Wednesday, 29 October 2008

桃花盡日隨流水

電視劇《九陰真經》所以被奉為經典,大概是因為選對了黃藥師為主角。在《射鵰英雄傳》裡,最具吸引力的配角非他莫屬;即使在所有金庸小說中,受歡迎程度能與他匹敵的,也只有金蛇郎君夏雪宜、楊逍等寥寥數人。

金庸描寫亦正亦邪、性格複雜、狂放不覊的男子,堪稱獨步武林。每一位人物都能獨當一面,魅力非凡,讓讀者神為之奪。小時候讀金庸小說,甚至得出一個「結論」,就是這些邪氣男子的形象,從《碧血劍》的金蛇郎君,到《射鵰英雄傳》的黃藥師、《神鵰俠侶》的楊過,以及《倚天屠龍記》的楊逍,自成脈絡,與郭靖、蕭峰一類正氣凜然的男子形成強烈對比。

基於這種根深柢固的想像,我對於姜大衛飾演的黃藥師,態度比較冷靜,不及眾位「尊粉」那麼花癡,因為始終覺得他的外型比較厚重,少了幾分黃老邪「蕭疏軒舉,湛然若神」的瀟灑雋逸。不過,他演技精純,劇本也寫得用心,能讓他充分發揮,自然容易征服觀眾。談到影視作品中的黃藥師,老實說,至今沒有一位完全符合我心目中黃藥師的形象,從外貌、服飾到神態、氣質,總是有這樣那樣的遺憾。

黃藥師和馮氏的悲歡離合,一直是不少金庸讀者肆意想像的題材。選取《射鵰》這段旁枝來發展一個完整的故事,可見《九陰真經》的編導多麼明智。我在星期日的文章提出過,無人理解的寂寞,是黃藥師與馮氏相愛的主要原因,也是《九陰真經》編導刻意經營的觀點;如今仔細想去,這可能比較接近黃藥師愛上馮氏的理由。馮氏為甚麼會愛上黃藥師,劇集裡倒是語焉不詳。

也許,女性總有一份與生俱來的母性,看到別人軟弱的一面,就會不由自主的寄予同情,尤其是男人。一個男人無論多麼強悍、多麼優秀,也需要擺脫形象、回復自我的喘息機會。如果女人明白男人埋藏在強悍面具之下的心事,更懂得在顧全他臉面的情況下,讓他知道自己理解他、關心他,男人應該會感激不已,引為知己。至少,在《九陰真經》裡,黃藥師和馮氏之間的情意,也是從馮氏聽懂黃藥師的笛聲開始的。

不過,引為知己也好、愛得如何刻骨銘心也好,男人總是得隴望蜀,總有比心愛的女子更重要的身外之物。捫心自問,即使到了現在,我們又有多少人會瞧得起愛情至上的男人?或者,不斷追尋目標,滿足一個又一個的願望,才是他們的生存法則。像蕭峰那樣失去目標,就等於來到了生命的盡頭。其實,以黃藥師的聰明才智,又何必貪圖《九陰真經》的武功?原著裡的黃藥師,也曾汲汲於浮名俗利,居然忍心讓懷孕八個月的妻子晝夜苦思,背默《九陰真經》,其實又能高尚到哪兒去?所以電視劇把原著的情節改成他為馮氏療傷而中毒,需要修習《九陰真經》來保住性命,已是給黃老邪臉上貼了金。

可惜,編劇筆下的黃藥師,仍未擺脫一般男子自我中心、不解溫柔的俗套,所以他只會自嘲:「我輩江湖中人,不知道為甚麼,一生下來就有無窮無盡的比試」,卻從來沒有勇氣,為了讓懷孕的妻子安心而拒絕歐陽鋒的挑戰。是他不甘心示弱於人,還是他心底裡也渴望與歐陽鋒爭奪「天下第一」的虛榮,抑或「人在江湖」的觀念根深柢固,從來沒有反省過?恐怕連他自己也說不清楚。

