外婆过世,返家奔丧,回程的路上在机场书店读到《国风·邶风|绿衣》,涕泪泗流。

绿兮衣兮,绿衣黄裹。心之忧矣,曷维其已!
绿兮衣兮,绿衣黄裳。心之忧矣,曷维其亡!
绿兮丝兮,女所治兮。我思古人,俾无訧兮!
絺兮绤兮,凄其以风。我思古人,实获我心!

黄勇(西绕)《菩提心NO.3》-1

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巴厘随想

第三次到巴厘岛。第一次是从澳大利亚和墨尔本的同事一起来的,九十年代末期,恐怖爆炸案还没有发生,反华运动还如火如荼,稀里糊涂来了又走了。第二次是〇八年,第一天就从山地车上摔得稀里哗啦,回上海的路上得知从上海搬来的法国DJ朋友死了,机场直奔葬礼。

这次是最从容的,在中部小城乌布附近的村里租了带莲花池的房子,清晨穿过稻田去菜市场采购回来自己烧饭,晚上骑摩托车到城里看当地人装饰寺庙,准备新年的庆典。雨季,时常大雨滂沱,在路边的咖啡馆或是面摊一呆就是半天,尘世真是远之又远了。

这些年巴厘岛热了又冷了,麦当劳、星巴克都来了,数百上千美金一晚的酒店比比皆是,朱丽亚•罗伯茨主演的电影和之前的小说(大陆似乎翻译为<一辈子做女孩>)又掀起瑜伽风潮,昨天赶早市时看到满载中国游客的大巴,竟一时有些发愣,不知身在何处。

断食、排毒似乎也是风行一时,几年前刚刚开始几月一断的时候,似乎还很另类,现在居然连四季酒店也有断食项目了,连住在本地的朋友也笑问我们是否已经签约哪家,我们答曰已经结束啦,来巴厘岛是学烧饭的。也许因为瑜伽的缘故,除去近海边的酒吧区附近,乌布周围出入每天看到的游客旅人都仿佛仙风道骨。

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The Importance of Elsewhere

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Walking out of the car repair shop by Highway 101 in San Rafael, the stunning sunset scene made me forgot where and when we were for a nano second. The elevated highway and the traffic on it seemed to be irrelevant, so did the giant industrial size shopping center and this American life.

Five minutes later it’s all gone, the rosy clouds, the evening glow, and the illumination. The cars on 101 were still moving in slow motion, coming from somewhere, passing by me and the car repair shop and the shopping center, moving on to somewhere else.

Then those words came to my mind. Elsewhere. Absente. Ailleurs. Life is Elsewhere. La vraie vie est absente. La vie est ailleurs. 我生本无乡,心安是归处。此心安处是吾乡。Home is where heart is. Rimbaud. Kundera. Larkin. BAI Juyi. SU Dongpo.

The Importance Of Elsewhere

Philip Larkin

Lonely in Ireland, since it was not home,
Strangeness made sense. The salt rebuff of speech,
Insisting so on difference, made me welcome:
Once that was recognised, we were in touch

Their draughty streets, end-on to hills, the faint
Archaic smell of dockland, like a stable,
The herring-hawker’s cry, dwindling, went
To prove me separate, not unworkable.

Living in England has no such excuse:
These are my customs and establishments
It would be much more serious to refuse.
Here no elsewhere underwrites my existence.

(1955,6,13)

他乡的意义

爱尔兰是孤独的,因为它不是故乡,
疏离从而产生意义。言语的辛辣冷漠,
如此与众不同,亦使我受到欢迎:
一旦意识到此处,我们开始接近

他们的街道风穿堂而过,通往远山,隐约
古老的码头气息,宛若马厩,
鲱鱼小贩的叫卖声,渐行渐远,
印证我的特立独行,并非难以为继。

生活在英格兰就无法使用如此借口:
这些是我的风俗习惯以及规矩
拒绝它们将带来更加严重的后果。
只有这里,再没有他乡支撑我的存在。

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Living in Truth

Listened to The Economist’s article about Vaclav Havel’s life while driving to friend’s place  for new year’s eve. A very fine portrait for a very fine man who lived for big ideas and expressed them in small and big ways.

