have focused on, which is not surprising though, given the ad hoc and spontaneous nature of working on emails. It seems that it is ever more difficult to concentrate, to think logically and sensibly, and to keep up the confidence in my capabilities and the way I work.

This is not the first time when I reach a point where my reflective instinct urges me to take a break and think things through. This is a warning signal that something has gone wrong. Something needs to be fixed before it evolves into a bigger problem. And this is not the first time when the instinct chooses to flex its muscles at the wrong time. All I can do is to prioritise and to make my brain work on the most important things as fast as it can. The sooner I clear up my plate, the more time I can spend on thinking.

I am the kind of person who can't stop thinking but only in fragments that jump around all the time, all over the place in a logic that can be understood by none. I wouldn't be surprised to see any attempt to depict a pictorial or textual representation of my conscious and sub-conscious mental activities ending up in a load of incomprehensible mess. It often takes me quite a bit of time to sort things out in a logical way and to convince myself that the conclusion makes sense and is feasible, if any action is required. Getting away from work for a short while certainly helps clearing my mind for more efficient thinking. But I just can't afford this luxury for the time being.

Just let my reflective instinct rule a while, keeping the alarm ringing for a moment. I will soon come to address the problems in two weeks. Hopefully.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

The Wood Hunt

Sound planning is the key to good project management. As the old saying goes, "A good start means half way to success."

Everything goes smoothly as planned since the keys were passed into my hands in early June. Although it took quite a few weeks to discuss, revise and finalise the renovation plan, the time and effort has now paid off. No major problem has occurred and even the typhoon two weeks ago didn't have any impact on the progress of renovation. Additional items and budgets were discussed and finalised through emails, which is extremely convenient and efficient.

Of course, having someone whom you trust and is reliable to manage the project is another key success factor. Thanks Raymond and Xavier!

Perhaps it was somewhat surprising for both gentlemen to see me select materials such as tiles and taps and so on in an hour or so. Personally I didn't come to realise until then that there seems to be a really clear picture of what I want and what not. There was no difficulty at all in selecting the materials, taking into account the key factors of budget, colour, material, texture and personal preference.

As the completion of the renovation works is approaching, I have moved on to the next steps - the selection of furniture and electrical appliances. Essentially I have already drawn up with a list of electrical appliances and have checked out the prices from an old vendor that always offers a better deal. It's just a matter of placing the order some time later and awaiting the delivery.

As for furniture, the situation seems more complicated. Again, there is no difficulty in defining what I want. The only problem is to strike a balance between my preference and the budget for optimal results.

Having been shopping around for several weeks, the best vendor has yet to appear. Ready-made furniture vendor IKEA is certainly going to be one of the major sources to buy from, but there is still a big question mark over the durability and feasibility of its offerings of the key item of primary concern, bookshelves made of wood (or of materials comparable to wood in durability and outlook).

I have been told too many times about how vulnerable IKEA bookshelves can be (notably the BILLY series, to be precise), but the significantly lower price tags also seem irresistible. Friends and family are telling me that I should spend as little as possible on furniture until everything is settled and I'm sure I'm happy with my new haven. However, I'm the kind of person who hates to start things all over again unless absolutely necessary. Replacing furniture in a few years' time, in my opinion, is just a waste of time, money and detrimental to the environment. I simply want to get things right from the start. That's all.

Another major consideration would be how the products would fit in the layout of my study, which has a 90-degree angle that, ideally, should be made good use of in view of my sizeable collection. This is certainly not easy at all with ready-made furniture. At the same time, the flexibility of having extra shelves other than the default ones is also important. For some reason IKEA has stopped offering loose shelves as an option in recent years. This is really disappointing. But tailor-made furniture is understandably much more expensive. The capability and flexibility to fit in any layout simply requires a premium. That's why I still haven't made up my mind on this important decision - whether or not to opt for a once-and-for-all solution, or an interim offer?

And the fundamental question is - What is more important, budget or style?

Saturday, 25 August 2007

忘路之遠近


慕名去看賴聲川飲譽劇壇的名作《暗戀桃花源》,百感交集。

因為忙著工作、準備考試、張羅新居的雜務,走進戲院之前,根本沒有時間做功課,瞭解一下劇情。所以我必須承認,看到馮蔚衡高翰文辛偉強正式出場的第一幕戲中戲,完全摸不著頭腦。滿院笑聲之中,我感受到一種被拒諸門外的孤獨。

原來《暗戀桃花源》,應該寫成《暗戀.桃花源》才對,因為這是由兩齣戲中戲合成的話劇;而《暗戀》和《桃花源》,正是兩齣戲中戲的名稱。

二十年前這齣戲之所以驚為天人,也許就是因為一切計算精密的移花接木、歪打正著,也因為這是對二十年前臺灣解除戒嚴令、兩岸關係開始融冰的局面,一種一針見血的回應。正劇與鬧劇、戲中戲與戲文本身、戲裡與戲外的沖擊碰撞,看得人眼花繚亂,悲喜交錯。彷彿在繽紛落英之中,看到黃老邪的蘭花拂穴手,穿過花瓣輕輕在觀眾胸前一點,點中了等閒不輕易檢視的傷口。傷口翻開,蛛網塵封的回憶,一下子湧上心頭,教人幾乎招架不住。

悲喜交錯。這是一種很沉重的感覺。

喜悅之中沒有如釋重負,只有驚疑不定。一顆心仍然懸在半空,即使一塊石頭落了地,還有多少沉甸甸的石頭沒有放下,不知何日方得清明。

所以,我不明白為甚麼那麼多觀眾說《暗戀.桃花源》好看,是因為「超低能,勁搞笑」,頗有《俠客行》裡龍、木島主和其他武林中人「皓首《太玄經》」的況味。那些故弄玄虛的黃色笑話和漫畫式的誇張動作,並不是戲文的重點。那明顯是編導的掩眼法,他應該是以低俗胡鬧的方式,烘托戲中老陶進退維谷、裡外不是人的尷尬處境。觀眾笑得愈大聲,心底裡悲涼的感覺應該就愈強烈。

不過,我很懷疑這次公演的《桃花源》,是香港話劇團加油添醋的效果,未必符合賴聲川原創的版本。那些地道的香港式無聊笑話和動作,低俗有餘,餘韻欠奉,讓我在滿院笑聲之中,不由得機伶伶打了個寒噤。

也許因為我比較懶惰,不太喜歡大動腦筋拆解繁複刻意的啞謎兒,總覺得《暗戀》直截了當的沉重、悲涼、幽靜,比《桃花源》的胡鬧和跌宕更動人。本來《桃花源》的老陶是個裡外不是人的可憐蟲,然而馮蔚衡、高翰文和辛偉強的搞笑都嫌過火,那個「呵、呵、呵」的動作更是「無厘頭」到極點,不知那是這個版本獨有還是屬於原創,總之完全沖淡了氣氛,讓觀眾只覺得好笑,卻不覺得老陶可憐,誠屬遺憾。