因為深藏不露的貪婪,或者無法抗拒的宿命,黃藥師終於失去了他一生最愛的女人。那一天,斜陽如血,看著馮氏晶瑩明亮的眼睛逐漸黯淡,戀戀不捨地瞧著丈夫的背影,嚥下最後一口氣,我竟忍不住掉了幾點眼淚。梁珮玲的演技、製作人員以燈光、攝影、配樂等刻意經營的幽怨淒美,固然應記一功;但我更心疼的是,馮氏就像無數民間傳奇裡溫柔可人的女主角一樣,為丈夫無怨無悔的付出所有,最後只換來令人握腕的淒涼。

佳人已逝,悔之已晚;思憶斷腸,亦復何如?難怪有人會懷疑,黃藥師為亡妻修築精緻的墓室、建造華麗的花船,每晚在妻子墓前吹奏《碧海潮生曲》,其實只是虛有其表。與其說這些是他深愛妻子的表現,不如說是他在為自己超度。他讓自己沉溺在寂寞和悔咎之中,彷彿這樣就能減輕為了奪得《九陰真經》而犧牲妻子的罪業。其實,這種自虐式的沉緬,又何濟於事?因為他的思念,只能隨著浪花湧向天涯海角;他的笛聲,只能徘徊於墓室與山澤之間;他的眼淚,只能灌溉一株株盛放的桃花。

看罷《九陰真經》,讓我想起兩句舊詩:「桃花盡日隨流水,洞在清谿何處邊?」也許,桃花島本來就不是武陵源,只是有人一廂情願而已。

Monday, 27 October 2008

Paying the Price

Readers of this blog may notice that I have not been commenting on recent affairs for a while, be it the melamine scandal or the global financial tsunami that is sweeping through different parts of Asia.

Well, not that I don't want to do so, but I simply don't have the luxury of time. Not so much the time for writing, but thinking.

If I tell you the previous blog entry took me more than six or seven hours in two days to write, you should understand what I really mean.

But I must admit that I didn't intend to comment on the melamine issue. The reason is simple. There is little to comment on the evil and heartless deed of some profiteering opportunists. All they wanted to do was to make lucrative profits, but they didn't know their money was extracted from human health, especially children. Those guys had the knowledge of increasing the protein levels in milk products by illegal cheats, but they didn't know the adulterated amounts were sufficient to cause permanent harm to human health.

Isn't it ridiculously sad? Does it mean the chemistry education in China has nothing to do with moral values of mankind? How can you give any meaningful comment when an amateur chemist smart enough to understand the correlation between melamine and protein content in food products that is detectable by the most widely used testing methodology told you that he didn't know too much melamine would kill?

Some may say those amateur chemists are facing severe punishment. I don't really care, as long as they are paying the price for what they did. However, I can no longer stay away from even more pressing issues about our future when the melamine storm spreads to other foodstuff, such as eggs.

As early as in late September when the melamine issue was flaring up and the Hong Kong Government was developing the safety standards for melamine, medical scientists such as Professor Thomas Chan Yan-keung of The Chinese University of Hong Kong have reminded us that it is time to pay the dear price for what we, and our forefathers, of course, did to the natural environment. He tirelessly told the local media that it is not feasible to have zero tolerance for melamine, because this substance is everywhere. Having minute traces of melamine in the food chain is perfectly normal.

So what does that mean? The concept of the food chain is simple. It is just a chain of "we are what we eat" relationships. We all know too well that we drink milk from milk cows, which eat grass, which is produced by the earth with photosynthesis. So, if the land is heavily polluted, harmful substances such as melamine may be found in grass. Then milk cows eat grass, and some of the unfavourable substances may be absorbed and retained in the milk cows' bodies. When the milk cows produce milk for human consumption and food production, some traces of the substances may be found in the milk. Don't forget the plastic containers that have become so indispensable to our daily lives. All plastics have some melamine too.

