目前分類:讀書筆記 (28)

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《不思量的藝術》譯自一行禪師(Thich Nhat Hanh)的英文著作 Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise。從英文標題得知,靜默是本書的主題。對年輕人而言,談論寂靜的力量,似乎老成了些;對不識佛法的人而言,寂靜等同消極遁世,是「佛系」二字的代名詞。近年來,「佛系」一詞如雨後春筍般冒出,其意涵多屬訕笑或嘲諷一切的消極不作為。看完此書,便知靜默不是遁世的禪修儀式,而是隨時可行的靜/淨心行動。「佛系」一詞,不該被誤解為擺爛的做事方式。

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旅行的藝術》是英倫才子艾倫・狄波頓於2002年的作品。這位才思敏捷、善用哲學角度解讀日常的作者,繼《擁抱似水年華》之後,帶領讀者經歷奇妙的旅行經驗。此書鞭辟入裡探討旅行的心理因素及帶來的生命意義,絕對是哲學及文學的饗宴,非關飲食與景點的實質引薦。書中刻意採英雄冒險之結構,從出發、啟蒙到回歸,帶給我們視覺及心靈的絕佳遐想。作者旅行的範圍橫掃機場、高速公路休息站、阿姆斯特丹、馬德里、英格蘭湖區、西奈沙漠、普羅旺斯等,最後回到他的家鄉--英國倫敦。他在每個停駐點,導入和當地有深刻連結的作家或藝術家。寫到阿姆斯特丹的異國風情,他安排福樓拜當嚮導。描繪英格蘭湖區的美麗寧靜,他請出英國浪漫詩人華茲華斯。要傳遞西奈沙漠的雄偉遼闊,他呼喚聖經舊約中的約伯。而普羅旺斯的最佳代言,非梵谷莫屬。

旅行的藝術》彷彿是一部迷你又另類的文學及藝術史。沒有紀年及紀事,卻有作家和藝術家們在當地所經歷的幽微心識。文學史紀載人、事、時、地、物等事實,而艾倫・狄波頓娓娓道來福樓拜如何唾棄法國中產階級的虛矯,進而崇拜駱駝的堅毅及優雅! 遊歷詩人華茲華斯筆下的田園風光時,他不忘闡釋其詩作及親近自然之理念,深入探討為何大自然能啟發美德,矯正都市生活的扭曲墮落。哲學的嚴肅議題,在他獨特又饒富趣味的剖析下,變得生動易懂。從引領期盼到敗興而歸的心理層次,旅行道盡多少人間事! 旅行的嚴肅性,在於它可成為人類思想的催生劑。新地方引發新思想,宏觀的思想,較易在快速移動的車、船、飛機上被啟發,而流動的風景,易促成自我內心的對話:

Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than a moving plane, ship or train. There is an almost quaint correlation between what is in front of our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts at times requiring large views, new thoughts new places. Introspective reflections which are liable to stall are helped along by the flow of the landscape.

人終究脫離不了感官的刺激。居家的平凡無奇以及固定的家具,總限制了一些想像和視野,於是旅行成為自我突破及潛能探索的同義詞。

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本論文主要探討「少年Pi的奇幻漂流」符合神話英雄的冒險行徑。理論是根據神話學大師坎伯所著的「千面英雄」。此書蒐羅世界各文化的神話傳說,歸納出英雄冒險的相似軌跡分成三部分:啟程,啟蒙,及回歸。英雄得到某種外在的召喚,離開熟悉的家鄉出發前往陌生的領域,在此期間他必須經歷各種磨難考驗,所幸有外在的神祕力量保護而生存下來,並且得到心靈的成長。最後英雄通過試煉回返家園,把冒險得來的智慧分享給世人。此類英雄的範圍,包含屠龍的勇士甚至如佛陀及基督之類的智者。

「少年Pi的奇幻漂流」是Yann Martel所寫的奇幻小說,內容敘述16歲的印度少年Pi,在舉家移民加拿大的途中遭遇沈船。他靠著信仰,在救生艇上漂流227天後奇蹟生還,唯一的同伴是原先動物園內飼養的老虎。Pi的故事吻合神話英雄的三階段冒險。搭船前往加拿大,是英雄的啟程。他所信仰的三個宗教是外在的助力,他的啟蒙及帶回人世的禮物,是對神更堅定的信仰及推翻科學實證的客觀真理。

本研究重新發掘坎伯的神話英雄理論,引用它來檢視Pi的冒險,以期增加此小說的深度,同時也證明神話英雄並非過時的理論,它仍然可以啟發無限的創作靈感。本文分三部分書寫,以呼應英雄的三階段冒險。套用神話英雄的架構來分析「少年Pi的奇幻漂流」,可以證明它不是一般膚淺的劫後求生的故事。它深具意義之處,在於它是神話英雄冒險的現代縮影,也是探討信仰的成長小說。

