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Month: September, 2015

A luxury we cannot afford

The title of Para Site’s new exhibition, referring to the Singapore government’s stance towards art and culture during the early years of Lee Kwan Yew’s reign. The exhibition is a survey, albeit genuine, into a history that can only be viewed by the Hong Kong audience from a certain distance. If the aesthetics of our contemporary art has become universal under the globalisation of the art market and international biennials, our history has not – no matter how we draw parallels between states and cultures, an exhibition that discusses Singapore’s political history held on Hong Kong soil must result in a response that is at best ambivalent, if not indifferent. A discussion can only take place when both parties are informed of the topic.

But I am not talking about the exhibition. I am in fact thinking of a totally different matter. Again, I was feeling uncomfortable after a certain communication with somebody on Facebook. I could not quite tell the nature of it at first: Was I upset because I argued with someone when I did not have to? But something inside me compelled me to respond. Was I upset because I feared that I have offended that person with what I said? But I was only saying what I believed was right which had nothing to do with that person, it would not become wrong just because she was offended by it. Was I upset because I sounded argumentative? Perhaps, but I thought I used the tone and words proper to the message I conveyed. Was I upset because it looked like I was trying to sound smart and superior? Perhaps, but that was because I knew I was right.

So after one day’s pondering in uneasiness, I understood. I tried to account for my uneasiness by my flaw in logic, by my arrogance, by everything that can be considered my own weakness. Again, I succumbed to non-existent guilt. If something upsetting happens, it must by default be my own fault. But it is not. I know now that I feel uncomfortable because the person I talked to, belongs to a majority of people who claim to be apolitical, who prefer to talk about issues without addressing the political aspect, who find it safer to not talk about politics, since it is dangerous and arbitrary and can only lead to pointless arguments that destroy harmonious relationships, and pretend that the political does not exist, that one can talk about things only from one tiny aspect, as if that is the most objective, and therefore disinterested way to talk about things. But given the way the world is now, to pretend that any issue can be apolitical is not only ignorance and cowardice, but evil. Especially for those people who actually possess the intellectual ability to think, the more contemptible it is for them to surrender their mind to remain ‘neutral’ about political matters. To be neutral is to grant sanction to those currently in power, to turn a blind eye to any injustice in the current political system. To be apolitical in the Hong Kong now, is a luxury we cannot afford.

And so I cried and I cried and I cried in my bed.

She asked me: Is anger replacing guilt?
I don’t know how to explain. It looks like anger, but not quite – actually it is more like indifference. I told her: I do not want to be bound by pity and guilt anymore. Who would care for my feelings if I don’t? If it is cruel to say things that hurt, it is also cruel to forbid one from saying them.
And so I cried and I cried and I cried in my bed.
While I was crying past injuries kept coming back to me. Then I realized that I have been as cruel to him as to myself. I picked him as my victim because I was a victim myself. I was only too glad to have somebody – anybody in fact – who would love me when (I thought) nobody else would. Even if I did not love him – at least not as much as he loved me. Because of some fatalist belief that those whom I truly loved would never love me in return. So much that I would feel a sense of doom whenever I feel something akin to attraction for some person – I have already been negatively conditioned, just like Pavlov’s dogs.
It was right of him to demand my love. Only that was something I would never be able to grant him. I blamed him for demanding it from me, like one begging for alms. Because if I granted him what he wanted from me, it would only be out of pity and charity, it would never be love and it would be wrong. So on the one hand he despaired of my inability to love him as much as he wished, while on the other I suffered from his constant demand of my love which I deemed undeserved. That was the dead end we had driven ourselves into. I am sorry, for both he and myself.
And I thought about the others whom I loved or will come to love but will never have – and cried some more. I was merely indulging in negative emotions to remind myself that I could still feel – could still feel pain and longing for somebody. Even if it was fatalist and irrational and heartbreaking, I needed that, though whether as a kind of spiritual cleansing, or energy saving for my writing, I am not so sure.

Some things just take you years to understand their real significance and the extent of their power to hurt you.