California’s winter is mild and pleasant, restaurants and pubs were packed with people dressed up for the festal celebration for the coming new era, yet my memory brought me back to almost twenty years ago in college, when Havel’s restless political activities as Czech’s president opened so much space to imagine the future of our own country…

That was in 1992 i believe… and we are now in 2012! Two decides have passed, just like sands running through fingers…

Thank you Mr. Havel, for what you have done to the world, and to a young girl when she needed to have faith in truth and future. And thank you for waking her up again, twenty years later.

http://www.economist.com/node/21542169/print

Vaclav Havel 1936-2011

Living in truth

The unassuming man who taught, through plays and politics, how tyranny may be defied and overcome

Dec 31st 2011 | from the print edition

 

 

HAD communists not seized power in his homeland in 1948, Vaclav Havel would have been simply a distinguished Central European intellectual. That is how, triumphantly, he ended his career. In between came imprisonment, interrogations, house searches, isolation, heartbreak and betrayals—and adulation on the national and international stage.

Although a highly successful politician, three times head of state and the leader of one of the most famous revolutions in history, he was not a natural public figure. A sincere, impatient and humble man, he detested the pomposity, superficiality and phoney intimacy of politics.

Nor was he like most of his fellow dissidents, mainly ex-communist intellectuals whose glittering careers had been cut short by the Soviet-led invasion of 1968 and the purges that followed it. Mr Havel was never a communist. And he lacked formal academic education. He came from a rich family that had had most of its property nationalised after 1948. As a further punishment, he had to leave school at 15 and was allowed only a technical education, not the literary one he craved. He worked as a laboratory assistant, did military service (in mine-clearing, a task reserved for the politically suspect), and became a stage hand, studying drama by correspondence.

As Czechoslovak communism softened in the 1960s, talented outsiders could begin to make their mark on the country’s cultural life. His first full-length play, “The Garden Party”, was performed in 1963. It was a wry look at the nonsense world of communist clichés. A middle-class family, hoping to help their son Hugo, sends him to meet some influential apparatchiks. He readily learns their meaningless office language and his career flourishes—though his parents can no longer understand him.

Scrupulously careful in his choice of words, Mr Havel was especially alert to, and annoyed by, the atrocious effects of communism on his mother tongue. His next play, “The Memorandum”, first performed in 1966, dealt with an invented language, Ptydepe, designed (like communism) to eliminate ambiguity and promote efficiency, but with little regard for practicality or humanity. Its introduction, in an absurd workplace filled with sinister snoopers, creates chaos and deadlock.

Such mockery of the system was tolerated, even encouraged, before and during the Prague Spring, when reformist communists under Alexander Dubcek abolished censorship and tried to create what they called “socialism with a human face”. But that experiment was intolerable to Leonid Brezhnev’s Soviet Union, just as Mr Havel’s work was to the grey apparatchiks installed by the Warsaw Pact’s tanks. The plays were staged in New York and elsewhere, but their author—like millions of others now a prisoner in his own country—was unable to see them. Banned from working in the theatre, he briefly took a menial job in a brewery; he wrote about that in another play, “Audience”.

Few had the stomach to struggle on against communism after such a comprehensive defeat. Many Czechs and Slovaks glumly resolved to make the best of a bad situation. Not Mr Havel: words were his weapons, and he intended to use them. In early 1975 he wrote a caustic letter to the communist leader Gustav Husak, saying that the “calm” which the authorities regarded as their great achievement was in fact a “musty inertia…like the morgue or a grave.” Under the coffin-lid of communism, the country was rotting: “It is the worst in us which is being systematically activated and enlarged—egotism, hypocrisy, indifference, cowardice, fear, resignation, and the desire to escape every personal responsibility…”

With a handful of allies Mr Havel then collected 242 public supporters for what would be the first open manifestation of dissent inside the Soviet empire: Charter 77, a declaration that highlighted the authorities’ breaches of the international human-rights standards to which they had notionally subscribed. The reaction was venomous. Those who refused to denounce the document brought severe punishments on themselves and their families. One of the three founding spokesmen, Jan Patocka, a philosophy professor, died during a gruelling 11-hour interrogation. Mr Havel, another, spent five months behind bars in 1977, with a further three months in 1978.

