You Can’t Always Get What You Want

“Why???”

“Why?! I will tell you why. Because it’s 2016. That’s why.”

上面這個對話,不記得聽了多少次了。

去年,無論面對多麽瘋狂的事情,我們都可以解釋。

時間已是2017年,很多人還活在2016。如果2016年可以用一首歌概括的話,那麼最合適的歌莫過於The Rolling Stones的”You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

原因當然不僅僅因為此曲是Trump的“拉力”上的指定結尾曲(甚至RNC上萬眾矚目的nomimation speech亦以此曲作結)。事實上,The Rolling Stones是anti-trump的。但是,2016年,真的沒有任何東西不變的政治化,連我上課的內容也必小心“修正”。

無論你站在哪一方,2016年,我們真的像歌裡所唱的那樣:

You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need

我們需要希望,毫無畏懼甚至毫無憑據的希望。希望是我們需要的東西。

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

The Rolling Stones

I saw her today at the reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she was gonna meet her connection
At her feet was footloose man

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need

I went down to the demonstration
To get my fair share of abuse
Singing, “We’re gonna vent our frustration
If we don’t we’re gonna blow a 50-amp fuse”

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need

I went down to the Chelsea drugstore
To get your prescription filled
I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy
And man, did he look pretty ill
We decided that we would have a soda
My favorite flavor, cherry red
I sung my song to Mr. Jimmy
Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was “dead”
I said to him

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need

You get what you need, yeah, oh baby

I saw her today at the reception
In her glass was a bleeding man
She was practiced at the art of deception
Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want

But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need

在煙霞裡

在平遙古城的一間客棧裡,淩晨3點就被刺鼻的空氣熏醒,輾轉反側,再也無法入眠。 起身戴上口罩,也是無濟於事。

距離上次回國已經五年多了。 中間回過兩次香港,但行程匆匆,都下不了決心闖過羅湖橋,一睹故國芳容。 親身見識的機會愈少,對這個政權的姿態愈加騎牆。 不知不覺間,已經給自己的語言戴上了無數鐐銬。 所謂無病呻吟,已算不錯,其實已經連呻吟也全無。

這次回國,還是從香港入境——為什麼是這樣,我也說不清楚。 也許,因為有那麼多親愛的人們在這裡,香港已經是我的半個家鄉。 香港多年來幾乎毫無變化,除了大街上多了很多簡體字招牌。 這種不變,對我是很大的安慰。 在這個充滿末世感的世界上,還有多少地方有這種感覺呢?

踏入羅湖橋的一刹那,我知道我錯了。 其實,還有那麼多的不變為我所不了解。

羅湖海關依舊混亂——這種混亂,即使最麻木的人,從踏入中國國境的一剎那都可以輕易覺察到。一群如同逃難的人們,拖著沉重的行李箱排著長隊接受走私檢查。 此景讓我驚訝,因為多年前羅湖海關的這一關節幾乎形同虛設。 地面污濁潮濕,執法人員黑首黑面,既不莊重,也不親切。將近半小時,才被宣布無罪釋放。

一出海關,正式進入中國,發覺Uber在中國不能用了, 需要下載中國優步,而且「國際信用卡」不能在這裡使用。 羅湖站計程車站需搭乘極其險惡的自動扶梯,並無電梯。 行李甚多且拖家帶口的我,自然不能使用。

步行將近二十分鐘,才終於逃離這個醜陋無比的巨大廣場和面如死灰的路人,到達香格裡達酒店對面。 突然發現自己深陷一群骯髒破爛的計程車隊。 放眼望去,十幾輛計程車,居然皆不從屬於同一家公司!

不情願了好久,最終選了一點看起來尚可的車——其實也是破舊不堪。一上車就發現這個城市被大霧籠罩,空氣中滿是燒焦的味道。 多年前我非常欣賞的深圳道路兩邊的巨大的綠化帶,也頓然失色。

新機場美輪美奐,但滑稽不堪。 機場外處處皆見抽煙的癮君子,幾百米的距離,吾女幾乎被撞到兩次。 一進機場,就看到醒目的防爆檢查。 有人快速通過,後面的一個小姑娘給著急死了,拼命追上去在他後背上揮動魔棒。 一切都是那麼地自然,毫無痕跡。

等待飛機的時候發覺Gmail完全不能用,最令人拍案叫絕的是吾校的電子郵件也封得死死的。 飛往海口的飛機准點登機。 一出閘門,就被驅趕到一個巴士上,然後足足20分鐘的顛簸才看見飛機,又在沙丁魚罐頭般的巴士裡站了十分鐘才上飛機。 此時發現,飛機和登機樓其實是無縫對接的——wtf?