《桃花源》搞笑空前成功,《暗戀》的催淚效果則保持平穩。對我來說,淚沒給催出來,苦澀倒是灑滿一身。有人批評蘇玉華袁泉都沒有雲之凡那種彩雲出岫、令人驚艷的感覺,我卻認為沒所謂。套用李安導演的名言:「每個人心裡都有一個雲之凡。」甲之熊掌,乙之砒霜,本來就沒有甚麼好爭辯。但如果真的要比較,我還是認為袁泉稍勝一籌。蘇玉華畢竟欠缺了一份清靈飄逸的感覺,這一點在最後一場更是表露無遺。

男主角方面,黃磊潘燦良可謂各擅勝場,平分春色,但我還是偏愛黃磊多一點。他那一身落寞和書卷氣,只此一家,別無分號,潘燦良始終難望其項背。儘管潘燦良十多年前把唐滌生演得形神兼備,讓我驚喜欲狂,然而這一次把同情分都加起來,還是差了那麼一點點。

很慶幸自己看了「兩岸三地版」和「香港版」,可以真切地感受到語言對建立戲劇張力的重要作用。

其實論演技,兩個版本的演員各有優缺;若論言語,當然是「兩岸三地版」佔優。坦白說,以上海和臺北為場景的故事,粵語根本沒有置喙的餘地。字正腔圓的國語,與鄉音佶屈的臺語和擲地有聲的粵語對比起來,本身就是一部中國近代史的縮影。落在別有懷抱的傷心人耳中,自然勝過萬語千言。通篇改成粵語之後,歷史和文化的淵源立時被割斷(最明顯就是《中國時報》、刨冰室、長庚醫院等臺北具代表性的事物,跟香港、廣州等粵語社會沾不上半點邊兒),人物之間的疏離感也消失殆盡(江濱柳的妻子不再是國語不靈光、對上海一無所知的局外人),只剩下一副有形無神、有骨無肉的軀殼。因為這種先天不足,即使演員再努力,戲文的感染力也早已大打折扣,欲挽無從了。

離開劇院的時候,心中一股說不出的滋味。不是說《暗戀.桃花源》不好看,而是總覺得好像有甚麼地方不對勁,卻又無法具體的說出來。所以看完了戲三個星期,才能勉強寫下這些雜亂無章的感想。

也許是這齣戲名頭太響,有意無意之間提高了期望,結果自然難以令人喜出望外。也可能是戲裡戲外的歷史交纏在一起,讓人思潮起伏,愈陷愈深,就像《桃花源記》的武陵捕魚人一樣,忘路之遠近。

Friday, 24 August 2007

Retrospect of a Decade (Final)

These last few words in my retrospect are inspired by the overwhelming account of the history of Hong Kong not just over the past decade, but also since it was made into a British colony, beyond which there seemed no history at all.

From a utilitarian perspective, there is no doubt that the history of Hong Kong before British colonisation has little relevance for Hong Kong today. However, from the perspective of the French Annales School of historiography, which combines geography, history and sociology in its approach of historical studies, it is somewhat pre-determined that Hong Kong is to become what it was, is and will be.

In my opinion, the utilitarian perspective no longer serves us any good. A broader and more open approach that takes into account a wide spectrum of factors on equal footing, without prejudice, would be the only solution to enable Hong Kong to sustain in the long term.

Bar none.

Nothing intrigues me more than the propagandist cliché of how Hong Kong transformed itself from a fishing village into the world city of Asia. This interpretation of history simply underlines an ecstasy of our capabilities that makes impossible is nothing, among other things. Be it the support of China, regardless of the ruling party. Be it the good governance of the British colonisers. Be it the endeavours of the silent majority in the population. Be it, even though many of us are reluctant to admit, pure luck.

Obviously each kind of discourse or interpretation is built upon some sort of assumptions or is designed to achieve certain purposes, whatever they may be. I have no problem being exposed to different views and perspectives, as long as they are substantiated and reasonably argued. What I find it more unbearable is the overwhelming unanimity in the perspective of public discourse of the history of Hong Kong.

This is what I see as another vivid example of how adamantly dominant the baby-boomers are. They are not satisfied with their firm grip of the political, economic and social aspects of Hong Kong. They also seek to define how the history of Hong Kong is written and, more importantly, how most of us think. I still remember when I was only a child, how the fallacy that Hong Kong people made possible all the changes of Hong Kong was hammered into my head. The same key messages were imposed on me by whatever I read, whoever I listened to.

Apparently the economic rise in 1970s and 1980s has bequeathed us a prolonged ecstasy of confidence in our own capabilities that impossible is nothing. Anything that attempts to challenge this fundamental belief is doomed to be discredited and rejected. Most of the historical review of Hong Kong seen in the local media simply reinforced my observation.

For some, the success of Hong Kong is attributed to the support of China or, more precisely, the political upheavals in China that enabled Hong Kong to emerge as the haven for dissents and refugees. For some other, it is the benevolent governance and sensible policies of the British colonisers that matters. For most of us, who would by all means avoid muddling in the dirty water of politics, it is the most politically correct option to attribute every success to ourselves. This is the safest interpretation that gets nobody into trouble. That's all.

Perhaps this is why history, which values strong and sound reasoning based on facts but anything, has never been a popular subject in Hong Kong. Probably attributed to the traditional perspective of historical discourse, history is always an account of the rise of the winners and the fall of the losers in the political arena. Things are either too remote or too scary to be relevant to people on the street.

Paradoxically, our conventional wisdom of ignoring history has now struck back by exposing us to an unprecedented identity crisis. This is because we used think that we are on top of the world, among others, but actually we never came even close. We never realise that we are just a piece of chess in the game between two or more really great powers that neither of them really treat us well. The benefits or benevolence that we enjoy cannot be taken for granted. We could be deprived of any of these privileges overnight. What is good and makes sense for us could be nothing but a happy coincidence.

Without understanding the context of how Hong Kong actually came to exist as it is now, and how the dynamics of the game work out, we are stuck in the middle of nowhere, not knowing what to do and where to go. Helplessly.