So, we should not be surprised when the existence of melamine, or any other unknown but harmful substances that are not expected in food, is now exposed. We are simply paying the price for what we did.

If we are serious about the non-negotiability of zero tolerance of any foreign substance in food, we should start doing something to tackle pollution with a holistic and international approach. Some radical measures seem inevitable to be effective. You may say this is like a mission impossible, especially at a time when everyone is trying to secure their money in the banks. Yes, that is very true. I know it too well seeing the interest-driven approach of public affairs in the international arena. So be it, but then it means we will have to put up with anything that may emerge at any inconvenient time, any unimaginable scale.

Unfortunately his thought-provoking comments did not attract much public attention. Too many people think Professor Chan, a member of the melamine expert group appointed by the Government, was just defending the Government's refusal to adopt zero tolerance for melamine, I believe. How sad it is. The resentment of the authority has blinded too many of us from seeing what the real issue is, just like the nihilistic controversy of the appointment of undersecretaries earlier this year that ended up with nothing. Everyone just missed the point.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

我們都寂寞

沒來由心血來潮,花了兩個月斷斷續續的看,終於把一部十五年前的舊劇集看完。這些年來,好像沒有看到另一部劇集,可以把「傷逝」演得如此淋漓盡致。

「傷逝」是文藝作品常見的主題,而且往往最能觸動人心。相親相愛的人,因為各種各樣的原因不再相見,只是想想,也覺得柔腸百結,欲語無言。

「傷逝」所以能引起共鳴,就是因為我們大都擁有一些美好而已逝的回憶,所以失落、所以悲傷;如果沒有記憶,彷彿一切也沒發生過,那可能更落得清靜,省卻很多煩惱。

因此,博聞強記的才智之士,往往不及頭腦簡單的人快樂。就是因為聰明的人記心太好、包袱太重,很難放得開胸懷。在感情方面,尤其如此。

自古以來,我們都歌頌用情專一、矢志不渝的人物,無論是真有其人或只是虛無縹緲的傳說,總會叫人心神激盪。為甚麼呢?大概是因為我們都渴望得到毫無條件的注視和關懷,總覺得有一個人能夠全心全意地為自己付出所有,那就是一種矜貴的禮遇、無比的幸福。有趣的是,父母往往也是全心全意的為子女付出,很多人卻不稀罕。至少,我們大概都同意,「緹縈救父」、「臥冰求鯉」等傳揚孝悌的故事,始終不及「梁祝」、「白蛇傳」之類的愛情故事那麼感人。

如果全心全意的關愛,不是愛情本質的重點,那麼,愛情故事引人入勝的地方到底在哪兒呢?

也許,其實,是因為寂寞。

寂寞不是孤獨。孤獨只是形體上落了單,心靈仍可以很充實;寂寞卻是心靈上的枯燥。不是說,人類是群體的動物嗎?其實,我們不只需要形體上的夥伴,更需要心靈上的夥伴,渴望自己的想法,得到人家的理解和認同。即使親如父母兄弟,不理解、不認同的情況比比皆是。朋友也許可以彌補這方面的缺失,但朋友始終不是同行同食、形影不離的親密夥伴。只有情人或配偶,才有機會一次滿足兩個願望。

想到這裡,我開始明白,十五年前的《射鵰英雄傳之九陰真經》,為甚麼能讓那麼多內地觀眾念念不忘,奉為經典。

小時候讀《射鵰英雄傳》,對黃藥師的妻子充滿了好奇。不是因為她擁有過目不忘的本領,而是很想知道,她是怎樣贏得黃藥師的癡心,甘願為她承受一輩子的寂寞。黃藥師活到差不多一百歲,對亡妻的思念始終不減,用情之深,可謂罕有其匹。《九陰真經》的劇情,就是填補了這塊空白,為黃藥師的癡情提供了一種甚具說服力的詮釋。

