2008年11月30日 星期日

I love you, Nadia!

〔親愛的部落格,我們大概已經由熱戀進入情感穩定期了吧。這個月……很忙。而且,我也毫不羞愧地昂然進入了 cut-and-paste blog 的轉貼時期了。這個冬夜聽著最愛的舒伯特歌謠,就貼個有雪的故事吧。〕
終於把契訶夫這個故事找來看了。兩大訝異。一、你說故事的精準,細節居然一點不亂不漏。二、你。竟。然。沒。告。訴。我。這。是。第。一。人。稱。的﹗太驚詫了。和想像中有很大差異,多了點散文自況的複雜性或可能性,但整個故事深刻高明如昔。

那深淵一般的雪坡,赴死高速下的一句「我愛你」,那一次又一次下滑的癮,Nadia自己去滑一次的試探,以及最後一次風中無邊的幸福與淚水。

不過,回到最初,那個第一人稱乍看確實怪(由惡作劇始作俑者講出來的惡作劇哪有懸疑的可能?)但這個契訶夫,這個叫人寫到手指斷掉也要寫下去的契訶夫,就有本事無事驚心地在收結裏輕描淡寫︰我已不再明白自己為什麼會跟Nadia說那種話,開那種玩笑。

愛無對象,只有狀態。你說這故事可能是為了開解我,也可能只是一次動聽的沒話找話,但我想是永遠無法忘記這當中簡潔又繁密的訊息了。你說能擁有過那風中的聲音的人已是幸福。我卻覺得世上沒有比這更bittersweet的祝福了。

A Joke
By Anton Chekhov

IT was noon of a bright winter's day. The air was crisp with frost, and Nadia, who was walking beside me, found her curls and the delicate down on her upper lip silvered with her own breath. We stood at the summit of a high hill. The ground fell away at our feet in a steep incline which reflected the sun s rays like a mirror. Near us lay a little sled brightly upholstered with red.

"Let us coast down, Nadia!" I begged. "Just once! I promise you nothing will happen."
But Nadia was timid. The long slope, from where her little overshoes were planted to the foot of the ice-clad hill, looked to her like the wall of a terrible, yawning chasm. Her heart stopped beating, and she held her breath as she gazed into that abyss while I urged her to take her seat on the sled. What might not happen were she to risk a flight over that precipice! She would die, she would go mad!

"Come, I implore you!" I urged her again. "Don't be afraid! It is cowardly to fear, to be timid."
At last Nadia consented to go, but I could see from her face that she did so, she thought, at the peril of her life. I seated her, all pale and trembling, in the little sled, put my arm around her, and together we plunged into the abyss.

The sled flew like a shot out of a gun. The riven wind lashed our faces; it howled and whistled in our ears, and plucked furiously at us, trying to wrench our heads from our shoulders; its pressure stifled us; we felt as if the devil himself had seized us in his talons, and were snatching us with a shriek down into the infernal regions. The objects on either hand melted into a long and madly flying streak. Another second, and it seemed we must be lost!

"I love you, Nadia!" I whispered.

And now the sled began to slacken its pace, the howling of the wind and the swish of the runners sounded less terrible, we breathed again, and found ourselves at the foot of the mountain at last. Nadia, more dead than alive, was breathless and pale. I helped her to her feet.

"Not for anything in the world would I do that again!" she said, gazing at me with wide, terror-stricken eyes. "Not for anything on earth. I nearly died!"

In a few minutes, however, she was herself again, and already her inquiring eyes were asking the question of mine:

"Had I really uttered those four words, or had she only fancied she heard them in the tumult of the wind?"

I stood beside her smoking a cigarette and looking attentively at my glove.

She took my arm and we strolled about for a long time at the foot of the hill. It was obvious that the riddle gave her no peace. Had I spoken those words or not? It was for her a question of pride, of honour, of happiness, of life itself, a very important question, the most important one in the whole world. Nadia looked at me now impatiently, now sorrowfully, now searchingly; she answered my questions at random and waited for me to speak. Oh, what a pretty play of expression flitted across her sweet face! I saw that she was struggling with herself; she longed to say something, to ask some question, but the words would not come; she was terrified and embarrassed and happy.