Monday, 20 August 2007

十年回首(完)

沒想到要寫「十年回首」的專題,比想像中更困難。選題固然困難,落筆更難。千頭萬緒,不知從何說起。

回首來時路,無能為力的感覺比十年前更強烈。

「我是誰」這個本來不成疑問的疑問,也愈來愈令人迷糊。

那份無力、無助的感覺,源於一種裡外不是人、不為人瞭解和尊重的寂寞。好像人人都在指手劃腳,卻又好像沒有人能搔得著癢處。

如果真的有所謂「世代政治」的話,像我生於二十世紀七十年代的「三十世代」,可能就是夾在「戰後嬰兒」和「二十世代」之間,裡外不是人的一群。

陳冠中和呂大樂所說的「戰後嬰兒」(也就是我一直以來嗤之以鼻的「中坑」),可是我們的父母輩或大師兄、大師姐,而不是香港的第一代人。「戰後嬰兒」總覺得我們這一代缺乏經驗,能力、才智和見識都比不上他們。「二十世代」又覺得我們缺乏創新和反抗的勇氣,只懂得墨守成規,循著「戰後嬰兒」的道路繼續錯下去,有意無間之間為虎作倀,捍衛了維持他們所定下來的社會權力結構。

保衛天星碼頭和皇后碼頭的運動,正是「戰後嬰兒」和「二十世代」決戰的序幕,我敢斷言類似的紛爭陸續有來,而且「戰後嬰兒」很有可能一敗塗地。

「戰後嬰兒」和「二十世代」要比併的,不是政治動員能力,也不是輿論和公眾關注,而是足以決定這個社會未來的價值取向。很多人都寫了文章,認為由「戰後嬰兒」所把持的政府,應該改變思維,真是幼稚得可笑。如果「戰後嬰兒」那麼容易就因為一兩次挫敗而對自己一直以來奉若圭臬、深信不疑的價值觀有所動搖和質疑,香港這十年來的歷史就已經改寫。仔細看看親政府的輿論一味以「議題政治化」和「騎劫議題陰謀論」來詆譭抗議者,以「平衡保育與發展」來掩飾「發展就是硬道理」這句潛台詞的虛偽,我們早就應該知道,「戰後嬰兒」有多麼冥頑不靈。

然而,在這個世代角力的戰場,「三十世代」的聲音薄弱得很,簡直薄弱得令人有點汗顏。我估計,認同「二十世代」打破「戰後嬰兒」對社會價值、資源和歷史論述的壟斷,希望香港透過社會改革來達致長治久安的人,並不在少數。只是我們大多數人都沒有直接參與任何抗議活動,甚至怯於表達自己的意見。我們一方面很想發洩一肚子牢騷,一方面卻害怕任性的後果,或者不想被人利用,作為他們爭取私利的便宜工具。

這就是「二十世代」認為「三十世代」沒有理想、缺乏勇氣的表現,但我們只是啞子吃黃連。我們當中有很多人從小接受了「戰後嬰兒」所灌輸的那一套,生活模式基本上沒有太大的改變,但卻沒有阻止我們發展獨立思考的能力。從初出茅廬到十年人事,我們漸漸發覺社會需要變得有點不同,大家的日子才會過得更美好。不過,無論啟蒙也好、革命也好,往往只停留在意識的層面上,身上仍然有很多難以掙脫的無形枷鎖。就像我們和其他前輩一樣排隊上車,結果上了車才發覺那車並非駛往自己心裡想去的地方,要下車也不知道有沒有機會,只好硬著頭皮暫時坐下去。我們會想法子通知後面的人要看清楚站牌,不要像我們一樣上錯了車;同時也要面對車上其他人的嘲弄和質問,因為他們不明白,除了那個目的地,怎麼還會有更好的地方,我們為甚麼還有別的地方想去。這種無以名狀的尷尬,往往就是「三十世代」最不為人瞭解之處。

所以,明明憋了一肚子話無處申訴,不知怎地,臨到落筆,總有千頭萬緒,不知從何說起之嘆。

哀莫大於心死,想必就是這種滋味。

有些時候,不是不懂得憤怒,而是不知道除了憤怒,還有甚麼方法可以改變現狀。想到此處,總有點討厭自己的妥協和無能為力。

也許,這才是我自己真正的悲哀。

Sunday, 12 August 2007

十年回首(六)

都說天有不測之風雲,然而得力於科技進步,預測天氣變化早已不是甚麼困難的事,困難的只是如何發布消息,讓人有所防範而已。

這十年來,香港天文台從專業的天文科學部門,淪為香港人在風雨時節口誅筆伐、怨憤難平的對象,相信也是始料不及,舉世無雙。

曾幾何時,香港天文台是本港其中一個極受尊崇的政府部門,因為他們的工作與民生息息相關。每逢雨季和颱風時節,收音機裡傳來那些「沙堤以南、海南島以南、北部灣以南……」的漁民天氣廣播,不但是我輩童年的集體回憶,更是毫不起眼而又不可或缺的導航燈,給怒濤中的漁民指點歸家的路。即使在風平浪靜的日子,出門之前穿甚麼衣服、帶不帶雨傘,天文台也透過發放天氣預測,默默指引著我們的日常起居。

然而,不知從甚麼時候開始,香港人就喜歡拿天文台當出氣袋。要是風雨之中大排長龍也等不到車,就抱怨天文台太遲改掛颱風訊號或暴雨警告,應該一早就讓他們下班、下課;要是冒著狂風暴雨上班、上學,又大罵天文台太早除下或降低警告級別,彷彿天文台的工作不是讓大家因應即將出現的天氣變化而調整生活,而是要天氣警報配合大家好逸惡勞、好吃懶做的小家子氣。天氣到底變成怎樣,大家都不太關心,反正住在連綿不斷的屏風樓裡,所謂八號風球、黑色暴雨也只是窗外那一小片風、那一丁點雨。困在層層疊疊的高樓大廈之中,我們的眼光愈來愈短淺,不覺小覷了大自然的真正力量。誰還記得以前數十萬人住在木屋或鐵皮屋裡,每到風雨飄搖的日子就膽顫心驚?即使住在十多層的單幢樓宇,在十級烈風之下,天台或高層單位左搖右晃的驚險感覺,也沒幾個人會明白。至於旭龢道、秀茂坪、觀龍樓山泥傾瀉之後的滿目瘡痍,也沒有人再提起了。今年內地水災災民的日子沒有以前那麼淒涼,我們也就吃了獅子心、豹子膽,對著天公指手劃腳起來,連預測天氣的工作人員也不放過。

我同意天文台的天氣預報機制和內容可以改善,例如為了配合公共交通網絡的資源調配,做好準備疏散人潮,可以提早發出預報;或者按照香港的地理環境,提供更詳盡的分區天氣資訊等。但歸根究柢,甚麼時候懸掛或除下警號,是應該看天氣變化而不是配合人類的生活習慣。風雨要來就來,要走就走,管你下課不下課、下班不下班,再吵下去連雨也不給下一點,到時連污染得五顏六色的東江水也喝不著的時候,還看你這群不知死活的傢伙到哪兒找水喝去。

每次擠在人潮中,被迫聆聽那些不知所謂的傢伙扯開嗓門大放厥詞,恨不得一劍一個,全都刺死。到底那些香港人的腦筋出了甚麼問題,令他們變得如此不可一世?眼前的蠅頭小利,看得比天還大,是不識天高地厚的無知,還是目空一切的狂妄自大?

