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希臘詩人荷馬的兩大史詩之一「奧德賽」(The Odyssey),描述希臘英雄奧迪修斯以木馬之計攻陷特洛伊城後,又歷經十年才得以返家的故事。詩人開宗明義寫道: 「謬斯女神啊,請賜予我靈感,讓我寫出這位足智多謀的人,在攻陷神聖的特洛伊城後,如何屢屢被迫駛離航道」(Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns driven time and again off course, once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy) 所謂被迫,指的是無法抗拒的的外在環境,讓英雄耽擱了行程,無法順利回家,並不是遭綁架或被威脅的意思。英雄的返鄉,和人的回歸生命起始點意義相同,指涉一段曲折的人生旅程所必須面對的危機及誘惑。把「奧德賽」視為一則人生的寓言毫不為過;稱它為文學的經典,更是理所當然。本文分析奧迪修斯返鄉行中遇到的四種誘惑,闡明它們在實際的人生中所展現的相貌。這四項分別是1. 蓮花島(Lotus Island),代表的是出離人世的誘惑。 2. 賽喜女妖(Circe),代表佳餚。 3. 賽倫女妖(Sirens),代表權力。 4. 克利普索女神(Calypso),代表安逸。 以下逐一分析其內涵。

Lotus Island:當奧迪修斯來到蓮花島時,他先派一群士兵查看環境,自己則留在岸邊等候消息。他們發現島上的居民喜歡吃一種類似蓮藕的食物,吃了之後精神呈現出離狀態,將世間的悲喜遺忘得一乾二淨。靈魂似乎脫離了肉身,徜徉在極端的平和寧靜當中。於是有些士兵也吃了這種食物,之後再也不願返鄉,把家鄉和夢想拋諸腦後。蓮花島這一站的寓意十分明顯。它象徵人不願承擔世間痛苦的逃避心態,當生活的壓力太過沉重,有些人選擇吸食毒品以得暫時的解脫。因此蓮花島民可解讀成吸毒者,而蓮藕是幫助他們逃離世間悲苦的毒品。就精神的出離現象來探討,我們亦可以說蓮花島民是看破世間苦的宗教人士,他們藉由某種食物達到入定的狀態,靈魂出竅和宇宙的能量合而為一。這種精神的出離是宗教上的神祕經驗,帶領人走入一切皆空的涅槃狀態,無悲亦無喜。對曾經承受巨大痛苦的人們而言,這樣的出離該是多大的誘惑! 蓮花島的食物使人遺忘過去的一切,喪失對生命的憧憬,耽溺於虛無飄渺的時空裏。吸毒後的恍惚以及出離人世的宗教經驗恰可為其代表。

Circe: 奧迪修斯的手下來到賽喜女妖之島時,已是飢腸轆轆。幾位先鋒去勘察環境,發現林中深處有一宮殿,門外雖獅虎群聚,對訪客卻異常友善。賽喜女妖隨即邀請他們進入宮殿,款待以美酒佳餚,他們因飢餓便狼吞虎嚥大吃起來。等酒足飯飽之際,Circe便拿出手杖,把所有嚐過美食的人變成豬,趕到豬圈去。其實在宮殿中所有的動物,都是人變來的,他們都因觸怒了女妖,被變成和其性格類似的動物。逞勇鬥狠的人變成獅虎,饒舌之人變成鸚鵡,而貪食者變成豬。其中一個手下較機靈不敢吃,遂沒有被變成豬,逃回船上報告此事。奧迪修斯得到神的幫助,才能夠制伏女妖,命令她把所有的士兵變回人形。美食對人的誘惑在此處表露無遺。貪食(gluttony)是基督教七大死罪之一,其原因在於貪食者滿足口腹之慾後,接下來往往墮入罪惡的深淵,所謂飽暖思淫慾。「暖」還排在「飽」之後呢!貪食者的吃,不只是為了生存的基本需求,他們為追求味蕾的刺激而吃,或因貪婪的習性,像累積財富般,塞越多食物越好,也不管食物到底對自己的身體有無好處,這就是貪食者的形相。所有吃到飽的餐廳,無限供應美食,讓客人愛不釋手,一盤接一盤的吃,唯恐虧待了自己的荷包。稍加覺察,不難發現這些餐廳和賽喜女妖的宮殿無異,裏頭的客人衣著容或光鮮亮麗,實乃豬隻而已。貪食的誘惑令人腦筋昏沉,無法做出清明的判斷或抉擇,飽足之際身體異常笨重,行動困難,其形相和豬沒有差別!