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Siddhartha is a 1922 novelette by Hermann Hesse, a German-Swiss poet and novelist awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946. It explores the spiritual quest of an Indian young man named Siddhartha during the time of the Gautama Buddha. Lyrical and philosophical, the book was influential during the 1960s as it rediscovered Oriental wisdom as an antidote to mechanistic civilization. In a certain sense, Siddhartha is a reflection of Hesse’s yearning for deliverance from the bondage of individuality. However, this keen searching doesn’t always meet with positive response in academia. The objections include Hess as an unintellectual guru, or Siddhartha as a false portrayal of Buddhism combined with Western individualism.

        Almost one hundred years after its publication, is it still significant as it was in the last century? For spiritual seekers, different approaches to interpreting it yield rich fruits to taste and digest. We can read it as the spiritual journey of a mythological hero. Or, it is an allegory on human life as a whole from Buddhist perspective. Moreover, it is an illustration of Zen insight on life tinged with postmodern philosophy.        

Siddhartha can be read as an archetypal hero’s quest, with the theory based on Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth. On one hand, Siddhartha’s journey conforms to the structure of the traditional hero’s adventure. It’s a cycle involving a going and a returning. On the other hand, his experiences represent the sufferings and redemption common to humanity. The enlightenment he got benefits all mankind, transcending the distinction of age, race or gender.   

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「sisyphus stone」的圖片搜尋結果

 

 

 

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It's a story about a quiet, queenly woman who never looked away, a tale to tear the heart of a mother, daughter and  the Blacks with slave ancestors.

Here are the fragments of the sad song by Tony Morrison:

 A man was nothing but a man. They encouraged you to put some of your weight in their hands and soon as you felt how light and lovely that was, they studied your scars and tribulations, after which they did what he had done: ran her children out and tore up the house.

 

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It’s so much easier to choose to love the things that you have. And you have so much, instead of always yearning for what you’re missing - - - or what it is that you’re imagining you are missing.

(Meryle Streep in One True Thing)

One True Thing, a 1988 American film, explores the subtlety of family relationship. The one true thing refers to the devoted mother who lights up her family’s life at the cost of her health. It’s touching because the three major roles reflect part of us, as a father, mother or kids. This article will examine three aspects of family relationship: father/daughter, mother/daughter, and husband/wife

I. Father / daughter

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James Thurber, (1894-1961), was an American writer best known for his humorous stories. As a celebrated wit, Thurber highlighted the comic frustrations and eccentricities of ordinary people in his works.

The following essay is about the ways to sustain a happy marriage. Although its tone is hilarious, it reveals the naked truth of marriage characterized by the twists and turns of confrontation and conciliation. The ten rules, nothing less than the manifesto of Thurber’s idiosyncrasies, are intended to amuse rather than preach.

First of all, he mentions the motive for this writing is the fight between a couple in his neighborhood:

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Introduction:

Life of Pi「少年P的奇幻漂流」是李安導演的最新3D作品,預定11月在台灣上映。本文要探討的是原著小說中的主題,如封面所寫:一位擁有三種信仰的印度男孩,一隻450磅重的孟加拉虎,一場船難,一艘救生艇,以及太平洋。乍看之下,它是海上版的魯賓遜漂流記,或浩劫重生之類的電影,一個人獨自存活於災難之後,靠著毅力、智慧及信仰,度過重重難關重回人世。相較於魯賓遜在荒島耕種,自力謀生並對抗野人,少年Pi在太平洋上只靠救生艇維生,再加一隻老虎的威脅,情勢更是艱難。兩者在孤立的環境中都有一個主要同伴,不管是人是虎,這充分說明人無法完全孤立而存活。馴服者與被馴服者的關係是主與僕,兩者間尊卑之意識型態在魯賓遜中被合理化,但在Pi中卻另有深刻的反省。儘管劇情的發展結構一致------船難發生,主角存活,勇敢對抗惡劣環境,最終得救,但我試著以佛家的思想角度來讀少年Pi, 卻有另外一番體悟。

I. The essence of life: drifting uncontrollably

少年Pi漂流大海,其意象很容易和佛家思想連結,即人的一生如漂流生死海,隨波逐流,一切全由業力主宰並不自由。Pi在海上的漂流正是此相狀。他沒有力量主宰自己的方向,只能任由洋流擺布:”What was the point of plotting a course if I couldn’t act on it? So I drifted. Winds and currents decided where I went.”