請天文台的人員恪守專業,不要被那些無理取鬧的刁民嚇倒。在這個渾沌瘋狂的時代,我們更需要一盞明亮而可靠的導航燈。

Friday, 10 August 2007

Snapshot - Tyranny of a Typhoon

Who was that idiot who said that Hong Kong's population should become 10 million? Who was that again?

Come and engage the public as you said, shithead. Just do it.

Just do it when the typhoon signal number eight is hoisted. Stick yourself in the crowd sweating like a pig and you'll know how terribly wrong you are.

We simply have too many rather than too few people.




Retrospect of a Decade (Part 6)

Another change over the past decade that has often been overlooked is the weather. Agree with me or not, the weather of Hong Kong has become drier both in terms of humidity and the volume of rainfall. I remember when I was a child the summer was characterised by heavy downpours and strong typhoons from time to time and an unbearable level of dampness as if you could clasp your hands and squeeze some water out of the air you breathe. That's why some scientists have warned that Hong Kong and the southern province of Guangdong will become a desert by the next century if no effective measure is taken to prevent the extreme but extraordinary weather.

While I love the dry winds and clear blue sky as much as anyone else does, just like what I experienced last May on a breakaway on Lamma Island, I feel sad that summer is losing its colour to look no different from winter. Don't you remember how outrageously warm it was last winter? I didn't even bother to put on anything made of wool. Not even a sweater. Just by putting on a long-sleeve T-shirt would make me sweat like a pig. I was really upset about this, not because I didn't have to put my winter clothes on, but because I have lost the comfort under the sunshine and cold winds in winter. The chill from the north reminds me of warm memories of the laughter at reunions, the comfort of wrapping myself in a thick quilt, as well as the extraordinary enjoyment of hot food and drinks. A chill-less winter without any wool garments is just too appalling.

No doubt that a complicated combination of factors that has come into existence for decades contributes to the climate change. Yet I wonder what we have done to realise how serious the problem has become, let alone fix it. That's why air-conditioners of all brands have been sold out this summer due to the record-high sizzling heat. We are too used to find the handiest solutions to our immediate comfort without even thinking for a second about the root cause of the problem and how to address it.

That's simply not the way forward, if we are going to make Hong Kong a better home not for us, but for our younger generations.

I really wonder why the green groups spend all their time and effort criticising the power companies of polluting the air of Hong Kong. Don't you think the some 600,000 motor vehicles running on the streets of Hong Kong every day bear some sort of responsibility? Are unleaded auto fuels and liquefied petroleum gas the only thing we can do? How about emissions trading with Guangdong province when most of us blame the manufacturing plants there for the poor air quality? What have the Government and green groups and all other parties concerned have done to encourage the use of public transport and avoid driving unless absolutely necessary? What about those guys who like driving more as a means of showing-off than a transport requirement?

Show me the facts and figures and tell me that I'm terribly wrong here.

Monday, 30 July 2007

十年回首(五)

最近有調查結果顯示,香港男性的平均壽命是全球最長的,女性的平均壽命則排行第二,僅次於日本。然後有人沾沾自喜,說香港醫療制度好、服務水平高,所以香港人是全世界數一數二的長壽族群。

然而,我不禁要請問,如果沒有健康,落得一身病症,再長壽又有甚麼意思?

「生命不在乎長短,在乎有沒有意義」,這種冠冕堂皇的說話,誰都會說。問題是,如果沒有健康的身體,哪裡來的意義?生命的意義在於活著時所做的事情,沒有體魄,就沒有做事的本錢。

何況,健康不只是身體機能,心理健康也非常重要。偏偏很多香港人就是不肯承認自己的心理有毛病,諱疾忌醫,耽誤了自己不要緊,耽誤了人家就難辭其咎。

一個社會的包容、禮儀、教育和文化程度,往往是其居民心理健康的指標。也許這些都很難用數字來表達,所以政府和研究機構一直缺乏這方面的調查。一個人所觀察到的現象,難免有以偏概全之弊,但與那些妄自尊大的傢伙相比,也許還有一丁點兒自省的精神。

十年來,尤其是經歷SARS之後,香港人愈來愈注重健康,健康產品和服務層出不窮,令人眼花繚亂。儘管陸續有很多調查指健康產品根本沒甚麼用,美容服務言過其實,仍然有不少人趨之若騖。不知道那些人有沒有想過,真正的健康到底是怎樣培養出來的?如果沒有持之以恆的運動、良好的飲食和衛生習慣,怎會有持久的健康?難道他們真的相信,這世上會有不勞而獲的事情嗎?

至於那些美容院和健身中心大力鼓吹的「唯瘦是美」、「外表等於自信」等歪理就不必多說了。即使女性主義者、文化研究者、社會學者再大聲疾呼又如何?在一個喜歡以貌取人、不講內涵的城市,那些歪理本來就是天經地義的,美容院和健身中心其實也是順水推舟而已。

去年「巴士阿叔」的鬧劇一鳴驚人,連世界各地傳媒也忍不住湊湊熱鬧,又是香港人心理失衡的最佳寫照。生活逼人,我們每天都面對著沉重的壓力,但又以為只要努力工作,賺得更多的錢,就可以改善生活,不再那樣營營役役。然而,世界又怎會這樣美好?這邊廂,我們仍然一廂情願地相信這個不知是誰建構出來的空中樓閣;那邊廂,我們又肆無忌憚地把自己的情緒發洩在人家身上,換取短暫的快感來平衡早已變得不平衡的心理。不是嗎?在傳媒裡、在學校裡、在公共交通工具上、在餐廳裡、在商店裡、甚至在公廁裡,每天充斥著多少沒有公德心的劣行?多少無謂的投訴和爭執?當我們把買賣關係當作至高無上、千古不移的真理,把「顧客永遠是對的」作為掩飾一切橫蠻霸道、無理取鬧的遮羞布,我們還有甚麼健康可言?怎能再厚顏無恥地吹捧自己比別人高尚?

