微 觀

我們觸目所及的文字越來越不好看,很大程度上是因為太多作者癡迷於宏大的事物。

Wislawa Szymborska的詩不多,但大聲讀起來或者唱出來都很享受。這位得過諾貝爾文學獎的詩人,是一位觀察力驚人的老太太。但她的觀察,是完全的徹底的微觀(microcosmic)的觀察。套用New Yorker的Adam Gopnik的評價

Though determinedly microcosmic, she was never minor. Szymborska takes on an onion, and that onion is peeled, down to its essence. A Szymborska poem is always charming, wonderfully charming, charming as a small child singing, charming as a great pop-song lyric. But her poems are also, to use an old word, “deep,” mysteriously so, about the very nature of existence.

老太太的可愛之處,就在於她有智慧和靈氣,“堅定不移地”(determinedly)走微觀路線。反觀我們周遭的世界,那麼多人拼着命不顧自身條件地要代表宇宙一樣宏大敘事。當然,這也沒什麼好批判的,老太太可能會說,眾生選擇的差異也是我們生活的可愛之處。

好吧。讀一讀她的詩True Love吧。這是我讀過的同樣題材的詩中最細緻的一首,談不上華美,但真的很用心。

True Love

by Wislawa Szymborska

True love. Is it normal
is it serious, is it practical?
What does the world get from two people
who exist in a world of their own?

Placed on the same pedestal for no good reason,
drawn randomly from millions but convinced
it had to happen this way – in reward for what?
For nothing.
The light descends from nowhere.
Why on these two and not on others?
Doesn’t this outrage justice? Yes it does.
Doesn’t it disrupt our painstakingly erected principles,
and cast the moral from the peak? Yes on both accounts.

Look at the happy couple.
Couldn’t they at least try to hide it,
fake a little depression for their friends’ sake?
Listen to them laughing – it’s an insult.
The language they use – deceptively clear.
And their little celebrations, rituals,
the elaborate mutual routines –
it’s obviously a plot behind the human race’s back!

It’s hard even to guess how far things might go
if people start to follow their example.
What could religion and poetry count on?
What would be remembered? What renounced?
Who’d want to stay within bounds?

True love. Is it really necessary?
Tact and common sense tell us to pass over it in silence,
like a scandal in Life’s highest circles.
Perfectly good children are born without its help.
It couldn’t populate the planet in a million years,
it comes along so rarely.

Let the people who never find true love
keep saying that there’s no such thing.

Their faith will make it easier for them to live and die.

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解釋

這兩天我在準備一個talk, 其中很重要的一部份是解釋清楚一個介於美國疫苗(vaccine)的製造商(manufacturers)和銷售商(retailers)之間的惡性循環(vicious cycle)。晚上翻了翻Milan Kundera的The Unbearable Lightness of Being (生命中不可承受之輕), 大受啟發。

這本可以在一天內輕鬆讀完的小書,連很多美國人都認為過於膚淺(superficial)。Part Three題為”Words Misunderstood,” 其中第三節為”A Short Dictionary of Misunderstood Words,” 講音樂的那一部份,是Franz和Sabina一起坐在震耳欲聾的舞廳里聊天,下面的一句話就是Sabina解釋Vicious Cycle的。好的解釋就是這樣:簡單精煉而且發人深思:

It’s a vicious cycle. People are going deaf because music is played louder and louder. But because they’re going deaf, it has to be played louder still.

然後還有一段Franz和Sabina聊紐約之美的文字。這對雞同鴨講的情侶的對話,簡直是對紐約的最佳註腳了:

Franz said, ““Beauty in the European sense has always had a premeditated quality to it. We’ve always had an aesthetic intention and a long-range plan. That’s what enabled western man to spend decades building a Gothic cathedral or a Renaissance piazza. The beauty of New York rests on a completely different base. It’s unintentional. It arose independent of human designt, like a stalagmitic cavern. Forms which in themselves quite ugly turn up fortuitously, without design, in such incredible surroundings that they sparkle with with a sudden wondrous poetry.”

Sabina said, “Unintentional beauty. Yes. Another way of putting it might be ‘beauty by mistake.’ Before beauty disappears entirely from the earth, it will go on existing for a while by mistake. ‘Beauty by mistake’ – the final phase in the history of beauty.”

Oscar Wilde On Seriousness

Oscar Wilde的妙處,在於給你開放和自由的心靈和趣味,讓你隨時隨地be ready to have fun. 此種美妙境地,在他去世百多年之後,仍無人能及。

Oscar Wilde是拒絕一切嚴肅的氣氛的,萬事萬物皆可隨便調侃。他和犬儒主義者的區別在於——Oscar Wilde是充滿靈性,智慧和趣味的,而犬儒主義者則迂腐,世故,愚蠢不堪。這種區別,用他的話作註腳再也恰當不過:

It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.

且看Oscar Wilde如何論述seriousness的:

  • Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it.
  • I am but too conscious of the fact that we are born in an age when only the dull are treated seriously, and I live in terror of not being misunderstood.
  • Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious.