"Let me tell you something," she said, without looking at me.

"What?" I asked.

"Let us--let us slide down the hill again!"

We mounted the steps that led to the top of the hill. Once more I seated Nadia, pale and trembling, in the little sled, once more we plunged into that terrible abyss; once more the wind howled, and the runners hissed, and once more, at the wildest and most tumultuous moment of our descent, I whispered:

"I love you, Nadia!"

When the sleigh had come to a standstill, Nadia threw a backward look at the hill down which we had just sped, and then gazed for a long time into my face, listening to the calm, even tones of my voice. Every inch of her, even her muff and her hood, every line of her little frame expressed the utmost uncertainty. On her face was written the question:

"What can it have been? Who spoke those words? Was it he, or was it only my fancy?"

The uncertainty of it was troubling her, and her patience was becoming exhausted. The poor girl had stopped answering my questions, she was pouting and ready to cry.

"Had we not better go home?" I asked.

"I--I love coasting!" she answered with a blush. "Shall we not slide down once more?"

She "loved" coasting, and yet, as she took her seat on the sled, she was as trembling and pale as before and scarcely could breathe for terror!

We coasted down for the third time and I saw her watching my face and following the movements of my lips with her eyes. But I put my handkerchief to my mouth and coughed, and when we were half-way down I managed to say:

"I love you, Nadia!"

So the riddle remained unsolved! Nadia was left pensive and silent. I escorted her home, and as she walked she shortened her steps and tried to go slowly, waiting for me to say those words. I was aware of the struggle going on in her breast, and of how she was forcing herself not to exclaim:

"The wind could not have said those words! I don't want to think that it said them!"

Next day I received the following note:
"If you are going coasting, to-day, call for me. N." Thenceforth Nadia and I went coasting every day, and each time that we sped down the hill on our little sled I whispered the words:

"I love you, Nadia!"

Nadia soon grew to crave this phrase as some people crave morphine or wine. She could no longer live without hearing it! Though to fly down the hill was as terrible to her as ever, danger and fear lent a strange fascination to those words of love, words which remained a riddle to torture her heart. Both the wind and I were suspected; which of us two was confessing our love for her now seemed not to matter; let the draught but be hers, and she cared not for the goblet that held it!

One day, at noon, I went to our hill alone. There I perceived Nadia. She approached the hill, seeking me with her eyes, and at last I saw her timidly mounting the steps that led to the summit. Oh, how fearful, how terrifying she found it to make that journey alone! Her face was as white as the snow, and she shook as if she were going to her doom, but up she climbed, firmly, without one backward look. Clearly she had determined to discover once for all whether those wondrously sweet words would reach her ears if I were not there. I saw her seat herself on the sled with a pale face and lips parted with horror, saw her shut her eyes and push off, bidding farewell for ever to this world. "zzzzzzz!" hissed the runners. What did she hear? I know not--I only saw her rise tired and trembling from the sled, and it was clear from her expression that she could not herself have said what she had heard; on her downward rush terror had robbed her of the power of distinguishing the sounds that came to her ears.

And now, with March, came the spring. The sun's rays grew warmer and brighter. Our snowy hillside grew darker and duller, and the ice crust finally melted away. Our coasting came to an end.

Nowhere could poor Nadia now hear the beautiful words, for there was no one to say them; the wind was silent and I was preparing to go to St. Petersburg for a long time, perhaps for ever.

One evening, two days before my departure, I sat in the twilight in a little garden separated from the garden where Nadia lived by a high fence surmounted by iron spikes. It was cold and the snow was still on the ground, the trees were lifeless, but the scent of spring was in the air, and the rooks were cawing noisily as they settled themselves for the night. I approached the fence, and for a long time peered through a chink in the boards. I saw Nadia come out of the house and stand on the door-step, gazing with anguish and longing at the sky. The spring wind was blowing directly into her pale, sorrowful face. It reminded her of the wind that had howled for us on the hillside when she had heard those four words, and with that recollection her face grew very sad indeed, and the tears rolled down her cheeks. The poor child held out her arms as if to implore the wind to bring those words to her ears once more. And I, waiting for a gust to carry them to her, said softly:

"I love you, Nadia!"

