À la recherche du temps perdu

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Month: January, 2012

春節印象

我一直在找尋一種屬於自己的文字,為此我看The Waves,Bernard在自己的意識中建構句子,隨身帶着一本本子,遇到觸動自己的句子,便根據字母記下,等到那一天那屬於自己的故事出現的時候便可以用得着,says Bernard. 我也在找尋屬於自己的文字和故事,但是我沒有隨身帶着本子,任由觸動自己的句子擦過腦際,還未來得及捉住,便消聲匿跡。因為懶惰而錯信自己的記憶。因為明白感受會變而放棄追逐。但若是這樣,便甚麼便留不下。如果人對事物的印象才是最真實的東西,即使稍縱即逝,也不會改變其真實。

Louis拿起一本詩集開始閱讀。他唸了第一行詩,思潮便遊離詩的主體,連結上他腦內載浮載沉的事情。Rhoda離開了。他要繼續堅持這份作業。他醒過來,眼睛回到書頁。沒有兩行,他又飄到別的思緒中了。來來回回,始終看不完一段詩。然後他喝令自己,得回到詩去了。看了這一段,我想到自己也會像他一樣因為被書內的文字勾起某些想像回憶,逕自聯想而無法繼續閱讀手中的書。然後我醒來,發現自己忘記了自己正在看書,卻在途中停了下來胡思亂想。跟Louis不同的,我決定休息一下。

我抬頭看窗外的一片藍調,那片風景因為熟稔而變得幾乎稱得上美麗的東西。沒有海景而只是重重疊疊的住宅樓宇,剩下的一角天空得蹲在客廳地板仰天,又或把臉貼近窗玻璃才看得見。那一塊塊垂直長方的白牆因為濕冷陰鬱冬天的過濾變成片片灰藍,最接近的對面街右側的大樓,幾年前牆身啡色的部份給髹上溫和的粉紅色,於是畫面裡有滲藍的白灰和粉紅,像是從某電影裡看過的色調。我一直想把這些窗外景象以油彩擱在畫布上,但是我一次也沒有做過,畫具在家裡鋪滿了灰塵,本子空白一片。

但我不記得有過這種色調的新年。年初一那天下午我在看電視的時候,電視在播放着新年才有的滿是金色紅色和中式喜慶音樂的廣告。總是一個靜止的畫面,上面有喜氣洋洋的圖像和祝福語,響亮的男人聲線代表某某公司集團恭喜大家發財。那一刻我忘記了自己正在看電視,回到了孩提時的新年時光。在爺爺嫲嫲彩虹村的家,大人們在打麻雀時,小孩們坐在客廳裡看電視播那些廣告,無線的賀年節目裡穿着色彩斑斕的唐裝衣服在唱財神到。大人們說財神也會來這兒,還有舞獅。我在粉紅色的透明膠全盒裡偷瑞士糖和椰子糖吃嫲嫲怕我們餓,從櫥櫃裡拿出藍白色的方型大鐵罐,裡面有大大塊的方型克力架餅乾。又從櫥櫃頂格拿來麥芽糖,用牙籤舀給我們吃。我貪吃,偷偷搬了張椅子從櫥櫃頂拿麥芽糖吃,最後吃膩了吃壞了肚子,之後很多年也沒有再吃麥芽糖。晚上大人們拿走麻雀,把一塊很大的圓型鐵桌面放在桌子上用來當飯桌,十多人就圍住一起吃,吃飯的時候桌面不時輕微搖擺,像屋村樓下兒童遊樂場裡的搖搖板。新年都吃素,我不大喜歡吃,黑壓壓的一堆堆小山不像甚麼好菜色,卻只愛吃髮菜,覺得吃頭髮很好玩。現在髮菜都快絕種了,現在雖然爸爸仍堅持年初一煮跟以前一樣的素菜,用的髮菜卻少很多了。

晚上電視播放關於彩虹村的節目。爸爸媽媽一邊看一邊話說當年,那些村內的景象卻很陌生。這個偶然讓我更確認自己得寫下對那個地方的記憶。即使自己對以前爺爺嫲嫲住着的彩虹村的印象何其有限而不可靠,何其細碎而不成文,卻是對我而言唯一的真實

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Melancholia

I reread my previous entry and realised that it was just like any of my ‘melancholic attacks’ in the past few years. I thought they had something to do with my constant need for expression in words, and that when they ceased my writing also ceased. I thought I am through with the stage of youthful melancholia and have reached stale adulthood. But I was wrong. I can still write like a melancholic youth if I allow myself to, only that something has been keeping me from it. Some larger force than melancholia has consumed me and my ability to write, if that is at all possible.

