Thursday, 31 December 2009

三晉遊記之八--平遙城(完)

就是因為近年颳起了一陣「晉商」熱,所以平遙古城、喬家大院等與晉商有關的景點都熱鬧起來。不過香港人對山西這種沒有明山秀水、沒有喪食喪買熱點的地區,始終提不起興趣,所以來到平遙古城,街上盡是外國遊客和其他省市的內地人。走在街上,英語招牌矚目皆是,特別是附設餐廳的客棧和旅館,頗有點雲南麗江的風味。

不過,平遙古城看來實在太商業化了,幾條主要街道兩旁全是餐廳、旅館和商店,而且出售的紀念品和地道小吃都是千篇一律的工廠製品,實在令人失望。反而乘坐電瓶車在橫街窄巷裡穿梭,看到熱鬧繁華背後的尋常人家,更覺趣味盎然。我留意到房子面向街道交界處的地方,總會有一塊寫著「泰山石敢當」的石碑或長形方磚,鑲嵌在牆壁之上。我向小慧和電瓶車司機請教,他們說那是有點辟邪作用,也提醒行人在路口時提防車輛或其他行人。我頓然想起在新界某些交通意外的黑點,都豎立了「南無阿彌陀佛」的石碑來警惕司機。我只是不明白,為甚麼山西類似的石碑都寫上「泰山石敢當」?可惜小慧和那位老師傅都答不上來。

目前平遙古城仍保存多家見證晉商歷史和文化的店鋪,現在都改作了博物館。其中最有趣的當是中國第一家票號日昇昌故址改建而成的「中國票號博物館」。

晉商所以富可敵國、名揚天下,主要還是因為票號業務發達,獲譽為中國銀行業的祖師。聽平遙古城導賞員的介紹,山西票號制度嚴謹,甚至與現代西方商業管理概念頗有異曲同工之妙,難怪能執清末全國金融的牛耳。例如財東(投資者)與掌櫃(管理人員)的角色涇渭分明,財東只負責出資,不能干涉票號的日常運作,但掌櫃則受聘於財東,須向財東匯報業務狀況,有點像現代企業的董事局和管理層。票號又有嚴格的保密制度,為免洩露交易金額和提防盜匪,票據上的銀碼、領款日期等重要資料都以稱為「密押」的暗語來表示,若非票號中人,根本無法理解。密押每隔數月就會更改,可見票號的保密防偽意識非常強。所謂「防人之心不可無」,大概那是以前行走江湖理所當然的態度,倒是現代人缺乏歷練,有時候還比不上古人聰明警覺。

票號的「密押」固然有趣,我倒是覺得他們高薪養廉的人事制度更值得一記。據說清代縣令的年薪為四十五兩銀子,但票號長工的年薪可高達一百二十兩,而且有機會入股、分紅,所以吸引了很多讀書人投身票號,做父母的也希望求學有成的兒子到票號工作,反而覺得做官薪水低、風險高、又沒前途。這些觀念完全顛覆了現代人對於傳統中國「學而優則仕」的想像,卻更貼近香港人的普遍心理。對於很多香港人來說,掙錢才是硬道理,所謂「良禽擇木而棲」,那些好樹佳木往往都是以金山銀山堆砌而成的。

平遙古城另一處比較有趣的博物館,就是鏢局博物館了。雖然面積不大,走進去就看到照壁上寫著斗大的「鏢」字,照壁前的兵器架上放滿了刀槍劍戟,還有兩輛以前運送財物的鏢車。鏢局四周設有地下金庫,深達數米,用作存放客戶托運的財物。金庫都有專人日夜看守,外人根本無法分辨哪裡才是金庫的真實地點。參觀時,心裡不禁嘀咕:「監守自盜又如何防範?」大概以前練武之人投身鏢局,一定經過人事擔保和嚴格的選拔,忠義方面是信得過的,我這樣想,大概是小人之心,或者偵探小說看得太多了。

坦白說,參觀平遙古城之後,感受不深,大概是我對經商毫無興趣的緣故罷?我倒是很好奇,為甚麼有那麼多外國遊客慕名而來,甚至要住上一年半載,把平遙古城的內外都仔細看遍?到底平遙古城有甚麼吸引他們如此著迷?晉商的興衰滄桑,難道能給飽受金融海嘯摧殘的西方人,帶來甚麼啟示?如果真能這樣,倒是功德一件。

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

梨園生輝

聖誕節假期時,除了看電影、做運動,最有意義的節目就是到香港文化博物館參觀「梨園生輝--唐滌生與任劍輝」展覽。

今年是唐先生逝世五十周年、任姐逝世二十周年,可惜紀念活動寥寥可數,聲勢也比不上十年前那麼浩大。這是因為十年來沒有發掘到新資料、新點子來紀念?抑或香港人對兩位粵劇前賢的懷念和尊崇轉趨淡薄?我不願、也不敢深究。

我只知道,如果沒有唐先生詞藻典雅、感情真摯的劇本,當年就不會對粵劇這門古老的藝術感興趣。

一晃眼,那是二十年前的事了。

很久沒有看過那麼用心設計和布置的展覽,尤其是官方博物館舉辦的展覽。在博物館外和展館前看到巨型的宣傳條幅,已是難掩興奮之情。走進展館後,首先是有關唐先生的部分,共有內外兩端。外端左側牆上懸著一把展開著的巨型摺扇,每一節扇面都寫上了唐先生的名作。內外展館之間有一道圓拱門,左右兩邊還有類似古代木製窗櫺的雕飾,加上牆上的展板說明文字大都以楷體直書,端的是古意盎然。展館以高貴幽冷的灰黑色為主調,配合黃、白等暖色的燈光效果,主次分明,把展館的氣氛襯托得莊嚴古雅而不失親切感。最令人激賞的是背景牆採用了他為電影《富士山之戀》親筆繪畫的十一幀彩色人物造型而製成,看上去就像一幅巨型屏風,每一張真蹟就放在觀眾眼睛水平的位置,以便欣賞。

至於展品,雖然數量不算多,但大都是以前沒有公開展出過的珍品,包括多幀唐先生參演電影的劇照、繪畫手稿等,實在非常難得。展館中央擺放了兩行長約三四米的玻璃櫥,展示多幅唐先生的楷書和草書遺墨,當中包括臨摹米芾跋褚遂良摹本和陸繼善《三希堂法帖》雙鉤摹本的《蘭亭集序》。遺墨保存得很好,墨色如新,紙箋也沒有變黃,更是彌足珍貴。

這是平生第一次看到唐先生的書法真蹟,心裡說不出的興奮,好像和唐先生的距離又拉近了一點。盯著唐先生的遺墨不願離去,大概我真的樂極忘形,有點抓耳搔腮的癡相,居然讓朋友取笑了好一會兒。

素知唐先生文學修養極高,下筆千鈞;又曾在美術學校攻讀,所以擅長繪畫,審美眼光也勝人一籌。沒想到他對書法也極有研究,百忙之中仍抽空練字,甚至作為減壓怡情的良方。看他在《蘭亭集序》摹本後自敘《紫釵記》公演十四日以來,場場滿座,可是「心神欠佳,惴惴然不知所因」,臨摹時「亦有手不從心之感」,不禁心下惻然。唐先生佳作如林,享譽日隆,壓力固然可能是出於他對創作的熱忱、鞭策自己不斷精進的執著,也可能是出於劇團經營上何以為繼的現實考慮。可以想像他當年身心所承受的壓力,實在不足為外人道。

也許,這就是天賦奇才的代價。英年早逝,只是成就傳奇的最後一筆。他這個不朽的傳奇,大概從他開始抄曲、編劇的時候,已經拉開帷幕了。

雖然我沒機會見到唐先生,但數十年後仍能讀到他字字珠璣的作品,在舞臺上領略他洞察人情的智慧,還是覺得很幸運的。

只是,五十年過去了,在圖像取代文字、感官刺激勝於抽象美感的年代,那一抹亮麗精緻的傳奇,還能流傳多久?

給Anita的信

Dearest Anita,

你好嗎?一晃眼,又是一年了。這一年,你都做過些甚麼呢?

這一年,同樣過得很快。人家說,過了三十歲,日子就會過得很快;到了三十五歲,更是一年比一年快。現在總算有點明白箇中的原因了。

大概因為過了三十歲,工作和生活的擔子愈來愈重,俗事太多,時間太少。勉強應付過去,已經沒剩下多少空閒,連睡個好覺也是一種奢侈。想鬆弛下來好好休息,就先要放鬆心情,可是無處不在的通訊科技,把這一丁點兒僅存的私人空間也給剝奪了。

坦白說,我對這種無日無之的奴役生活,感到無比的厭倦。本來我沒有資格埋怨,但事情已經到了無法容忍的地步。說我不識時務也好、脾氣倔強也好,最受不了就是被奴役的感覺,因為我始終深信,人生在世,尊重別人生而為人的身分和尊嚴,是一種基本的待人接物之道,而不是皇恩浩蕩的犒賞。如果你是我,相信你也會這樣想。

也許有人會說,香港生活迫人,哪個不是為了餬口而忍氣吞聲的呢?是的,但容忍也應該有個限度,不合情理的不會因為我們忍氣吞聲顧全大局而變成合理,也不應該因為忍讓而令對方得寸進尺,對嗎?

因為人事上有了比較,讓我覺得以前大夥兒同心協力共度難關的合作精神已經消失了。過去的時光裡,即使工作辛苦,因為同事之間互相信任和尊重,大夥兒一邊做一邊說笑、互相開解,總能樂觀面對。如今卻是連做人處世最基本的尊重也沒有,即便是完成了一件工作,那些皮笑肉不笑的虛偽嘴臉只令人噁心。因為那些虛情假意的慰問和讚賞,只有在交出成績之後才有資格領取的賞賜,也是獲派更多工作、承擔更多責任的前奏。

其實,我很佩服你對工作的熱誠和執著,我想我這輩子也別妄想能學得來。我真的很想知道,捫心自問,你真的喜歡唱歌嗎?是生活迫人的無可奈何,還是漸漸培養了興趣,最後修成正果?

這一年下來,人來人往,已經記不起有多少人走馬上任,又有多少人黯然引退。文化改變了,氣氛冷淡了,就連呼吸的空氣也好像變了味道。大概你也知道,我早在去年夏天就已經坐不住了,但最後還是決定忍耐,多花時間觀察和適應。事隔一年,經歷了那些昏天黑地、精神分裂、身心俱疲、茫然不知所以的日子,我知道,我和這裡緣分已盡,應該作個了斷了。

我不能再容忍自己失去了生活的節奏,也不能容忍一顆心給掏空了似的,做甚麼也提不起勁,連想念你的時間和心情也沒有。

當日決定要朝著第二個夢想邁進,心裡也不是沒有掙扎過,但維時很短,大概真的是橫了心,只盼早脫苦海,不再糾纏下去。反正為人家拚了命,結果拖垮了身體、摧殘了心智,也不見得會有人同情,更遑論拔刀相助。想到這裡,就覺得自己的決定是對的。

當我向朋友提起這件事,他們竟是一面倒的支持,就連老媽也不置可否,倒是有點出乎意料。

也許,時代真的不同了。在利益掛帥、有奶就是娘的社會裡,人性不受重視,人才淪落為予取予攜的「人力資源」,有用的時候就盡情揮霍,無用的時候就棄如弊屣。大家對於選擇以自己喜歡的方式生活的朋友,比以前多了幾分體諒,少了幾分輕視,有時候更多的是羨慕。因為選擇任性,也需要勇氣和未雨綢繆的心力。

現在,我只欠那一股東風。我在耐心的期盼著。

你會祝福我嗎?

Forever yours,

P.S. 翻看今年的blog,才記起寫給你的「滄海拾遺」系列還沒有寫完,精挑細選出來的滄海遺珠,至少還有五首沒寫到,真的非常對不起。這份禮物拖了整整一年還沒完成,是我不對,希望你不要介意。老實說,我發覺腦袋愈來愈不中用,寫的時候總是力不從心、心浮氣躁,也許我真的需要好好休息。

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

除了搵食,還有甚麼?

聖誕節長假期時一口氣看了《阿凡達》和《十月圍城》,都是好電影。《阿凡達》可算是娛樂與教育並重、科技與人文結合的完美典範,是不能錯過的佳作。《十月圍城》雖有不及,成果卻是出人意料。

看《十月圍城》的時候,總教我想起幾個月前看的話劇《遍地芳菲》。兩部戲無論在取材、寓意、寄託等方面,都頗有相似之處。表面上是紀念曾經為推翻滿清而拋頭顱灑熱血的仁人志士,並向他們致敬。仔細看去,卻似乎是我輩深刻而沉痛的自省。

革命前賢生於動盪的年代,朝不保夕,卻願意犧牲自己來爭取後人的幸福。我們有幸生於太平盛世,在一般情況下,性命和財產都不受威脅;但在為口奔馳之餘,有多少人還願意多付出一點來改變這個社會,讓後人的生活條件更優裕?

中國有句老話:「衣食足,知榮辱。」得到了溫飽,人類才會考慮甚麼是對、甚麼是錯。這句話還有另一層意義,就是說溫飽雖然重要,但榮辱、是非之心也是很重要的。著名心理學家Abraham Maslow也提出,激發人類上進心的不是基本的生理需要,而是對自我完善和成就感的追求。除了溫飽以外,人類總是希望進一步保障自己的安全,然後得到家人、朋友、愛侶在感情上的慰藉,再以成就來證明自己的存在意義,最後才是不斷增值,突破自己的能力和成就。這個理論雖然有點自我中心,但成就感往往源於別人對某人行為和成果的讚揚和尊重,一般情況下仍是以對他人和社會有益的事情佔多。要是一個心狠手辣的殺人犯,即使他對自己殺人如麻的「成就」感到自豪,相信也不會得到其他人的尊重罷?

可是,也許這百多年來血的教訓實在太殘酷了,很多人都覺得沒有事情比保障自己的性命和身家更重要,甚至除了餬口之外,沒有甚麼東西能稱得上「重要」。於是我們愈來愈自私自利、錙銖必較,「各家自掃門前雪」幾乎成為家家戶戶的座右銘。無論做了甚麼,不問對錯,謀生、「搵食」是最方便又最堂皇的藉口,彷彿我們就像原始森林的動物一樣,除了填飽肚子和交配繁殖之外,就沒有別的事兒值得我們用心追求。問題是,我們不是普通動物,而是應該有理想、有抱負、有能力的人類,有意無意之間讓自己停留在只要滿足基本生理需要就萬事皆休的層次,是否對得起這副好皮囊?

《十月圍城》是群戲,沒有明顯的主角,只靠王學圻飾演的李玉堂和梁家輝飾演的陳少白貫穿起來。幾乎每個人都有一段不堪回首的過去,無形的沉重包袱壓在肩上,走路時連腰板也挺直不起來。他們走在一起做一件事,只是出於偶然,彼此談不上甚麼交情,甚至連肝膽相照的豪情壯志也欠奉。正如戲裡王學圻與黎明深夜對飲,問了一句:「值嗎?」結果兩人只能相視苦笑。不為甚麼,就是為了自己無法放下的執著。也許不少觀眾也會問,戲裡那一大群人付出那麼大的代價,無論是自願或是機緣巧合的,值得嗎?

「值得嗎?」大概是現代人下決定之前最常提出的問題,好像每件事情都有一個銀碼,可以讓人衡量是否物有所值。但是,世間的事情真的可以這麼冷靜理智地計算嗎?即使可以,計算單位是甚麼?錢財?讚賞?良好的自我感覺?

所以,我猜《十月圍城》不只是為了致敬,而是要我們叩問自己,除了「搵食」之外,還有哪些東西值得我們付出心力?前賢不問回報、不辭勞苦為我們做了那許多,我們又可以為自己的後人做些甚麼?

Monday, 28 December 2009

Dream and Reality

Some say Avatar has provided yet another rosy haven for temporary escape from the despair of reality. I see it another way though. I think it is actually pointing to a direction we should be heading for. It indicates what we should have been doing. It is a call for reflection and change of our course of action. At the very least, it sends a positive message in terms of keeping the flames of our hope aglow by reminding us the forgotten elements of our nature.

Physically the Na'vi people are much stronger and taller than their counterparts from the earth. To me this is by no means coincidental. They are physically stronger because they maintain a primitive way of living without the technological advancements comparable to ours. The urge for survival and the environment in which they struggle for survival contribute to their robust physique. Despite all the hardships in the wild, they seem content and happy, living in harmony with the nature and enjoying that particular state of life.

All these good things about the Na'vi people are by no means foreign. At certain point of time in human history our ancestors were no different from the Na'vis. For some reason they had chosen to pursue recklessly something they created for themselves and made themselves enslaved by those inventions. Just because we believe we are the chosen people and that we are in charge, we have lost respect for the nature and replaced it with greed and unscrupulousness. We think we can take whatever we want from our promised land, but we were wrong.

Perhaps this is why the invaluable resource on Pandora that human beings in Avatar have been fighting for is called "unobtainium". Phonetically, it indicates something "un-obtain[ed]". Either it does not exist, or it exists but people simply can't get it. Whatever the reason may be, it can't be obtained. What a sarcastic word it is! People from the earth have been spending billions and billions of dollars in pursuit of this material. People have been trying whatever means they could resort to in order to secure access to this material. Just because it is tagged with an astronomical price and therefore contains countless dreams of unimaginable wealth. Yet by nature it can't be obtained. Everything that people do is doomed to fail. For someone who has grown more weary than ever of the capitalistic mode of economics and social development, it is certainly consoling to see people in other parts of the world are sharing a similar view of our world, our home, our land.

I don't know how much Avatar would encourage people to re-think their mode of living and, better still, to take actions to help. But it certainly encourages me to roll up my sleeve and continue to do what I have been doing on my part.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Thinking for Our Future

James Cameron's latest film Avatar is simply stunning.

It is stunning because it is a perfect blend of an entertaining and inspirational plot with seamless computer simulations that the human eye can hardly distinguish from the reality. Though the plot is largely predictable with no surprise at all, the flawless computer graphics certainly make a breath-taking impact that makes the story more enjoyable than it should have been.

What impresses me most, however, is the plot that strongly encourages a serious reflection of the human world and its future. Where are we heading for? In what conditions do we want our children, and their children too, live?

Some may question why so many film works around the world in recent years have been themed on environmental protection. The answer should be more than obvious: Everyone on earth is now suffering from the evil deeds of our forefathers and ours of destroying our promised land. We are depriving of ourselves the food and water and many other necessities that keep us alive as human beings in the pursuit of economic gains that cannot even be sustainable. As we can see from the recent meeting at Copenhagen, so many people out there still believe economic benefits are much more important than taking serious actions to conserve and restore the ecological system. Everyone is trying to sidestep from their responsibility, citing reasons from the lack of resources to sheer cowardice. To me, Avatar is yet another timely reminder of our responsibility to protect the environment not only for ourselves, but our children and the generations to come.

The Na'vi people's great respect for life and nature moves me deeply. They are highly intelligent creatures and yet they are satisfied with a primitive way of living. Their god is feminine and so is the top priest of the tribe, who is also the wife of the chieftain. All these episodes remind me of the Daoist description of the world's origin as the Womb of Mystery and its preaching of "following the Law of Nature" without going for the extremes.

The Na'vi people also have a tail that enables them to communicate with their god, ancestors and even wild animals. Colourful but ferocious birds can be tamed and then serve as loyal servants and warriors. Not sure if I see it correctly, the Na'vi tail seems to be a sad reference to human beings who have lost their tail long before the modern times. The tail is an extension of the spine that connects to the brain, which obviously controls our actions and holds our thoughts. Perhaps this disconnection from the nature is one of the reasons why human beings have become so arrogant, forgetting where we come from and our responsibility to take good care of the land we were given.