Heavens, what an effect my words had on Nadia! She cried out and stretched forth her arms to the wind, blissful, radiant, beautiful, . . .

And I went to pack up my things. All this happened a long time ago. Nadia married, whether for love or not matters little. Her husband is an official of the nobility, and she now has three children. But she has not forgotten how we coasted together and how the wind whispered to her:

"I love you, Nadia!"

That memory is for her the happiest, the most touching, the most beautiful one of her life.

But as for me, now that I have grown older, I can no longer understand why I said those words and why I jested with Nadia.

2008年11月20日 星期四

真的嗎?

〔一早打開電郵就收到校長/副校長的公開信。唉,從來都沒有什麼好事。在個連加薪也叫人提不起勁的日子,你何苦還要刺激我的神經呢?〕
各位校董、校友、同學、同事:

圖書館擴建迎四年制 烽火台保留不損半分

近日有傳言指大學為擴建圖書館,將拆毀中大地標烽火台。我特撰此信向大家解釋,這種說法是完全沒有根據的。校長亦曾在不同場合一再表明,不能對圖書館前的大學廣場有任何改動,烽火台這個見證本校歷史的重要地標,在工程完成後必須原址重置,回復舊觀,一寸都不能少。

在圖書館擴建工程進行期間,大學廣場部分需要封閉一段時間,以利工程進行。廣場是大學舉行畢業禮的場地之一,為免影響典禮舉行,預計廣場會在 2009 年畢業禮後暫時封閉,為期不超過一年;一俟圖書館擴建工程完成即會重開,大家原來熟悉的事物,如烽火台、惠園、「灌叢圖案」等都會在原址還原,與今天所見無異。

恢復大學四年學制,師生校友們期盼已久。大學圖書館擴建,是為 2012 年恢復本科四年制作準備的重要項目。因為到時大學將額外增加三千名本科生,現有圖書館將不敷應用,亟需擴大。原來的圖書館擴建方案,提議在原圖書館之側興建一座多層的新翼,樓高將超逾田家炳樓。由於這和周遭景物極不協調,還會影響沿林蔭大道延伸之中軸線,對景觀造成無可彌補的破壞,因此遭這項目的專責建設委員會否決。

其後提出的新方案把擴建部分建於地底,與圖書館地庫相連。這個方案雖然在技術上更困難,成本更高,但建設委員會認為更為可取,因為它既能增加圖書館面積,又能保存四周乃至整個校園本部在視覺上和建築物之間的協調一致。

由擴建圖書館地庫方案提出開始,校長就已強調,不能對大學廣場有任何改動,而廣場上包括烽火台在內的結構和建築,必須妥為保存,並在工程完成後原址重置,不改外觀。建設委員會亦向建築顧問公司和有師生代表在內的圖書館使用者小組,說明上述立場。建築顧問公司將會為烽火台和惠園等部件編號標籤,並拍照存檔,以便日後重置。

擴建圖書館的工程有必要及時完成,大學廣場、烽火台及其代表的中大理念和獨特的歷史,亦一定要原原本本保留給未來的中大人。我衷心希望大家能理解和支持,讓大家在不久將來一方面目睹圖書館完成擴建,服務未來的師生;另一方面看到大家熟悉的烽火台、惠園和「灌叢圖案」,一如往昔佇立校園。