Sirens: 傳說中Sirens是像美人魚的美麗女妖,擁有迷人的歌聲。航行經過的水手,凡是被她們的歌聲吸引而靠岸者,都成了一具具枯髏。這一站的誘惑是屬於精神層次的,她們的歌是真理的傳達,允諾聽者將得到艮古以來天地之間所有的知識。凡人侷限於時空,無法得知過去、現在及未來的真相,Sirens女妖在歌聲中引誘著好奇的人們,欲知天地一切真相者到我們跟前來,我們將告訴你們所有發生在人世間的事。好奇是表相,人類就像他們的始祖夏娃一樣,對知識樹上的果實垂涎欲滴。在好奇的底層下潛藏的是一顆驕傲的心,想穿越時空,上通天文下通地理,擁有和造物者一樣的全知全能。浮士德(Faustus) 如果知道有Sirens的存在,他必粉身碎骨在所不惜,前來聆聽其歌曲,也用不著出賣靈魂給魔鬼,下地獄受罪還不如死在歌聲悠揚的海岸。Sirens的歌聲是一種隱喻,代表人對權力的渴望,想要像造物者一樣,通曉一切,主宰一切。預知未來要發生的事,可以阻止它發生;知悉過去發生的事,可以引以為鏡。在驕傲心的趨使下,人會偏離正途,追求僭越本分的事情,終致越走越遠,忘記了初衷。如航行者貪戀屬於造物主的權力,因而喪生異邦,永無返鄉之日。奧迪修斯逃過此誘惑的方式是靠近此島時,命令手下耳朵塞著臘不去聽女妖的歌聲,而他自己不塞臘,因為好奇想聽,但防護措施是讓手下將他捆綁起來,以防他掙扎想下船隻接近島嶼。存在於人世間的誘惑無法消滅,重要的是要有覺察力,知道它可怕危險之處,進而防護自己不要靠近。

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Recently, there was a sensational news about the romance between Taichung City Deputy Mayor, Hsiao Chia-chi's (蕭家淇) 18-year-old son and his 40-year-old female cram school teacher. According to the report, this romantic liaison began after Hsiao’s son entered college this summer, and was prohibited shortly after Hsiao knew this affair. Hsiao revealed how shocked he was initially by the fact that such an affair befell his son, only to admit later that perhaps falling for one's teacher is a rite of passage for his son’s mental growth. Interestingly enough, before such an enlightenment dawned on him, he fiercely accused the teacher of seducing his innocent son, who had the misfortune to fall prey to her female erotic power! (「課業輔導到床上去這像話嗎?」「她怎麼會對一個剛上大學、沒談過戀愛的小男生下手!」Now, the cram school teacher has fled to China, and Hsiao's son publicly lamented on his Facebook profile how adults’ interference caused him to lose everything.

This is a glaring example of something perfectly legal yet looked down upon by society. The teacher is unmarried; so is the student. There is no adultery involved here, only that gender and age still reign supreme in such affairs. Would people be as disturbed if the two criteria were reversed? What if it’s an elderly male teacher dating a young female student? Is it still a curse or is it a blessing? Some such marriages happened in the past and met with earnest applause, with the elderly males being respected celebrities and younger females their students or worshippers. Why didn’t our society denounce such a liaison? What is at stake here, the “should” or “should not” for the May-December romance?

For those who side with the May-December romance, love is a personal affair based on mutual consent. The liberal philosophy applies here, for I am free to choose what I like; I am the owner of myself. No one can prohibit me from choosing a lover double my age because I am a rational being worthy of respect. My autonomy grants me the freedom to love and marry anyone I like, be it the old or the same-sex. From the liberal perspective, there seems no room for the governmental or familial interference when it comes to personal relationships.

For those who strongly object to such a liaison, what’s the core problem that bothers them? Don’t they support the ideal of individual freedom? Of course they do, unless their children fall for elderly lovers! Clearly, there exists in this liaison something disapproved by our society. That is, May-December romance, especially that of an elderly female dating a younger male, lacks the virtues that our society values and honors. For one thing, the liaison goes against the principle of eugenics. When a middle-aged ovum meets young sperms, the inferior quality of the product may be expected! Cast aside the purpose of reproduction, the May-December liaison still leaves room to be desired. It implies the feminization of the younger male under the care of the elderly female. Effeminacy in a male is certainly an unfavorable quality. Even worse, the younger male may be exploited as a tool to gratify the elderly female’s sexual crave. This relationship therefore may erode the honorific aspect of masculinity in a bourgeois society.

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The Reader, as some critics claim, is a film about eroticism, Holocaust trauma, morality, and reconciliation. While it touches these issues, I’m most intrigued by the subtlety of the couple’s relationship. How can a middle-aged woman leave a permanent scar in a teenager’s life? In a certain sense, his whole life is haunted by the woman. Is it because the first love is always the most unforgettable? In my view, she is unforgettable not just because she is his first love but because she assumes the complicated role of a femme fatale, who torments the heart of a sensitive man.

In this film, Hanna, the femme fatale starring Kate Winslet is the archetypical figure of Jocasta, Muse and Medusa rolled into one. As Oedipus falls prey to the charm of Jocasta, Michael Berg is fascinated with the beauty of Hanna although she is old enough to be his mother. His Oedipus complex is obvious, as he is always apathetic and cold to his father, a strict man emphasizing disciplines. Thus explains his sexual inclination to an elderly woman, whom he identifies as his mother capable of giving him warmth and love while his biological mother can merely obey his father’s command.

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