更可怕的是,我們當中有很多人都不承認自己的心理出了問題,總覺得自己永遠是對的,人家永遠是錯的。老子說:「知人者知,自知者明」,欠缺了自省的精神,不懂得自己,也許就是香港浪擲了十年光陰、始終無法確定未來方向和定位的根本原因。

Monday, 23 July 2007

丹青昨日繁華夢


香港舞蹈團的新作《清明上河圖》,比想像中好看。

本來呢,張擇端的原作就是一幅汴京風情畫,沒有特別突出的重點;虹橋和城門成為欣賞重點,那是後世賞畫者的取捨,未必符合作者原意。可能正因如此,舞劇也承襲了這個特色。難得的是,全劇縱分兩幕十八場,看起來跌宕有致,不至於鬆散無章。

在眾多場節中,對第一幕末兩場以縴夫為主角的「逆水縴夫」和「搏浪乘風」印象最深刻。十多位舞蹈員作縴夫打扮,只穿一條薄薄的褲帶,在勁力十足的躍動和翻騰中,彷彿真的看見了北宋汴河沿岸默默耕耘的縴夫,身上的汗珠在陽光下晶瑩閃亮,發出令人心痛的金光。

其次是第一幕的「社火百戲」、第二幕的「河市百態」和「夜夜笙歌」。表演踩高蹺和繩索雜技的舞蹈員,就像是當年在燈火闌珊處的賣藝人,坐上叮噹的時光機來到九百年後的今天。還有那些摩肩接踵的商販和旅客,在大街上跑來跑去看熱鬧的小孩,張擇端和孟元老筆下的熱鬧和喧囂,就這樣在我的眼前活起來,叫人目眩神馳。

可是,這樣一幅俗世風情畫,缺乏焦點始終是難以避免的。舞劇以張擇端和汴河女神穿針引線,效果不彰,劉迎宏蘇淑兩位首席舞蹈員也無用武之地。

看劉迎宏戴起儒巾,飾演初到京城的張擇端,笑容滿臉,似乎深深迷戀著京城的浮華和喧鬧,居然滿腦子浮起他去年演《笑傲江湖》裡令狐沖的模樣,幾乎分拆不開。劉迎宏的令狐沖,瀟灑不羈、豁達爽朗,是少數形神兼備的上佳人選,連周潤發也要讓他三分。這次看《清明上河圖》,如果說完全跟他無關,那就是自欺欺人。

蘇淑演汴河女神,戲份零碎,與張擇端的交流也不足,無法承擔貫穿全劇的重任,甚覺遺憾。倒是慶幸她沒有以宣傳海報那個紅衣白髮的造型出現,否則與花團錦簇的場面毫不相配,只會淪為全劇的累贅。不知道那個妖媚邪魅的造型是誰的主意,幸而公演時臨崖勒馬,還汴河女神一個莊嚴清虛的面目。去年她在《笑傲江湖》飾演任盈盈,礙於戲份稀少,也無從發揮她的舞功。她那聖姑的造型,同樣是不倫不類,看得我火冒三丈。
其實呢,蘇淑長得挺漂亮,不知是招人妒忌還是怎的,兩次演出的造型都差強人意。

其實,這次去看《清明上河圖》,最大的原因是為了宣傳片上那一句:「丹青昨日繁華夢」。那天在快餐店的電視上看到這一句(其實還有下一句,只是說甚麼也記不住),沒來由心裡一痛,眼淚就莫名其妙的掉了下來。昨晚在劇院裡,這一句一直縈繞心上,揮之不去。聽特邀嘉賓泳兒演唱應制意味濃得化不開的《汴河之歌》,那種突如其來、難以抑止的酸楚又湧上心頭。強忍著挨到末場「並記於心」(為甚麼不是「銘記」?),看張擇端一揮而就,皓首散髮,眼淚再也掌不住了。

無論是《清明上河圖》展覽,還是舞劇的歌詞和場刊,都說張擇端以一枝神來之筆,描繪北宋末年汴京的「繁華盛世」。坦白說,我真的不敢相信自己的眼睛,寧願自己老眼昏花。

汴京是一國之都,天下財富、權力之所聚,繁華熱鬧是可以理解的。但盛世嘛--相信唸過一點國史的都知道,北宋末年,內憂外患交煎,徽宗坐在深宮之中做其道君皇帝,也沒有多少日子,就倉皇讓位於兒子欽宗;翌年更爆發靖康之難,汴京淪陷,徽宗被金人擄去,至死不得南歸。請問這是哪門子的盛世?難道汴京市井的浮華喧囂,就能把我們蒙蔽如此,無視當時風雨飄搖、岌岌可危的局勢?香港主要文化機構的負責人無知至此,豈不令人心寒?

看著舞台上九百年前的車水馬龍,忍不住又想到土生土長的香港來。但有多少人會感悟到,眼前的浮華虛榮,可能是暴風雨前夕的歌舞昇平?

Friday, 20 July 2007

Retrospect of a Decade (Part 5)

Few would dispute the importance of health. Yet the same few would genuinely take health seriously and make preventive efforts to keep fit until they are bitterly stricken by all sorts of sicknesses.

I am no exception.

There were simply too many reasons to blind - or more precisely, cheat - me from addressing the potential health hazards, which are actually landmines that could explode any time without any prior notice.

Over the past decade I have experienced such serious threats to health that I wouldn't have ever expected to happen to me. Even after three years, I'm still not quite sure whether those terrible things were but a dragged-on nightmare.

While people nowadays are swamped with information about all sorts of health hazards, don't let all the information floating around mislead you to nowhere. Stress can only be blamed if you have make an absolutely honest confession to address its causes and, more importantly, take concrete steps to manage the stress of different roots.

This is especially true in the management of emotions or psychological health. The same rationale applies to the maintenance of physiological health too, although most of us will entrust medical practitioners to prescribe treatments when we're in serious trouble. In any case, self-discipline and determination is the critical success factor.

A mixture of factors, which is not uncommon nowadays, is even more complicated and thus requires even stronger commitment and determination.

Every person is a unique individual who can find no replicate in this world. Therefore a strategy that works perfectly for me could be useless for someone else. This is also why strong commitment and determination is required - nobody on earth understands yourself better than you do and professionals, the closest friends and relatives can only give advice to their best knowledge of yourself. From an absolutely utilitarian point of view, they have no obligation or capability to help you restore your health. The most decisive and significant success factor, from my experience, is one's own resolution.

If you're not determined to eradicate the problem, it won't go away. People around you can do little to help.

A lonely and enduring battle as it may seem, the taste of victory at the end of the game always justifies the efforts throughout the process. It is also a kind of challenge of life that provides perfect training of a tough mind, strong physique and self-cultivation.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Retrospect of a Decade (Part 4)

The heavily promoted Hong Kong Book Fair that opened yesterday reminds me of the reluctance to give things a second thought among many fellow citizens here. News reports of how much thousands of dollars some parents are ready to spend on supplementary exercise books and intelligence development tools for their children just make me sick.

Guys, do you really believe that this is what education is about? Are we training programmed robots here that are excellent at sitting for examinations but idiots with no idea about how to get along with people with different backgrounds and personalities and, more importantly, don't know anything about themselves except the others' expectations imposed on them?

Not to mention the ridiculous frenzy for the so-called environmental-friendly bag by Anya Hindmarch earlier this month, which, I believe, was no more than a useless product designed to create noise in the media and desire of possession for nothing substantial.