仍然在看Ayn Rand 的 “Atlas Shrugged”,今天來到Cherryl 終於明白丈夫娶自己的真正用意和他的所謂「愛」的定義。在她明白了的瞬間,我也完全明白了。腦裡浮現過去那段不快樂的感情的種種無法言喻的不協調和無以名狀的掙扎。我的痛苦就源自我明知道自己不快樂,而不快樂的原因是對方,卻否定自己的不快樂,斷定自己對愛人不夠寬容無我,確立了自己莫須有的罪疚。其實我不能全怪他,只可說我們對愛情的本質都認識太少。他相信愛情是不問回報、自我犧牲、love you as you are,除了同樣無私的愛以外不向對方作出任何要求。因為他覺得我做回自己就夠好了,他從不會希望我成為更好的人,而他自己也從沒有讓自己變得更好,而且覺得我也會接受這個樣子的他就夠好了。開始時我覺得自己好像給予了很多對方,卻沒有從他身上得到任何精神上的增長;那明明是一種不平等的交易,我卻只懂怪責自己太斤斤計較。日子長一點了,我以為他也會為了追上我的步伐而努力建立自己的內涵,結果他卻好像因為已視我對他的感情為理所當然了,既然我已接受了他這個人,他只要做回這個自己就夠了,反而更放慢了心機。於是我發現他並不是一個進取的人:他鄙視努力的人,他否定任何的熱情和追求,源自於他害怕失敗和被鄙視。因此他選擇了一個低劣的做法:他選擇了甚麼也不做,對所有事不抱任何好奇心和興趣,他選擇了躲在人群後,不主動做任何引人注目的事,做一個隱形人。對於我會選擇了跟這個人一起三年之久,說實在的我自己也不敢相信。三年以來,每次我希望再往前走,卻總會發覺被他扯着後腿寸步難行,而我一回頭,卻會看到他怪責的眼神,像在說我的種種追求是對他的背叛。他總是說給我做我喜歡的事情的自由,卻不知道讓我感到罪疚的就是他自己。對於我熱愛的寫作,他私自偷看了我的原稿後,因為裡面有關於我以前的戀愛的描述,便向我大興問罪之師,彷彿我的過去也會是對他的背叛。那之後我有好一段日子無法再寫,他知道後說不會再阻礙我寫作,他週末不會見我讓我有時間寫等等。他根本不明白,讓我對寫作感到罪惡的人就是他,何況他從來沒有主動約我外出。我們去看電影,我跟他談後感,他會怪我太多意見,表現得太高人一等,會得罪人。他自己本身對所有電影都沒有感想,他只是一塊石頭,任何光影在他面前略過都不留一絲痕跡。他的任務就只是存在,在我身邊見證着我的一舉一動,而他本人並沒有任何的參與,沒有任何的個人意志,除了他那恆久不變的愛情。他看我跟日本人朋友談日本陶藝談得眉飛色舞感到很是奇妙,但那只是因為他從來沒有任何有趣的話題跟我討論。我嘗試以他熟悉的領域入手,請他以他的電腦知識投放於我的一個寫作計劃裡,而他只是敷衍了一下便放棄了這個可以連結我們的機會,連花點力氣嘗試也沒有,樂得趁我在週末時趕着寫作時一個人在家睡覺無所事事。我想去日本,他萬般不願,覺得我一定會遇到另一個人,然後離他而去。後來他見我很不快樂,才勉為其難的用萬個理由說服了自己讓我去,一副他在自我犧牲忍辱負重來成全我的快樂的樣子。他總是這樣一副忍辱負重,對我萬般遷就的樣子。但最神奇的是,我總感到在犧牲受苦的是我,不是他。他就像一個沉重的鉫鎖,把我困在不變的空洞無物的愛情裡。他口裡說不會困着我,卻是一個最巨型的囚牢。三年多了,每次我感到絕望,開始懷疑自己根本不可能愛這個人,卻又看見他那彷似無私奉獻的無欲無求的愛情,又感到新一輪的內疚。但其實他這種卻才是要求最高的愛,因為他所要求的是一種毋需他付出一分一毫,不問他做了甚麼,不問他是一個如何好的人,對方無條件的愛。但那是不可能的,我們總要以自己的努力去賺取別人的認同,何況是愛情。不是說女人都希望自己的男人為自己拼搏的那種虛榮--只是愛情不是施捨,不是因為你需要我便要給你,而是彼此為了賺取對方的關愛而努力讓自己成為配得上那關愛的人。那些純愛漫畫裡的平平無奇甚至性格差劣的普通人遇上為自己死心塌地不求回報的完美男/女神的故事都害人不淺,因為現實中人永遠都只會愛上一個自己欣賞的人,而且也必會努力成為對方欣賞的人,只得單方面的戀慕或付出的愛情是不可能成立的。於是現在我終於明白了,明白得很徹底。我的錯在於我默許對方加諸自己身上的不合理條款,在於我接受了自己莫須有的罪疚和不快樂。分手時我感到非常罪疚--但如果傷害一個愛自己的人是一種罪,迫自己愛一個自己不愛的人不也是一種對自己的傷害?他只需要我的存在,也只需要我只需要他的存在,他不需要我作出任何改變,也不會為了我作出任何改變。三年、三十年,他都會是同一個樣子。但那並不是我所想要的。我要的是一個懂得欣賞我的積極努力,而他本身也是一個積極努力的人。我要的是一個值得我去為他成為一個更好的人的人。