But the crackdown spurred rather than deterred him. Taking advantage of lax border controls in a national park on the Czechoslovak-Polish border, Mr Havel led a bunch of friends in the summer of 1978 to meet a group headed by Adam Michnik, the brainbox of the Warsaw opposition. Mr Michnik recalls a “magic moment” as Mr Havel (Vasek to his friends) pulled cheese, bread and vodka from a knapsack and they began to “build the foundations of the international anti-Communist community…we had decided to shed our gags and to confront the totalitarian dictatorship face to face.”

The greengrocer’s tale

The practical result of the cross-border meeting was a joint collection of essays. One was Mr Havel’s: “The Power of the Powerless”, a reflection on the mind of a greengrocer who obediently puts a poster “among the onions and carrots” urging “Workers of the World—Unite!” In gentle, ironic but scathing prose, Mr Havel exposed the lies and cowardice that made possible the communist grip on power. The greengrocer puts up the poster partly out of habit, partly because everyone else does it, and partly out of fear of the consequences if he does not. Just as the “Good Soldier Svejk” encapsulated the cowardly absurdity of life in the Austro-Hungarian army, Mr Havel’s greengrocer epitomised the petty humiliations of “normalised” Czechoslovakia.

Yet the greengrocer would balk if he were told to display a poster saying: “I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient.” That was the difference between the terrified conformity of the Stalinist era and the collusive charade between rulers and ruled that prevailed in the 1970s. The people pretended to follow the Party, and the Party pretended to lead. Those shallow foundations were vulnerable to individual acts of disobedience. Just imagine, Mr Havel wrote,

    …that one day something in our greengrocer snaps and he stops putting up the slogans merely to ingratiate himself. He stops voting in elections he knows are a farce. He begins to say what he really thinks at political meetings. And he even finds the strength in himself to express solidarity with those whom his conscience commands him to support. In this revolt the greengrocer steps out of living within the lie. He rejects the ritual and breaks the rules of the game. He discovers once more his suppressed identity and dignity. He gives his freedom a concrete significance. His revolt is an attempt to live within the truth …

That would bring ostracism and punishment, but imposed for compliance’s sake, not out of conviction. His real crime was not speaking out, but exposing the sham:

    He has shattered the world of appearances, the fundamental pillar of the system…He has demonstrated that living a lie is living a lie. He has broken through the exalted façade…and exposed the real, base foundations of power…He has shown everyone that it is possible to live within the truth. Living within the lie can constitute the system only if it is universal…everyone who steps out of line denies it in principle and threatens it in its entirety …

The phrase “living in truth” was Mr Havel’s hallmark. No single phrase did more to inspire those trying to subvert and overthrow the communist empire in Europe.

In 1979 he received a five-year prison sentence. This was the darkest time of his life. The outside world showed little interest. The dissident movement was shrivelling under the harassment of the StB, the Czechoslovak counterpart of the KGB. In Poland, Solidarity was crushed by martial law. And in prison he could not write, barring a weekly letter to his wife.

The commandant, a Stalinist-era veteran, enjoyed tormenting his top prisoner, confiscating the whole letter if any bit breached prison rules (personal matters only, no foreign words, no underlining, no discussion of philosophy). The result, in elliptical and sometimes baffling prose, was “Letters to Olga”, a book that could be published only abroad. He was released early, with severe pneumonia, in 1983. His health never recovered, and his heavy smoking gave it little chance to.

 

Appropriate uniforms

 

That gloom proved to be the nadir. Once the enforcer of communist orthodoxy, the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev became a spur to change: that shift inspired democrats and sapped their persecutors. In Hungary and Poland the regimes were weakening visibly by the late 1980s, but Czechoslovakia’s Communist blockheads continued to beat, bully and jail their opponents. Mr Havel was sentenced to eight months for “hooliganism” in early 1989. But this time his jailing sparked outrage, not apathy. In Poland one of his plays was performed publicly—with the communist prime minister in the audience. Citing his “exemplary behaviour”, the Prague regime in April freed its most famous prisoner early. That evening stokers, street-sweepers and window-washers—in earlier life musicians, philosophers and writers—partied at the former stagehand’s home. By the year’s end, they would be toasting his presidency.