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繼「正義」一書後,Michael Sandel教授再度出擊,在「錢所不能買的東西」(What Money Can’t Buy) 這本書裡,直指金錢入侵民主社會各種領域後,對思想行為所造成的衝擊。

延續前書的論點,作者認為市場邏輯(market logic)已滲入社會各個層面,幾乎無所不在。這種邏輯根據自由派(libertarian)經濟思想而來,強調個人有權利自由買賣所擁有的東西;在買賣雙方達成交易後,兩方各得其利,有效率地讓物品得到適當的歸屬,發揮最大的用處。簡單來講,支持市場邏輯的兩個主要觀點是個人自由(individual freedom)和功利思想(utilitarian)。而反對市場邏輯也正好由此兩點下手。自由非真自由,而功利思想最終將腐蝕腐事物本質。歸納起來,反市場邏輯的主要論點,一是公平(fairness),二是腐化(corruption)。公平者反駁個人自由之論,強調買賣雙方若在經濟不平等的條件下交易,賣方往往因經濟拮据,在不得已的情況下出賣擁有物。在被迫、利誘下做出的抉擇,不是真正的自由交易。另外,腐化之論在破除功利思想的迷思。容或金錢的買賣可以有效率的分配物品,但物品不見得就能適得其所,反而本質會被汙染,內在價值也隨之腐敗。整本書用市場邏輯和反市場邏輯的兩種論調,反覆檢驗社會發生的實際案例,逐一剖析市場價值的弊端,提醒我們建立正確的價值觀,共造美好的民主社會。以下簡要陳述書上所提及的案例,並引用這兩種思考角度來分析批判。 

1. 用錢買方便

美國社會有一種代客排隊的行業,可以替客人漏夜排隊,買免費的劇場票或替一些利益團體在聽證會的門口排隊卡位。此外,多花點錢請人排隊,能看名醫、得到專屬醫生全天候的照護、國家公園的露營權、教皇的彌撒大會入場券、搖滾音樂會的門票等。一切眾人擠破頭想得到的好東西,只要多花點錢,就有專業排隊人士替你辦到。快速通關也是用錢買特權的一例,多花點錢,可以優先通過機場安全檢查、使用快速道路、遊樂園設施、語音優先服務等。這種特權具體來講就是插隊權(que-jumping rights)。排隊展現了民主社會的公平理念,先到先服務(first come, first serve),無階級貴賤之差別。現在用錢買插隊權,凸顯有錢階級享有美好事物的優先權,無錢者只能落後排隊,不確定的等待美好事物的降臨。

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Prologue

With the countdown of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games in London, England will attract the attention of the whole world this summer. In the eyes of a foreigner, England is featured by a cloudy sky, foggy towns, and red phone booths. The British mentality is notorious for its snobbery, hypocrisy, xenophobia and insularity. From the perspective of a perspicacious writer, George Orwell, we see something subtle and intriguing about the British culture. Let me summarize what Orwell highlights as the distinctive British flavor in the article, “England Your England”:

According to Orwell, national characteristics are continuous and persisting, stretching into the future and past. They have entered into the soul of the people. Despite the changing of the world, national characteristics can change only in certain directions because certain alternatives are possible and others are not, like a turnip seed never growing into a parsnip. For the British, their characteristics include the following:

First of all, the lack of artistic ability. The British are not as musical as the Germans or Italians; paintings and sculpture have never flourished in England as they have in France.

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At first glance, the myth of Persephone and Demeter is to explain the four seasons featured by varied landscape. On second thought, it implies a delicate female relationship denied by the patriarchal society---a lesbian desire for the union of two females, body and soul. The “return to the mother” is not the excessive attachment of mother and daughter; instead, it reveals the power of generation and transformation. 

According to Adrienne Rich, a radical feminist, the return to the mother is a manifestation of lesbian love, which is nurturant, reciprocal and creative. For her as for other lesbian feminists, a desire to return to the mother and lesbian love are expressions of female Eros, the life-instincts to assert female identity against the aggressive and manipulative power of the patriarchal society (Trask 133). Love between two women echoes the love between infant and mother, both of which provide sexual and emotional intimacy beyond males’ reach. In lesbian feminists’ view, women can only gratify their sexual and emotional need through other women, as they understand each other better in body and soul. Lesbian love challenges the patriarchal society in its celebration of the erotic and autonomous potential of the female body. Women’s sexuality is not the privilege of men; instead, it can be enjoyed between two women. To be more precise, penis penetration was not the sole means for woman’s orgasm; women can achieve orgasm by other women (Trask 136). The return to the mother, in a certain sense, signifies the lesbian desire for the union of two women, be they mother/daughter, sisters or lovers. It is the rebellious stance against the patriarchal dominance of female body.