坐在寬敞明亮的飛機裡,攬著全程熟睡的吾女,我一刹那間居然想到多年前第一次到香港的情景。 那次,我是從上海乘直通車,一出紅磡火車站,看到的第一幕是一個極其醒目的紅色條幅,上書四字——天滅中共。

上面寫的是一週前的事情了。此刻,我躺在平遙古城,大口大口地呼吸著霧霾。慢慢思索著一週的見聞。原來,那麼多東西根本沒有變,甚至更加令人難以忍受。

和我聊過天的讀者都知道,我對美國的批判,比之中共,恐怕有過而無不及。

而此刻,在平遙,在煙霞中,我突然原諒了美國。

Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust

在這個分心之物(distraction)無處不在的世界上,一個人還可能“座右銘”麼?今天,“座右銘”這個詞還有意義麼?

我第一次讀Samuel Ullman的短文”Youth“,是在1996年在皖北讀初中的時候,和爺爺一起在縣城的一個書攤上買了一本《遼寧青年》雜誌。20年之後,這篇短文依然是我的座右銘。

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我愛Youth. 每次讀這篇文章,我的心都會止不住震顫——如同回到那些日子:在周遭一片蔥綠的田野上騎著單車歌唱,在風起時凝視那些連綿不絕的白楊,在雪地上奔跑,在星空下寫詩,在夕陽下幻想,在黑夜裡狂舞,在圓月下流淚。

那些一無所有且毫無畏懼的日子。

Youth
by Samuel Ullman

Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.

Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the Infinite, so long are you young.

When the aerials are down, and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism, then you are grown old, even at twenty, but as long as your aerials are up, to catch the waves of optimism, there is hope you may die young at eighty.

青 春

塞繆爾·厄爾曼

青春不是年華,而是心境;青春不是桃面、丹唇、柔膝,而是深沉的意志,恢宏的想像,炙熱的戀情;青春是生命的深泉在湧流。

青春氣貫長虹,勇銳蓋過怯弱,進取壓倒苟安。如此銳氣,二十後生而有之,六旬男子則更多見。年歲有加,並非垂老,理想丟棄,方墮暮年。

歲月悠悠,衰微只及肌膚;熱忱拋卻,頹廢必致靈魂。憂煩,惶恐,喪失自信,定使心靈扭曲,意氣如灰。

無論年屆花甲,擬或二八芳齡,心中皆有生命之歡樂,奇跡之誘惑,孩童般天真久盛不衰。人人心中皆有一台天線,只要你從天上人間接受美好、希望、歡樂、勇氣和力量的信號,你就青春永駐,風華常存。

一旦天線下降,銳氣便被冰雪覆蓋,玩世不恭、自暴自棄油然而生,即使年方二十,實已垂垂老矣;然則只要樹起天線,捕捉樂觀信號,你就有望在八十高齡告別塵寰時仍覺年輕。

社會實驗

美國社會整體都生病了,每個人都在經受煎熬。那麼多人默默忍著心中的痛負重前行,這個社會居然還能有條不紊地正常運作,真是奇蹟。

一切話語,在這個舉世罕見的奇觀面前,都變得異常荒誕不經。

兩個舉國痛恨的人——一個是劣跡累累的無恥的撒謊者,毫無令人喜歡的特質,貪婪成性,腐敗透頂。另外一個則缺乏基本的遣詞造句的能力,毫無邏輯,名聲狼藉,面目可憎。

即使最天真幼稚的人都看得出來,幾乎所有的主流媒體都瘋狂為Hillary搖旗,抵制Trump。但,為一個罪犯辯護,不僅可笑,而且可悲。

毫無疑問,Trump對媒體的控訴是可笑的。但,即使最為簡單的Hillary支持者也不能不承認今天的媒體比Trump更加荒誕,甚至更加無恥。所有的金字招牌都暗淡無力了。

當Lewis Black怒吼”This is a social experiment! “的時候,他說出了令人不安的事實——今天的美國,被迫在兩個選項中做出決定:被槍擊而死,或者被毒死。

當兩個總統候選人可以道德低劣,智商平庸,而且可以過兵斬將,中間一個將成為世界上權力最大的人,這個國家的政治精英們還有任何值得世人尊敬的理由麼?

去年底,我在一篇blog寫道

Llosa認為,公眾的獵奇心理導致政客們的一舉一動被注視。如此一來,任何試圖對政客們的美化注定失敗——公眾們所看到的政客既無非凡的道德,也缺乏驚人的智慧。於是,只有智力平庸或者品行無恥的人們才敢於投身政治,並且加劇這樣一個惡性循環。

這場可悲可嘆的社會實驗,無論任何收場,很多人其實都已經生病了。

那些毫無道德感,不分是非,罔顧黑白的犬儒主義者們,我們可以坐下來談一談理想麼。我們需要靜下來,好好療傷,問一下我們自己人性的希望究竟何在。

H. L. Menken, 禮崩樂壞之際

短短一年前,Woodrow Wilson還是一個大體上被廣為尊敬的人。美國歷史上唯一的PhD總統,Johns Hopkins的PhD校友,Princeton的前校長。

談論Woodrow Wilson,這個命運悲慘的人,理應是絕對安全的,尤其是他已經“蓋棺論定”——Wilson逝於1924年,將近一百年了。

然後,今天,Woodrow Wilson已經成了板上釘釘的種族主義者,飯桌上談話的雷區,沒人敢細說。聰明的你,能告訴這是為什麼嗎?為什麼一個歷史人物會成為taboo,容不得任何學術討論?