The Copenhagen Climate Change Conference was certainly regrettable because the member states have failed to agree on this important issue. I wonder how many more reminders we need before any meaningful results can be achieved to save our land.

This is our land. We simply can't take whatever we want.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

三晉遊記之七--常家莊

余秋雨說「抱愧山西」,是因為誤以為山西是窮鄉僻壤,相信不少香港人也有這樣的誤解。其實清朝時,山西曾是全國最富裕的省份,晉商從事的不只是匯通天下的票號業務,還有不少進出口貿易。清末朝廷入不敷支,據說也曾向晉商借款應急。當時晉商財力之雄厚,可見一斑。

不過,再顯赫、再輝煌的時代總會過去,晉商也不例外。據說就是因為他們與清廷的關係太密切,不但在辛亥革命之後無法收回資金,造成周轉不靈,而且也失去了政府的支持,無法與西方現代銀行制度抗衡。加上民國初年政局不穩,經濟凋弊,盛極一時的晉商終於也逃不過被淘汰的命運,成為中國經濟史的一頁傳奇。

近年內地有不少取材自晉商的電視劇和書籍,探討晉商的成功之道,很多香港商人也有興趣。只是不知他們有沒有注意到晉商沒落的原因?如果晉商的盛衰真的與政權的興亡掛鉤,就如《紅樓夢》說的「一損皆損,一榮皆榮」,那些倚仗偏袒政策,或者以雄厚資本向政府討價還價、爭取有利條件的商賈,能否從中汲取甚麼教訓?

山西現存多座晉商遺下的宅第,讓後人瞻仰和憑弔。這次到山西旅行,參觀了座落榆次近郊的常家莊園。據稱常家莊園本來佔地約六十萬平方米,建屋四千餘間,最鼎盛的時候曾有一千多人同時住在莊園裡。但是滄海桑田,舊日的莊園現在大都變成了尋常百姓家,無復舊觀。目前修復開放的部分,只佔原有面積約五分之一。可是即使如此,莊園之壯麗恢宏,仍教人瞠目結舌,印象難忘。

我本來就對晉商的財雄勢大沒甚麼認識,所以看到常家莊園的入口時,不禁大吃一驚。莊園座落一望無際的平原上,直通正門的林蔭大道長約兩三公里,兩旁種滿了參天大樹,不禁暗忖道路盡頭的常家,以前到底是怎樣的豪門大戶。走近正門,才知道原來莊園是一座巍峨聳立的城池,門前挖有數米深的護城河,正門的城樓高達數十米,氣勢磅礴,看上去建築規格比北京故宮毫不遜色,只是紅牆黃瓦換成了灰磚青瓦而已。

可惜最煞風景的就是城樓上懸著一條紅色的廣告橫幅,以斗大的黃字寫著「發彩信,送大獎!中國移動手機攝影節走進常家莊園」,後面還有一個參加比賽的手機號碼。為了賺錢而不理手法是否合法、恰當、會否破壞景觀和美感,恐怕是當代中國其中一項令人不敢恭維的「國情」。

走進城門,放眼望去,就是一條南北縱向、以青石板鋪成的大街,大街東側第一幢建築物就是常家的祠堂。祠堂後面有小路通往草木幽深的花園,甬道蜿蜒、迴廊相接,小橋流水、亭臺樓閣錯落有致,果然頗有江南風韻。但園子面積甚大,與蘇州園林的小巧精致不可同日而語,自有其開闊昂揚的意境。莊園裡的園子一個接著一個,彷彿走進了《紅樓夢》的大觀園一般,令人目不暇給,忘其所至。其中「獅子園」擺放了一百多個造型各異的石獅子像,還有一爿獅子浮雕的青磚照壁。雖然部分已遭風雨侵蝕和人為破壞,但仍見雕工精巧,甚是難得。另有一個「杏園」,看上去像農圃一般,園中種了一株偌大的杏樹,樹下有一個孔子的銅像。據說那是為了紀念孔子在杏壇授徒講學,所以取名「杏園」;但寫著「杏園」的圓石背面,又刻有《老子》的經文:「知者不言,言者不知。」大概是為了告誡常氏子孫努力攻書、謹言慎行而設。

匆匆參觀過常家莊園的主要建築,離開時穿過那條南北縱向的青石板街,原來東側是數十間相連的房子,每間房屋門前的簷頂都掛有皇帝御賜的匾額,不是「進士」就是「大夫」、「都尉」等銜頭,果然家勢顯赫。看上去最早的就是清聖祖康熙年間的遺物,距今已有三百年歷史。門旁又豎有一根約拳頭般粗大的石柱,是以前用來繫著馬匹繮繩的。石柱上雕有一隻猴子,據說是取「馬上封侯」的好采頭,甚是有趣。快要走到大街南方盡頭的時候,常氏宗祠北側有一座簡樸的藏書樓,面積雖然不及寧波的天一閣,但也相當寬敞,可見常氏十分重視族中子弟的教育。

明清時代的晉商,看來很注重培養子弟成才,但讓他們唸書的目的,並非為了考取功名、光宗耀祖,而是為了繼承家業、大展鴻圖。雖然傳統儒家揶揄商人是重利輕義的小人,但晉商似乎非常認同聖賢之道,認為那是做人處世的金科玉律,而且也可以幫助他們在商場上運籌帷幄。即使沒有功名,也喜歡以書香門第自居,發財之餘也不忘立品。也許這就是所謂「儒商」情理兼備、義利並重的濫觴。可惜時至今日,在「金錢至上」、「有奶就是娘」的觀念荼毒之下,「讀書無用」的言論無日無之,即使是讀書,也不是為了提升個人修養的人本教育,而是為了日後謀取高薪厚職的「職業培訓」而已。對於晉商那份對道德教育的執著和虔敬,後人汲汲於晉商如何成就富可敵國的雄圖霸業之際,可曾願意考究他們成功之道的真正底蘊?

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

크리스마스에 홍콩에서 여행하는 좋은 곳을 소개

크리스마스에 홍콩에서 여행하는 제일 좋은 곳은 침사추이(Tsim Sha Tsui)입니다.

왜냐하면 좋은 관광지가 많기 때문입니다. 그리고 많이 좋은 식당에서 여러 나라 음식을 먹을 수 있어서 침사추이에 갈 만합니다.

침사추이에 사람들이 많이 가고 크리스마스를 경축합니다. 가장 좋은 이벤트가 밤에 있지만 오늘은 재미있는 낮 시간의 관광 프로그램을 소개하겠습니다.

크리스마스이브 아침을 호텔에 먹지 않고 네이든 로드(Nathan Road)에서 광동 전통 식당에서 먹읍시다. 딤섬은 중국 광동성에서 홍콩으로 전해온 음식입니다. 그리고 홍콩 가장 유명한 음식입니다. 딤섬은 많은 종류가 있는데 가벼운 음식입니다. 차와 함께 먹으면 아주 맛있습니다.

아침을 먹는 후에 네이든 로드로 쇼핑하고 갑시다. 네이든 로드에서 박크 래느(Park Lane)와 미라마 쇼핑센터(Miramar Shopping Centre)있는 거리입니다. 그 곳은 여러 트렌디 가게들이 많이 있어서 오랫동안 쇼핑할 수 있습니다.

집에 음식을 너무 그리워합니까? 괜찮습니다. 킴바리 스트리트(Kimberley Street)가서 점심을 먹읍시다. 그 곳 근처 한국 사람들이 많이 살고 있어서 한국 식당도 한국 식품 가게도 많이 있습니다. 그래서 킴바리 스트리트에서 정통 한국 음식을 찾을 수 있습니다.

점심을 먹는 후에 침사추이 동쪽(Tsim Sha Tsui East)에 갑시다. 그 곳은 홍콩 역사 박물관(Hong Kong Museum of History)과 홍콩 과학관(Hong Kong Science Museum)이 있습니다. 박물관에 가고 싶지 않으면 “홍콩 영화거리” (Avenue of Stars)에 갑시다. 홍콩 영화를 위해 노력하고 공헌하는 사람들을 기념하기 위해서 “홍콩 영화거리”를 세웠습니다. 홍콩 영화가 좋으면 “홍콩 영화거리” 에 가면 즐거울 겁니다. 그리고 “홍콩 영화거리”에서는 빅토리아 항구(Victoria Harbour)의 아름다운 경치도 보입니다.

많이 걸어서 피곤하면 괜찮습니다. “홍콩 영화거리”를 걷는 것을 끝내고 스타페리 광장 부근에 하버시티(Harbour City)에 저녁을 먹으면서 잘 쉽시다. 술을 마시는 것도 좋은 생각입니다.

밤 12시 곧 되면 제일 재미있는 것은 나옵니다. 많이 홍콩사람들과 외국 관광객들이 캔톤 로드(Canton Road)에서 크리스마스 거리 파티에 참석합니다. 파티에는 공연을 즐기고 크리스마스 카운트다운을 합니다. 아주 재미있고 벅적벅적합니다.

이번 크리스마스 이브에 침사추이에 같이 갑시다.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

遣懷

風雷急千里,來去賸一身。
劇飲知有誰?相談竟無人。
起坐荒書卷,貪杯廢表文。
欲訴難為語,茫然已失神。

Sunday, 22 November 2009

三晉遊記之六--雲岡窟

山西大同的雲岡石窟,與洛陽龍門石窟、敦煌莫高窟合稱「中國三大佛教石窟」。十多年前已先後遊歷洛陽和敦煌,這次如願到山西旅行,終於把三大石窟都遊遍了。這不能不算是一項值得紀念的個人紀錄。

其實成行之前,對雲岡石窟期望不高,因為山西北接內蒙古,大同又是晉北邊陲的第一重鎮,在風霜侵蝕之下,佛像風化可能非常嚴重,能完整保存的不多。前往石窟的途上,小慧說附近有一個大型的煤礦,又見公路兩旁有工人宿舍、食堂、小商店等配套設施一應俱全,更覺得污染可能對佛像造成更大的破壞。雖然政府規定石窟方圓三百米內不得開採礦產,但三百米的範圍是否真的足夠,恐怕見仁見智了。

然而,現實往往和想像中的不一樣,就如人生。

雲岡石窟的佛像,比想像中保存得更完整,部分洞窟的裝飾和顏料仍然玲瓏精巧、瑰麗耀眼,令人讚嘆不已。須知道,雲岡石窟的開鑿時代比龍門石窟更早,是北魏拓跋氏入主中原,定都平城(即大同)時(公元398至493年)建造的,距今已逾一千六百年。龍門石窟則是北魏孝文帝遷都洛陽之後才開鑿的,比雲岡石窟稍晚數十年。

為甚麼雲岡石窟的佛像在風沙暴烈的惡劣環境下,仍能保存良好?手邊沒有書,也沒有人可以請教,但個人認為從建造方法的角度,可能看出一點端倪。

同樣是依山開鑿的洞窟,雲岡石窟與龍門石窟、莫高窟的建造方法頗不一樣。龍門石窟和莫高窟都是由工匠先在山中開鑿洞穴,然後在石壁上雕刻佛像。記憶所及,龍門石窟的洞窟不深,外面也沒有木造建築保護,佛像暴露於陽光風雨之中,很容易風化損毀。莫高窟的洞窟很深,而且藏在山谷之中,風化情況比龍門稍佳。龍門石窟洞壁的裝飾較少,都以雕刻為主;而莫高窟洞內的裝飾則多為繪畫而非雕刻,多年來又缺乏修繕,所以大都七零八落,不但顏色褪去,就連牆壁表面之下的多層泥灰也顯露出來,實在非常可惜。但雲岡石窟的大型佛像和洞窟,都是先從山頂縋下工匠,在較高的位置開一個洞,作為透光、透氣的工作臺,然後再往山體內側把佛像和裝飾雕刻出來,並髹上從阿富汗輸入的礦物提煉而成的顏料,最後在地面開鑿通道和入口。所以現存的大型洞窟中,在向外的一面都有上下兩個大洞,上面的就是工作臺,下面就是入口。某些洞窟更分內外兩層,外洞都是細小的佛像和飛天、祥雲、蓮花等裝飾,內洞才是佛像。不過現時遊客只能在圍欄外看到外洞的裝飾,內洞卻是無法欣賞了。也許因為雲岡石窟的佛像距離入口位置較遠,稍減風霜侵蝕的程度,所以看起來整體上比龍門石窟保存得更好。至於顏料,也許是因為雕刻讓顏料更容易黏附,不及壁畫當風受力,所以相隔一千多年,仍然鮮亮奪目。至於一些暴露在戶外的小佛洞,風化非常嚴重,雕像早已面目全非了。

當年參觀莫高窟的時候,我已認為古人的建築技術和設計心思遠比現代人優勝。如今看過雲岡石窟和懸空寺之後,更加深了這個想法。即使今天我們可以利用電腦設計繪圖,可以創造更堅固耐用的物料,但誰會建造千年不倒的建築?誰肯花那麼多心思,研究大自然對建築物的影響、注意建築物給使用者創造怎樣的視覺美感和心靈感應?自工業革命以來,產品的生命周期愈來愈短,以前堅固耐用是消費者對產品理所當然的要求,到今天根本不符合經濟效益。如果一幢房子可以住上一百年,電視、雪櫃可以用上二三十年,哪裡還有人願意買新產品?沒有新產品,就沒有業務增長;沒有業務增長,就沒有富可敵國的跨國企業和世界巨富。可是,今天我們的地球已經吃不消了,新產品愈來愈多,因此而製造的垃圾也更多,而且大都不能自然分解,不斷侵害自然環境,最後還不是威脅到人類的安全?如果連性命也保不住,財富再多,又有甚麼意義?

在雲岡眾多石窟之中,第四、第五窟的佛像保存得最好,也許是因為外面有四五層高的木造檐頂保護的緣故。當局在這兩個洞窟的防護措施也最嚴謹,入口和幾個角落都有保安人員監視全場,不准遊客拍照。可是偏偏有人不聽勸告,包括移民美國多年的同團團友,即使我出言勸阻,仍是諸多藉口,讓我心裡滿不是味兒。之後在一些較小的洞窟,看到當局安裝了兩盞強力射燈照住石壁,心想不知會否破壞雕刻,更感鬱悶。

中國人向來非常重視歷史,很早就開始記述,更有史官作為君王的貼身隨從,專門負責記下君王的言行,作為日後修史的依據。如今在中國--尤其在香港--歷史卻不值錢,只淪為旅遊景點的宣傳工具,甚至讓人予取予攜、棄之何惜的敝屣朽索,可惱可恨,莫過於此。須知道,歷史不只是記載於文獻裡,文物古蹟才是活著的歷史見證,更須認真尊重和保護。試想二十一世紀的我,能與千百年前的古人同遊一地,那是多麼奇妙、多麼幸運的體驗?千百年來滄海桑田,仰望著倖存於天災人禍的古蹟,自己和古人的距離彷彿一下子拉近了;某個年代的風華餘韻,也好像在眼前活躍起來。所以,愛國不是呆板乏味的洗腦式政治宣傳可以培養得到的。研讀歷史,認同和尊重自己的根源和文化,才是培養家國意識和愛國心的正道。誠如錢穆先生在《國史大綱》卷首所言:「當信任何一國之國民,尤其是自稱知識在水平線以上之國民,對其本國已往歷史,應該略有所知。否則最多只算一有知識的人,不能算一有知識的國民。」當然,歷史的撰述角度可能影響了後人的觀感,所以一個真正有胸襟、有氣魄的政權,應該鼓勵不同的史觀百花齊放,而不是憑一己之好惡一錘定音。歷史,始終是國民的基本常識和修養,應該像語文和數學一樣成為必修科,而不是隨便讓人斷章取義,藉以學習權術謀略的速成讀本。

所以,香港在回歸中國以後決定取消歷史科,併入非驢非馬的「通識科」,真箇是數典忘祖、大逆不道。

Thursday, 19 November 2009

三晉遊記之五--北嶽行

參觀過懸空寺之後,不過下午兩點半左右。小慧建議我們自費到恆山遊覽,Wing也說因為旅行團不設購物,自費節目就是讓小慧和楊師傅賺點外快。大夥兒興致甚高,又滿意小慧和楊師傅的服務,於是齊聲答應了。

恆山的山門在懸空寺東南方的磁窰口中,東側有恆山水庫,蓄渾河之水以供飲用和灌溉。車子轉入山門之前,遠遠看到有牧羊人領著一大群羊兒在水庫旁邊的沼地吃草,甚是寫意。但水庫周圍全是嶙峋的山石,並不見有大路可通,牧羊人如何進得水庫,看來也是一個謎。

穿過山門,車子在蜿蜒的山路上繞了不到二十分鐘,就來到恆山索道前的停車場。停車場旁邊的斜坡上有一幅寫著「中華五嶽五屆四次年會暨五嶽聯盟七次會議」的紅色條幅,看了不禁笑出聲來。沒想到《笑傲江湖》裡曇花一現的「五嶽劍派」早已分崩離析,「五嶽聯盟」卻仍然運作如常。聽小慧說,那是為了以「中國五嶽」的名義申請登錄為文化遺產而結成的聯盟,本屆會議就輪到北嶽恆山作東道。可惜一時忘形,沒有拍下條幅的照片,如今想來,還真有點後悔。

原來恆山相傳為「東海八仙」之一張果老得道之處,在山門和停車場旁邊均有張果老倒騎驢子的雕像。因此恆山道觀林立,卻沒有任何佛寺庵堂。山上的題字也不少,大都是明清時留下來的,殷紅如故,老遠就能看到。可是號稱恆山最大的題字「恆宗」,只能在盤繞的山路上看到,登上索道之後就看不到,頗有「只緣身在此山中」的況味。

乘坐恆山索道約二十分鐘,便到達天峰嶺。天峰嶺高度為海拔2,017米,冠絕五嶽,所以上得峰來感覺更冷。雖有陽光,北風撲面而來,冷得我直打哆嗦。可喜的是山路均用平整的石板鋪成,走起來毫不費力。剛看完第一間道觀,在路上便看見一老一少,背著沉甸甸的沙石緩緩而行,想是到山上修葺道觀的工人,急忙讓過。只見他們在寒風之中累得氣喘如牛,心中不禁惻然。再往前走,原來他們是要修整另一所道觀門前的一口井。在那麼高聳的石山上,居然有井,實在稀奇。

走到山路盡頭,便是供奉北嶽帝君的「貞元殿」,門旁有一塊寫著「介石」的石碑,是明代弘治己卯(公元1493年)的遺物。殿外還有很多明清兩代的碑刻,其中一塊題為「五嶽真形圖」的石碑最是有趣。碑上以五個抽象圖案代表五嶽,也看不出甚麼金木水火土的形態,但不知怎地被遊客用手摩挲得光滑晶亮,大概又是好事之徒說摸了圖案可以消災祈福的緣故。圖案之下均有文字解說,但沒有註明立碑的年代。那麼,「五嶽真形圖」到底是甚麼?是地圖,是圖案,還是別有深意的謎題?連自告奮勇為我們講解的老伯也說不上來。

跨進貞元殿的大門,斗然一道陡峭之極的石階擋在面前,看上去傾斜超過60度,猶如屏風一樣。石階旁有一塊警告牌,標明石階陡峭,遊客只能上不能下,長者、畏高者、心臟病患者等均不可攀登,須另走較安全的通道登殿。即使我不畏高,看著那道一百零三級的石階,也不禁心中一凜。深吸一口氣爬上去,沒想到那麼費勁,爬了大約三分之二,開始感到有點疲累,心忖怎麼只有兩腿不停地搬動,石階卻是爬來爬去沒爬完?可是又怕抬頭仰望會失去平衡,只好硬著頭皮,佝僂著繼續爬上去。爬完後也要往裡面多走幾步,才敢回頭往下看,簡直心有餘悸,好像連雙腿也有點酸軟。不知是誰把石階設計成這般嚇人的模樣,大概是為了考驗善信的誠意。可是如果有人失足,豈非陷神靈於不義?現在我們穿運動鞋來爬,已是如此驚險;古人穿戴更不方便,驚險之處不問可知。相信即使有謝靈運發明的古代爬山鞋「謝公屐」,來到這北嶽廟前,也只有低頭哈腰的份兒了。

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

認錯,有那麼難嗎?