從表面看,《九陰真經》的主題是「傷逝」。故事從黃裳矢志報仇,不知時日飛逝開始,到黃藥師之妻因默寫《九陰真經》,心力交瘁而死作結,最後更來一段《紅樓夢曲》的尾聲:「欠命的,命已還;欠淚的,淚已盡,落了片白茫茫大地真乾淨」作首尾呼應,結構尚算嚴謹。

仔細看去,「寂寞」才是真正的重點所在。黃裳潛心練武,四十年轉眼過去,當日的妙齡女子,已變成雞皮鶴髮的老婦。黃裳的仇人早已死去,他練成了絕世神功,天下無敵,也抵不過失去人生目標的寂寞。

劇中黃藥師和馮氏,不約而同都是寂寞的人兒。也許因為這樣,他們才會愛得如此刻骨銘心。黃藥師被逐出師門,苦練十年,矢志為師妹報仇,本來就是一段寂寞無比的試煉。報仇之後,他決心放下過去,重過新生,但他始終無法驅除寂寞。這一切,馮氏從他的笛聲裡早聽出來了。按照劇情,馮氏是受人崇敬膜拜的聖女,是神仙一般的人物,身邊只有忠心的侍婢和野心勃勃的權臣悍將,寂寞可想而知。馮氏對黃藥師的理解、黃藥師對她的感激,促成了這一段金庸筆下教人難忘的癡戀。

正因為這樣,他們的悲劇結局也就順理成章。因為寂寞,所以他們相愛;只有寂寞,才能成全他倆的愛情。所以,黃藥師既然不滿足於與嬌妻相守的幸福,就要以畢生的寂寞和思念,來懲罰自己的偏執和貪欲。要是馮氏沒有早死,她和黃藥師可能會是金庸小說中最令人艷羨的神仙眷侶。不過,我也無法想像,他倆會像《神鵰俠侶》的郭靖和黃蓉一般,變成為子女操心、為家務吵架的俗世夫妻。

優秀的文藝作品,都需要用心創作,觀乎《九陰真經》編導描寫人物的細緻透徹,此言非虛。如今電視早在因循苟且裡沉淪,更顯得這部滄海遺珠的可貴。

其實,身為老觀眾的寂寞,又有誰理會呢?

Thursday, 23 October 2008

A Taste of Beijing

Seven years have passed since I last visited Beijing. After the retreat, I spent one day and a half in the heart of Beijing where I'm most familiar with.

Not surprisingly, the Chinese capital has changed dramatically over the past seven years, especially in its run-up to and the successful hosting of the Olympic Games. Perhaps my stay was too short for any meaningful experience, but the Hong Kong-style shopping malls and well-paved walking streets where vehicles are prohibited only reminds me of how much the taste of Beijing has vanished. The crowded market in front of the centuries-old Front Gate (Qianmen) called Dashila can now be found only in memory. The hutongs have been transformed into extravagant business buildings and heartless shopping malls. The ordinary neighbourhood and cooking smoke coming out of the coal-burning stoves have become a tourist attraction to be enjoyed at outrageous costs. Now that it seems the Forbidden City and the exhausting walks on the long, wide and endless straight roads are what remaining as the icon of Beijing.

Friends urged me to visit the national stadium and the water sports centre, but I didn't. For some reason I don't give a damn to these new creatures of national glory and glamour. Perhaps I am already fed up with the three-week doses of propaganda on how magnificent and powerful China has become in August. All I wanted to do during the short stay was to take a very relaxing walk around the best of Beijing, and refresh my memory of what Beijing truly is.

This was why I spent four hours in the Forbidden City on Sunday morning with Jimin, who was visiting Beijing for the first time. Hope she was not drowned in my long-winded monologues of history and legends about the Forbidden City. In fact, all the stories and mysteries, true or fictional, embraced by the huge red-brick walls are the irresistible appeal of Beijing. Even the twin trees in the royal garden that twist their arms with each other have so much to say about the legendary Princess Changping and her husband in my all-time favourite opera.