Come on, girls. Use your brain more often and in a more sensible way before it is too late. Being friendly to the environment doesn't have anything to do with which bag you use - or more precisely, show off. Stop ordering 10 dishes of tapas or main courses just for the sake of trying one or two pieces of each type when you can only finish three. Stop changing mobile phones every two or three months with the belief that your old phones will be re-sold to someone in Mainland China because there are plenty of new models exclusive for booming China, not Hong Kong. Our compatriots in the Mainland just don't really need that many second-hand mobile phones.

Stop pretending that you're being friendly to the environment when you will only show off your hard-fought bag for three months and throw it in the darkest corner of your wardrobe, or even worse, the landfill.

Environmental protection, which can be extremely flexible and inexpensive in implementation, is so much more than a fad. It is a serious commitment to the Earth on which we are living. It is also a commitment to ensure that the future generations can continue to enjoy the sunshine, blue sky, fresh air and water and other resources that have enabled the survival and prosperity of mankind.

Some may attribute the lack of depth in thought, if any, among many people of Hong Kong to the alarming levels of stress at work. There is obviously some truth in this observation. However, I'm convinced that we are running the risk of over-simplification of a problem, which, sadly, is fairly common in Hong Kong, if we blame nothing but stress.

Meanwhile, some people from the academia, especially many of those engaged in cultural studies in Hong Kong, who are trying very hard to make things more complicated than they should be offer no help either. Any sensible person with a logic mind should understand that there is no correlation between complexity and depth. To me, the failure to explain concepts and hypotheses in easily comprehensible terms does not represent anything positive but the poor articulation of the communicators. It also discourages the interest of the public and prevents them from engaging in meaningful and extensive discussions about the community of which everyone is a member on equal status. Therefore, I believe, some scholars are just theorising things for the sake of theorisation to uphold nothing but their personal interests - either to secure the renewal of their contracts with universities or, more hilariously, to maintain their misperceived status of being more equal than the others.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

十年回首(四)

這些天百無聊賴,懶惰的惡菌再次侵襲全身。看電視和報紙,不是粉飾太平就是輿論暴力,只覺頭昏腦脹,中人欲嘔。不如重玩DOS版《金庸群俠傳》來得輕鬆自在。

那天看到一大群不知哪兒鑽出來的少女師奶群情淘湧,喊打喊殺,誓要買到甚麼名牌環保袋而後快,突然間靈光一閃,想到了這篇的主題。

十年來,總覺得香港人愈來愈幼稚,愈來愈無聊,愈來愈膚淺。當年江澤民一句too simple,sometimes naive,可謂切中要害。所謂旁觀者清,內地領導人看香港,從來頭腦清晰,比我們更瞭解自己。

先不要說甚麼建華之亂、曾蔭權一朝得志語無倫次之類老掉了牙的東西。還記得吃一個月漢堡包去換購Snoopy或Hello Kitty公仔嗎?記得天天像追看電視劇一般追看新馬師曾的爭產風波嗎?記得在所謂「書展」、「漫畫展」的廉價地攤搶購課外練習、文棍垃圾和玩具精品,然後不可一世地向在場的記者展示戰利品嗎?

這些就是膚淺。

膚淺是甚麼?就是只看表面、人云亦云,不肯動腦筋想想,到底一件事是對是錯?有甚麼意義?為甚麼要這樣做?

不是嗎?請問有多少人認真想過自己到底為甚麼要這樣做?如果是一直喜歡Snoopy和Hello Kitty的粉絲固然是無可厚非,但那些人云亦云的「忽然狂迷」呢?是為了憧憬日後轉手炒賣的微利,還是中了廣告的魔咒無法自解,抑或是阿邊個邊個乜水物水都有了,我又要有?

至於一年一度的「香港書展」,本質上只是出版社的散貨區,近年更淪為所謂歌手、演員、嫁個有錢人的「手袋黨」太太爭取上鏡的戰場。在場採訪的娛樂記者比港聞版、文化閱讀版的記者多上好幾倍,更有人請來真假難辨的粉絲造勢,像旺角街頭鬧哄哄的簽名會多於一切,真是慘不忍睹。不是說歌手、演員、有錢太太不可以寫書,問題是,為甚麼寫來寫去還是美容、烹飪和養寵物?更重要的問題是,那些勞什子真的是他們寫的嗎?他們當中不是有很多連中文也說得一塌糊塗的傢伙嗎?如果只是口述,或者只是借個名字讓出版社發一筆小橫財之後分點紅,為甚麼不能坦誠相告,童叟無欺?在美國,有點名氣的人口述內容、請人代筆出版的書籍比比皆是,就連學富五車的政客也不例外。那些香港人不是很喜歡說美國有多好、有多先進的嗎?在這件事上為甚麼不學美國,卻去學內地的不法商人掛羊頭賣狗肉?

諷刺的是,香港貿易發展局每年主辦「香港書展」,原意不是為了鼓勵閱讀、促進本港出版業發展的嗎?這些年來,「香港書展」鼓勵香港人閱讀方面,有多少成效?促進出版業發展方面,又做了多少功夫?我已經太厭倦把參展商數目和入場人次當金科玉律的陳腔濫調。不去深究暢銷書種、購買動機等重要的內在因素,只是迷信表面上的統計數字,把這些數字當作唯一而全部的真理,不是膚淺是甚麼?

普羅大眾固然如此,掌握輿論公器的傳媒、把持權力的達官貴人更無以獨善其身。如果他們沒有推波助瀾,已經阿彌陀佛了。

無奈天教心願與身違。

已經不只一次痛批被「中坑」把持的本地傳媒精神分裂、借新聞、言論自由之名,行排斥異己、操控自由之實,顛倒是非、混淆視聽,令人髮指。不只是政治背景鮮明的傳媒,且看鄭經翰、李慧玲、陶傑之流,以屁股指揮腦袋,一副居高臨下、睥睨當代的姿態,實則操控輿論,煽動語言暴力,卻被奉為人民喉舌、香江才子。

曾蔭權上台後,有姿勢沒實際的廢話無日無之,已到了難以容忍的地步。看他沾沾自喜地提出「香港要有一千萬人口」、「香港市民應該生三個孩子」、「香港要成為像紐約、倫敦那樣的國際金融中心」等空洞無聊、沒有內涵的口號,不是膚淺是甚麼?香港地少人多,社會問題層出不窮,舊的未解決,新的接踵來,如何能成為一千萬人安居樂業的和諧社會?再說,紐約、倫敦的成功之道在哪兒?除了看得見的地標、設施配套,更重要的是歷史文化、價值理念這些長期沉澱得來、但統計數字和資產負債表上看不到的因素,香港學得來嗎?這兩個城市要付出怎樣的社會代價,來維繫毫不相干的外人也看得見的繁榮,曾蔭權和那些掌握香港政治、經濟命脈的達官貴人會知道嗎?