這陣子聽了一些朋友的故事,心裡很不舒服。

弟弟的朋友因為指出上司一些文章中的錯別字,居然被炒了魷魚。

朋友為了研究、編撰的工作盡善盡美,經常主動多做查證,或運用自己的知識補充和修改資料,反而被同事指摘多管閒事,更招來上司冷嘲熱諷。

說到文字、資料之類的東西,對就是對,錯就是錯,跟身分地位沒半點關係。如果錯了,改好便是,何苦遷怒於人?不肯承認自己犯錯,還要仗勢欺人,天下哪有這樣的道理?

也許有人要說,直斥其非,本來就是不給人家面子的不禮貌行為,怪不得人家小器。這是甚麼歪理?沒錯,說話應該婉轉一些,所謂「予人方便,自己方便」,但不表示小器就是對的,就是理所當然的。

不知何時開始,人變得愈來愈小器,愈來愈喜歡以冠冕堂皇的說話掩飾自己的過錯,用似是而非的歪理來捍衛自己不堪一擊的立場,甚至把微不足道的「面子」與神聖的「尊嚴」混為一談。如果被人直斥其非就是沒有尊嚴,那麼埋沒良知、助紂為虐,做人的尊嚴又置於何地?

可惜這種情況似乎愈來愈嚴重,就連公共機構、私人企業,甚至一個政府,都千方百計以「說了等於白說」的方式來維護自己的利益和「形象」,以為這樣就可以瞞天過海,繼續因循苟且,心安理得。說穿了,「形象」還不是機構的「面子」?

所謂「一人得道,雞犬升天」,人人要面子,機構要形象,連帶公關這一行也好像突然吃香起來。從事公關工作的人大都需要能言善道、寫得一手好文章,因此也給人一種錯覺,以為他們無論遇上甚麼不堪的情況,總有辦法逞口舌之威,替人挽回一些面子。近年興起所謂的「政治化妝師」,幹的不就是這種調調兒嗎?

可是,很多人似乎忘記了一句老話:「巧言令色,鮮矣仁。」花言巧語,掩蓋不了事情的真相;滔滔雄辯,也難以顛倒是非曲直。公道自在人心,一次又一次的強辭奪理,只會失信於人,即使宣傳推廣做得再多,也彌補不了金玉其外的破碎形象。

很多人都說中國人特別愛面子,不肯認錯,其實誰不是呢?

日本侵略中國的戰事結束已逾六十年,何曾看見一紙官方的道歉文書?

歐洲人殖民於美洲,殺害土著,掠奪財寶,何曾認真向土著遺裔懺悔?

愛面子的,不只是中國人。不肯認錯,大概是人類與生俱來的弱點。可惜即使我們的教育再普及,也沒法改善做人處世的修養。不知這是教育的失敗,還是人生的悲哀?

Sunday, 8 November 2009

三晉遊記之四--懸空寺

在山西眾多名勝古蹟之中,最渴望一遊的只有兩處,一是雁門關,可惜天不造美,只能期諸日後;另一處就是恆山十八勝景之首的懸空寺。

十月三十一日在渾源縣城吃過午飯後,終於來到夢寐以求的懸空寺。懸空寺位於恆山金龍峽西側翠屏峰的峭壁上,始造於北魏太和十五年(公元491年),距今已有一千五百餘年。據說懸空寺是北魏時一名法號「了然」的和尚組織修建的,但構思和建築設計是否出自他的手筆,恐怕已無從稽考。

下車後站在峽谷之中,北風呼嘯作響,雖然陽光普照,仍然頗有寒意。抬頭望去,懸空寺就在眼前,心裡倒是有點不敢相信,就像令狐沖在懸空寺上瞧著任盈盈進退趨避的身影,「仍是覺得飄飄緲緲,如煙如霧。」

仔細看去,原來懸空寺多幢殿閣可分為三個部分。第一部分在磚石砌成的基座上依山而建,第二和第三部分則以髹上紅色的幼小木柱支撐,經歷多年風雨而不倒,令人嘆為觀止。更有趣的是懸空寺的選址和地勢。金龍峽兩端貫通南北,翠屏峰在西側,東面是天峰嶺,谷底就是渾河。從南方望去,翠屏峰峭壁上下兩端稍為突出,中間則微有凹陷,不知是本來山勢如此或是由人力開鑿而成。懸空寺就建在那個凹陷的位置中,所以即使在寺中的最高處,也感受不到峽谷中的強風,有助保護懸空寺免受風化之厄。翠屏峰頂突出的巖石和東邊的天峰嶺,則可以減少日曬雨淋對懸空寺的損耗。而支撐殿閣的細小木柱,據說都以桐油浸過,可以防蟲防腐,堅固耐用。古代工匠構思之巧妙、建築技術之精湛、選材之嚴謹,均足以令後世汗顏。

緩緩走進山門,只見第一部分的建築分為兩層,一樓的是佛堂,二樓的匾額則寫著「大雄寶殿」四字,應該是禮佛的地方。佛堂造型狹長,南北兩端均有兩層高的角樓。在南端的角樓攀上僅寬呎許的狹長木梯,可見二樓的通道連接著三層高的雷音殿,即懸空寺的第二部分。經過雷音殿底層,眼前就出現一條依山開鑿的石階,通往懸空寺最高的第三部分。石階開鑿多年,仍然保存良好,令人驚嘆。只是年深月久,階面已被遊客的鞋子磨得油光晶亮,右側石壁鑿成的圍欄只高兩呎左右,左側峭壁突出來可作扶手借力的地方也不多,行走時必須格外留神。

石階的圍欄外豎著幾根只有拳頭般粗的紅色木柱,就是支撐著頭上雷音殿與第三部分之間的飛橋。《笑傲江湖》第三十回〈密議〉提到,令狐沖、方證和沖虛在懸空寺密議後,回程時遭日月神教在飛橋上偷襲,幸得任盈盈從天而降相救,說的正是這裡。金庸那一回書寫得十分精彩,但現實中的情勢遠比他想像的驚險刺激。眼前的飛橋並不長,大概只能容納五六人同時站著,但橋面非常狹小,僅容一人通過,護欄更是矮得可憐,只及我的膝蓋。半路上又有一條小木梯通往峭壁上一座不知供奉甚麼神靈的小殿,倏地把飛橋闊度減半。殿前的小獻臺又橫亙橋上,令遊客不得不低頭而過。看那情勢,實在比小說描寫的驚險十倍。

走到飛橋開端的時候,百丈深谷就在眼前,山壁和護欄又無從借力,即使我不畏高,也難免心中惴惴。不知怎地忽然情急智生,屈膝半蹲著身子降低重心,斜著身子用馬步像螃蟹般橫行,總算順利過渡,有驚無險,還可以偷閒拍下峭壁上「公輸天巧」的銘刻。也許我實在太緊張了,在飛橋上那十來步的路程,走來感覺比跑步更費力,居然讓我出了一身大汗。

本來懸空寺是全國目前唯一儒、釋、道三教合一的寺院,但遊人太多,通道太窄,根本不容許仔細觀賞殿閣之中的神像,如今想來,頗感可惜。不過,能夠親睹懸空寺的奇險精巧,總算不虛此行。懸空寺大部分建築以木柱支撐,看上去好像不太牢固,我也曾擔心寺院的結構,能否負荷那麼多遊客參觀。但人在寺中,即使在最驚險的飛橋,也完全感受不到半點搖晃或不穩,寺院就像是山石自己造出來的一樣穩固,與翠屏峰渾然一體,真可謂巧奪天工。

懸空寺自古以來已是名勝,吸引無數騷人墨客前去遊覽。相傳李白到訪的時候大為讚嘆,親書「壯觀」二字,意猶未盡,又在「壯」字旁點了一點;現在寺下峽谷中的石刻,據說就是李白的真蹟。不過,在懸空寺眾多銘刻之中,我獨愛「名利心灰」四字。無論是為了弘揚佛法,或是鎮壓洪水,一千五百多年前要在那樣荒涼的峽谷之中鑿石建寺,實在艱難萬分;若有半點名利之心牽絆,恐怕難以成功。即使在資源充裕、科技發達的今天,要建造懸空寺那樣構思巧妙、技藝精湛的建築,也恐怕並非易事。名利雖好,卻也不是萬能的。

凝望著「名利心灰」四字,又想起今天的我,能夠與一千多年前的李白、賈島,還有四百年前的徐霞客,遊覽同一座寺院,真是奇妙的緣分。人生營營役役數十年,到頭這一身,難逃那一日,沒有甚麼是留得住的,只有不受人為破壞的歷史建築和文物,能夠見證千百年來的滄海桑田。想起一千五百多年來中國走過的經歷,人生數十年的名利,又算得甚麼呢?

Saturday, 7 November 2009

三晉遊記之三--黃河頌


黃河是華夏文明的發祥地,但我在內地遊歷多年,始終沒有機會親近黃河水。無論在鄭州或蘭州,只不過是遠眺一下黃河,未能感受不到詩詞和《黃河》交響曲所描寫的奔騰澎湃。這次有機會到壺口瀑布,正好增長見識。

壺口瀑布位於山西吉縣與陝西宜川縣之間,兩省以南北流向的黃河為界,東為山西,西為陝西。現在河面已築起鋼筋水泥的通道,方便遊客近距離觀賞壺口瀑布的雄偉壯觀。

即使事前沒有太大期望,但站在崖邊觀賞氣吞萬里如虎的河水,前仆後繼地湧向前方,激起數十呎高的浪花,心情仍忍不住一陣激動。以前讀過的詩詞全都想不起來,只懂得盯著呼嘯而過的河水發呆。也許場面實在太震憾,連陪我闖蕩多年的相機也嚇呆了,居然無緣無故壞掉,再也無法拍照。此後的旅程只能向團友借相機,非常不便。雖然深心不忿,但也無可奈何了。

之後我們鑽進「龍洞」,沿著又窄又斜的旋轉鐵梯拾級而下,到崖底的角度看瀑布。河水從數百米的高處直衝而下,水聲隆隆,猶如數百頭猛獸齊聲呼嘯,聲震山川,懾人心魄。河水沖擊河床,激起無數浪花,小水點又幻化一縷縷輕煙薄霧,為洶湧澎湃的景色添上一抹嫵媚,端的是引人入勝。李白《將進酒》說「君不見黃河之水天上來,奔流到海不復回」,身在其中,實在想不到更貼切的形容了。

早聽說過黃河水位暴跌,甚至曾經斷流,但沒想到入秋之後,黃河水竟是如此稀少。河岸看上去有數百米闊,可是有水流經的河面只有數十米,兩旁的土石十分乾燥,顏色淺淡,顯然水位並非近日才減少的。號稱「母親河」的黃河缺水如此,華北地區食水緊絀的情況實在令人擔憂。更糟糕的是,今年氣候反常,南方也鬧旱災,長江、洞庭湖與鄱陽湖的水位跌至歷史新低,歷來水道縱橫的湖南受災最嚴重,農作物枯死失收不在話下,更有上百萬人缺乏食水。曾經引起激烈爭議的「南水北調」工程早已展開,但至今仍未竣工,未知完成後是否能夠真的紓解華北長年乾旱,造福居民。只怕稍有差池,過量抽取南方的河水,破壞南方的水利系統和生態平衡,很可能會造成南北缺水,到時就萬劫不復了。

仔細想來,香港的糧水都無法自給自足,須靠外地輸入。一旦生態失衡,糧水供應驟減,首先遭殃的就是我們。也許我太杞人憂天,但面臨大自然的威脅時,口袋裡的錢再多,也是無濟於事的。珍惜糧食和食水原是老生常談,是望天打卦的老祖宗為了感謝大自然賜予生存必需品而流傳下來的教誨;可是不知哪時開始,居然成為只說不做的空洞口號。今日地球已經病入膏肓,我們是否也應該重溫古人的教誨,學習知足和珍惜呢?

三晉遊記之二--北風緊

山西南北各地氣候差異甚大,在太原晴空萬里、月色照人,在大同卻可以北風狂嘯、大雪紛飛。即使在大同,參觀明朝代王府的遺物九龍壁時,陽光仍然耀眼。誰知到了雲岡石窟,倏然烏雲四合,寒風刺骨。石窟只看到一半,風勢突然加劇,漫天雪花撲面而來。好容易挨到參觀完畢返回車上,那段五分鐘的步程,雪片乘著風勢,如無數箭鏃一般劃破長空,瞬即掩蓋周遭事物,只剩下一片白茫茫。

雖然不是第一次看見下雪,卻是第一次經歷那麼急、那麼大的風雪,覺得自身安全受到大自然力量的威脅。在行程的最後一天,從大同返回太原,途中分別要參觀應縣木塔和雁門關。清早大同下了一場快雪,心中已在嘀咕,只怕風雪擋路,到不了雁門關。午飯後到達朔州市應縣參觀遼代木塔,雖然沒有下雪,但風勢有增無減,寒風從西北方呼嘯而至,風力比香港懸掛十號風球時強烈得多,吹得我站立不穩,舉步維艱,要背對著風才走得快一點。最可怕的是雙手冷得發麻,指節僵硬紅腫,彷彿手指的血管也要結冰,真怕一雙手會隨時凍壞。

大概小慧和楊師傅怕我們會失望,離開應縣後按照行程前往雁門關,說觀察一下入山的道路情況再作決定。小慧打電話到雁門關詢問,得知該處早上也是下了一場小雪,但始終不知入山的道路是否安全。下高速公路的時候,楊師傅向收費處查詢,對於是否繼續前進,甚是猶豫。原來他擔心即使到得了雁門關,回程時高速公路可能因天氣惡劣而封閉,把一行人困在杳無人煙的曠野進退不得。

後來楊師傅決定繼續到通往雁門關的山路入口看看,誰知峽谷中早已積雪,路上結了冰,一些運送糧食和燃料的重型貨車也拋了錨。雖然不免有點失望,但為安全起見,大夥兒同意取消行程,馬上趕回太原。只是山路狹窄,車子小心翼翼地走了好一會兒,才找到一處較寬闊的路面調頭。回程時看見一輛貨車掉在路旁的荒土中,想是司機心急想掉頭離開,誰知陷在泥淖裡無法脫身。雖然看到司機無恙,早已離開車廂打電話求救,但看見貨車半邊已被白雪覆蓋,不知司機還要受困多久,總覺得不寒而悚。

返回高速公路的時候,還沒到下午五點,但天色愈來愈晦暗,雪雲愈積愈厚,一派山雨欲來的模樣。放眼望去,四周全是高山曠野,杳無人跡,只有明代遺留下來的夯土內長城和烽火台。在黯淡的天色下,黃色的城牆和高台也漸漸看不分明,不由得心裡發毛。偏偏不知哪兒發生了事故,汽車擠滿了三條行車線,寸步難移。那時候真箇是束手無策,加上飢寒交迫,不知還要等多久才能離開,心裡又是徬徨、又是焦急。幸而當時已有警察到場善後,被困一個多小時之後,車子漸漸疏散,原來有貨車在前面拋了錨,另有一輛貨車在雁門隧道入口失事,撞向牆邊。楊師傅非常謹慎,即使進了隧道也不敢加速,如履薄冰的駛過了全長超過五公里的雁門隧道和高架橋,直至天色全黑,路面完全看不到冰雪的痕跡,楊師傅才敢開足馬力,以不足兩小時跑完一百八十多公里的路程,把我們安全送回太原。諷刺的是,往太原的路上夜色如水,一輪明月把附近的曠野映照得粉妝玉琢、清泠可愛,與雁門冰封雪擁的荒涼蕭瑟相比,儼然是兩個世界。

當天晚上看電視新聞,才知道西伯利亞的冷鋒提早南下,所以天氣丕變,北京、山西、河北一帶大雪紛飛,影響交通,政府也要提早啟動供暖系統。更令人不安的是,兩天前一輛從河北西柏坡開往太原的長途客車,在山西陽泉的郊區懷疑因天氣惡劣而失事滾下山坡,釀成十四人死、四十人傷。如果稍一不慎,我們在雁門關的山路或高速公路上,也隨時重蹈覆轍。

記得在五臺山的時候,小慧也說過,山西的冬季維持近半年,氣候嚴寒,遊客稀少,所以山上的旅館和飯店大都在十一月至二、三月之間休業,至翌年春天才繼續開放。十月三十日傍晚,參觀過菩薩頂、顯通寺等著名寺院後,一行人到「一盞明燈」素菜館吃晚飯,沒到六點鐘已有人滿之患。一問之下,才知道原來附近幾家大型素菜館已經休息,只剩下這一家繼續營業,不過也只是多做兩天而已,十一月一日就會冬休至明年春天。五臺山位於忻州市東北,北鄰大同和朔州,因地勢高峻,歷代均為著名的避暑勝地,所以又名「清涼山」。如今想起雁門關外大同、朔州的砭骨苦寒,可怖可畏,難怪自古以來漠北的遊牧民族都不時寇掠中原。相信除了掠奪華夏地區豐富多采的物資以外,南下避寒、改善生活環境也可能是一個重要的原因。

三晉遊記之一--黃土地


素知山西到處都是名勝古蹟,但市區內的景點不多,主要都分散在鄉郊,往返動輒要花上半天。對於講究效率的香港遊客來說,難怪沒甚麼吸引力。所以領隊Wing也說,到山西的旅行團極難湊足人數成行,這次能招待十三名遊客,已足以讓她引以自豪。

沿途所見,山西的交通網絡以高速公路(國道)為主,路上來往的車輛以運輸車、重型貨車佔大多數,其餘的都是小汽車,城市之間的長途客車也寥寥可數。可能是旅遊淡季的緣故,旅遊車更不多見。公路狀況甚好,指示牌也相當清晰,出口兩公里前大都設有服務站,提供飲食、休憩、衛生、燃油補給等設施,方便旅客。路上倒是很少看到山西的鐵路,只在大同雲岡石窟外和太原市郊見過,無從知道鐵路的走向和車站分布如何。

這次山西之旅,花在長途客車上的時間可真不少,約佔日間行程的一半。有些人可能會覺得太不划算,但能夠領略三晉黃土高原的遼闊壯麗,也算是難得的體驗。

香港是名副其實的彈丸之地,公共交通網絡極為發達,快捷安全,舉世馳名。在這裡住得太久,我們很容易忘記世界到底有多大,人本來是多麼渺小。眼前一切觸手可及的便利,其實並非理所當然的。

山西總面積約十五萬六千餘平方公里,在中國眾多省份之中只排第十九,屬於中游位置,連廣東省也比山西略大一點。但十五萬六千餘平方公里到底有多大?香港全境連二百多個小島加起來,總面積才一千平方公里左右;那就是說,山西的面積是香港的一百五十六倍。

再說一個例子。山西省會太原位於中部,與北端的第二大城市大同相距三百六十公里左右;而九廣鐵路香港段全長不到三十六公里。也就是說,太原和大同之間的距離是九廣鐵路香港段的十倍多。從太原開車到大同,中途不休息的話,最快也要四五個小時。所以人在外地,實在不能以香港的標準來衡量距離、效率,甚至品質,要時常提醒自己把步伐放慢,把視野調整一下。

旅遊車在這片廣袤的土地上飛馳,極目望去,公路兩旁大都是秋收之後的農田,以及綿延千里的黃土高坡。收割後農地上只剩下高粱、玉米等枯黃的莖葉,映襯著畦疇之間的白楊樹,頗有秋意蕭瑟的感覺。據導遊小慧說,山西雨水稀少,平均每年只降雨四百毫米左右,所以只能種植高粱、玉米等耐旱的莊稼,粟(小米)、小麥等也要到山西南部水源較穩定的地方才能廣泛種植。心裡不禁想起兩句古詩:「誰知盤中飧,粒粒皆辛苦」,到此又別有一番體會。

中國的黃土高原橫跨山西、陝西、寧夏、甘肅和內蒙古諸省,土質鬆軟,極易流失;經過長年累月的風吹日曬,形成「千溝萬壑」的奇觀。但沿途看到在高坡和峽谷之中,也有不少像梯田一般平整了的土地,種滿了翠綠色的小草,似乎是為了減慢水土流失而設的人工植被。即使不知成效如何,在萬里黃土之中看到綠意盎然,頓覺心曠神怡。

沿途也看到土坡和山谷中有不少已荒棄的窰洞,但在吉縣、代縣等較荒涼僻遠的地區,仍看到一些窰洞有人居住。不過那些窰洞大都在洞外用磚塊、水泥加建了小平房,房頂上更安裝了接收衛星電視的碟型天線。雖然房子並不簇新,也沒甚麼美感設計可言,但總比南方某些山區的民居缺水缺電好得多了。難怪小慧要提起余秋雨《山居筆記》其中一篇文章〈抱愧山西〉。親臨其地,我也深有同感。

余秋雨在那篇文章裡說,他一直認為山西是中國其中一個非常貧窮的省份,後來無意之間發現山西曾經「海內最富」,因此要懷著慚愧的心情到訪。到山西之後,所見所聞並非如想像中那麼落後,心裡也不禁嘀咕,為甚麼自己會誤以為山西落後貧困?是甚麼東西造成那樣嚴重的誤解?