In the spring myth of Persephone and Demeter, Persephone was abducted by Hades, the god of the Underworld. She was detained there as the queen of the Underworld. Her mother Demeter, the goddess of harvest, was so sad and unhappy without her around that all plants and flowers died during the period of her absence. Zeus then ordered that Persephone spend four months with Hades and another four with Demeter. Every year when Persephone was away from her mother, the season of winter came; the earth was cold and lifeless. In contrast, when Persephone was together with her mother, the season of spring came; the earth was abundant with life and vigor again.

Underneath the account of the change of seasons lies the message of female desire for each other. When Demeter and Persephone are together, the plants grow and flowers blossom. It implies that the union of two females helps for mutual growth and creativity. Female Eros, defined in lesbian discourses as “life-instincts,” find full expression in the rebirth of the earth. The nurturant relationship stimulates female autonomy, which is often repressed or denied in the patriarchal society. When Persephone stays with Hades, flowers wither and plants die. The message is obvious: male dominance hinders female creativity. The male’s exclusive ownership of female body stifles her power. In contrast, the sexual and emotional intimacy between two females generates life and vigor.

Persephone’s return to her mother is a metaphor. It is a subversive gesture against the patriarchal hegemony. Hidden in this spring myth is the lesbian desire for female autonomy and creativity! Heterosexual love embodied in Hades and Persephone is the exploited one. Hades raped Persephone and forced her to stay, providing her with abundant material supplies. This echoes the real world where women are the sexual slave of their husband, while living a seemingly peaceful and happy life. In such a relationship, women have no autonomy over their own body. The winter with its desolate sight reflects women’s loss of life force under men’s control. In contrast, when Persephone returns to her mother, the world comes to life. The union of two women brings warmth to this world, chasing away the chill of male exploitation.

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Prologue

Flowers, candle lights, fragrance, feast---Yea, it’s Valentine’s Day. To its sacredness, people grow numb. To its overtone to sex, people grow ecstatic. Katherine Anne Porter’s essay, “The Necessary Enemy” tolls a warning sound to those passionate, naive, and gullible young maids! The following is its excerpt:

Summary: 愛與憎是生命的底蘊,兩者互相激盪交融,共存於生命中。人性之惡讓愛無法真正落實,卻讓憎不斷生起。有愛必有憎,似乎是人無法逃脫之宿命。憎由愛起,和愛的關係亦敵亦友。婚姻洽是滋養這兩種情緒的最佳溫床。 

Love is taught, always by precept, some times by example. Then hate, which no one meant to teach us, comes of itself. It is true that if we say I love you, it may be received with doubt, for there are times that it is hard to believe. Say I hate you, and the one spoken to believes it instantly, once for all. Say I love you a thousand of times to a person afterward and mean it every time, and still it does not change the fact that once we said I hate you, and meant that too, it leaves a mark on that surface love had worn so smooth with its eternal caresses. Love needs to be taught again and again. Hate needs no instruction, but waits only to be provoked

愛須要以規勸或仿效的方式,不停歇的來教導。而恨卻不請自來,不須人教,等在那而一觸即發。愛人們說再多次我愛你,彼此還是會存疑不信。但只要說一次我恨你,這句話立刻會烙印心中,在愛永恆輕撫所磨平的光滑表面上,留下不滅的汙點。

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The real strength of essays is the writers’ idiosyncrasy about life, especially with the tone featured by light-hearted irony and informality. Here are the exemplar essays by Virginia Woolf, a formidable feminist whose novels used to entangle me in the time labyrinth and whose fictional characters bewildered me with their stream of consciousness. Yet, I came to appreciate her insight on life through the two essays illustrated below. She is powerful in criticizing a famous courtesan in the Regency period, and also, reflecting on life and death.

Harriette Wilson

In this essay, Virginia Woolf commented on the life of a notorious courtesan, Harriette Wilson. She attributed her wanton way of life to her big family, the one with fifteen children and a bad-tempered father always on the point of solving math problems and getting furious if interrupted. The result was her eager escape from it. At the age of 15, she became a mistress of a certain Earl. Thus began her life “free as air from any restraint.” That means a life full of variety, full of men with money and rank! “Large and voluptuous herself, she loved for the most part little men with small hands and feet, and like Mr. Meyler, skins of remarkable transparency--- foreboding perhaps an early death.” And her shallow mind denied the possibility of the early death of her man in full bloom! The result of consulting with the verdict of her conscience was always odd, for “nothing was further from her liking than serious thought.” Therefore, she would insist that no law bind marriage, which should be based on love and honor. Ironically, the two very things were what she was always lacking and seeking!