不去仔細分析人家的成功之道,不去認真考慮香港的優勢和弱點,不去思考配合香港獨特環境而應該開創的前途,就輕率地說香港要學人家這個那個,不是膚淺是甚麼?

嗚呼哀哉!明珠何辜,蒙此塵垢?香江何罪,濁浪滔天?試問百萬斯民,何日方得清明?

Friday, 29 June 2007

十年回首(三)

看本地傳媒鋪天蓋地的十年回顧,總覺得搔不著癢處。正如我,嘮嘮叨叨寫了那麼多,還是覺得滿腹牢騷。也許年紀漸老,鬱積已深,實在無法以三言兩語訴說肺腑。

在政治、經濟、民生等陳腔濫調長期霸佔論述空間的情況下,香港流行文化的衰落永遠只能敬陪末座。

羅文、張國榮、林振強、梅艷芳、黃霑等象徵著香港流行文化的大師級人物先後去世,後知後覺、因循苟且的傢伙才驚覺「一個時代的終結」。其實,遠在九十年代所謂「四大天王」冒起,黃家駒和陳百強意外去世之時,本港的粵語流行樂壇早已呈現衰落的先兆。

我無意板起臉孔批評目前的粵語歌有多糟糕,這些年來國際唱片業協會的銷量統計就是最好的證明。盜版問題根本沒有唱片業界口中所說那麼嚴重,而是像我這樣早被華實兼備的藝術家寵壞了的歌迷,發揮應有的市場力量,向一眾掛羊頭賣狗肉、姿勢多於實際的傢伙說「不」。

很多人都說,香港不會再出現像Anita那樣才華橫溢的歌手。這個當然。如今人人心浮氣躁,自我膨脹得厲害,寧願躲在卡拉 OK裡縱聲狂叫發洩壓力,也不肯花一兩個小時坐在戲院裡安靜地看電影、看表演。何況,以前表演的場地多的是,電視台還沒有發展到可以隻手遮天的地步,酒廊、夜總會(拜託,不是有小姐陪酒出鐘的「大富豪」)、遊樂場、劇院,如今剩下多少?啟德遊樂場、荔園、利舞台早已灰飛煙滅,哪兒還有培養專業藝人的木人巷?連栽培了幾代電視藝員和歌手的長壽綜藝節目《歡樂今宵》也因為黔驢技窮、收視下滑而黯然落幕。藝人表演的機會愈來愈少,技藝怎會有進步?像Anita 那樣四歲踏台板,十九歲就已經是跑了十多年碼頭的老江湖,若是現在,只會淪為社工、道學者和文化研究者「拯救」的對象。

所以,儘管我非常討厭那些五音不全的傢伙,有時候也忍不住對他們有一點同情--因為他們大都沒準備好,或者只準備了一首歌,就被人急不及待地推出台前或鏡頭前獻世。

表演藝術是需要時間浸淫的,但現在時間愈來愈寶貴,台上台下都負擔不起這樣的奢侈。也許我們吃慣了前菜、餐湯、主菜和甜品同時奉上的快餐,即使偶然吃一頓悠閒的盛宴,總覺得渾身不自在,甚至可能等不及餐湯已經忍不住破口大罵。在這樣過分追求效率和投資回報的環境下,怎麼還會有好的藝術市場?怎麼還會有好的藝人和作者?就連當年可以左手寫《皇后大道東》、右手寫《似是故人來》的林夕,今天又如何?香港自詡為「國際都會」,其實對世界的認識,只是局限於歐、美為主導的金融市場和超級品牌。若論國際視野,又有誰比得上會為非洲孤兒和南非黑人領袖曼德拉出獄而創作粵語歌的家駒?為甚麼我們還不知感恩、不知悔改,因利之名毀掉一個又一個天賜奇才?

多年前聽舒琪談香港電影,他說香港電影的成就,都是一個個適逢其會的巧合。他臉上無奈、悲涼之意,至今不忘。其實,流行音樂又何嘗不是?政府的放任和漠視固然不消提起,就連學院裡的音樂、藝術教授也莫不對下里巴人的大眾娛樂嗤之以鼻。諷刺的是,偏偏就是電影、粵語流行曲等大眾娛樂產品令香港蜚聲國際,也塑造了香港人的獨特身分,想必教那些「正規」藝術家恨得牙癢癢。

都說香港人是世界上最善忘的動物。如今金融市場火氣沖天,數年前經濟蕭條時提倡創意產業,發展多元經濟結構的口號已是明日黃花。然而,目前掌握香港經濟命脈的「中坑」,都似乎沒有意識到香港的經濟危機已經逼在眉睫。在回歸十年的節骨眼上,那一片肉麻當有趣的歌功頌德、粉飾太平,實在令人不忍卒睹。

仰首穹蒼,滿天灑不盡的雨水,就像十年前的鬼哭神號。莫不是天神憐憫的眼淚?腦中不禁又浮起Anita蒼涼的歌聲:「望著天一片,滿懷倦,無淚也無言。」

只是,眼前的香港,外貌早改變,處境都變,情懷亦變。我們再也配不上擁有Anita和她的好朋友,所以他們都逐一離開,到彼岸那個清涼自在的世界去逍遙快活。他們留下只有思念和傳奇,永遠糾纏著一顆顆感恩的心。

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Retrospect of a Decade (Part 3)

If you ask me what strikes me most in the last decade on the personal front, I can't really tell because everything seems to be so inextricably interwoven that it is almost impossible to single out anything from the 10,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.

If you press me for a definite answer, however, I'd say I was, and somewhat still am, most bothered by the tragic loss of Godsend talents of pop culture in Hong Kong within three consecutive years from 2002 to 2004.

Those who grew up in the heyday of Hong Kong's pop culture and so-called creative industries (pardon me for my scepticism again, but I'm somewhat uneasy about the word "creative", as the most successful Hong Kong pop culture producers are essentially very skilful adopters rather than innovative creators who make things from scratch) will share my gratitude to the glamorous stars and talents who had made our earlier days more colourful, interesting and memorable than they should have been otherwise. Emotionally, I find those extraordinary men and women as close and attached as my family and friends. Sometimes even more so. I simply can't imagine how different my life would have been should I never have a chance to know them, to enjoy their works and let them be my life-time companions.

Visitors to this blog probably know that I'm a fan of the legendary diva Anita Mui's. She is my pride and so is my privilege to become a loyal supporter of hers.

Crowned "the daughter of Hong Kong" after she lost her bitter battle against cervical cancer in 2003, arguably the darkest year in Hong Kong's history after the city's fall to Japanese invasion from December 1941 to August 1945, Anita deserves the highest level of respect from personal to professional fronts. She is the best-selling singer in Hong Kong with records unbroken for more than two decades. Jacky Cheung and Hacken Lee are not even close. She attempted and mastered a wide spectrum of characters that are unimaginable even for well-recognised actresses such as Maggie Cheung, Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi. Her sophisticated voice and on-stage charisma, as well as her success story that is often compared to the baby-boomers' Story of Hong Kong, were by no means replicable anywhere, any time.