香港中文大學副校長
程伯中
二○○八年十一月二十日

2008年11月13日 星期四

'My' Gmail

最近沉迷的竟是電郵。滿足之情,覺得連部落格也可以不用寫了,well, 「幾乎」可以不用寫了。
新認識的幾個朋友都是用電郵溝通的,相對於msn或facebook的溝通,電郵現在已是頗有古風,可以寫比較長或深思熟慮一點的信。Msn已離我好遠,那些在線不在線都歷歷在目、回話速度分秒計算、回訊偏短、讓冷漠與熱情也禍從手出的介面,恕我心靈脆弱又太在意,實在不能繼續下去了。所以在某個九月的日子,我的msn只剩下一人,讓我身在遠方又覺得漫遊費欺人太甚的時候可以跟唯一的他連絡上。

我承認是有一些促動的原因,讓我做了非常冷靜的清理,記得那天看完最後一個訊息,看著朋友離線,就開始把一切整頓了,不過五分鐘,我的notebook好像有點永不迴轉的不一樣了。也得在這裏向彷彿無辜受牽連的朋友說聲抱歉。好在我的msn一向小貓三四,而且都是互相十分了解的人,料想影響不會太大。何況,要連絡,怎會沒有方法。

然後收到前輩教授Bonnie的邀約開一個gmail戶口,也就開了。本不過用來收大郵件,或把課堂的powerpoint放在上面當個隨身公事包。後來有些可愛的朋友都用這個戶口連絡(未用這個戶口的朋友看到這裏千萬別生氣,你們當然一樣可愛),就越發覺得gmail十分十分順心至讓人期待,每天也要check一下。而我也終於可以稍稍脫離C大那個每天爆煲一次又經常亂得像戰場的戶口了。

問題是,這麼慷慨大方完美便捷有容乃大的一個天堂國度——Gmail,不可能沒有弱點或問題。終於,我還是發現了。

不是有bug,我邊有咁叻。但好奇怪,好奇怪。我發現電郵旁邊總有一些贊助商連結。用了人家的服務,當然也應讓人賣一下廣告。然而,那些廣告無形中在對應著我的電郵,發現那刻的確是毛骨悚然的……

例如電郵提到去了跑步,贊助商連結就有「Asics跑鞋拍賣場」;談到一些小說中的情感問題,就有「尋找一拍即合的伴侶?」的線上速配服務以及「你也可以出書當作家﹗」的服務廣告;說到博士論文就有「英、美各科博士論文代寫超強優惠」(彷彿是個諷刺)。最爆笑的是朋友叫我「有空去看一眼」他的部落格,結果就有「三十分鐘Lasik激光去近視手術」及「藍莓素保健首選」等廣告。

驚魂甫定,我很快就知道這是某些人工智能關鍵詞系統的配對結果,Google也在網站裏有非常嚴肅的保證及聲明。然而,誰敢保證那個「人工智能」不是Google龐大員工群之一?又或是,我們以為私密的感情或記錄,其實二話不說就已放了在一個千萬人湧動的海洋之中。你可以說有滄海一粟的安全感,也可以說,那是覆水難收的永遠失去了。

說了一番廢話,你問我會否停用gmail,當然不會。起碼現在無論如何是不捨得的,常用的軟件、介面,終會有記憶。要是哪天我又認命回到C大那個戰場戶口裏去,那gmail戶口裏的感情,肯定亦已產生無可回首的變化了。對不起,我的悲觀終結情意結又來了。但朋友,我很好,頂多是有點樂極生悲而已。

2008年11月5日 星期三

'I've always been a fortunate man'

〔不容易呢,落敗時刻說出這樣的話。不忘感恩的,就算不是好總統,也會是個好人。〕

video

成王敗寇。本也沒有什麼好說的了,但居然這次敗寇的戲碼較佳。一個電台節目主持人說「這奧巴馬的勝利演說——什麼美國永遠也是 United States of America,本來就是嘛﹗——怎麼忽然好像童子軍宣言呢?」說得對啊,不禁莞爾。

好,閒話少說,let's learn from McCain﹗

1. 深情直接的開首句︰My friends, we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly. A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.

2. 毋庸置疑的單純愛國︰Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.

3. (勝利是你們的)失敗是我的︰We fought as hard as we could. And though we feel short, the failure is mine, not yours.