當一個人不停地感慨時代變化太快的時候,是否自己變瘋的前兆?還是這個時代太過瘋狂?

John Stuart Mill,在On Liberty (論自由)第二章說:

[A]ges are no more infallible than individuals; every age having held many opinions which subsequent ages have deemed not only false but absurd; and it is as certain that many opinions, now general, will be rejected by future ages, as it is that many, once general, are rejected by the present.

比起個人來,時代更容易出錯——因為每個時代都有很多種看法,在隨後的時代不僅會被認為是錯誤的,簡直就是荒唐的;同樣,有很多如今被人普遍接受的看法,以後將會遭到拒斥;也有很多過去被人廣泛接受的看法,卻遭盡人拋棄。

所以,在宣布自己變瘋之前,我更願意相信這個世界變瘋了。

這個世界變瘋的跡象很多,不僅僅侷限在美國:10年前,我和國內的朋友們都用facebook, Gmail, Windows Live, 還有Google。那是一個充滿希望的時代——彷彿中國也是全球觸手可及的一部分。今天和國內的朋友們聯繫,被問到最多的是微信——即使你人在美國,所有的人都預設你是微信用戶。不用微信的人是可恥的。往國內發Email近乎已經無人回;打電話,無論固定電話還是手機,都被擱置一邊。多麼懷念那個時代(十年前),新年,除夕,中秋,還可以一個個翻電話本打電話問候。多麼懷念那個Windows Live Space的時代,飛越重洋,人人都用一個網絡抒發心思。那個時代,寫Blog有人讀有人評論的,水木清華還不像今天那麼荒謬——“來自清華的高知社區” (是我,還是這個時代太過瘋狂?)。

今天的facebook是一個除強國在外的全球網絡。強國究竟輸出了什麼價值觀?是微信朋友圈,還是 “帝吧出征”? 為什麼一切都變得令人無法直視?

回頭看美國。我是一個鐵桿的liberal——幾年前,我做了Political Compass測試,結果是liberal中的liberal。直至今日,facebook依然把我歸類為”very liberal”。 Liberal如我,也經常發現自己讀不下去New York Times, 看不下去DNC Conventional。

僅舉一例——紐約市的31種性別——有人能告訴我這個官方文件意義何在嗎?恐怖的是,這不是玩笑,而是法律。這個以自由為立國之本的國家,已經陷入了充滿newspeak,處處文字獄的肅殺言論環境。

我喜歡H. L. Menken。他批判一切,即使在他生活的時代,都是那麼地政治不正確,汝若不信,不妨讀一讀他對林肯總統著名的Gettysburg Address的評價:

But let us not forget that [Gettysburg Address] is oratory, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it! Put it into the cold words of everyday! The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination — “that government of the people, by the people, for the people,” should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the States, i. e., of the people of the States? The Confederates went into battle an absolutely free people; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision and vote of the rest of the country—and for nearly twenty years that vote was so effective that they enjoyed scarcely any freedom at all. Am I the first American to note the fundamental nonsensicality of the Gettysburg address? If so, I plead my aesthetic joy in it in amelioration of the sacrilege.

我讀完這段話的感受是:如果Menken活在今天說出這樣的話,他可能已經陷入一場巨大的爭議甚至永無翻身之日。

美國,你究竟怎麼了?那些理應被誓死捍衛的言論自由權利呢?

如果有一天H. L. Menken也被當作種族主義者,無人敢公開稱讚他,我不會驚訝——畢竟,連Tina Fey在2010年接受Mark Twain Award的時候都預料:”I hope that like Mark Twain, a hundred years from now, people will see my work and think, ‘wow, that is actually pretty racist’.”

那個時候,我會百分之一百地確信我們生活的這個時代已經徹底瘋狂了。

“No! No! No!”

真的很難相信她三年前才辭世。無盡的懷念:

Margaret Thatcher: Yes, the Commission does want to increase its powers. Yes, it is a non-elected body and I do not want the Commission to increase its powers at the expense of the House, so of course we are differing. Of course…

The President of the Commission, Mr. Delors, said at a press conference the other day that he wanted the European Parliament to be the democratic body of the Community, he wanted the Commission to be the Executive and he wanted the Council of Ministers to be the Senate. No. No. No.

Or…. or…..or…..

Perhaps the Labour party would give all those things up easily. Perhaps it would agree to a single currency, to total abolition of the pound sterling. Perhaps, being totally incompetent with monetary matters, they’d be only too delighted to hand over full responsibility as they did to the IMF, to a central bank. The fact is they have no competence on money and no competence on the economy—so, yes, the right hon. Gentleman would be glad to hand it all over. What is the point in trying to get elected to Parliament only to hand over your sterling and the powers of this House to Europe?

 

常識的勝利

這是多麼讓人期待未來的一天。

Illegal is illegal is illegal is illegal.

The law is the law is the law is the law.

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