In that strange land of her dissolute life, however, spendthrift men rambled through, pouring on her lavishly whatever they had. With a vivacious personality and charming countenance, she enthralled rich and powerful men:

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年輕的時候讀「金鎖記」,看見的曹七巧不過是個豪門怨婦,讓積壓過久的怨懟與瞋恨給扭曲變了形的一個瘋子。年長的時候再審視她,看見的就不只於此。怨婦的背後有著嚴肅的婚姻、親子、及階級議題。

「金鎖記」讓我們看見古今中外,構成幸福婚姻的必要條件是尊敬。你必須對伴侶心存敬意,沒有尊敬為基礎的婚姻,必不圓滿。曹七巧視她軟骨病的丈夫如一團爛肉,面對一個須要被照顧、終日與床為伍,軟趴趴沒有生氣的肉體,她只有鄙視與憎恨,敬意無從生起。儘管他家有的是金山銀山,還是無法改變爛肉的事實。現今社會中的豪門婚姻,成功的例子不多,癥結在哪裡? 缺乏對伴侶的尊敬。豪門婚姻的型態多半是坐擁金銀財寶、身分地位的男方,迎娶略遜一籌的美嬌娘。美女對金錢的尊敬,往往多於對男人的品格與學識的崇拜。男人對女人身體的膜拜,又往往多於對她靈魂的渴求。所以豪門的婚姻如同名人的婚姻無法持久,因為兩方對彼此的靈魂都沒有充足的敬意。珍˙奧斯丁名作「傲慢與偏見」也點出此真理。作者以全知全能的觀點,解析女主角的父親和母親這段同床異夢的婚姻關係。Mr.Bennet喜歡閱讀,是典型的鄉下仕紳;Mrs. Bennet 喜歡串門子嚼舌根,十足的三姑六婆。到底年輕時是個充滿活力的美人,讓Mr. Bentley一時意亂情迷而娶了她,日後卻因深刻的了解而鄙視輕忽她的存在,不時以譏諷的言詞,取笑她那冥頑不靈且無文化涵養的枯槁心靈。這樣的婚姻橋段大家都該心領神會吧? 幸福婚姻無它,尊敬而已!

從「金鎖記」亦可看見中式教養的意趣。曹七巧對待子女顯得冷酷無情,總猜忌防範著,深怕子女挖走她的財產。錢是她的命,子女是她的財產,由不得做主。當女兒長安喜歡上了一個歸國學人,她百般阻撓,因為對方曾經有緋聞,又恐他是貪圖她家的錢財。當兒子長白娶了媳婦,她惟恐兒子有了媳婦忘了娘,便慫恿兒子整夜吸食鴉片,逼他說出閨房情形,再以不堪的言詞,譏笑媳婦種種行為。最後她逼死了媳婦,也逼退了女兒的如意郎君,換得的是兒女對她的恨。看似一個變態的母親,卻點出中式親子關係的意識形態。中式教養是上對下的掌控,非西方式的民主關愛。誠如「虎媽的戰歌」中所提到的,傳統的中國父母為子女安排好一切,給予嚴厲的磨練,這是為其將來做準備。過程中會有責打,但這是為達成目的必要手段。玉不琢不成器,越是磨練越能養成其堅毅不拔的氣概。在西方愛的教育的洗禮下,中式教養顯的有違人道,甚被貼上虐童的標籤。殊不知中國父母和其子女是一體的,子女的成就就是他們的成就。子女同時是家族的一部份,必須承擔傳宗接代及延續家族聲望的角色。中國子女從來不是獨立於家族的自由個體,他們從生下來就注定要承接父母的期望。在這樣的文化背景下看曹七巧,就知道她的乖戾行為根源為何。安排女兒上中學為的是辦知識嫁妝;讓兒子抽鴉片好管住他,把他留在身邊避免去嫖妓賭博,散盡家產。她用尖酸刻薄的言詞刺傷女兒,無非是怕頭腦單純的她,人財兩失。她愛錢勝過愛子女;同樣的,多少中國父母愛名聲勝過愛子女? 說曹七巧虐待子女一點也不為過,說她是中式教養的陰魂亦是恰如其分。