也許,提到黃土地和窰洞,就會想起小時候社會課本的描寫和《王寶釧》之類的戲文,總是覺得住在山洞,不比住在鋼筋水泥的房子舒適安全,於是一廂情願地把窰洞和貧窮掛上了鉤。如今想來,真是幼稚得可笑。其實只要規劃妥當、施工得宜,窰洞也可以是冬暖夏涼的安樂窩。若是偷工減料、務以斂財為目的,即使金堆玉砌的豪宅,也不過是鏡花水月而已。

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

從山西之旅說起

盼望了這些年,終於有機會到訪山西。不過,也許人實在太累了,在出發之前,心情並不如何興奮;旅途之中,甚至頗有不如意之事;回來以後,也不覺得十分留戀。總的來說,一切平平淡淡,但總算不虛此行。

山西位於黃河中游,是華夏文化的發祥地之一,各類文物和歷史遺蹟十分豐富,據說現存元代或以前的地上古建築就獨佔全國總數七成,數量驚人。人在旅途,感到山西的旅遊業至今不算發達,舉目所見,交通網絡、餐飲、衛生等配套設施仍有待改善,但優點就在於整體商業化程度不深,尚能保持一點古樸淳厚的風味。可是到了世界聞名的平遙古城,就不是那麼一回事兒了。

發展旅遊,增加收入、改善經濟無疑是最大的誘因,但旅遊所帶來各種污染、治安、資源錯配和浪費、景點過度商業化和人工化,甚至為了迎合遊客喜好而移風易俗等社會問題,不但會抵銷經濟收益,甚至成為扼殺旅遊業的元兇。由此可見,旅遊確是一柄鋒利無比的雙刃劍,稍一不慎就會自傷其身。

時至今日,經濟利益不應是衡量某個項目或某種產業是否值得發展的唯一標準。所謂的可持續發展,應該顧及居民的健康和日常生活,盡量尊重和保護本地文化,而本地特色才是最能吸引遊客、最難被取代的要素。在規劃旅遊項目時,也不能以經濟利益為先,必須提升文化、環境等資產負債表上無法羅列的社會因素所佔比重,如此才能做到真正的持續發展,福蔭後人。

今天新聞報道中國國務院批准在上海浦東興建迪士尼樂園,規模要比香港的大得多。雖然節目內容仍是未知之數,但可以肯定的是,香港迪士尼樂園不再是內地遊客的必然項目,而是其中一個選擇。

香江袞袞諸公,你們知錯了嗎?

Sunday, 18 October 2009

貽笑大方

興沖沖的到香港大學馮平山美術博物館去看「亦慈亦俠亦詼諧--梁醒波藝術人生」,沒想到竟落得一肚子氣,敗興而返。

失望、敗興、憤怒,不是因為展品比預期中少,而是因為整個展覽雜亂無章,而且和其他毫無關係的常設展品一同擺放,連個像樣的提綱和介紹都沒有,這算得上哪門子的尊敬?

梁醒波縱橫藝壇逾五十年,無論在粵劇、電影或電視裡,也為無數香港人帶來歡笑,「丑生王」的美譽當之無愧。提起波叔,就像其他曾經帶給我歡樂的前輩演員一樣,總是心存感激和敬意。以前看《歡樂今宵》,總是覺得有他、沈殿霞、何守信、盧海鵬等臺柱才像樣。另外還有《波叔》的單元劇,可能記得的觀眾也不多了。不知怎地,小時候看到《波叔》的片頭便會哭,因為看他腳步蹣跚地爬樓梯,好像很落寞、很淒涼似的,總是心裡不忍。後來聽了《紫釵記》、《再世紅梅記》等錄音帶,才明白波叔演粵劇的造詣有多深厚。他的唱腔沉鬱有力,無論是懷才不遇的崔允明、豪氣干雲的黃衫客,抑或奸猾好色的賈似道,演來層次分明,極具感染力。如果純以詼諧搞笑來概括梁醒波的藝術成就,未免有失偏頗。

像波叔這樣一位舉足輕重的藝壇前輩,只有數十幀照片、一件粵劇戲服(從沙田文化博物館借來的)、一枚MBE勳章、一隻金錶、一封家書的展覽內容,未免少得有點寒酸。數十幀不同年代的劇照、生活照、粵劇「戲橋」、電影海報影印本等,分三個展廳陳列,除了中間最大的展廳之外,左右兩側的展廳分別擺放了香港大學不同年代的模型,以及一些不同朝代的陶俑、陶器等常設展品,與波叔完全無關。我不禁要請問,為甚麼主辦單位不可以把所有關於波叔的展品集中在大廳展出?為甚麼每個展廳都沒有相關展品的提綱說明主題?為甚麼展品說明那麼馬虎,例如那件戲服是哪齣粵劇的服裝也不註明?

其實即使展品不多也沒關係,只要肯花心思妥善編排,也可以成為一個小巧精致的展覽,就像早前在創意書院舉辦的「文化營造--嚴迅奇文化/教育建築作品展」,展品同樣不多,展廳的面積與香港大學美術博物館一樓正中的展廳也相若,但文字資料豐富,展品模型的安排錯落有致,令人看得津津有味。如今波叔的展覽,看來就像虛應故事,根本看不出主辦單位對波叔有多大的尊重。

所以俗語說:勉強沒幸福。如果沒有誠意,不如不做。即使做了,也只能貽笑大方。

Sunday, 11 October 2009

祭便是遊,遊便是祭


昨晚忙裡偷閒,和Patricia去看《紫禁城遊記》。本來早已把進念.二十面體打入冷宮,只衝著石小梅老師的金面才進場的。沒想到那麼精彩,看罷激動難言,忍不住站起來鼓盡力氣鼓掌。

石老師飾演活到生命中最後一天的崇禎皇帝,沒有掛鬚,也沒有戴冠,披散了一頭長髮,穿起白底繡金的龍袍,扮相英俊瀟灑,見之忘俗。雖云窮途末路,雙眼仍然精光四射,矍然有神,落拓之際仍不失威儀。無論造型和氣質,都很符合我對崇禎皇帝的想像。《帝女花》和《鐵冠圖》裡的崇禎都掛鬚,未免有點顯老,須知道他自縊煤山的時候,虛歲還不到三十五呢。

一個半小時的演出,幾乎全由石老師擔綱。只見她悉力以赴,舉手投足皆抓緊觀眾的情緒,絕無冷場。可惜崑劇看了這些年,仍不懂得分辨唱腔,只聽得字字鏗鏘有力,激憤處高亢澎湃,肅殺處低迴悲咽,幾不可聞。端的是功力深厚,撩人哀感。請來南京的老搭檔李鴻良老師,又蘇白又京腔地插科打諢,陪她演了大半場,莊諧並舉,煞是好看。但最考功夫的,還是最後五分鐘石老師獨演「煤山」那一段。

全場倏地變成一片血海,背景中緩緩顯示《尾聲》的曲詞,氣氛沉重肅穆,空氣彷彿一下子凝固起來。石老師那一臉茫然無助、失魂落魄、雙眼圓睜、孑然一身的孤清冷落,令人不忍卒睹。一道白綾從天而降,兩端勾起呈弧形,可以是崇禎皇帝的勾魂使者,也可以是穹蒼俯瞰人間的千里法眼。白綾一端無聲無息地落下,崇禎皇帝龍馭賓天,大明二百七十六年的江山也隨之化為煙雲。在暗黃的燈光之中,只剩下左下角一個直立式景泰藍香爐,彷彿仍向人訴說著那些湮遠的舊事。

舞臺採用復古的抽象方式,桌椅皆無,只靠燈光、投影圖片和字幕營造氣氛,簡練明快而意境深遠。用投影技術把曲詞打在背景的白屏幕上,效果出奇地優雅淳正,更是神來之筆。進念常用的字體混合了宋體和楷書的特色,對營造古典精致的感覺,居功不少。只是某些字仍是用了純楷體,不知是打不出來還是故意為之,大概沒幾個觀眾能看得出來。

多媒體、跨界別創作,從來是進念.二十面體的拿手好戲,這次以正宗崑劇為主,多媒體視覺效果為副,難得沒有喧賓奪主,觀感極佳,值得一讚。以紫禁城各處的設計特色為內容,借崇禎皇帝和設計師蒯祥的幽靈結伴遊殿一事貫穿起來,構思更是巧妙,堪稱建築與戲曲的完美結晶。即使唸建築出身的胡恩威提供了設計意念和內容,也端賴編劇張弘賦成典雅流麗的曲詞,讓觀眾享受了一場充滿古典美感的視覺盛宴。通篇曲詞流暢、優美、精鍊,純為抒情;而複雜的建築設計意念,則用簡練明達的說白解釋得清清楚楚。背景屏幕無須重複打出紫禁城的地圖,只聽唸白,那午門直通玄武門的中軸線、前三殿、後三宮、東西六宮等地形,便即瞭然於胸。張弘文字功力之深湛,令人嘆服。曲詞之中,以《尾聲》那四句尤其沉鬱蒼涼,餘韻無窮:「三尺白綾送終場,半樹古槐弔君王。萬古塵埃殘畫稿,紫禁宮闕閱興亡。」

也許有人會問,為甚麼要以「遊殿」為主線?這固然是緊扣「建築是藝術節」的主題,更重要的是開場時蒯祥的點題語:「遊便是祭,祭便是遊。」遊的固然是紫禁城的宮殿,祭的又是甚麼?在我看來,既是祭紫禁城,也是祭設計者和建造者,更是祭那紫禁城默默見證著的滄海桑田、治亂興衰。

崇禎皇帝雖然住在紫禁城一十七年,對於宮殿的整體規劃和設計意念卻不甚了了,直至蒯祥帶他從午門仔細看一遍,他才明白建築師和工匠的精心巧思,所以他三番四次的認為蒯祥不是工匠。看,工匠的手藝很重要,可是工匠的地位卻低微,老是被人看不起,只當他們除了刨木髹漆、鑿石雕鏤,便甚麼也不懂。如此寫法,一方面印證了崇禎皇帝剛愎自用、猜疑萬端的性格,一方面也好像要為古代的建築師和工匠出一口惡氣--千古以來多少倖存的古建築,贏得了無數讚嘆,可是這些古建築的設計者和建造者,又有多少人記得?當出外旅遊淪為自家生活的殖民對象,在喪買喪食喪玩橫行當代之際,蒯祥的話,真不啻一記當頭棒喝。建築不只有實用功能,也是值得用心欣賞的藝術品。用心體會,就是對前賢的尊重;心香一炷,就是給前人最好的祭獻。

看罷《紫禁城遊記》,只想重遊北京,親自把故宮仔細再遊歷一遍,祭奠一番。

至少還有您

不少朋友都為三藩市中文電視臺訪問高錕校長的片段而感動,本地傳媒也乘機大撈油水,加油添醬的販賣煽情,連他獲頒諾貝爾物理學獎的消息,好像也變得沒那麼重要了。

鶼鰈情深,永遠讓人艷羨,所以中國最膾炙人口的民間傳奇,不是《三國》、《水滸》,而是《梁山伯與祝英臺》、《白蛇傳》、《牛郎織女》等生死不渝的愛情故事。

中國人,其實骨子裡比法國人更浪漫,只是近代中國人苦難太深,連飯都顧不上吃,哪裡還有心思談情說愛?然而若有一往情深、矢志不渝的愛情故事,大家還是忍不住議長論短,讚嘆一番,比主角還要肉緊。

看校長和夫人的訪問,當然是感動的。當一個人甚麼也記不起了,仍記得相知相愛數十年的老伴是「很好的」,怎能不感動?世上有哪一句情話,比這幾個簡單不過的字兒更鏗鏘有力?校長說話的時候,夫人安靜地坐在旁邊稍後的位置看著他,臉上笑瞇瞇地,儘管有些時候,還是有意無意地用手遮住了半張臉,彷彿不讓人家看到她嘴角的清淚。

其實看了這個訪問,更多的是感慨。不只是感慨才智過人、成就斐然的科學家年老失智,記憶消失,有口難言;更是感慨夫人說,老人癡呆症讓丈夫變成了另一個人,以前認識的那個他,早已不在了。

對於病人來說,忘卻前塵,回復赤子的率真自然,未嘗不是福氣。看校長一貫文質彬彬、溫厚和煦的笑容,如今添上一抹天真爛漫,可見他心裡全無罣礙,倒是教人寬慰。何況校長四十三年前的發明早已造福了全球,研究者後繼有人,他是否記得自己傾注畢生心血的研究成果,已經不重要了。老子說:「夫物雲雲,各復歸於其根。」有開始就有結束,既然我們是赤條條的來到這世上,到回去的時候放下身外之物,也無不可。老子又說:「是以聖人居無為之事,行不言之教。萬物作而弗始也,為而弗恃也,成功而弗居也。夫唯弗居,是以弗去。」正是校長的寫照。我深信,即使校長忘記了,我們也不會忘記,後世也不會忘記。

但是,對於病人的親屬來說,看著至愛之人逐漸喪失記憶,連自己也不認得了,會是怎樣的一種滋味?如果沒有記憶,就等於換了另一個人,他身邊的人應該如何面對?須知道,不是所有人都可以像夫人那樣不離不棄,這當中需要多大的愛心、勇氣和耐性,非外人所能猜度。夫人說校長答不上話來的時候就會笑,那是他性格使然;換了別人,也可能變得脾氣暴躁,令人望而生畏。

聽了夫人的話,我想到幾個自己無法解答的問題:如果沒有記憶,就等於換了一個人,那麼記憶是否就是我們常說的「靈魂」,或者至少是靈魂的元素之一?如果沒有記憶,是否就等於沒有靈魂?如果沒有記憶,就等於沒有靈魂,那麼沒有靈魂的人,還算是個人嗎?

我想夫人應該不會提出這些無聊的問題,因為她要全心全意地照顧丈夫。看完了訪問,腦海裡就浮起一首林憶蓮的舊歌,也許可以代校長向夫人表達一點心意。如今借花獻佛,就權作送給兩位的微薄賀禮罷:

我怕來不及 我要抱著你
直到感覺你的皺紋 有了歲月的痕跡
直到肯定你是真的 直到失去力氣
為了你 我願意

動也不能動 也要看著你
直到感覺你的髮線 有了白雪的痕跡
直到視線變得模糊 直到不能呼吸
讓我們 形影不離

如果 全世界我也可以放棄
至少還有你 值得我去珍惜
而你在這裡 就是生命的奇蹟
也許 全世界我也可以忘記
就是不願意 失去你的消息
你掌心的痣 我總記得在哪裡

Saturday, 3 October 2009

迎月記

前天雖是假期,卻要奔波在外;昨兒早起,兩腿居然十分酸痛,比跑步一小時更累。沒想到昨兒又平白無端的跑來跑去,幸而可以提早下班,匆匆吃了晚飯,到附近的公園去賞燈猜謎,度過一個平靜的迎月之夜。

晚上沒到九點,鄰舍大都吃過晚飯,扶老攜幼的到公園去參加燈會。放眼望去,只見到處張燈結綵,人聲鼎沸,頗有節日氣氛。平日人跡疏落的庭院,如今黑壓壓地擠滿了人。雖已入秋多時,天氣仍熱;晚上滿天濃雲,又吹東風,偏了公園的方向,所以更感悶熱。不過擠在人群裡,感受一下熱鬧輕鬆的氣氛,頗能放鬆心情,把這幾天的火氣都熄了,倒也不錯。

走到池邊的迴廊和拱橋,只見雕欄上掛滿了燈謎,都是打一字、打一物、打成語等簡單的謎面,連謎格也沒用上。只是連續看了幾個,一丁點兒頭緒也沒有,心中不免一陣浮躁,心想我是怎麼了,為甚麼連這些最基本的謎題都猜不透?小時候猜謎兒的聰明敏捷都飛到哪兒去了?莫非這幾年勞神傷身,心智耗竭,連這點兒頭腦都沒有了?

耐著性子逛了一圈,慢慢也就猜到幾個。可是猜來猜去,謎底大都拿不準,勉強寫了十五個,只中了六個,領到一盒棋子餅、一個塑膠造的五彩小花籃作獎品。那小花籃裡面放了一塊用紙包好的長餅兒,下面繫著一隻粉紙蝴蝶和紅色穗子,甚是好看。即使有點粗糙,卻是充滿以前香港工業發達年代塑膠製品的風味。我問了工作人員,才知道那叫「豬籠仔」,是數十年前給小孩子的傳統中秋節玩具。那塊小餅就叫「豬籠餅」。

我完全不知道「豬籠仔」,只記得小時候端午節前後,街市裡總有小攤子掛滿各色以彩線編成的粽子掛飾,粽子下面也繫著穗子的。鎢絲燈泡一照,登時金光燦爛,滿眼喜慶。看到那「豬籠仔」,就想起小時候簡樸充實的光景,心中不禁一陣溫暖、一陣傷感。我用小指頭勾著「豬籠仔」在公園裡閒逛,心裡自然而然就靜下來,好像空蕩蕩地,甚麼煩惱都丟開了。那小豬籠一前一後的跟著晃,好像也引來一些小孩和同齡人好奇的目光。遊目四顧,小孩手裡都拿著以電池亮燈的塑膠燈籠,還有螢光膠條編成的鐲子、項鍊等。雖云安全耐用,但始終欠缺一點手工製品的人情味。入場時又派發了小巧的紙燈籠,也因為公園不准點火而沒法燃起。回家以後,我把「豬籠仔」和紙燈籠掛在窗前,算是應節。

畢竟時代不同了,過節的習俗和用品都跟著改變,鮮有原汁原味的傳承下去。即便有,也難免淪為商業競爭的戰場。一年到頭,新年、情人節、母親節、父親節、端午、中秋、聖誕,哪個節日不是促銷的時機?哪種節慶食品不是搶錢的幌子?過節的習俗和意義,已漸漸被人遺忘,甚至連秦磚漢瓦等承蒙博物館收藏的資格也沒有。

所以,當韓國江原道申請「江原端午祭」成為世界文化遺產成功,那些憤青在網上發飊又有何用?韓國的端午祭跟中國的端午節是否有關,還沒弄清楚就惡人先告狀,沒的落人笑柄。更值得深思的是,為甚麼人家可以完完整整的保存傳統節慶,成為舉世矚目的文化特色,我們卻不可以?為甚麼往往是外國人能欣賞我們的傳統文化,自己卻不稀罕、不珍惜?古語有云:「禮失而求諸野」,看來竟是千古不移的定理。

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Reflections on National Day

Perhaps it sounds a bit too rude and untimely to raise this question today. Yet it also seems to be a difficult but important question that has been taken too easily.