A moral compass

Yet Czechoslovakia’s dissident movement was still tiny and amateurish, way behind Poland’s Solidarity in muscle, or Hungary’s activists in sophistication. Mr Havel and his pals were all but unknown in their own country. Change was in the air, but many were uneasy about what it might bring: economic upheaval, American imperialism, the return of vengeful émigrés, German revanchism or Jewish property claims. The authorities tried to tar the dissidents as CIA stooges, and Mr Havel as the scion of a family of Nazi collaborators. But propaganda was no substitute for reform. Though the dissidents were feeble, they were kicking at a rotten door.

Mr Havel was fast becoming a political leader. It was not a role he enjoyed. Foreign visitors queued outside his apartment, cutting into his time for reading, writing, thinking and talking. At times he retreated to his country cottage for peace and quiet. When in Prague he kept his appointments on a small scrap of folded paper in his pocket: he was not a politician and was not going to behave like one. His main defence was a venerable old man called Zdenek Urbanek (author of the country’s best translation of “Hamlet”, but disgraced after 1968), whose stately good manners and quavering English could deter even the pushiest television crews.

But events brushed diffidence aside. As the Soviet empire crumbled the Communist Party leader, Milos Jakes, in a leaked recording, could be heard complaining to his comrades (in ludicrously ungrammatical Czech) that the country was “the last pole in the fence”. Hungarians and Austrians picnicked on what had once been the Iron Curtain’s barbed-wire cordon. Even loyal East Germany wobbled and toppled. When the Prague riot police brutally broke up a student demonstration on November 17th 1989, Mr Havel and his colleagues set up the Civic Forum—a determinedly non-partisan group with, at first, no leaders.

Day after day and in ever-increasing numbers the demonstrators of the Velvet Revolution filled Wenceslas Square, chanting “Truth will triumph” and “We’ve had enough”. Intellectuals had played a vital role in fostering Czech and Slovak national feelings during the Habsburg empire and in building pre-war Czechoslovakia. Now they were taking charge again. Behind the scenes (literally) of the Magic Lantern Theatre, where Civic Forum set up its headquarters, Mr Havel’s quiet authority and moral compass made him the unquestioned head of the opposition. Others were more forceful, self-important or impetuous. But it was the playwright’s voice that counted.

On November 24th, during a press conference, the news came through that the entire leadership of the Communist Party had resigned. Someone produced a bottle of fizzy wine. Mr Havel, next to a beaming Dubcek (hotfoot from his job as a humble forester), declared a toast: “Long live a free Czechoslovakia.” The regime had in effect surrendered, and the country’s destiny was in the writer’s hands. In 24 hours in early December, in what he later said was the most difficult decision of his life, Mr Havel reluctantly agreed to stand for president; posters saying Havel na Hrad (Havel to the Castle) already festooned Prague. Duty (and perhaps a sense of mischief) had triumphed over his craving for a return to normal life. He was elected unanimously by the discredited communist-era parliament, and again in June by its freely elected successor.

Many dissidents’ political careers flared in 1989 but fizzled thereafter: they were too individualistic, or principled, or eccentric for the demands of public life. Mr Havel was the glorious exception. He confounded those who thought he was too dilettantish and self-effacing to be a proper president. He and his pony-tailed, scooter- riding advisers romped through the corridors of Prague Castle, exorcising the ghosts of the communist usurpers with humanity and humour. He ordered spectacular floodlighting, and gloriously elaborate comic-opera uniforms to replace its guards’ grim garb. Almost his first act in office was to invite the rock musician Frank Zappa to a joyful victory concert in Prague.

In what would be a hallmark of his later political life, he made a point of helping beleaguered but like-minded figures. He became a close friend of the Dalai Lama, who was almost the first foreign dignitary he received as president. In 1991 he lobbied for Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel peace prize, when it could have been his. His last public statements were to support political prisoners in Belarus and the opposition protests in Russia. In return, the Kremlin issued insultingly sparse condolences. But in Moscow on December 24th (see article) 80,000 pro-democracy demonstrators held a minute’s silence in his memory.

 

Soul mates

 

Mr Havel banished many demons. He opened warm diplomatic ties with Israel and befriended Germany, then a bogeyman for many Czechoslovaks. He brought Pope John Paul II to Prague, overcoming a neurotic anti-Catholicism and secularism among some of his compatriots, who harboured lively resentments of the counter-Reformation and priestly privilege.