最後從階級的角度來看「金鎖記」。曹七巧是北方的商賈人家嫁入南方的豪門,若非丈夫是個軟骨病,恐怕這輩子被喚為少奶奶的機會是微乎其微。為了這少奶奶的頭銜,她損耗半輩子的精力和週遭的姻親們角力鬥爭。門當戶對的觀念深植於傳統中國文化中,曹七巧自然是受大戶人家鄙視的對象。妯娌們的冷言冷語、丫環們的暗地非議,自然在她心裏烙下不可磨滅的創傷。被排擠的人,總是要想辦法生存,於是她慢慢變成言語苛薄、無理取鬧的潑婦,動輒搬出她的委屈心酸向人訴苦,也漸漸的無人同情理睬。而越是無人理睬,她越是變本加厲,發狠的灑潑。一生鬥爭下來,傷痕累累,最終就是病痛纏身孤寂而死。社會上充斥許多類似被排擠的人,他們的行為模式和她如出一轍。先是怨懟,而後攻擊傷害他人,其中也包括自己的家人。家暴的男人很多都是在職場上受人排擠的人;混幫派的人很多是在學校受人歧視嘲笑的一群。曹七巧的語言暴力,以多種形式還魂於現代社會中。而對自身階級地位感到自豪的人們,應該讀讀哈佛大學教授Michael Sandel所撰寫的「正義」一書。古今中外每個社會崇尚的價值是變動的。某個階層得到高薪受到尊崇,不代表自身的美德或崇高。只能表示這個階層的人所擁有的才能,在這個特殊的時空有特別的用處,因而得到社會的肯定,所以能享有優渥的生活。豪門世家的子孫們,大可不必因為出了個會考試或做生意的祖先而洋洋得意,視他人為敝屣。豪門之所以成豪門,是你們幸運的祖先,剛好擁有封建社會須要的文采,或資本主義社會須要的投資經營長才而已。

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如果你可以永生不死,你要嗎?這是Tuck Everlasting(改拍電影名為「真愛無盡」)所探討的主題。這本由 Natalie Babbitt在1975年所撰寫的小說,一般被歸類為奇幻兒童文學。它描述一道神祕的泉水,如何讓Tuck全家人得永生,卻也讓他們受盡折磨。世人都想長生不死,大家都害怕死亡。它似乎是人的大敵,摧毀生命,像強風吹熄蠟燭般,讓人無法抵禦,萬般無奈卻也只能忿忿不平的就範。但作者卻提出深刻動人的見解,娓娓道來為何永生是一種詛咒而非幸福。她讓父親Tuck,向得知泉水秘密的小女孩Winnie解釋生命的意義在於變化與成長。永生就像卡在河灣的小船,動彈不得,無法參與世間的循環變化。身體永遠停駐在某個年齡,就不能經歷不同年齡的感知,生命也就無法成長蛻變,雖生猶死可說是Tuck家人的寫照。

作者認為生命像個輪子,不停的轉動著。人從出生、成長、到死亡都是輪轉的一部份,不能隨意去除。少掉了任何一部份,生命就不完整。 生命也像流水,永遠不會停駐在某處。孔子也說過,「逝者如斯,不捨晝夜。」從出生的那一刻開始,生命就不停的流動,如一彎河水,流經地表,最後回歸大海。海水經太陽照射後,蒸發凝聚成雲,雲變成雨,雨下到地面又變成河水。大自然如此循環不息,人也應該像大自然,生生滅滅,不停的蛻變。死亡的另一面就是新生。海水蒸發成雲,不代表生命的結束,代表的是生命的昇華與轉化。死亡讓生命發揮最大的潛能,沒有死亡就沒有光采的生命。 

作者對生命循環的觀點呼應了佛法的念死無常。《大般涅槃經》云:「一切想中,無常死想是為第一,由是諸想能除三界一切貪欲、無明、我慢。」《大般涅槃經》是佛陀涅槃前所說的經典。他教導我們,一切的思惟當中,最重要的是念死無常。這意思不是叫我們每天都恐懼著死亡的降臨,而是提醒策勵自己,生命隨時會有無常的變化,不要覺得自己可以久住於世,要善用每一天來修行,去除對物質世界的貪愛執著。試想如果明天就要死,今天的你還會汲汲營營追逐個人的名譽、地位、財富嗎?所有外界誘人的東西,都在念死無常的概念下,銷聲匿跡,取而代之的是生命最值得追求的價值---行善造福人群。因為有死亡的威逼,我們才能夠更珍惜活著的日子,利用這個生命來做有意義的事。死亡帶來生命品質的提升,它讓我們成為燃燒的蠟燭,在短短的一生中,有機會為黑暗汙濁的世間帶來光與熱。