4. 我從來是幸運的人(儘管落敗,儘管做過五年戰俘)︰I have always been a fortunate man, and never more so for the love and encouragement you have given me.

5. 非常 gracious 的一段話,不用解說了︰Every candidate makes mistakes, and I'm sure I made my share of them. But I won't spend a moment of the future regretting what might have been. This campaign was and will remain the great honor of my life, and my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude for the experience and to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Senator Obama and my old friend Senator Joe Biden should have the honor of leading us for the next four years.

6. 祝福你,你會是我的總統︰I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president.

本來不過在等奧巴馬勝利演說,沒想到看得兩眼發熱會是麥凱恩的。此外他還遺憾奧巴馬的外婆沒能看到她一手帶大的孫兒今天驕人的成就,以及感激佩琳、她的丈夫與五個美麗的孩子如何與他組成wonderful的搭擋(想想佩琳其實惹來多少麻煩……)。全部都極之溫暖,幾乎讓人置身Arizona那美麗的夜空之下,好想給他一點掌聲。

不過,溫熱是比較適合落敗者的,因為在他們面前不過是無限平靜的日子,他們有這個條件。奧巴馬那邊廂雖說熱情稍稍欠奉——有評論者甚至認為他的演說沒有一點祝捷的氣氛,馬上就 roll up his sleeves 來談國家安全、教育、能源、醫療等議題——但對這位47歲的「神奇小子」而言,這樣的總統其實比較讓人安心。不錯呢,這樣的結局,比四年前布殊和克里的好多了。今屆看得好舒服,值五顆星。

2008年11月4日 星期二

一個非正式的制度

其實我哪裏知道什麼是江湖。對我而言,那簡直是另一個星球。不過是一次偶然的道聽途說,就發現江湖原來距離我們並不那麼遠。 或至少可以說,「江湖邏輯」距離我們不那麼遠。
曾經有學生打算研究一本關於江湖的小說,於是有一陣子看了些關於幫會或江湖中國之類的書。說穿了其實是頗為理論化或制度化的一回事。講關係、人情、面子、混世、修復,或就如書中所言,江湖幾乎就是「蛻化了的儒教」,非常有條不紊,不難理解——至少理論上如此。但感覺上,不入流如我,這些價值觀與工具是與我無關的,知道就好。

可最近,碰到一件事,就讓我回想到另一件事。
多年前有位教授出了點新聞事故,一位圈中前輩級朋友問我看法。那時比較不世故(其實跟今天也差不多啦)直接答了句out of question的話︰「其實他對我倒是很好的。」
這位世故的朋友就跟我說︰

「我發現一個人對他人的判斷主要有三方面。一是道德對錯判斷,大是大非,例如有沒有出賣國家、殺人放火之類,非常清楚。二是私人判斷,關乎一人的私生活,如對家人好不好、是否好父親、感情生活是否檢點之類。第二個判斷有時候殺傷力比第一個大,看各種政治選舉的抹黑就知道,因為大是大非的事情不那麼容易犯錯,但私生活的印象卻具體深刻兼sensational。但第三個判斷標準,個人判斷,才有最大能量,那就是『他/她是否對我好?』」

「你是在調侃我嗎?」記得我還是衝口而出了。

他笑著說「不敢」,但實情就大概如此。
我想江湖就是靠大量「他對我好」的漂亮關係而運作的地方吧。如是者,其實哪裏都是江湖(嗯,非常港式邏輯的氣味,不知是金庸還是《七劍》還是徐克還是港產片……總之就是「哪裏有人,哪裏就有江湖」之類的邏輯)。
什麼時候我們被記著了、被感動了、被好好的禮待了,而稍稍放下第一和第二個判斷,就會走進了所謂的江湖規則,一個非正式的第三種判斷制度。那我到底是否喜歡江湖呢?實在不知道。我想這不是喜歡與否的問題,而是一旦進入了,大都相忘其中,並會如一條魚一樣地在水裏說「這不是江湖不江湖的問題。」