His record at home was more mixed. The parliamentary system gave the president little executive power. With first-hand experience of the flaws in the justice system, he freed many prisoners: some blamed that for a subsequent crime wave.

He disliked the arms industry, and tried to block some important deals. But making weapons was a big source of jobs in Slovakia, long the poorer part of the country, where many felt Mr Havel had a tin ear for their concerns. He was unable to stop the ambitious politicians in Prague and Bratislava who were scheming to dissolve Czechoslovakia. That seemed a big failure at the time. Yet the smooth and peaceful “velvet divorce” of 1992 was a huge achievement. Mr Havel is much mourned in Slovakia; the two countries now get on better than ever.

Laying ghosts

He returned as president of the Czech Republic in 1993 and again in 1998, making the most of his largely symbolic role. The great triumphs were accession to NATO (in 1999) and laying the foundations for European Union membership in 2004. The country could not have had a better ambassador. In 1994 he lured President Bill Clinton into a joyful impromptu saxophone session at a Prague nightclub.

He was profoundly uneasy (rightly, in retrospect) with the shaky moral foundations of post-communist capitalism. The economic reformers understood markets, but not mankind: loose rules and weak institutions created a spivs’ paradise, with a malign and lasting legacy of corruption. The StB was disbanded, but with almost no accounting for its crimes. Mr Havel himself reckoned that the biggest failure on his watch was the handling of the secret police files, a toxic mix of guilty secrets and malicious invention that leaked into public view in the 1990s.

Some Czechs disliked him: too preachy, too elitist, they said (too brave and honest for a country prone to moral flexibility, said others). His critics’ main charges were that he regained family property (entirely lawfully) and then got bogged down in a squabble about its division (not his fault). After his wife Olga died in 1996, he remarried, just under a year later, a lively and rather younger actress, Dagmar, whom some found vulgar in comparison. (Mr Havel said plaintively: “We are in love and want to be together.”) His plays were overrated (perhaps, but his essays deserved every plaudit). He enjoyed the fruits of commercial success (entirely merited, unlike some of his compatriots’ fortunes).

Out of office, Mr Havel’s restless Bohemian energy stayed with him even as his physical strength ebbed. He resumed his literary career, fulfilling a lifetime dream of directing a film—about a politician leaving power. An engaging memoir of his time as president captured the atmosphere of Prague Castle in what to his friends were fairytale years.

It was Mr Havel’s genius that he not only toppled communism, but offered a way out of its ruins that all could follow: calming nerves, laying ghosts and precluding revenge. He had a better claim to resentment than most. But he showed no sign of being burdened by the past. He was far happier about things that had gone successfully than cross about those that had gone wrong. Although humble enough to know he was not a perfect man, he was confident that his ideas were right. His favourite motto summed it up: “Truth and love must prevail over lies and hate.”

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空心

中秋。收拾行装前往秘鲁的前夜,在中国数字时代上看到转发的豆瓣照片,新华社记者刘杰所拍的陕北,空心的农村之家。午夜,M还在和留宿我们的朋友深聊,花园里的浣熊又开始在角落里寻食,三只不眠的老猫各自在地毯上沉思,我一个人面对照片里的他们,似有千言万语,又仿佛无言以对。

那些他们,从两岁的婴孩到八旬的老妪,荞麦花旁,玉米地里,山顶河畔,窑洞院前,是如此的遥远,却又无比现实,就像看到了自己的祖父母、父母、兄长以及子女。每一张照片上重复出场的空空如也的椅子和凳子们,是那样的沉默,又是何等得喧嚣!

感慨之外,陡然生出一丝惊悚:自己的家中,何尝不是如此呢?进城,出国,打工,留洋,又有什么区别呢?中秋之夜的父母,不也是空对着两张椅子吗?从第一次离开父母读寄宿学校算起,前后已经二十几年了。曾经认真得讨论过“父母在不远游”和“好男儿志在四方”,也曾经在读万卷书和行万里路之间难以取舍,从什么时候开始,连问题本身也不在梦中出现了呢?

写下这些文字的时候,已经是在洛杉矶机场了,飞往利马的航班很快就要出发了。贴上豆瓣刘杰的照片,祝福天下所有的留守父母儿女幸福,祝福离家闯荡的你我记得当初的追求。

http://www.douban.com/photos/album/55982997/

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