My question is: Why does the founding day of a government is celebrated as the national day? Is there any better or more reasonable choice?

I think so. I believe the national day should be a day of paramount historical significance, rather than the founding day of a regime. When the regime collapses, the national day no longer means anything. However, a day of historical significance, a turning point in a nation's history or a day to be remembered by all the people of the nation should be sustained despite changes of regimes and political leaders. This is why most nations around the world have the day of independence or liberation from autocratic rule as the national day. Freedom and independence are indeed universal human values shared and celebrated by all mankind.

For this reason, I would propose 10 October as the national day of China. This day should be remembered on both sides of the Taiwan Straits and all Chinese people around the world simply because this is the most important turning point in modern Chinese history - the imperial period in China that had lasted for more than two millennia was put to an end on this day 98 years ago. In other words, it marked the beginning of a truly modern China.

How unfortunate it is to see such an important day being ignored and forgotten by so many, and its significance being played down due to nothing more than the antagonism between two rivalling parties. The successful uprising in Wuchang (part of Wuhan today) in 1911 terminated the 267-year rule of Manchus over China. A brand new system of government that was never seen in the Chinese eye was put in place of what had been dominating the Chinese soil for more than 2,000 years. Despite the hardship and struggles that followed, the 1911 uprising should be remembered as the founding day of modern China. The deliberate playdown by the communist regime on the Mainland and the misperception that the celebration of 10 October implies support for Taiwan independence is by all means regrettable. At a time when the official propaganda is advocating patriotism through education, the redefinition of the Chinese national day and the commemoration of the Wuchang Uprising should top the agenda.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

平靜的一夜

昨天傍晚,颱風巨爵襲港,天文台於下午五時五十五分懸掛八號風球。十五分鐘後,已經走在回家的路上。由於天文台早有預警,不少上班族已提早下班,地鐵車站和車廂也不見特別擠擁。幾年前車站裡人潮如海水倒灌般的場面,已不復見。

晚上七點左右回到家裡,窗外的風勢還不算大,心裡一陣踏實的感覺,心想這個晚上總算可以早些到家,好好休息了。匆匆做了晚飯吃完,收拾好碗筷的時候還沒到八點。

洗了澡,在書房裡一邊聽音樂、一邊寫blog,難得全神貫注、心無旁騖,很快就九點半了。窗外風勢趨強,狂呼怒號,把街上的雜物、枝葉吹得如群鴉亂舞。站在窗前,只見雨點隨著風勢灑落街上,在昏黃燈光下,街中猶如鋪上一幅幅飄逸的輕紗,捲起波浪一般的圖案,起伏有致。

這麼閒適平靜的夜晚,真是久違了。

平日總是不明不白的忙亂紛擾,就算回到家裡,也別指望有充足的時間調整心情,更遑論是做自己喜歡的事。只有在天災肆虐的時候,才有片刻的恬靜,但前提是自己住在密不透風、風雨不侵的石屎森林裡,而不是與大自然正面交鋒的郊野。對於都市人來說,天災居然是值得歡慶的假期賜予者,到底這是諷刺,還是詛咒?

Monday, 14 September 2009

A Thought about Drug Abuse

Perhaps it is a bit too late to talk about the proposed pilot drug tests at schools in Tai Po, which have met strong opposition from students and teachers. Like many other issues, the Hong Kong Government and general public are often too much obsessed with the operational details. The overwhelming focus on feasibility and operational perfection often overshadows the original intention and positioning of the proposed actions, leading to their doomed failure.

The proposed drug tests are no exception. Notwithstanding the debate on whether or not the drug tests should be implemented, and how, few seem to have asked the crucial question: What is the purpose of having the drug tests? What are they meant to achieve?

This is a fundamental question to which an answer must be given in order to provide a meaningful basis for debate on the operational details and for that matter. The failure to set the scene in the first place only demonstrates how poorly the programme is planned and positioned.

To be honest, I find the Government's proposal and its intentions incomprehensible. Nothing I have read so far gives me a clear definition of the objectives of the pilot test in Tai Po schools and a quick overview of what has been proposed. Neither the official web site of the Narcotics Division of the Security Bureau bothers to provide this important information. All I can find on the web site are links to fragmented information and responses to criticisms and questions about the proposed drug tests.

Let me do some wild guessing here. If the Government wants to know how serious the problem of youth's drug abuse has become, why not push forward a compulsory programme whereby all young people under 18 or 21 are required to undergo the test? Why is it positioned as a voluntary programme that can be overridden by parents' written consent?

If the Government wants to issue a strong signal against youth drug abuse, why will those students found to have abused drug be spared of any legal action? On what assumption or basis can we grant this generous leniency to the youth? If the teenagers do not have to shoulder legal responsibilities for their misbehaviour, how strong can the anti-drug message possibly be?

If the Government really wants to combat youth drug abuse, why just focuses on secondary schools? Does it mean the Government officials think only secondary schools in the so-called grassroot districts like Tai Po are affected? Does it assume that young adults like university students will not abuse drug? How valid is this assumption? In any case, what kind of measures will the Government take to address the problem of drug abuse on university campus, if any?

If the Government is serious about combating youth drug abuse, how effective will the drug tests at school be in identifying the root causes of the problem? How much will the tests contribute to nipping drug abuse in the buds?

Can someone please answer these questions? Thank you.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

悲涼與希望--《遍地芳菲》觀後


看香港話劇團重演二十多年前的舊作《遍地芳菲》,沒想到竟是一陣悸動,百般滋味在心頭。

事隔一星期,還是覺得千頭萬緒,難以下筆。

在經濟掛帥的香港,搬演以黃花崗起義為題材的《遍地芳菲》,以紀念九十八年前推翻帝制的革命前賢,不知能引起多少香港人的共鳴?戲裡的革命者,拚著一腔熱誠,為自己堅守的原則和信念而浴血奮鬥,至死不悔。在觀眾席上,不知會否有人覺得他們戇居無聊、自討苦吃?革命者為了推翻滿清,建立自己夢想的烏托邦,不惜千方百計偷運軍火,有組織有預謀地向朝廷動武,又會否有人認為他們是恐怖分子、顛覆國家的造反勢力?

戲中滿清貴族孚正與革命烈士林覺民激烈辯論,一個說漢人應該感謝滿洲統治了中國二百餘年,一個說滿清朝廷喪權辱國,理應改弦易轍,其實都沒有說到節骨眼上。真正的問題是,清末國勢日蹙,列強侵凌;朝廷無道,民不聊生,這個局面應該怎樣收拾?滿清實行了三十年的內部改革為何失敗?有沒有捲土重來的機會?革命又是否中國當時唯一的選擇?革命之後,成立民國這個新的政治體制,真的能夠拯萬民於水火嗎?如果我是孚正,我會如此這般質問林覺民,這場辯論才有意義。如今林覺民義正詞嚴,孚正只是另一個歷史課本中庸碌無能、只懂捍衛八旗子弟既得利益的滿洲貴族,理不直氣不壯,不過是編導頌揚革命的陪襯而已。

我無意否定辛亥革命的歷史意義,光是結束自秦始皇以來二千多年的帝制這一點,就應該讓十月十日成為現代中國真正的國慶。可惜的是,革命之後成立的民國,並沒有像當初期許那樣振興中華,反而一次又一次的令人失望。我們當然無法只憑後果來否定前因,但有時也難免會猜想,到底是哪裡出了問題?當時除了革命之外,是否別無選擇?

看著戲裡的人物對革命滿懷熱誠和憧憬,深信只有推翻滿清、建立民國的革命能夠救國,心中不勝唏噓。有小孩在辛亥革命成功後,對著黃花崗的荒塚叫喊:「革命成功了,我們不用再挨餓了!」沒來由心裡一陣悲涼,鼻子一酸,掉下淚來。

信念堅定是一回事,現實殘酷卻是另一回事。要是壯烈犧牲的革命英雄倖存下來,看到後來國勢蟺變,不知又有何感受?革命烈士身後遺下了老弱婦孺,一邊守護著他們荒涼的墳塚,一邊目睹至親以性命建立的功業,就那樣悄無聲色地變質腐朽,心裡又是怎樣一番滋味?辛亥革命成功,距今已九十八年,可是還有多少人中國人吃不飽、穿不暖?更值得深思的是,當年無數中國人奮不顧身的愛國熱忱、因公忘私的高尚情操,如今都跑到哪裡去了?

哭,不單是痛惜前人的血汗被糟蹋,也是因為看到自己的軟弱和卑微。前人生活艱苦,朝不保夕,但對未來往往充滿希望,甚至不怕犧牲,但求造福後世,所以成就了永垂千古的典範。我們生於太平年代,卻對現實諸多不滿,又不願身體力行,為改變現狀做些甚麼。也許我們都被政治鬥爭和社會動盪嚇怕了,所以學乖了。也許我們對千瘡百孔的現實早已失去信心,甚至懷疑自己的存在價值。也許,這才是愈來愈多青少年吸毒、賣淫,愈來愈多高學歷的成年人知法犯法的根本原因。

杜國威在〈引言〉裡說:「中國人是草!」因為中國人頑強奮鬥,剛毅不屈;生生不息,希望長存。但願我也能像前人一樣,重燃對人生的希望,做一個樂觀勇敢的中國人。

Thursday, 10 September 2009

A Threat to Stability (Part 2)

If the repressive DNA is the fundamental threat to stability, arrogance and complacence derived from one's power and authority is the root cause of stupidity.

The latest classic example can be found in what the information office spokeswoman of Xinjiang delivered on Tuesday (8 September).

It's just unbelievable. She simply reminds me of what State Council spokesperson Yuan Mu said 20 years ago about the bloodshed at Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

While it is a common trick to blame the others when someone finds himself/herself under attack, governments and organisations are rare beneficiaries of this privilege of evasion. Few could escape the limelight. And if they do, it requires state-of-the-art communication skills and, more importantly, a seamless manipulation of the current state of affairs. Apparently this is a form of art to the finest delicacy that few can master.

At this point of time when information flow has been made so easy and effortless, and arguments and perspectives can be invalidated every minute with the emergence of new information, I simply cannot understand why any authority would point its fingers at someone else without providing solid evidence. Worse still, they told lies so casually and easily as if the accused would be intimidated to speak up and counteract. In which period of history do the local government leaders think they are living? Who they think they are? Do they still believe they are in such an authoritative position that everything they say, right or wrong, would be taken as truth unconditionally?

When I watched television news on Tuesday night I found the spokeswoman extremely nervous and uneasy. To me, her facial expression and body language suggested that she personally does not agree with what she was asked to articulate. I really wonder how much time she had prepared for her presentation that was designed to be a blunder.

To remedy the situation, the Xinjiang authorities have no choice but to apologise and present the full picture of what happened. Those who abused their power must be punished. But this best scenario seems very unlikely. Otherwise the Xinjiang authorities would not have made such a disastrous mistake one after another.

What intrigues me most is the reaction of Beijing. The Beijing leaders have remained silent over the past few days, although they did try to address people's resentment by replacing a few party and government chiefs. However, the reluctance to remove Wang Lequan, reportedly a protégé of General Secretary Hu Jintao, can be devastating to Beijing as well, especially in the countdown to the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic.

God knows what will happen. I just keep my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

真情真美--舞劇《神鵰俠侶》觀後


連續看了兩場相當不錯的表演,就像吃了兩頓美味豐富的心靈饗宴,滿足得很。

首先是星期六晚去看香港舞蹈團的新作《神鵰俠侶》。這是他們第三次改編金庸作品,個人認為也是最成功的一次。因為編舞總算比較成功地掙脫了情節的羈絆,更著重發揮舞蹈的所長,以肢體語言訴說原著中的悲歡離合。之前改編《笑傲江湖》和《雪山飛狐》,頗有捨長取短之嫌,就是因為以交代情節為主。試問抽象傳意的舞蹈,又怎能表達金庸小說如此曲折迂迴的劇情?如果要看故事,又有哪一種改編版本比得上原著的精彩紛呈、目不暇給?

身為金庸迷,其實我並不喜歡《神鵰俠侶》。這些年來,原著只讀過一次,並沒有太大的感受。但看完舞劇,心裡居然有點翻騰的感覺,纏擾多日不散,可謂難得之極了。

相比鄧樹榮和邢亮的《帝女花》,《神鵰俠侶》的改編更符合原著精神。《帝女花》順序保留了原著的場次,但卻虛有其名,只是借用原有的名目,敷演創作人員對《帝女花》的詮釋和體會。〈庵遇〉裡身披緇衣的公主,對著以前穿過的宮裝戀戀不捨,就是其中的明證。在創作人員眼中,國仇家恨、悲歡離合,只是人性的反照,跟原著是兩碼子事兒了。

負責改編《神鵰俠侶》的梁國城和冼振東,大刀闊斧地重組原著情節,上下兩半場分別以楊過斷臂後的回憶,以及小龍女在絕情谷底回思往事為骨幹,把故事的重要人物穿插其中,甚具創意,只是未竟全功。例如〈相爭〉、〈殺性〉兩場,還是有點偏重交代情節,其實可以利用大勝關武林大會的背景,描寫楊過與小龍女不理世事,只求相聚的心情。王林飾演金輪國師賣弄那個飛轉自如的金輪,似乎又流於江湖賣藝的意味,我差點兒沒笑出聲來。還有〈心經〉那一場,不知道原意是否想描繪小龍女被尹志平乘虛而入的迷惘不安,但視覺效果絕對不佳,露骨有餘、美感不足,看得我渾身起滿雞皮疙瘩。最後那一段紅色縐紙從天而降,揭露小龍女迷惘、驚詫、不知如何是好的神情,才算挽回一點分數。

猶幸瑕不掩瑜,我最喜歡小龍女在谷底回憶初遇小楊過的片段--眼前的她,倚著大樹,滿臉思念情郎的嬌羞旖旎;可是回憶裡的她,卻是漠然冷淡、飄逸出塵的古墓派傳人。至於楊過那一段,看起來比較瑣碎繁雜,感情沒有小龍女那麼純粹。仔細想去,也許因為楊過平生際遇跌宕,即使心裡只有小龍女一個,但與他恩怨糾纏的人也不少。除了郭靖一家,程英、陸無雙、公孫綠萼等也鍾情於他。在楊過斷臂之後,苦等小龍女歸來的悠悠歲月,回首前塵,大概也是在所難免罷?

這次《神鵰俠侶》以兩組舞蹈員擔任主角,輪流演出。這樣安排想是為了更平均地分配演出機會,值得一讚。不過,我還是挑了蘇淑和劉迎宏合演的那一場。

自從《笑傲江湖》之後,就對蘇淑留上了心。看過《木蘭》之後,更喜歡她了。這次她飾演小龍女,無論造型和氣質都很符合原著,爭取了像我這樣的金庸迷不少感情分。她的舞固然跳得好,更難得是臉上也有戲,令表演的層次更豐富。無論是冷漠、悲傷、溫馨、震驚、惘然、纏綿,都極具感染力。以前讀原著、看電視,對小龍女都沒甚麼感覺,但看完蘇淑的小龍女,真的有點感動,才驚覺小龍女原來如此可愛可親。

也許,我應該拋開成見,重讀一遍《神鵰俠侶》了。

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Time to Appreciate, Not Destroy

When I read news reports that the Urban Renewal Authority would invest HK$100 million to "revitalise" five streets in Mong Kok, arguably the most dynamic and energetic area in Hong Kong, I couldn't help wondering again what kind of species those working in the URA, or, any government agency in Hong Kong are. They seem to have come from another planet and their minds are so incomprehensible and annoyingly stubborn.

The narrow streets and small business circles in Mong Kok known for selling birds, fish and sportswear are achievements of organic growth and natural selection. The everyday life in those areas is so real and interesting that any artificial touch-up would seem unnecessary, if redundant at all. Entrepreneurs do not need any government support or intervention as long as there is a solid framework of legal and regulatory compliance. People should be allowed the greatest extent of freedom and flexibility to do whatever they want within the legal framework. Too much intervention from the authorities, as we have seen in the relocation of the Birds Street, which was forced to give way to the construction of the mammoth called Langham Place, was nothing more than the ruthless persecution of local culture – confusing, hybrid and difficult to generalise as it may seem, it is the essential characteristic of Hong Kong.

Look at the conceptual design presented on the URA web site, and you will find the so-called revitalisation can only serve to destroy the unique and indigenous but eroding character of Mong Kok. Why would the extravagant decorations of the undersea be effective in attracting people and tourists? Most people come to the area to enjoy the visual and behavioural experience provided by individual shops with distinctive characters of their own, not the lousy banners and signage. The only way to enhance the experience may be cleaning up the streets more frequently, making it more easily accessible by public transport, and promoting the colourful and local experience as something no visitor should miss when they stay in Hong Kong. But this requires the concerted effort of various government departments rather than the initiative of any single organisation. Unfortunately, as we have seen the past years, coordination seems to be the weakest link of the Hong Kong Government and it would take them forever to achieve anything.

If anyone at the URA bothers to listen, I would suggest that they withdraw this well-intended programme and focus on what they are meant to do. Better still, they should at least spend a year or two studying what culture actually means and learn to appreciate the unique colours of Hong Kong. Remember though, the monetary measurement does not work when it comes to measuring the value of culture.

A Threat to Stability

Many public administrators in China seem to have forgotten the basics these days. While harmony and stability are the buzzwords, few seem to understand what these important concepts mean and what make them happen.

Harmony and stability does not imply homogeneity and single-mindedness. Harmony is achieved only when different elements are fully respected for their roles and values. Consider the example of a piece of great music. It can only express human emotions to the fullest extent with the skilful composition of different musical notes. In the case of a symphony, it also requires the collaboration of a wide range of musical instruments to make it good for the ear.

Therefore, oppression is by no means a truly viable solution to harmony and stability. It can only make things worse, even though it may seem effective to a certain extent in the short term. Turning a blind eye to the problem or stepping aside from the core issue doesn't help either.

What happened in Xinjiang last July and over the past day or two provides yet another example of how poor and foolish actions can ruin well-intended plans and, worse still, trust and understanding of the people.

I couldn't help being puzzled by what I saw on television news over the past two days. The scene of thousands of Urumqi citizens chanting slogans demanding the step-down of Xinjiang's party chief was by all means astonishing. It only reinforces the magnitude of the deep-rooted tensions between Han and Uyghur peoples. It only reminds people of the ill-advised and misplaced ethnic minority policies of China, which sowed the seeds of hatred, prejudice and misperception decades ago.

Nevertheless, the use of violence against three Hong Kong journalists was by no means forgivable. It is simply disgusting. Local authorities in China, be they Sichuan and Xinjiang, simply have lost their sense. They are actually creating more troubles than resolving problems, if any at all. There is no worse blunder than exposing one's shortcoming in front of the news camera.

While China's obsolete and authoritarian regime is often blamed and criticised of being repressive in nature, to a history buff like me, it actually denotes something much more than ideology. The negative approach can be traced back to late imperial China when Ming and Qing dynasties began to adopt an inward and conservative approach to state affairs. In contrast with their predecessors, China in Ming and Qing was far more conservative and repressive, because all the rulers wanted to do was to secure their regimes, regardless of the price and sacrifices. Unfortunately modern Chinese regimes, be it capitalist or socialist, ended up as loyal followers of the Ming and Qing legacy of ineffective government and repressive rule.