讀Wilde的書,千萬不可太過於當真,因為他自己也不知道自己什麼時候嚴肅,什麼時候開玩笑的。

Not a shirt on my back, not a penny to my name

500 MILES

If you miss the train I’m on, you will know that I am gone
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles
a hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles

Lord I’m one, Lord I’m two, Lord I’m three, Lord I’m four
Lord I’m 500 miles from my home
500 miles, 500 miles, 500 miles, 500 miles
Lord I’m five hundred miles from my home

Not a shirt on my back, not a penny to my name
Lord I can’t go a-home this a-way
This a-away, this a-way, this a-way, this a-way
Lord I can’t go a-home this a-way

If you miss the train I’m on you will know that I am gone
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles

每次聽到那句“每當夜幕來臨的時候,孤獨伴我左右”都會心裡一顫,想起十幾年前在鄉間小路上一個人在對着漫天繁星吹着舒適的風漫步的日子。但是,你如果有好的音樂(Good music)相伴,則甚少會感到孤獨。

好的音樂,一定首先是美麗悅耳的。無論多麼警世多麼深刻的音樂,若是不美,則毫無存在的價值。從這個意義上來說,那些“紅歌”、美國七月四日獨立日到處都能聽到的很多爛俗愛國音樂、還有“草泥馬”,都是如假包換的垃圾。

2009年的一個冬天,我和Ricci一道在豆瓣的召喚下去了匹茲堡的一個名為“加菲貓網絡”(Garfield Networks)的非常前衛的音樂酒吧,參加PK-14, 小河, Carsick Cars、Surfer Blood合計四位國內地下搖滾大腕的一場現場音樂會。去的人寥寥,除了我們,只有五六名敝校的高高瘦瘦的文藝青年,加上十幾位不明真相的美國圍觀群眾。四位歌手唱得很賣力,歌詞亦見功力,但現場音響非常糟糕,把我們的耳朵徹底震懷了,而且後面二位的唱腔也堪稱鬼哭狼嚎。

四個小時之後,我們兩個人走出加菲貓,不覺長長舒了一口氣。接下來一年聽美國最重的重金屬音樂放到最大音量,都如同仙樂飄飄,耳朵極度享受。

不尊重人的耳朵的音樂,是地地道道的垃圾。國內的左小詛咒,獲得包括老羅、韓寒在內的眾多名人力捧(就差梁文道和陳丹青沒有聯袂推薦了),但是隨便聽一首他的歌(比如這首),就會發現,不管他是不是普世價值人士,他的歌就像艾未未說的那樣,乃是“噪聲中的噪聲”。不,是垃圾中的垃圾。他的聲音,就像被詛咒過一樣。經常聽左小詛咒音樂的人,一定有極其強烈的受虐傾向。對比之下,周雲蓬、李志還有邵夷貝這些歌手之所以稱得上歌手,是因為他們對人的耳朵一直保持了難得的尊重。

這就是我對音樂的基本認識——不美的音樂,甚至污染耳朵的音樂,根本不應該存在。

在匹茲堡有幸聽過Bob Serger的現場音樂會,歌聲美得一塌糊塗,最喜歡的歌是那首Old Time Rock and Roll,其中唱到——

Still like that old time rock ‘n’ roll
That kind of music just soothes the soul

唱得我都要流淚了。真的,我依舊喜歡那種撫慰人心的音樂,無論多麼老舊。

所以,我這個星期在反反覆覆地聽Joan Baez的”500 Miles,” 一首講一個不名一文的浪子的心境的歌。這歌有一種沒完沒了的旋律,那是懷舊的鄉愁。聽起來無甚高明之處,但能療傷,解憂,讓你微笑着入睡。

If every instinct you have is wrong …

六四日,不寫六四了。如果你在香港,請匯入那點點滴滴的燭光吧。另外香港人不應該忘記今天是女王(Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II)登基六十週年——當年那個瘦小美麗的女子,堅持戴上重達5磅的皇冠,令舉國動容。兩個六四,同樣重要。

開始“政經閱讀”的初衷,是為了醫治我自己因為“廷龍政經文摘”被Google強行關閉之後的後遺症。我的性格就是這樣,好為人師,喜歡向別人推薦東西。這個“政經閱讀”,完美地呈現了一個“推薦控”的苦悶。

我們有限的生命裡面,90%以上的時間內閱讀的東西都是不忍卒讀的垃圾文字。而最可怕的是,在剩下的10%的時間內,我們多數人也從未下定決心讀一本被用心書寫的書。把Oscar Wilde,  Alexis de Tocqueville, Milton Friedman, Bertrand Russell, John Stuart Mill, George Orwell這些名字掛在嘴邊的人,恰恰可能是每天手不及卷,在一堆文字垃圾裡苦苦尋覓生活方向的人。

如果在閱讀的問題上我們註定永遠口是心非,一錯再錯,那麼讓我們像Jerry Seinfeld告訴George Costanza的那樣

If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.

現在,且讓我們一道告別日漸無聊無趣的“廷龍政經閱讀”,盡情擁抱自己喜歡的書吧。我已經通過Half.com訂購了20本我一直想讀的書,足夠讀半年的了。

這個blog肯定還會繼續寫下去,但是將會變得無關宏旨,集中於我生活的美國裡發生的雞毛蒜皮的小話題(初步計劃如此)。