Indeed, the local economy has changed so much that it is now impossible to replicate Anita's success story. The shabby theatres where Anita and her elder sister Ann performed were torn down. It is now unimaginable for a four-year-old toddler who can barely stand on her feet to sing Mandarin oldies and Cantonese opera live on stage. The lounges where Anita sang night after night before she won the singing contest have now become karaoke bars. Rather than enjoying music with friends in a lounge, stressed out men and women now find it much more rewarding and relieving to vent their emotions out loud in a confined space. The teenagers and students who used to listen to her songs, watch her films and attend her concerts have now become middle-aged souls torn apart in the ever-mounting confusion and pressure of Hong Kong. All they could do is to cling to their sweet memories of their carefree good old days with the hope that Anita might release a new album or a new movie sooner or later.

But their humble hope was shattered in the heart-breaking year of 2003.

The departure of Anita and other talents of Hong Kong's Canto-pop culture was not the end of an era. It was the end of a generation's dream and hope. We no longer have anyone to look up to, to attach our emotions to, and to share our thoughts and feelings with as if they can talk to us through their works. Talents like Anita have spoilt our generation with distinctive vocal authority, unmatched professionalism in performance and the highest possible integrity of mankind. This is why I felt a bit unsatisfied reading the obituary in Time Magazine, which focused on her professional achievements, although it was already much better than the sensational local press that adamantly and distastefully tagged on her private life. Her courage to defend justice and morality in the most challenging times; her genuine sympathy for those who suffer was by all means extraordinary. Those who concede to power and wealth should be intimidated by Anita's courage and selflessness, even though she might not have received as much school education as they did.

Of course I understand that Anita and her true friends shall live forever in the hearts of their admirers. But I still find it difficult to hold back tears when I think of the young souls who left us so prematurely, bequeathing us a legacy of dedication, excellence, integrity and professionalism that we should be grateful for generations.

This is particularly true when the lust for power replaces justice; the greed for profits substitutes respect and empathy; complacence prevents excellence and narrow-mindedness limits the options for common good. Don't you think so?

Monday, 25 June 2007

Retrospect of a Decade (Part 2)

Repetition is hardly noble. It only serves to remind people with extremely short span of memory of things that are truly important.

However, I find it really difficult to resist the temptation to repeat myself in this second part of my English retrospect. The complacence and hypocrisy of Hong Kong's baby-boomers, who are still dominating the business, political and social helms of the city, just makes me unbearably sick.

Despite the hardships and difficulties we have endured since the handover 10 years ago, there is no sign that Hong Kong's leaders have done any soul-searching in defining Hong Kong's deep-rooted legacy of problems, let alone proposing any meaningful solutions accordingly. It seems that vested interests of the powerful conglomerates have dragged the feet of Hong Kong so much that is leading Hong Kong to nowhere but decay and decline.

For one thing, alarm bells have been activated repeatedly on Hong Kong's over-reliance on the service sector, notably financial services, property development and tourism. Unfortunately no one seems to have paid serious and sufficient attention to this burning issue over the past decade. Now that the economy is said to have strongly recovered and financial markets booming, the issue is likely to be ignored for the next couple of years until another economic crisis emerges. I find it really difficult to understand why so many people genuinely believe that financial services alone would be able to support a diverse population like the one in Hong Kong. Don't they know that about one-third of our fellow citizens are still living in public housing on extremely low rents and wages? Don't they know that the glass-walled skyscrapers in Central represent nothing but the fallacy of elitism and an international metropolis? Don't they know that the financial sector is often dominated by expatriates who never step out of their comfortable zones on Hong Kong Island, feeling intimidated to cross the harbour to visit the local Chinese communities of Sham Shui Po, Kowloon City, Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun and Tin Shui Wai? What do these guys have to do with the dynamic livelihood of the people of Hong Kong?

For another, the majority of fellow citizens are denied of the chance to share the benefits of economic recovery due to the heavily biased economic structure. With the exception of a few sectors, most salary-earners and self-employed people are excluded from generous pay and income rises like those of the civil servants on permanent employment (sorry, no contract staff allowed). Unfortunately consumer prices have shown no respect to the reality and started to climb due to supply shortages and other factors. Latest figures also showed that the income gap in Hong Kong has widened to unprecedented levels.

This is particularly regretful when the Government is trying to comply with the party line of cultivating a harmonious community. However, the Government has shown no insight or meaningful measures to address this deteriorating problem that can lead to devastating consequences.

The recent dissolution of the Commission on Poverty was welcomed though. The approach adopted by the Commission to address poverty was essentially ineffective and a waste of time and resources because the fundamentals are neither challenged nor questioned. The root cause of poverty in Hong Kong, notably poverty that can be inherited for generations, is the demise of social upward mobility as compared to three decades ago. Opportunities to improve one's life with self-efforts are extremely limited with the rapid institutionalisation of Hong Kong, whereby innovation is suppressed and challenges to vested interests condemned as a threat to superficial stability. Students are not trained to have sharp and critical minds but disciples of the baby-boomers. Fresh graduates and young workers do not enjoy the same level of trust, freedom and exposure as the baby-boomers did. Individuals from humble roots are often denied of chances for a good start due to poor education, healthcare and all-rounded personal development at an early stage, which, unfortunately, is made to be costly with limited admission quotas.

Amid the challenges of an aging population, a narrow tax base, the lack of job security due to prevalence of short-term contracts and outsourcing, coupled with the deteriorating natural environment and living conditions, it seems that Hong Kong has lost its direction for more than 10 years but still can't figure out which is the right way to move forward.

Haunted by its previous success in the 1980s, a sense of complacence prevailing among the business, political and social leaders is extraordinarily disgusting and worrisome. While I understand that Hong Kong enjoys an unmatched advantage, thanks to China's blessing and support, there is no excuse for us to brush aside our long-standing problems as if they never existed. As we have seen over the past decade, the later we start rolling up our sleeves to tackle these problems with courage and substance, the more and longer we shall suffer.

Ladies and gentlemen, harmony does not mean speaking in one voice without any dissent or challenge to conventions. Harmony means genuine respect, tolerance and understanding for diverging views and voices. Harmony is by no means an excuse for brainwashing or whitewashing. Active listening and truly open dialogues with paradigms and stereotypes set aside are the first essential step to achieve harmony.

If you guys are not ready or reluctant to embrace the changing paradigms, stop bluffing and step down. Your dirty old tricks no longer fit the brave new world. Nor are these wanted or sought after any more.

Are you ready to go, sir and ma'am?