Monday, 31 August 2009

難以承受的沉重

看完《竊聽風雲》幾近一個月,現在才可以靜下來整理一下感受。

這是一個很沉重的故事。

沉重,不是因為戲裡的主角一念之差,滿盤皆輸,而是因為我們在欲望和權勢面前,顯得那麼軟弱無力。

貪婪大概是人類與生俱來的天性,無論食物、衣履、錢財、權力,沒有人會嫌多,只會嫌少。即使吃不下、穿不著,還是覺得一切掌握在自己手裡最踏實,遠比望梅止渴強得多。但是年復一年,我們都是知易行難,書唸得再多、道德修為再高,往往還是敵不過心底裡的欲望。

因為貪婪,我們都很樂意給自己各種各樣的藉口為自己開脫。戲裡兩名竊聽組的警察,都給自己的貪婪,編造了情有可原的理由。一個是為了病重的孩子,一個是為了自己身為男人的尊嚴。還有一個,只是不忍心拆穿哥兒們的西洋鏡,結果未吃到羊肉,已惹下一身腥羶。

事不關己的時候,我們都知道,錢財買不了健康、買不了尊嚴,但是在金錢掛帥的資本主義社會,笑貧不笑娼的觀念根深蒂固,一旦出了甚麼事情,很多人總是想到用錢財來解決;即使不惜知法犯法,總是認為情有可原的。也許有人覺得戲裡古天樂和吳彥祖的下場太慘酷,「惡有惡報」的說教意味太濃厚,但在我看來,那是一記久違了的當頭棒喝。我們都認定是以小博大、一本萬利的時候,其實我們早忘記了,自己根本輸不起。

《紅樓夢》有名言云:「身後有餘忘縮手,眼前無路想回頭。」俗語也說:「輸錢皆因贏錢起。」因為擁有了一些,所以希望擁有更多,很多人都會盡力爭取最大的回報,卻沒幾個會叩問自己,到底是否需要那麼多。因為渴求超乎自己所需要,人類不斷嘗試,創造了愈來愈豐富的物質,同時也陷入自己創造出來的漩渦之中,難以自拔。

近日都說青少年問題愈來愈嚴重,吸毒、援助交際等無日無之,但政府、家長、學校和社會各界都束手無策,因為我們都沒有勇氣承認,這其實是成年人的錯,因為我們向青少年灌輸了物質至上的錯誤觀念。為了爭取最大的經濟利益,為了「搵食」,我們都睜一隻眼閉一隻眼,不問是非對錯,任由社會風氣敗壞下去。我們更沒有決心和智慧,把這股歪風扭轉過來,因為牽一髮動全身,利益關係盤根錯節,無遠弗屆,坦白說,我們都得罪不起。

這就是《竊聽風雲》另一個教人沉重之處。有時候,我們明知道社會公義不彰,有豺狼披著羊皮招搖過市,我們卻連不平則鳴的勇氣也沒有,只能忍氣吞聲。就像戲裡的主角一樣,明知道幕後主腦犯案纍纍,但礙於其身不正,為了自保,始終難以將他繩之於法。即使後來成功了,他們早已付出異常沉重、無法彌補的代價。

既怕自己利益受損,又負擔不起撥亂反正的代價,那麼,我們到底想怎樣?無能為力,裡外不是人,大概就是《竊聽風雲》教人最感沉重的地方。

Sunday, 30 August 2009

那些純真的日子

《麥兜响噹噹》,一如既往,一邊看一邊哭,哭得岔了氣,幾乎窒息。

從《麥兜故事》、《菠蘿油王子》到《麥兜响噹噹》,無不教我淚流披面。

不要問我為甚麼,連我自己也不甚了了,大概是心裡有一個柔軟而脆弱的角落,只有麥兜可以觸碰得到,讓我深感共鳴。

也許,我實在太懷念那些不用修飾、不用計較,只管做好自己的日子。只要做好功課,就可以看書、看電視,人家喜歡怎麼想、怎麼做,跟我全無關係。人家穿的衣服再漂亮,吃的東西再名貴,我不用羨慕、也不用妒忌,因為我從書本和戲劇中,自有錦衣美服不能給我的滿足和快樂。很單純,但很持久,到老不忘。

人人都取笑麥兜呆頭呆腦、笨手笨腳,但其實他比誰都善良、比誰都率直。因為他善良,所以明明知道人家欺負他,他都不計較、不怨懟,最多只是「哇哇哇」的大哭一場。因為他率直,所以他想到甚麼就說甚麼,不修飾、不隱瞞;但是他的率直,總是用來自嘲,而不是嘲笑別人,或者直斥其非,藉此自抬身價。我們覺得麥兜可愛,正因為他的天真和純樸,沒有機心,沒有計較。他知道自己笨,但仍然肯努力。考到一個A,就已經很滿足了。

其實,生活本來就應該那麼簡單。沒錯,因為人類不滿足,才會有上進心、好奇心,推動他們創造了這許多以前無法想像的東西。但是那又如何?我們的生活並沒有因為物質生活的改善而變得更快樂,至少科學家給我們的承諾,一直無法實現。因為科技進步,我們有了電腦、手提電話,但我們很多人卻反過來成為它們的奴隸,無法自拔。即使放了假,我們仍覺得沒有電話、不能上網的日子度日如年、寢食難安,心裡總是牽掛著某些事情。其實,我們都忘記了,即使沒有了我們,這個世界仍然在轉動,公司也不見得會損失多少。更何況,在經濟不景氣的時候,說裁員就裁員,上至行政總裁、下至普通職員,沒幾個人是不能取代的。為富不仁,本來就是資本主義與生俱來的特質。

麥兜和麥太母子倆相依為命,雖然生活乏善足陳,卻自有一份窩心的溫暖。所以聽麥兜說「我最喜歡和最喜歡的媽媽一起吃雞」,眼淚就忍不住。多少人錦衣美食,仍然自暴自棄,虛耗生命,就是因為缺少了一份純真的愛。近年骨肉相殘、弒父母、虐子女的新聞無日無之,更覺得麥兜母子相濡以沫的可敬可貴。

《麥兜响噹噹》原名《麥兜武當》,開宗名義以太極拳為素材,可是電影中並沒有麥兜完整地打太極拳的片段,只有他和熊寶弟弟來了一招「摟膝拗步」和「金雞獨立」,的確令人有少許失望。不過,細想之下也不要緊,麥兜的可愛和令人感動,就是在於他的純真,能讓他面對人生的不圓滿。他不是有甚麼看透世情的智慧,只是有一份沒有被世俗污染的純真。即使人家取笑他、嫌棄他,他還是依然故我,盡自己的力量。長大了的他,守著大角咀某幢舊樓裡的一爿小店,賣他媽媽的拿手小菜,做他喜歡又擅長的事情。他當然沒有大富大貴,像麥太想像那樣開成連鎖快餐店,但那又打甚麼緊?守著一份純真、儉樸和知足,做自己喜歡做的事,已是多少人難以企及的幸福--尤其是那些泡在染缸裡無法脫身的人。

所以,《麥兜响噹噹》怎麼可能在香港賣座?對比《Laughing Gor之變節》,就明白多少香港人已經離那段純真的日子愈來愈遠,可能比麥子仲肥的年代更遠。

我能不哭嗎?

Sunday, 23 August 2009

女人心

不要誤會,我不是要談Anita的舊歌。

只是昨天匆匆看完香港電影資料館的「雲裳艷影情不了--林黛文物展」,又旁聽了鄧小宇、馮寶寶和林黛的兒子龍宗瀚的座談會,只想起Anita這首舊歌的幾句歌詞:

誰自願獨立於天地
痛了也讓人看
你我卻需要
在人前被仰望
連做夢亦未敢想像
我會這樣硬朗
但是又怎可
使你或我失望

很多人都說林黛倔強好勝,但她未滿三十歲時,突然「戲走極端」自殺身亡,原因眾說紛紜,至今成謎。我想,大概她活在萬人景仰的金魚缸裡實在太累,心態有點像Anita《女人心》唱的那樣。只是沒想到,在她逝世四十五年後的今天,她仍要活在人家仰望、傾慕、好奇,甚至偷窺、輕蔑的眼光下,難以擺脫。

所以我看到電影資料館的展覽廳擠得水洩不通,心中又喜又憂,百感交集。Shirley也說,何曾見過如此洶湧的場面?簡直是盛況空前。是的,從好的角度來說,數十年來林黛的影迷從來沒有忘記她,仍然掛念她,足證她非凡不朽的魅力。可是從另一個角度來說,那些對著演員合約、購物收據指指點點,大聲嚷著:「這些我就最有興趣……」然後又失望地嘀咕:「我以為那是說她有多少身家……」的觀眾,我只能暗暗搖頭。看展覽廳另一邊展板介紹她的電影,觀眾明顯稍為疏落,參觀的時間也沒那麼長,我心裡就感到不是味兒。

我算不上是林黛的影迷,也不太明白她為甚麼能夠迷倒那麼多觀眾,但看她生前死後都備受注目,一舉一動也像被千萬對眼睛監視一般,總感到一陣莫名的淒涼。也許,那是一種我能夠體會的厭倦和寂寞--即使這樣說是頗有一廂情願之嫌。

當年我和兩位朋友為林黛建立網站,只是為了表揚林黛對香港電影的貢獻,紀念她的作品和成就,讓年輕人可以繼續瞻仰她的丰采,但從來沒有在八卦新聞上做文章。不少影迷可能覺得我們的網站「無料到」,但我深信,這樣才是她樂於看見的尊重。

將軍一去,大樹飄零,香港再也沒有影壇前輩,可以從專業的角度評論林黛的形象、作品和她在香港電影史上的地位。就連香港電影資料館那些借研究之名,行八卦之實的傢伙,都未能客觀地介紹林黛作品。他們舉辦座談會,也只能從他們看不起的八卦雜誌的角度出發,請來林黛的兒子、乾女兒,以窺秘、獵奇的方式談論她。鄧小宇從來沒有和林黛合作過,也應電影資料館之邀濫竽充數,可見當局對於林黛有多尊重。不過鄧小宇倒是光明磊落,一下場就自報家門,而且他博覽群書,總能提出精闢獨到的觀點,不會欺場。即使鄧小宇的發言只有短短幾分鐘,但我認為卻是最有價值的。

鄧小宇提出,林黛在香港電影史上的地位,在於她早期在電懋演戲時塑造那些活潑開朗的都市少女形象,沒有三從四德的包袱,沒有從一而終的枷鎖,想怎樣就怎樣,熱愛生活、享受生命。我再同意也沒有了,五十年前的林黛,活脫脫是今天給中產父母寵壞了的Generation Y的代言人。難怪鄧小宇說,林黛也是ahead of her time的人物。

後來林黛在邵氏拍了不少古裝片,例如《貂蟬》、《江山美人》等,成績斐然,但自小愛看古裝片的我卻不太欣賞,總認為林黛演古裝片是無法原諒的資源錯配。偶一為之沒所謂,何況她演《江山美人》裡活潑佻皮的李鳳姐,確是難作他人想;但她演王昭君、白素貞(我最喜愛的白娘子!)等外柔內剛、賢妻良母的角色,就顯得格格不入。不知怎地,我覺得林黛演古裝片的時候,比不上她演《溫柔鄉》、《情場如戰場》等時裝片那麼揮灑自如,彷彿連她自己也投入不了,我身為觀眾又怎會覺得好看?

聽過鄧小宇的話,很想重溫《溫柔鄉》和《情場如戰場》等時裝佳作。我想,在戲裡明眸皓齒、精靈俏皮、熱愛生命的她,才是林黛最希望觀眾欣賞和懷念的自己。

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

臺灣風災

這幾天看電視新聞報道臺灣風災,災情空前嚴重,滿目瘡痍,令人心酸。

沒想到颱風莫拉克在臺灣造成那麼嚴重的破壞,東南部大片鄉郊山洪暴發,沖毀道路和橋樑,連三層高的民房也可以整幢給沖走,真可謂觸目驚心。看見大批鄉民家破人亡,生計付諸流水,呼天搶地,真叫人情何以堪。

不禁想起,早前另一個颱風天鵝逼近香港,八號風球在晚上懸掛,沒天亮就除下了,讓一心希望享受半天假期的上班族大失所望。

大概只有香港人才會為了貪圖一天半天難得的假期,希望每次颱風也會直吹香港,好讓天文懸掛八號風球,全市停工停課。只是我記心太好,總是無法忘記十歲時颱風愛倫正面襲港,天文台懸掛十號風球,在十五樓的家裡居然感受到房子劇烈搖晃,好像地震一樣,於是全家慌慌張張地逃到酒店去住了一夜。現在說起來,可能有點可笑,但是對於沒經歷過地震的人,卻是驚心動魄、畢生難忘的回憶。後來才知道,原來任職消防員、有「天下第一劍」美譽的傷殘運動員張偉良,正是在愛倫襲港期間執勤而受傷,失去了一條腿。

看看臺灣風災的嚴重災情,就明白某些渴望颱風來襲、好讓自己放假的香港人,對大自然的破壞力毫無警覺,對天災造成的人命和財物損失也視若無睹,其實很自私。

希望受災的人早日脫險,重建家園。

Saturday, 8 August 2009

만약에 100억 원짜리 복권에 당첨된다면…

만약에 100억 원짜리 복권에 당첨된다면 기분이 아주 좋겠습니다. 그래서 하고 싶은 것을 많이 할 수 있습니다.

만약에 100억 원짜리 복권에 당첨된다면 곧 회사에서 사직하겠습니다. 월급이 없지만 안정한 수입이 필요하겠습니다. 그래서 여러 좋은 집을 사려고 합니다. 집을 세놓는다면 매월에 임대료를 받아서 수입을 안전할겁니다. 10억원 쯤 쓰고 집을 살겁니다.

그리고 어머니, 동생과 같이 세계 여행을 하겠습니다. 여섯 달 동안 여행을 갔다오면 좋겠습니다.

그리고 대학원에서 역사를 공부하려고 합니다. 입학 원서를 내겠습니다. 저에게 역사는 하도 재미있어서 가장 좋아하던 과목입니다. 역사 책을 많이 읽으면 읽을수록 더 재미있는 것 같습니다. 하지만 대학교에서 공부했을때 기회가 없어서 역사를 아직 공부하지 않았습니다. 만약에 돈이 많이 있다면 취직하는 것이 필요없어서 공부하는 주의력을 집중할 수 있 됩니다.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

隨想金庸

昨天下午和Shirley到旺角中大東華社區書院看「文從藝相,俠影成金--金庸小說版本展」,十分愜意。可惜我忘了帶相機,只好央Shirley代拍幾張照片。

雖然展覽廳面積很小,展品尚算豐富,而且碩果僅存的舊版單行本金庸小說均是全套展出,非常難得,至少比書櫥重門深鎖的澳門「金庸圖書館」大方得多。現在全四冊的《倚天屠龍記》,當年的初版單行本竟逾一百小冊。六年前的夏天,和Shirley在澳門舊區的古董小店不經意找到幾本零散的單行本,即使買不起,光是摸摸翻翻已是狂喜不支。只是這次的展品更珍貴,都放在玻璃匣中供人瞻仰,無緣翻閱。展櫃旁放了幾本彩色影印、製作精美的仿製品,總算是望梅止渴。

記得唸書時乘資料搜集之便,曾翻閱《明報》的微型膠卷,想一睹金庸小說初次連載時的面貌,可惜舊報紙製成膠卷之前,金庸小說的部分已被剪去,只留下一個個無法彌補的黑洞,令人氣餒。

這次除了歷年不同出版社印刷的金庸小說外,還有外語譯本和漫畫版展出。其中一本是崔成安執筆、以佳藝電視米雪、白彪「繪本」為封面的《射鵰英雄傳》漫畫,令我非常好奇,猜想漫畫裡面的人物造型是否也是以佳視當年的劇集為藍本?如果是的話,那不就是有機會看到「長城三公主」陳思思飾演的包惜弱了?

本來Youtube上有轉載無線收費電視經典台重播佳視版《射鵰英雄傳》的宣傳片段,可惜沒多久就被刪除,大概是因為無線投訴侵犯版權之故,真是小家子氣。長約一分鐘的片段就是穆念慈在大都街頭比武招親,引起郭靖和楊康(梁小龍飾)大打出手那一段,不過穆念慈被小王爺乘機取去的不是繡鞋,而是腰帶(!)。結尾約有三數秒是楊鐵心(秦沛飾)自盡的鏡頭,貴為金國趙王妃的包惜弱一身深藍色的衣裙,跪在丈夫身旁哭泣。可惜那一段沒有聲音,聽不到秦沛和陳思思的說話。就是這一鱗半爪,愈發叫人心癢難搔。

近年少有電視、電影改編金庸小說,而且有耐心看長篇小說的讀者似乎也愈來愈少,金庸小說能否成為香港文學不朽的神話,看來還是有點暗湧。七月份的《瞄》雜誌就有十頁紙的長文探討金庸小說,受訪的澄雨、也斯、吳靄儀等人比較悲觀,認為金庸小說所表達的感情,跟香港新一代的生活已經脫節;金庸小說對新讀者吸引力劇減,某程度上也解釋了為何沒有再改編自金庸小說的影視作品。即使有,恐怕現在也難再吸引青少年捧讀數十萬字的原著了。

猶幸這個展覽的觀眾甚多,展覽廳中黑壓壓的站滿了人,不少看來是跟隨喜歡金庸小說的父母而來的青少年。金庸小說是我少年時的主要讀物,不但令我對古代中國深深著迷,確定了求學的方向;更啟發了我不少做人處世的想法和取態。既然是有份引導我的良師益友,所以總希望金庸小說可以繼續受歡迎,不要在是非不分、感官先行的反智社會中敗下陣來。正因為滿眼烏煙瘴氣,我們更需要洗滌身心、匡扶正道的甘露清泉。

Saturday, 25 July 2009

文海隨筆--《李清照與朱淑真評傳》

千辛萬苦從孔夫子舊書店淘到這部《李清照與朱淑真評傳》的專著,沒料到竟是一部粉絲的夢囈,自然大失所望。所謂「評論」云云,其實跡近媚諂,根本不是嚴謹的學術文字。即使〈李清照與朱淑真之比較觀〉一章,也只是簡單地說兩人均稱「雋才」、「紅顏不幸」、「功夫天分各千秋」,就連討論寫作技巧也不過以「口語化」、「通俗化」、「推陳出新」、「不落俗套」、「完全是女人口吻」等泛泛之辭來形容,怎不教人意難平?這算是哪門子的「研究」?相較之下,施議對先生在《李清照全閱讀》一書對「易安體」「正-正-反」方程式的獨特見解就高明得太多。民國七十八年的臺灣商務印書館居然會出版這麼一部平庸之作,又沒有給取個穩妥持平的名稱,也算奇事。

全書最有價值的就是轉載黃盛璋先生的〈趙明誠、李清照夫婦年譜〉及〈李清照事跡考辨〉兩篇鴻文,考證詳盡、見解精闢,給明、清時代一廂情願地為李清照再嫁「辯誣」之說予以有力的反駁,開創近代李清照生平研究之先河,值得細讀。尤其是〈李清照事跡考辨〉一文,附有宋高宗從金陵南下避難與李清照追隨御舟日程及路線的比較列表和地圖,資料彌足珍貴,極具參考價值。近年有關李清照的研究,似乎尚未突破黃盛璋先生逾半世紀以前的創見,可見其學術成就和研究成果不同凡響。

Friday, 17 July 2009

《李察三世》觀後

看了香港話劇團《李察三世》,頗感失望。

從來沒看過以粵語改編的莎士比亞劇作,《李察三世》是第一次。但似乎粵語不太適合演繹莎士比亞的作品,聽演員唸白時,總是覺得有點別扭。如果對白太接近書面語,唸起來就像朗誦一樣,不符合粵語生動活潑的談吐習慣;但如果太口語化,又顯得通俗無文,讓觀眾缺少了含英咀華的享受。其實這次《李察三世》的粵語對白,也算是翻譯得相當成功,文白之間較為平衡,但瑕疵仍然不少。演員對於劇本文白之間的掌握還是稍欠火候,大都以一般通俗化的方式處理對白,就很容易落入通俗易懂的窠臼,牲犧了原著的語言特色。想窺探翻譯劇本的文字功力?唯有分神去看字幕了。

除了語言的局限,令文字上的享受打了折扣,最令人失望的就是改編和演繹,偏重於交代故事情節,而非揭示人物的深層個性。簡單來說,就是有「劇味」而無「戲味」。

經典戲劇之所以百看不厭,不只是靠曲折離奇、出人意表的情節,更重要的是動人心弦的感情,為觀眾營造感情上的震撼和共鳴。坦白說,即使是最曲折離奇的劇情,看一次就瞭然於胸,根本沒有推動觀眾重溫的吸引力。但感情卻可以歷久常新,同一個人物,由不同演員的演繹,也可以帶來簇新的觀賞角度和體驗。不知道是我坐得太遠,還是導演真的偏重於搬演一代梟雄的發跡史,我真的完全感受不到身體殘障、野心勃勃的李察,為甚麼對權力如此著迷?為甚麼如此不擇手段,連自己的親生兄弟也不惜犧牲?是為了彌補身體殘障、備受白眼的自卑心理,還是非比尋常、極度偏激的身殘志不殘?最後他如願以償登基為王,但隨即面臨內憂外患的嚴峻考驗,竟然良心發現、噩夢連連。為甚麼在「良知未泯」這節骨眼上,前文完全沒有暗示和伏筆?