另外出自法句經的一個故事,亦能闡釋自然萬物生滅之理。吉離舍瞿曇彌是舍衛城的人,嫁給一位年輕的富翁,生了一個兒子。但她的兒子卻在剛學會走路時因故去世了。她為此痛苦逾恆,就抱著兒子的屍首,到處請求人家,能不能救救她的兒子。人們認為她已經瘋了,但有位智者,看見她可憐的樣子,就決定送她去見佛陀。這位智者告訴她:「妳應該去見佛陀,他有妳想要的藥,去吧!」她就去請求佛陀給她可以救活兒子的藥。佛陀知道她心思紊亂,便答應救活她的兒子,並告訴她有一種藥可以讓她兒子復活,但此藥欠缺某種藥材,須要她找到從未有親人去世的人家,向他們要一些芥末種子,才能調配完成。她心想有救活兒子的希望,一下子興奮過頭,沒能仔細思量佛陀話中的含意,就挨家挨戶的問。每戶人家都很樂意幫助她,但她就是找不到一戶從沒有親人去世過的人家。天色漸漸晚時,她才明白不只她有親人過世,而且,她也知道死去的人比活著的人還多。她的態度因此變了,不再執著於兒子的屍首,她也明白佛陀已經教導她最珍貴的道理:有生就有死。她埋葬完兒子後,就回去告訴佛陀,找不到一戶從沒有親人去世的人家。佛陀說:「瞿曇彌!妳不可以錯誤地以為只有妳的兒子喪生。現在妳已經明白,眾生都會死亡。眾生欲望尚未滿足之前,死亡就奪走人的生命。」

佛法不只是消極遁世的生命觀,念死絕非是消極逃避責任的態度。相反的,它是行善最強大的動力。現今西方一位科技奇才,蘋果電腦前執行長Steve Jobs,亦能印證念死在他的生命扮演何等重要的角色。我們來檢視他在2005年史丹佛大學畢業演說中的一段,看他如何用念死來開創事業的巔峰:

提醒自己快死了,是我在人生中面臨重大決定時,所用過最重要的方法。因為幾乎每件事,包括外界的期望、自我的驕矜、對困窘或失敗的恐懼-這些在面對死亡時,都消失殆盡,只有最真實重要的東西才會留下。提醒自己快死了,是我所知避免掉入畏懼失去的陷阱裡最好的方法。你已一無所有,所以沒有理由不能順心而為 Steve Jobs甚至認為死亡是生命中最棒的發明。它是改變生命的媒介,因為死亡能清除一切的老舊腐朽,讓新事物誕生。這觀點不正是Tuck對生命的詮釋嗎? 死亡是生命循環的一部分,有了死才會有生。

念死讓Steve Jobs勇於追逐夢想,讓他的創意源源不斷,擺脫世俗既有的思考模式,成就了蘋果電腦的巔峰時期。所以念死可以開創西方的高科技文明,念死亦可以圓滿東方的精神文明。以這樣豁達的胸襟接受死亡,才能締造光輝的生命。所以永生絕非是上天的禮物,而是災難;它是讓生命無法進步的阻力與障礙。Tuck Everlasting 表述的正是這個想法。雖然主角是年僅十一歲的小女孩,讀者群似乎鎖定在青少年,但它是一本適合全家共讀的書,因為所有的人都必須面對死亡,面對失去摯愛的遺憾痛苦。如果能以這樣正面的態度接受死亡,世間的苦會減少很多的。­


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美國南方的小說,自福克納(William Faulkner)以來,一直充斥著畸零人的孤寂感。”Novel of grotesque” 自成一種文類,不下於希臘的古典悲劇,讀完後令人不勝唏噓,悲憫(pity)及畏懼(fear)之情油然生起。悲憫的是主角性格上的乖戾偏執,是因成長環境所造成,非自己能作主。畏懼的是人的力量如此渺小,在大環境的箝制下,無可脫逃。20、30年代美國南方的保守社會,禁錮了無數孤獨疏離的人。Carson McCullers所寫的短篇小說,The Ballad of the Sad Café,(1975年中文版譯成小酒館的悲歌)探討的主題是畸零人的愛,這樣的愛如此蒼涼,深夜展讀,痛徹心扉。沒有經歷失去摯愛之人,無法體會故事主角Miss Amelia的孤寂。以下列舉小說中之經典句,以闡釋作者對愛/被愛,及生命的看法:

Lover’s solitary feeling

Love is a joint experience between two persons---but the fact that it is a joint experience does not mean that it is a similar experience to the two people involved. There are the lover and beloved, but these two come from different countries. Often the beloved is a stimulus for all the stored-up love which has lain quiet within the lover for a long time hitherto. And somehow every lover knows this. He feels in his soul that his love is a solitary thing. He comes to know a new, strange loneliness and it is this knowledge which makes him suffer. So, there is only one thing for the lover to do. He must house his love within himself as best he can; he must create for himself a whole new inward world---a world intense and strange, complete in himself. Let it be added here that this lover about whom we speak need not necessarily be a young man saving for a wedding ring--- this lover can be man, woman, child, or indeed any human creature on this earth.