Thank God that Donglaishun, the famous hot pot restaurant in Beijing founded 105 years ago, still serves coal-burning hot pot with lamb. This is yet another major reminder of the taste of Beijing that is on the brink of extinction for the very legitimate reason - the environment. Sometimes you just want to forget everything and indulge yourself in a few moments of sensual pleasure. And cooking the fine-cut lamb meat in a coal-burning hot pot is certainly one that offers great pleasure.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Retreat on the Great Wall

Last Thursday I had a long-awaited break and joined a company retreat on the Great Wall - far away into the mountains outside Beijing on the Great Wall at Jinshanling rather than the over-crowded tourist section at Badaling. Thank God.

The retreat was meant to be a business development training workshop in an almost sealed-off location to keep us focused and undisturbed. Not even internet access was available. To me, it was an incredible and long-awaited peace of mind and soul.

There was also a healthy challenge to the body and mind with the sleep on the Great Wall in the freezing chill. Yes, it was a challenge, but everything paid off when I found myself bathing in the blue and silver moonlight of the full moon that was lighting up the centuries-old bricks and walls and the wild mountains around me. The light was incredibly bright in the clear sky and I can't really describe how beautiful and breath-taking it was. This beauty of nature in the wild was exactly what I was looking forward to prior to the retreat.

Even more intriguing was that the moon became so dim on the second night that it would have been unpleasant and intimidating to sleep on the Great Wall. How privileged I was to be able to experience the peaceful harmony of nature and history so closely!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

西風驟起
晴空如洗
草長知冷暖
花落記愁思

年年盼得團圓夜
燈月爭輝
觥籌交錯
沁園香滿攀桂枝
可嘆秋色連波
欲賞已恨遲

早知此身非我有
無奈營役了無期
捨心忘性
勞神傷身
守靜致虛最相宜
多少違心意
欲訴嘆無辭

The Big One


連日來不眠不休、提心吊膽的非人生活,總算打開了缺口。趁著公眾假期前的晚上,偷閒溜出去看了一齣簡短的獨腳戲《萬能旦后鄧碧雲》。

一如所料,戲文輕鬆詼諧,好配合鄧碧雲爽朗風趣的形象。然而在歡笑之中,卻忍不住感慨叢生。

我一直很抗拒以「致敬」為名,行八卦之實的所謂「紀念」戲劇,總覺得把前輩的私隱公之於世,本來就沒甚麼恭敬之意,更何況演出只是為了商業利益?所以來到第十度公演,才懷著忐忑的心情買票進場--因為我深知自己實在太需要進入與現實完全割斷的「真空」狀態,躲進劇院就是最方便、最簡單的方法。不過,我又擔心戲文不好,辱沒佳人--畢竟童年時在電視上看過不少粵語長片和電視劇集都有她的份兒,一如對其他前輩演員,對鄧碧雲也有一份敬意和濃厚的親切感。

《萬能旦后鄧碧雲》戲文尚可,沒甚麼戲劇衝突,只是一篇流水帳,一個半小時就演完了。李楓扮演鄧碧雲,本來臉型太瘦,與厚重大方的鄧碧雲完全不像,但她的聲線、神態都學得唯妙唯肖。全劇是獨腳戲,以第一身講述鄧碧雲的生平,加上又唱又跳,難度甚高,李楓也應付裕如,實在難得。可惜劇本寫得不怎麼樣,場與場的銜接十分粗疏,只以一男一女配角插科打諢,讓李楓退場去換戲服,總覺得很突兀。