更耐人尋味的是林保怡飾演的白金漢,到底與李察有何交情?有何共同利益?為甚麼會明知道李察的喜怒無常,仍然把賭注押在他身上?白金漢憑甚麼認為自認鐵石心腸、權力重於一切的李察,會對自己推心置腹,毫無猜疑?

一切就是那麼順理成章、理直氣壯,彷彿連半點關於動機的解釋也是多餘的,更遑論揭示人物的深層性格。也許這是編劇為了遷就演出時間所作的取捨,但卻犧牲了戲劇最引人入勝的本質--透過對人性的刻劃和揭示,感動人心、啟發思考--我實在無法苟同。血腥的殺戮場面只能逞一時官感刺激,始終難以為繼,今天有斷頭台、釘床夾板,下一次、再下一次能有甚麼?

常說劇本是一劇之本,好演員固然可以錦上添花,相得益彰,最多也只能雪中送炭,卻不能化腐朽為神奇。朽木不可雕,再靈巧、再老練的匠師也無可奈何。看鍾景輝演繹李察,總是感到一點大材小用、虎落平陽的悲涼。

Saturday, 11 July 2009

文海隨筆--《唔該,埋單》

讀完呂大樂教授的《唔該,埋單》(增訂本),於我心有戚戚焉。

很同意他對香港歷史的論述,相信不少在香港生活、對香港有感情的讀者,也是一樣。例如他談到香港人的歷史觀,往往源於生活細節和體驗,並非以意識形態或政治取向為基礎,這一點我就很有共鳴。記得小時候聽長輩談起六十年代,大都會說樓下閂水喉、六七暴動、颱風溫黛等天災和社會事件,甚至是林翠下嫁比她年輕的王羽、陳寶珠蕭芳芳影迷互不相讓等八卦娛樂新聞。然後再說限制供水時自己是怎樣辛苦排隊取水、暴動時怎樣避過暴徒繞路上班下班等。如今想來,他們口中的歷史事件,不過是人生的布景板。歷史只是一些虛無縹緲的故事,就像看電視劇一般,聽起來很有趣,但卻毫不實際。歸根究柢,還是得腳踏實地工作,改善生活。畢竟,生存才是最重要的。

這種「實際至上」的想法,在香港的確很普遍,大夥兒習慣了,也覺得理所當然,沒有甚麼不妥。而這也是他認為「香港意識」淺薄、難以凝聚共識的根本原因。因為「實際至上」,所以無論遇上甚麼不公平、不合理的事情,我們隨便發洩幾句、或者上街遊行之後,還是乖乖的回到工作崗位上,默默忍受那些不公平和不合理,直至我們找到另一份工作或者存夠移民的資產為止。但我在想,如果香港真的要轉型為政府倡議的知識型經濟,鼓勵創新、發展創意產業,我們的頭腦和心態能否應付得來?如果改變不了這種心態,我們是否真的能夠培養到一流的創意人才?在知識型經濟之中,最重要的不是配套和投資優惠,而是人才。如果我們仍然沿用吸引傳統工業和服務業的思維來扶植創業產業,是否緣木求魚、不切實際?

呂教授另一個觀點:「講故,更要駁故」,我也是非常認同的。這些年來,看過不同時代、不同社會文化背景人士撰述的歷史,愈來愈感到歷史就像一幅永遠砌不完的砌圖。為甚麼呢?即使歷史事件是客觀存在的,學者論述時也必須經過取捨和剪裁,而論述的角度、編寫的手法、沒有著錄的人物和資料等,其實都是歷史的一部分。某些真相可能因為天災人禍而永遠湮沒在時間的長河中,但也有一些真相可能要等待某個時機,才可以重新出土。論述中的取捨,往往是以論述者的角度、動機、經驗和其他因素來判斷其優劣和重要程度,並無放諸四海皆準的客觀標準可循。因此,如果只是接受或容許某種論述的角度,視野和思維就會受到嚴重局限;而歷史砌圖的某些對其他論述者和參與者來說十分重要的部分,也可能因為這種人為的偏頗而永遠消失。

這本書原是一九九七年的舊作,二零零七年由香港牛津大學出版社再版增訂本。原作我沒讀過,但據呂教授的〈再版序〉,修改的篇幅不多,主要是加插了一篇後記〈有落,後數〉。這篇後記主要是補充回歸十年以來的一些觀察。呂教授認為香港戰後嬰兒潮的一代,面對回歸後的種種問題,開始叩問自己可以做些甚麼來扭轉劣勢,頗有重返戰後香港人自食其力、不倚仗(其實是不相信?)政府的想法。可能我比呂教授更悲觀、也太犬儒,目前我還看不到這種趨勢,反而看到不少所謂民間團體,不過是有人在建制以外鑽空子撈油水的幌子而已。

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Thoughts of MJ Memorial

I never knew I would watch Michael Jackson's memorial.

I am never a fan of his, although I do know some of his songs by heart. Why I can no longer recall. I only start to believe my childhood memory was too good and receptive to everything that comes into sight and hearing.

I watched simply because I didn't feel like sleeping. I knew too well it was bad for health to stay up throughout the night. I knew I was going to suffer without enough and quality sleep. But there was an urge inside me to keep me awake.

Awake until this point of time with only three hours of sleep.

Michael Jackson's memorial was generally warm and peaceful, although there were inevitably some disturbances of flattery and exaggeration. Brooke Shields' emotional retrospect of their friendship was among the best, if not the best of all. Yet I couldn't help being speechless when someone asked online who Brooke Shields is. It just reminds me of how old I am.

Emotions were what gave it warmth. Solemnity was what made it peaceful. For some reasons similar occasions in Chinese contexts are often made into artificial and hypocritical encounters that few of us attend as anything than a ritual, or worse still, a performance. This is also why Elizabeth Taylor's excuse for her absence is perfectly understandable to the Chinese reader. After all, it was but a good show.

I watched the memorial programme calmly and quietly until the intro chores of "We Are the World" were played softly. Making up key words in the lyrics, symbols of the world's leading religions flickered on the screen, squeezing tears from my eyes.

Words can't describe what I feel when I heard the song produced more than 20 years ago. I couldn't help but thinking about the terrifying violence in Xinjiang since Sunday. Footage of victims soaked in blood, angry men clamouring with weapons in their hands, heartbroken Uyghur women asking the authorities to release their sons, brothers and husbands kept replaying in my head. Although the world has improved little over the years since "We Are the World" was first sung, it is even more tragic to see the bloodshed in Urumqi when the United States has finally made the change and elected its first black president in office.

Perhaps change is also one of the most frequently used words of Michael Jackson's. He kept changing the way he looked and performed. He endeavoured to make this world a better place for you and me. Although it requires too much more than any individual's effort to have a visible change to this world, he tried. Of course he was capable of trying, but more importantly, he was also courageous enough. He changed the way he worked by staying true to himself.

But why is it now so difficult to change the way one behaves without changing the true self? Why is it now so hard to convince myself into a special type of schizophrenia when actions and personal will can be disconnected?

Sunday, 5 July 2009

滄海拾遺--曾被我擁有

雪仍下個不休
凝聚滿山丘
是這麼清幽
小小雪片滿飛舞
輕輕飄進我的手
停下作小休

再重入雪山中
帶一點傷感
淨化一顆心
輕輕吻遍我的臉
輕輕撫遍我的手
求讓我擁有

鋪滿一雙手
我捉到片片雪花
它變一點水
瞬息間不再擁有

愛情又似雪花
曾在我的手
但卻不可久
真的愛意永不朽
不管它有多麼久
曾被我擁有

真的愛意永不朽
曾被我擁有

作曲、編曲:郭小霖
填詞:鄭國江
專輯:淑女/黑夜的豹

仔細重聽《淑女/黑夜的豹》專輯後,才發覺這可能是Anita最underrated的唱片。

兩首主打歌《淑女》和《黑夜的豹》,都是節奏強勁的快歌,而且歌詞的內容,都是承襲《妖女》以來欲擒故縱、把男人當獵物的角度,把Anita塑造成表裡不一、令人又愛又恨的欲望對象。這類歌曲約佔整張專輯的一半。唱片的另一半都是抒情慢歌,較有名的就是《一舞傾情》,無論旋律、曲風和意境,與《淑女》和《黑夜的豹》迥然不同,更接近《朝朝暮暮》、《轉走舊時夢》、《今夜只因你》等滄海遺珠。

雖然曾經很喜歡《朝朝暮暮》,不過,若說這張專輯中我最喜愛的歌曲,仔細想去,還是這首《曾被我擁有》。

以前喜歡《朝朝暮暮》,主要是因為歌詞裡描寫兩人天各一方,兩顆心似近還遠、隔閡漸深的無奈,還有前奏編曲的迷離跌宕。但是反覆聽過《曾被我擁有》之後,覺得境界更高、更堪玩味,所以要選專輯中我最喜愛的歌曲,還是選這一首。

印象中鄭國江老師為Anita填的詞不算多,最有名的大概就是改編自Wham!名作《Careless Whisper》的《夢幻的擁抱》。鄭老師填寫的西曲中詞,往往能夠保留原作的情境和韻味,卻絕非一字一句的直譯,功力之深湛,令人讚嘆。這次填寫《曾被我擁有》,禪味極濃,配合郭小霖充滿傳統中國小調韻味的編曲,空靈幽遠,相得益彰。

就連Anita的歌聲,也好像被某種特別技術處理過似的,竟然有點不吃人間煙火的脫俗幽邈。前奏那段似是漫不經意、隨心而發的哼歌,更是為全曲的基調一錘定音,懾人心魄。

聽這首歌的時候,總是想起傳說中的「香雪海」,在某個隆冬的下午,滿山瀰漫著梅花的香氣,雪花翩然而下,很快就鋪滿了伸出去的雙手。可是過不多久,手上的雪花就融化成水點,只要雙手微微抖動,水點就給抖落淨盡,了無痕跡。可是那觸手的冰冷,卻可以銷魂蝕骨,永誌難忘。

雖然歌詞說的是愛情,其實人生在世,千頭萬緒,到頭來如夢幻泡影,如露亦如電,還不是一樣?重要的不是生命的長短,而是到底有沒有經歷過。

滄海拾遺--今夜只因你

黃暗火光無意映於玻璃
柔和地照沉醉小天地
汗已染透髮端
濕暖著這空氣
為你輕呵耳畔
熱暖雙手開啟我心扉

陶醉枕於強壯可親的手臂
迷糊莫理明晨夢散在何地
就算世界變更
今晚夜只因你
讓我一生充滿溫馨與希冀

帶來一切統統交給你
既是前生拖欠
我自然盡情還贈你
假使一生光陰消散去
自我都完全忘記
仍舊念這晚深深吻我是你

作曲、編曲:鮑比達
填詞:潘偉源
專輯:淑女/黑夜的豹

若不是每年十二月的歌迷紀念活動以「今夜只因你」為題,還記不起原來Anita《淑女/黑夜的豹》專輯中有過這麼一首歌。

翻出來仔細聽了又聽,竟然又是一首沒紅起來的滄海遺珠。

不知為甚麼,這首歌的編曲、歌詞和意境,總教我聯想到某個下著雪的聖誕夜,一雙戀人在溫暖的房子裡相偎相倚,壁爐中火光明滅,把房子染成一片金黃,就連聖誕樹的裝飾品,還有餐桌上晶瑩剔透的玻璃杯和葡萄酒,都在火光中閃閃發亮。

Anita的歌聲,就像當年傳聞鄧寄塵在廣播劇中一人扮演多角,可以按照歌曲的風格和意境隨意調整,例如《IQ博士》的童聲、《似水流年》看破世情的無奈和淡然、《親密愛人》中猶如滴出蜜糖來的膩聲等。雖然未至於認不出來,但單憑聲音就可以表達不同層次喜怒哀樂的功力,實在教人佩服。

Anita演繹《今夜只因你》的歌聲,正是我最喜歡她剛中帶柔、層次分明的當行本色,彷彿那就是她在摯愛之人面前的自白書,令人怦然心動。

歌曲初段描寫兩人相處時的親暱,Anita的聲線柔和甜膩,又有點懶洋洋的感覺,讓人想像到一個熱戀中的女生,靠在男朋友身上,雙頰微紅、微醺薄醉的模樣。到了中段,兩人訂情之時,女生說出了誓言,一副義無反顧的樣子,頗有古樂府《上邪》的味道。 即使比不上《上邪》用詞的石破天驚,Anita還是愈唱愈高亢,真有一往無前、絕不後悔的堅定。可是來到「自我都完全忘記」這一句,為了鋪墊下一句提到親吻自己的戀人,聲音陡地放輕,好像那女生對著蒼天立誓之後,又回到情人的懷裡撒嬌一般。

在Anita眾多作品之中,歌迷選擇以知名度不高的「今夜只因你」作為紀念活動的名稱,已可見他們的心思和擁護Anita的真情。只是不知道這首歌會否在紀念活動中播放,好讓年輕的歌迷和旁觀者也知道,在《親密愛人》之前,Anita曾經有過這麼一首溫馨浪漫的佳作。

Saturday, 4 July 2009

When Reading Becomes a Luxury

What a pleasure it is to read the latest issue of Muse Magazine discussing the timelessness of Jin Yong novels, my favourite books since teenage.

While the variety of commentators interviewed and the breadth of their perspectives are rarely seen in any other interview published in Hong Kong, I couldn't help being disappointed with the interview's failure to discuss the popularity of Jin Yong novels, as a genre, in the context of social and cultural development of Hong Kong.

Let me provide my two-penny worth here: When and where reading becomes a luxury, no literary works would be timeless. Both Jin Yong novels and Dream of the Red Chamber and other titles that have survived centuries are no exceptions.

In the interview with Muse Magazine, television and film critic Chingyu was correct to point out that between 1976 and 2001, when most film and television adaptations were produced, Jin Yong novels enjoyed the height of popularity. Before discussing whether Jin Yong novels would be timeless, however timelessness is defined, we need to understand the social context under which Jin Yong novels have lost their magic to contemporary readers and the younger generations. Why are Jin Yong novels less popular than they were decades ago? What are the reasons or contributing factors? Unfortunately those interviewed by Muse Magazine, even professors of Chinese language and literature from local universities did not even bother to offer their perspectives. They just offered their observations that people nowadays are less sensitive to words and do not really care about language as much as their predecessors did. I do not disagree with their observations, which are by and large similar to mine. Yet I think the more important question is why it happens as it does.

In my opinion, the social context that enabled Jin Yong novels and their contemporary competitors to enjoy such overwhelming popularity simply no longer exists in Hong Kong.

For one thing, as many historians and sociologists have already written, the robust economic growth and lucrative gains from stock and property speculations over the past decades have groomed the prevalence of money or economic benefits as the ultimate value in Hong Kong. Anything that does not necessarily contribute to improving the economic conditions of the person is ruthlessly ignored or dispersed. Time and efforts are devoted, almost exclusively, to maximise monetary and other forms of benefits. Essentially, this extraordinary belief is penetrated into government policies to promote high land prices before 1997 and parents' frenzy to squeeze their children into business schools or any other fields of study that seem to secure handsomely paid jobs upon graduation. Under these circumstances, it is no surprise that reading is reduced to a means of pursuing and maximising economic benefits. For many years, this has been confirmed by the non-fiction bestselling lists at local chain bookstores and the books recommended by the so-called prominent figures in Hong Kong.

For another, thanks to the rise of television and computer, generations bred on graphic-based communications have no appetite or patience for language. Their predominant exposure to immediate, straightforward sensual stimulus has deprived them of the pleasure of imagination cultivated by language. Literary works are often appreciated not in literary terms but the emotions, ambiences and overtones between the lines. However, those who are used to pictorial forms of communication might find it difficult to comprehend messages discreetly articulated. At a time when directness and simplicity are far more appreciated than abstraction and subtlety, the demise of language-based literary works seems inevitable. It is not a question of yes or no, but a question of time.

Even for those who are genuinely interested in reading, it has become increasingly difficult to allocate ample time for this satisfying hobby. Hectic lifestyle, busy schedules at work and the availability of mobile communication technologies such as mobile telephone and emails have deprived us of ample leisure time and a peace of mind. We are supposed to remain in standby mode 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are supposed to stay tuned and connected when we are on holidays. We are supposed to contribute at least 120 percent in order to stay in our jobs and make our ends meet. Against this background, reading for leisure has become nothing less than a luxury. How can we expect them to appreciate the thick volumes of Jin Yong novels, which can exceed a million words in a single title?

Another factor that may prevent Jin Yong novels from being timeless is their diminishing relevance to people's lives in Hong Kong. Although this was frequently cited in the Muse Magazine interview as a deterrent to Jin Yong novels' timelessness, the interviewees did not seem to go further and elaborate on their views of the reasons behind.

Again my interpretation is related to the money-comes-first mentality prevalent in Hong Kong. In a community where economic benefits are the ultimate value and the locomotive of all endeavours, including education, political agenda and participation, how can we expect patriotism, loyalty, integrity and friendship vigorously promoted by Jin Yong novels to be able to appeal to readers? When nothing appears more important than numbers on the books and human beings are reduced to salary slaves and profiteering tools, wouldn't it be counterproductive to keep reminding yourself as an individual of dignity, integrity and respectability? When young people are taught to calculate return of investment in whatever they do, how can the Jin Yong heroes who only achieve great martial arts skills after a long time of devotion and tireless practice?

This also explains why Wei Xiaobao in Duke of the Mount Deer remains the favourite Jin Yong hero in Hong Kong. His slyness, opportunist instincts and incredible luck that makes him a billionaire with seven beautiful wives provides the perfect example of the success story many here in Hong Kong have been looking for.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

False Hopes in New Bottles

Last Monday (22 June) after the last meeting of the Taskforce on Economic Challenges (TFEC), Chief Executive Sir Donald Tsang announced that six industries in which Hong Kong is believed to have an edge would be developed as part of its efforts to sustain long-term growth. The six industries are education, medical services, testing and certification, environmental industries, innovation and technology and cultural and creative industries. According to the official press release, specific measures have been proposed to facilitate the development of those six industries.