〔很明顯這是一篇非常缺乏江湖經驗者的胡謅,也許有天要虛心請教一下寫過《江湖有事》之類書籍的朋友,補習補習。〕

2008年11月2日 星期日

髮の啟悟最終回

無事,今次無事。我寫完這篇就會收手,關於我那些煩人煩己的煩惱絲。既非名人又非什麼潮流指標,卻這樣談個不完,自己也開始受不了。但我還是有一個point的。
非常價廉物美的一次經驗,友人介紹,臥虎藏龍的荃灣區,看來非常值得信賴的Bob頭女髮型師。細心聆聽但又在替你決定時二話不說、爽、快、準、且非常可敬地沒有諷刺你頭上的「前作」(和不諷刺你前度的男友一樣可敬難得)。本來想好了推倒重來,上卷、下藥水、修剪、造形起碼預了三小時。但她的結論是「用藥水拖一下可以了。剪?不用剪。」結果一小時不到……我回復到大概七月時的模樣。

本來那算是最近較為稱心如意的事,以至一時興奮就跟友人形容︰「那就是回到我狀態大勇那個時期的髮型﹗」友人閃過一陣幾乎察覺不到的語塞(誰知你什麼時候狀態大勇過﹗),到見面時就說「哦,這就是〔下刪六字,而且不是「回到狀態大勇」〕那個時期的髮型吧。」心裏閃過一陣陰霾,抱歉整天就沒有什麼好心緒了。

她說得對,我不過買了個「回到過去」,而且可能是一個形似神不似的摹本,或是循環。然後想起女髮型師一番話︰「你的頭髮很易造形,因為已經很傷,一拖就直。要做回某個鬈度或效果不難,但重要是給頭髮休息了,不然這麼差的髮質自己總會知道。」現在想來,實在是無法不語帶相關的一段話。

重點是「自己總會知道」。
對著我一頭看上去很柔軟,但觸感毫無生氣的頭髮,我到底在做什麼呢?
時間、休養、保護、重生。捨此以外,別無他法。

2008年11月1日 星期六

It's gonna get nasty in final days...

...before election. --Sen. Barack Obama
既是形勢大定的選舉,就沒有什麼好談的了。大家都開始一些無聊的話題,例如在麥凱恩和奧巴馬之間,會挑誰做教師、觀看球賽的伴、寵物的主人或丈夫(最後這個不用問了吧)?女性選民談到選奧巴馬的理由,已經不再掩飾了︰he's gorgeous! 可見選情已經穩定至令支持者鬆懈下來的程度。所餘下叫我有點反應的新聞包括,佩琳準備四年後出戰總統選舉(idiots will never disappear)以及奧巴馬原來曾上過今年三月份的Rolling Stone。不用扮鬼扮馬穿皮夾克或牛仔褲,一身總統指定服(加美國國旗配色)與滾石的火花和張力已經很夠了。

而我只不過又來借題發揮罷了。It's gonna get nasty in final days...脫離了選舉的context,就是另一個版本的「人生若只如初見,何事秋風悲畫扇」了。最近有一些新聯絡的朋友,都很好,但也許年紀大了,就會無無聊聊地想到「最後」會如何。一開始就想到終結,好像是非常消極與教人沮喪的壞習性,但開始越是美好,就越會往那個方向想。於是草木皆兵,一句選舉呼籲都會變成當頭棒喝。

然而我又怎會不知抵抗的方法呢?就是努力工作,別去想了。眼前我有一大堆工作和兩個星期(別問我為什麼是兩個星期),要是能好好理出個頭緒,也許我就能從起伏不定的self-esteem crisis中擺脫出來,而那些所謂宿命,所謂哀矜勿喜,就會暫時放低了。

奧巴馬,你贏,的確會令世界精神一振,但只怕 It's gonna get nasty AFTER the election. 別要像馬英九,贏得漂亮,上場後卻令親者痛仇者又不快。世界太需要gorgeous的偶像,問題是現實往往不那麼gorgeous,那些好看的領袖就越發讓人心痛不已,慨嘆所為何事。