《萬能旦后鄧碧雲》與其他傳記式戲劇沒甚麼分別,同樣是在主角的事業、愛情和家庭著墨,而其中又以愛情和家庭最受觀眾歡迎。不過,這也是最令我渾身不自在的片段,好像和一大群人在偷窺些甚麼似的。演出後,看鄧碧雲的獨生女兒強忍淚水答謝劇團和觀眾,又說父親怎樣怎樣,不禁非常詫異。也許是我中了古人的毒,總以為老一輩的都遵行「親者諱」的道理;又或者是我太保守,總覺得這些事情,無論孰是孰非,早就化為雲煙,還是少說為妙。

編劇杜國威在場刊裡說:「希望藉著這個戲,能夠將大碧姐的靈魂留住,將她的『愛』留住,也希望觀眾在欣賞之餘可以領略到絲絲的『愛』!」我不知道杜國威所指的「愛」是甚麼,但應該是說鄧碧雲對生命的熱愛罷?如今看去,生長在那個動盪年代的人,彷彿自小已練就一副金剛不壞的耐力和意志,他們未必唸過很多書,但面對貧窮、離亂,甚至死亡的時候,總有法子咬緊牙關活下去,對生命永遠充滿熱誠和希望。我們生於太平年代,往往就是因為缺乏歷練而變得軟弱、逃避,容易對自己和別人失去信心。那麼,物質進步是否真的能夠改善人的生活呢?如今人心不古,物欲橫流,生活質素每況愈下,我愈來愈懷疑「物質改善生活」是否我們想像的那麼理所當然。

戲裡提到鄧碧雲的父親言傳身教,對鄧碧雲做人處世影響很深,而她對女兒和後輩的教導與愛護,也讓他們終生銘感。看到這些故事,總是非常感慨,一個本來被人輕視的古老行業,如今卻是傳統文化和精神最堅定、最純粹的守護者。當學生與老師的關係變成消費者和服務供應商,教育到底是為了甚麼,已經無人問津。當養兒育女淪為一場沽名釣譽、攀附爭勝的投資遊戲,父母到底是血肉至親或是明日之星的經理人,又有多少人深究?

劇中也用了很多香港歷史照片和紀錄片,來表達鄧碧雲不同年紀的時代背景。我小時候吃電視的奶水長大,看過無數粵語長片和電視劇,一下子彷彿時光倒流三十年,別有親切感。忽然想起,像我這個年紀的人,不少已是為人父母,但當中很多人沾沾自喜的認為,不讓孩子看電視才是正道,以免他們接觸不良資訊云云。我深知現在的電視節目不好看,但如果說為了孩子著想不讓他們看電視,卻未免矯枉過正。現在電視上演的故事大都脫離現實,以前經常在電視上聽到的廣東俗語,也幾乎全部「升級」為不能說的粗話,電視裡的世界純真潔淨如此,還能有甚麼害處?如果連脫離現實的電視也不准看,連這麼一丁點兒對生活的認知也沒有,更遑論做人處世、自立自強。難怪滿街不是給寵壞的小魔怪,就是怯生怕事的「裙腳仔」。

更嚴重的是,電視本來是香港文化傳承的重要媒介,我輩小時候,不但可以看到粵語長片,略窺我輩出生前香港的風貌;也可以看當時製作的電視劇,看到粵語長片裡的前輩繼續在劇集裡演爺爺奶奶、爸爸媽媽,明白香港是怎麼一路走來的。但是現在的孩子呢?不看電視的固然很多,看電視的也不見得對香港的過去有甚麼認識和認同,只能在聲色犬馬、吃喝玩樂中追求墮落和庸俗。

不難想像,二十年後,今日的孩子長大成人,記得的不是《季節》,而是《溏心風暴》;鄧碧雲的「媽打」漸被遺忘,「大契」和「荷媽」才是新一代對「母親」形象的集體回憶。不過,我希望比我年少的香港人不會忘記鄧碧雲,因為她的人格魅力、她的演藝才華,讓她成為獨一無二、貨真價實的The Big One。