Reading the transcript of Sir Donald's speech and the TFEC proposals, I couldn't help groaning in great despair. What a lip service, my impulsive reaction off it went. Why is it so difficult for the Government leaders to come to their senses, if any, and recognise how complacent and narrow-minded they are? I continued to ask.

The first thing I want to complain is the absence of any well-thought strategy, or, even worse, any visible attempt to come up with something close. The strategy is essential in defining direction towards which the six industries would head into and what they are supposed to achieve. Take education as an example: why do we need privately funded universities in Hong Kong? What are these institutions going to achieve? Will they enhance the overall education level of local citizens or simply become a tertiary version of the profiteering tuition centres that help students succeed in public examinations? None of these questions seem to be asked, let alone answers provided. That education has been identified as one of the industries or “economic areas” seems to hint at some unspoken truth.

The second frustration comes from the lack of creativity and depth in Sir Donald's remarks, which reminds me of the key underlying issue of Hong Kong's predicament. Surely we need to develop our local talents. Surely we need to attract talents from around the world. But what kind of talents do we need? How can we nurture them in sustainable manner - bearing in mind the ruthless preference for IT and business training at times of bubbles? More importantly, do we know if we are capable of nurturing local talents and attracting those from overseas? If not, what do we need to do in order to achieve these? Failure of Sir Donald and his administration to tackle these important questions indicates not their incapability but the lack of vision and depth in a thinking process we desperately need to bring Hong Kong to another level.

A knowledge-based economy succeeds only when creativity, knowledge and innovation are encouraged, appreciated and rewarded. But Hong Kong has never been capable of doing so, thanks to the quick and lucrative economic gains from financial and property speculations over the last 30 years. Few seem to receive the wholehearted and overwhelming respect and appreciation enjoyed by the dollar sign. For example, education has been downgraded to vocational training for great jobs defined by handsome salaries. When employers complain of poor language skills among graduates, public resources are being injected to improve language skills to the level just good enough for day-to-day business communication. But why can't our undergraduates even engage in effective business communication after learning English and Chinese for 20 years? How great our language skills can be when few of us are interested in, let alone appreciate, the pleasure of reading the great works of Cao Xueqin and Shakespeare?

These are just some of the initial questions coming into my mind when I read Sir Donald's speech on the Government web site. The ultimate answer of these questions goes back to education, not vocational training but the mental development process that should equip our younger generations with the critical and creative mind essential for the pursuit of knowledge and innovation. Only when we can redefine education can we change the short-term, profit-driven mentality that has dragged Hong Kong's feet for way too long.

Apparently it requires enormous courage and determination to recognise our weaknesses. It requires even greater courage and determination to take concrete steps to change. As a response to Sir Donald's six economic areas for Hong Kong's long-term sustainable development, I would like to call for a second thought on the questions raised in this blog entry before we waste our time once again on the false hopes packaged in new wine bottles.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Mental Blackout

Finally the curtains were drawn closed on the wasting efforts to launch products of two consumer-oriented clients. I am most grateful that I didn't fall ill, despite World Health Organisation's Phase 6 warning on human swine flu and the rapid drainage of strength from my body.

Not surprisingly, my brain was barely functioning to keep myself awake when I returned to the office yesterday. I could hardly talk or think. All I could do was murmuring baby talk or pointless words like "that" or "those" with a great difficulty to be specific. Every now and then there was a conscious blackout of my brain. I could feel my hard-working brain had stopped running under the skull, as if it had turned into a piece of clean, frozen bean curd. Involuntarily, I lost track of what I was supposed to say. I lost my words.

Obviously these were terrible signs of overdraft of mental and physical strength. While I am no stranger to these appalling symptoms, it seems the magnitude of the most recent blow has been so overwhelming that I might not be able to recover soon enough.

There was something even more alarming, however. Despite the compliments from clients and seniors, there was not even a gleam of happiness or relief upon completing those daunting projects. Child delivery is the common analogy used to describe the hard-earned happiness upon project completion, and yet I could feel nothing this time. The absence of a sense of ownership makes me remain calm and undisturbed as usual. Even though I was burnt out, I managed to keep my mental and physical composure and finished the final chapters of the compelling novel The Historian. Emotionless and worn out, at some point I felt I might have been contaminated by some sort of evil that has deprived me of the feeling of life.

I don't know what exactly makes me feel as such, although the strong resistance from within to go into what I do does play an important role, I must admit. Fighting an internal battle between personal values and responsibility when one can hardly spare a moment to think of oneself is perhaps the most dreadful experience any human being could possibly have.

Thanks to a heart-warming call from Stella last Tuesday, there finally seems to be a flash of hope in endless darkness. The long-awaited chat with Queenie late yesterday afternoon proved to be relaxing and refreshing too. I hope the current situation would end as soon as possible so that I can continue to enjoy my existence.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Burnt Out

Recently two strangers called inertia and reluctance have come to visit and stay with me. Attempts to politely send these two strangers away have so far proven to be feeble and futile.

Patricia said I must have been burnt out. Oh yes, I am sure, as the breakaway to Taipei in April failed to refresh my mind and body for the challenges at work. While it was merely two months ago, the feelings and memory about it seem 10 times longer.

In fact, my mind and body have been hoisting signals every now and then for a year or so. The signals have become so frequent these days that I can't seem to push them aside any longer. It is particularly alarming when I can no longer concentrate and relax during my tai-chi sessions, if I can attend. My breath and movement should remain slow and steady but I'm always ahead of the others instead. Worse still, I'm going to miss the weekly sessions again this weekend for work.

Knowing that many others are struggling to make their ends meet, perhaps I shouldn't have complained. But I can't hypnotise myself either to accept something against my philosophy. What I can do is to convince myself to stay calm and endure until there is an opportunity for change.

As I wrote last May and September, I am now more sceptical about capitalism than ever. Long before the financial crunch erupted nine months ago, I have come to smell something wrong with the consumption-based model of economic growth. Despite the up-and-down cycles, little seems to have been done to avoid repeating mistakes and to make our lives better from the fundamentals.

Unfortunately what I have been doing so far is what I find increasingly hollow, shallow, pointless and even detrimental to the sensible mind. Working on something one finds suspicious, questionable and uncomfortable is perhaps one of the cruellest self-torture ever seen.

To a certain extent now I better understand why so many cultured and learned scholars in Song Dynasty (960-1227 AD) opted to retire early and study and teach in their hometowns. Education, either for oneself and the others, is actually one of the greatest, if the greatest, achievements of mankind. Education is such a powerful tool to nurture dignity and integrity. Paradoxically, education after Song Dynasty has inclined heavily towards utilitarianism, prone to exploitation by the rich and powerful. Sadly, the education system in Hong Kong only points to the strong legacy of utilitarianism, more than ever.

Perhaps it is time for a change.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Je me souviens

Two decades have passed. Times have changed. For not a single moment though have I ever forgotten what happened thousands of miles away to the north that early morning.

I still remember clearly how I had watched the television with my brother for hours into and after midnight, finding it hard to take our eyes off the screen. Soon we found ourselves swearing as maliciously as we could when tears ran down our cheeks, flushed in anger, anguish and disbelief.

We were only teenagers at that time. I was 16 and my brother 14. We didn't know what brought to the pro-democracy protests to such a bloody and tragic end, if any reason ever existed. For us, it was a hard-learnt lesson of dirty politics and how worthy causes can end up with frustration and devastation of hope.

Long before the bloodshed, I remember how anxious and restless I had become when the local press was flooded with all sorts of news from the north. My emotions had been so much stirred like the roaring waves in a rough sea that I was desperate to show my support for the worthy cause. Although my mother forbade me from taking to the streets on that Sunday when typhoon signal No. 8 was hoisted, and wearing a piece of black strip on my arm on the first day of school after the incident, I managed to donate a generous sum of HK$100, all I received for two weeks. I also bought a pink T-shirt made by Giordano, then owned by the philistine maverick Jimmy Lai, with the word "Freedom" in five languages on it.

I am not boasting of my excellent memory. I am writing these for the records to show my contempt and disgust for those who tried to smear colours of gold in a feeble attempt to wipe out or cover up the bloody red. Late may it seem, but better than never.

Now that the teenager has grown up to become a middle-aged woman, I could understand where the patriarchs who made such a blunder came from, although I would never be able to agree with them whatsoever. I shall never forget how grave a mistake it was a human being could ever have made in his life. Of course it remains a mystery as whether the decision came from any individual or a group compromise between the hawks and the pigeons. But it doesn't really matter now. A mistake is a mistake and it shall be remembered in history - notwithstanding any formal apology, whenever it may be given.

Last night when the news reported that Chai Ling, one of the student leaders who later fled the United States, issued a statement urging the incumbent Chinese leadership to show courage by reversing its long-standing but ridiculous verdict of the incident, I couldn't help having mixed feelings. Surely it would be a gesture of courage if the incumbent leaders did so, but do we really need some sort of "official" justice from the authorities? I don't think so. Justice has been done since the first day of the protest, when students put a wreath in memory of late premier Hu Yaobang at Tiananmen Square. Every witness on the spot or through the media has granted the victims and protesters justice. We don't need to call for justice, as it is already in place. What we need is just a formal apology, a demonstration of courage, regret and remorse in admitting a terribly grave and irreversible mistake; and, more importantly, a firm and solemn commitment not to repeat the blunder again.

Disappointingly, the miraculous economic and cultural emergence that reminds many of us of China's glorious past in imperial times has failed to build up the courage and senses among the national leaders to shrug off the burden that has been haunting them for 20 years. Everything we see today seems to indicate that they will continue to be haunted for a certain period of time. While we must not deny the progress made in cultural and social aspects, those baby steps are far from satisfactory, especially when we know how much integrity and intelligence our forefathers had shown throughout the millennia. I know our potential and we could have done even better if we were bolder.

Having said that, I must say I am equally sick, if more, of the so-called commemorative activities organised in Hong Kong throughout the years. Sensible people would see how some of the so-called pro-democracy activists have been taking advantage of the genuine goodwill of fellow citizens for their own interests. To achieve this, they also choose to deify individuals and victims at their discretion so that they can build the platform for opposition for the sake of opposition. Surely many armless students, workers and civilians died, but how can we label them as martyrs so hastily? Why can't we just treat them as poor souls who died without any cause? This is why I never participate in any of the weekend marches or candlelight vigils at Victoria Park throughout the years. And I'm not going to do so tomorrow either. Not that I forget, or choose to forget as someone does, but I'd rather protect myself from abuse and keep away from dirty tricks I can tell. I also want to stay away from peers and younger generations who see the 20th anniversary commemorative vigil as a fashionable occasion to see and to be seen.

Two decades have passed. Times have changed. And I still remember.

Je me souviens.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

情欲兩難?

終於等到周末,一口氣看了兩部一直想看的電影--《天使與魔鬼》和《霜花店》。也許因為沒甚麼期望,所以覺得比想像中好看。這麼平靜愉快的周末快要結束了,真有點不捨得。

一直不明白片名「霜花店」所指為何,即使看完了戲,只是知道這是一首類似民歌的名字;至於其中有甚麼含意,還是不甚了了。在官方網站看到主題曲的部分韓語歌詞,跟中文字幕好像很不一樣,更令人摸不著頭腦。

《霜花店》的情節,令我想起多年前的荷里活電影《Indecent Proposal》,不過自以為可以操縱一切的高麗王為的不是錢財,而是子嗣。借種生子,也許這是某些三流色情片的慣用橋段;但《霜花店》看來,充滿悲劇意味,格調自是不可同日而語。可以說,這是韓國主流電影中近年難得的佳作。

這部電影的悲劇意味極富層次,就連主題曲的旋律和曲風也充分體現了這一點,甚是難得。在故事的時代背景中,高麗臣服於元朝,仰蒙古人鼻息的無能為力。在人物方面,對女性沒興趣的高麗王,偏偏需要嫡親子嗣來鞏固王位;王后被逼與侍衛長同床共枕的屈辱和難堪;高麗王失去國家、私情主導權之後的失落、妒恨和怨憤;還有侍衛長從被動變成主動,最後還是敵不過奴才宿命的無奈。電影對高麗王和侍衛長的心理描寫十分細膩,可惜趙寅成沒能充分表達侍衛長的曲折心理,很多充滿暗湧的骨節眼上,欠缺層次的表情淪為耍酷或茫然的表象。論演技,他實在遠遠比不上飾演高麗王的朱鎮模。至於飾演王后的宋智孝,可能礙於劇本所限,總覺得她的表現更遜一籌。

電影的中文宣傳語是「情欲兩難」,在我看來卻是風馬牛不相及。誰的情?誰的欲?高麗王沒錯是喜歡侍衛長,但在他爭取更高權力的過程中,恐怕來到最後關頭,也只是一隻可以忍痛捨棄的棋子。侍衛長只是主子從小培養的禁臠,對主子無情無欲,只有愚忠,何來兩難?王后更是可憐,遠嫁之餘,還要被丈夫拱手讓人,情何以堪?

所以《霜花店》裡,我最同情的就是王后。她原是尊貴的蒙古公主,在政治婚姻的安排下遠嫁高麗,多年來膝下猶虛。無論她是否知道箇中內情,至少她還能一心一意侍奉丈夫,沒有被折磨到性格扭曲的地步。為求子嗣而被逼與侍衛長同床,原是難以啟齒的屈辱,甚至連反抗的機會也沒有,應該說是政治婚姻的必然結果,還是女性在父權社會中無法擺脫的悲劇宿命?但她逐漸從屈辱中感受到幸福和尊嚴,甚至從被動變成主動,盡量延續這種幸福的感覺。這應該說是女性對身體反應的自覺和自主,還是以身體定義感情的糖衣毒藥?最後侍衛長誤中計謀,入宮復仇之際,不忘感謝主子讓他嚐到愛情的滋味,正是「身體定義感情」理論的最佳註腳。

我不知道這個理論的真確程度,只看到王后和待衛長肌膚相接的時候,好像喚醒了心底裡一份潛藏的生命力,讓他們明白,原來做人的感覺可以這麼真實、這麼自然,不必考慮周遭所有人的喜惡。大概因為同病相憐,沒有其他人明白他們的心路歷程,所以才會兩情相悅。有趣的是,兩人對自我的啟蒙,是從別人指使的屈辱開始的。也許,這也算是一種可悲的諷刺?

電影裡當然沒有描寫得那麼仔細,因為全片是以男性的視野來發展,總是對王后的心事不屑一顧。至少,三位主角心理描寫的篇幅很不平均,與其說王后是女主角,不如說她是高麗王和侍衛長之間的玩偶算了。

Conditions of Reconciliation

Finally I watched Angels and Demons on Saturday.

Though belated, the wait was worthwhile.

Little else can be asked for in the 139-minute thriller based upon Dan Brown's novel. Duel, mystery, violence and power struggle, all interwoven and wrapped with the mesmerising decipherment of Christian and Illuminati secret codes. In terms of the level of excitement and suspense, Angel and Demons is far better than Da Vinci Code, with which Dan Brown seems to have first made his name known around the world.

However, despite the breath-taking suspense built up to about three quarters of the film, the last twist of the plot does seem a bit too deliberate in terms of keeping the audience in their seats for another half an hour or so. Certainly the turn is unexpected, as it was designed to be, and offers the audience with a positive ending towards the reconciliation of religion and science. Unfortunately the attempt is so feeble that, I suspect, few spectators would be convinced of the goodwill.

Notwithstanding the film being banned from screening at all Catholic churches around the world, which indicates a regrettable gesture of unfriendliness from the Vatican, the divergence and common grounds of religion and science are not discussed in great depth, if any at all. Leveraging the old duel between the Catholic Church and the Illuminati does not seem enough to convince a highly sceptical audience like me.

History students should remember how the Renaissance and the subsequent Industrial Revolution emerged against a background of neglect or deprivation of human needs and values. Human beings were reduced to little more than slaves of the Church and a privileged and powerful clergy. Even kings and emperors needed their support to stay secure on their thrones. It is not surprising to see religion and science as foes, but what is essential to facilitate their reconciliation? What would be the catalyst? Having a liberal leader of the Church is by all means welcome, but only God knows when such a man would be able to take the papal throne. Scientists who value empirical research do not seem to be the men on the streets looking forward to a more empathic rival. What about scientists then? Is there any limit or boundary to scientific research which we, as human beings, should not transcend as a gesture of respect for the Nature?

Perhaps I am asking too much from a film made for nothing but entertainment. But I can't help thinking about this important question the film attempts to answer.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

수고하셨습니다, 여운계 씨

今早上網讀報,得悉在《大長今》飾演鄭尚宮的資深演員呂運計(여운계)因肺癌病逝,心中一陣惆悵。

除了洪莉娜,《大長今》中我最喜愛的演員,就是呂運計。她飾演的鄭尚宮,本來是醬庫的主管,雖然練就一身本領,性格卻是恬退沉著,與世無爭,只求做好本分。她對後輩和藹可親,毫無架子;但面對強權欺壓,絕不畏縮,頗有《笑傲江湖》恆山派定閒掌門的況味。一句「絕不容忍利用飲食謀取暴利和權勢的人」,更是教人擊節讚賞。呂運計演來入木三分,彷彿信手拈來,便成妙筆,令人讚嘆不已。

《大長今》裡最教人回味的師徒不是長今與韓尚宮,更不是今英和崔尚宮,而是連生和鄭尚宮。連生向來膽小怕事,吃一丁點苦頭就會哭起來,但只要看到長今被人欺負,總是第一個硬著頭皮站出來維護她,應是鄭尚宮教誨的成果。看鄭尚宮和連生之間相濡以沫,親厚無比,像婆孫多於像師徒,不禁在想,如果有一位像鄭尚宮那樣隨和可親、正義凜然的師長或上司,該有多好。

因為《大長今》鄭尚宮一角,讓我對呂運計留上了心。她是韓國公認的元老演員,作品極多,繼《大長今》之後,在《我叫金三順》、《王與我》等劇集也有演出,每次在螢幕上看到她,總是感到很親切。可惜在電影《麻婆島》裡戲份不多,角色也比不上金乙東的爛口蓮和金秀美的神婆那麼搶鏡。

記得在網上看過一個片段,就是她和甄美里在一個綜藝節目中穿起校服扮高中女生,做起雙眼反白、手舞足蹈等古靈精怪的動作,端的令人眼前一亮,笑破肚皮。呂運計如此敬業樂業,還以為她能多演幾年,沒想到積勞成疾,遽然辭世。人生無常,能不信乎?無論如何,還是感謝她以不慍不火的演技,把鄭尚宮演得那麼出色。《大長今》的空前成功,她實在功不可沒。

當日鄭尚宮黯然離世,她的教誨、她的慈愛,依然長留在連生和長今的心裡。呂運計也是一樣,即使離開了,她的演技和敬業,也將成為觀眾美好的回憶。四年前她到香港宣傳《大長今》時,已經親筆改正了名牌上的漢字姓名,只希望中文傳媒多一點尊重,多覆檢資料,不要再寫錯了。

안녕히 가십시오, 여운계 씨. 수고하셨습니다.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Cure for Shameless Egocentric?

Can someone tell me how to tame those who are shamelessly egocentric and irresponsible, expecting people around him/her to clear up the mess they leave behind?

Over the last four years I have been clearing the same shit and apologising to clients for late submissions not because of my fault, but someone else's poor scheduling, disorganisation and irresponsibility.

Why should I bear the consequences for someone else's fault? I really hate it. But there seems nothing I can do to get those people out of my way.

I can't tell you how much I hate those who blurb but do little, if anything at all, dumping the dirty work to someone else. I really hate it and I mean it.