愛人者與被愛者的關係永遠無法對等;兩者的角色關係一主動一被動。愛人者內心早已積蓄著澎湃的愛; 被愛者的角色,只是啟動他的情感樞紐而已。而如此深刻濃烈的愛,注定是寂寞的,是一種只能埋在內心世界,極隱密又痛苦的情懷。

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羅蘭巴特(Roland Barthes),二十世紀法國思想家,以符號/結構的觀點批判社會現象,深具影響力。本文整理其代表作「艾菲爾鐵塔及其它迷思」 (The Eiffel Tower and Other Mythologies)中的精彩論點,以茲反省時下的文化相貌。

Bourgeois Mentality

1. 量化心態

Nothing is achieved without an equal consequence; every human action is rigorously countered, recouped. A whole mathematics of the equation reassures the petit bourgeois, making him a world to the measure of his dealings (51). In short, the bourgeois ideology is that of equality: an eye for an eye, effect vs. cause, merchant vs. money, penny for penny(52).

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I. Introduction

Roland Barthes (1915–1980) was a French literary theorist, philosopher, critic, and semiotician. His study of signs, known as semiotics, is inspiring in subverting the dominant bourgeois culture. He dissects the implied meaning of cultural signs by analyzing a signifier and its related signified. For example, a picture of a full, dark bottle is a signifier that relates to a specific signified: a fermented, alcoholic beverage. However, the bourgeoisie relate it to a new signified: the idea of healthy, robust, relaxing experience. His insight on various cultural phenomena reveals the manipulation of the dominant class, highlighting the ideology working behind the surface meaning. In A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, his aim is not so much to debunk the bourgeois hegemony as to reveal the illusion of love. Devoid of sentimentality, this book is a fragmented meditation of an unrequited lover. The predominant theme is that the lover, I, can never truly find the beloved, You, for love itself is doomed to be a fabrication of mass culture and therefore a desire beyond one’s control.

II. Main Ideas in A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments

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「享受吧,一個人的旅行」(Eat, Pay, Love),作者(Eliazath Gilbert)以第一人稱的角度,娓娓道來她的自我追尋。副標題(OneWoman’s Search for Everything across Italy, India and Indonesia)揭示這是一個女人的故事,她的追尋橫跨了義大利、印度及巴里島。故事的主角Lisa在三十幾歲出頭時,就已擁有時下美國女性該擁有的一切,包括有成就的丈夫、鄉村別墅、以及成功的事業,然而她卻感受不到滿足與喜悅,反而因困惑與驚恐而被受煎熬。故事從這裏開展,接下來就描繪她如何放下世人所欣羨的成功表象,轉而去追尋自己真正想要的東西。她用一年的時間,到三個不同的國家旅行,體察三種不同的文化,也發掘出最真實的自我。她在義大利體驗愉悅(pleasure), 在印度發掘虔誠(devotion), 最後在巴里島找到世俗享樂(wordly enjoyment)及靈性超越(divine transcendence)兩者間的平衡。

以西方文學的類別來區分,本書可視為是一本成長小說(Bildungsroman),主角從匱乏到富足,從中學習人生的寶貴經驗(from rags to riches)。此中的匱乏,可以是實際的物質或金錢,亦可以是心靈的枯竭。故事開始於主角的一無所有,必須赤手空拳面對世間的挑戰,但經由勇氣與智慧,或得到貴人的相助,最後終能享有成功的果實。此文類的代表作有狄更斯的大衛考伯菲爾,伯朗特的簡愛等。Lisa從離婚的一無所有,到最後在巴里島找到真愛的過程,就是一部成長小說的典範。用「三」這個數字,代表的是平衡、和諧與禪定。東方的佛教徒或瑜伽行者,在修行時手上的念珠有108顆。108這個數字是三位數,總合加起來是9,亦是三的平方數。西方基督教有三位一體(Holy Trinity)的說法,意思為聖父、聖子及聖靈,可見三所代表的吉祥意涵。作者將她的追尋分成三部分,以呼應它在宗教上的神聖意涵。Lisa在三個不同的文化中,看見潛藏於本性中的渴求,也釋放了真實的自我。透過三種文化的洗禮,她得到了真正的平靜和喜悅,這正是宗教的最終意義----讓世人離苦得樂。

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