As if drawn by some cosmic force, I went to watch Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. The heroine Justin suffers from depression, which is melancholy in contemporary terms. But melancholia is not only a mood disorder. Throughout history (in the West) Melancholia has been considered the most profound of all temperaments. Kings and Princes, Philosophers, Lovers, all the Young Werthers, are prone to melancholia. The film reestablishes all the associations that are historically concerned with Melancholia, such as the malevolent star of Melancholia being the source of all chaos, while traditionally Saturn is the planet attributed to Melancholia. Of the earth element, the influence of Saturn compels people to stoop and brood over the earth, where we come from and where we will return to as dust. Melancholia is the contemplation of Death. And in the film, the planet Melancholia collides with Earth, bringing about the Death of mankind, and more significantly, all the fear, chaos and meditations about Death. In the middle of her wedding, in a desperate fit, Justin replaces the books in the library with those with the images of Pieter Bruegel’s The Hunter in the Snow, Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, and Millais’s Ophelia with which Justin identifies herself, all images associated with melancholia and death.

And so it is that the powerful and almost unbearable film brings me back to all my old ponderings over Melancholia, over Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia I, over Hamlet and Ophelia, over Freud on King Lear, over Lacan on The Garden of Earthly Delights, over Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy, all my sad youthful days at school. 

Waves of thought

I read another inspiring passage from Virginia Woolf’s The Waves where the young man Bernard ponders about writing. You must note it down, said I to myself. Yet I did not, like all the other passages I read and felt something about but which I did not note. I let them pass, like all my other thoughts, into the oblivion of memory. But that is not quite correct. People say that things we do not recall immediately reside in some hidden corners of our memory (which the psychoanalysts call the unconscious). But that is not true. The truth is things that pass by our mind do not even get a chance to be lodged in any corner of our memory. Before that even happens, they expire and are never found again. Sometimes I write to counter forgetfulness, sometimes I write to forget. He said he never writes because everything is safe in his memory, as if a reproach to my own forgetfulness. But the truth is whether written down or not, things slip away from the memory banks eventually, simply because the vessel of our memory, our bodies, age and die. How many things, I wonder, have we lost because they have not been written down, have been forgotten, and have expired with our bodies.

I was reading Alain de Botton’s How Proust Can Change Your Life. It was over 2 years since I finished that monolithic work of semi-autobiography. De Botton mentioned Virginia Woolf being so impressed by In Search of Lost Time that she even fell into depression at the thought that nothing remained to be done for the novelist. That was when I remembered my copy of The Waves, a Penguin paperback acquired at a second-hand bookstore at Nottinghill for 2 pounds, propped into my narrow bookcase in a dark corner of the corridor of my humid home in North Point and which never saw light since. I pulled it out, amazed at its fine condition despite of its treatment, and began leaving through it, reading out aloud on my bed under insufficient yellowish light (as my bedroom was painted mango yellow at my own request).

I am nearing half of the book, and for the first time I realise that despite its being in a second-hand bookstore, nobody has actually read it before me, for the fact that there is no crease on the book spine, not until now. I believe I have tried the book several times before but never got through the first few pages. It was too confusing for me, who preferred precision and detested pretension, though strange for a woman, who is always deemed poetic and romantic. Now I return to it, conquering the initial confusion and allowing myself to flow along the narration, I find that this, like Proust’s, may be the answer to my constant search for a personal style of writing. And I know how defiantly archaic it is to say that one would like to follow Proust and Woolf and Joyce, but I have always liked old stuff, and I am watching Downton Abbey in a frenzy like I did for the BBC Pride and Prejudice, and feel justified of being so, even when I am writing in English, as if I am some English writer in 1920s.

我仍在

不知道從何時起我失去了每每腦裡浮現句子便得立即以文字記錄的迫切需求,任由聲音在腦際邊擦過再消聲匿跡,而不感到些少遺憾。我問自己是否已經對寫作失去信念,淪為對甚麼都沒有所謂因為生命中所有事情都沒有意義,近乎nihilist但又沒有那種程度的哲學思維,只是一個為世情所疲累的世俗pessimist。然而這麼想的我又未免太浪漫化了自己,一個差不多但還未三十歲的普通人,沒甚麼驚世才華也沒甚麼激動經歷,卻常常借文字自我放大,所以到最後我仍是未能逃出文字的魅惑。

我記得為甚麼我要自己寫這2012年的第一篇。我的日記已經由日記變成週記再變成甚麼也不記,去年很多東西我想記但沒有力氣去記,很多東西我交給了自己已然漸變不可靠的記憶,對記憶存疑的同時我開始質疑自己的文字,也開始質疑記錄。但是為了未來的自己能夠了解此刻無言的自己,我還是要以文字寫下此刻不信任文字的自己。讓自己知道自己仍然在思考文字,仍然為自己未能發揮自己的才華而苦惱,為自己可能並沒有才華而恐懼,為自己年華漸去卻仍一事無成,並可能只能這樣終其一生而哀傷。