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Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Sign of the Four 及其他

播放Sherlock之前,PBS重播Jeremy Brett版福尔摩斯剧集中的“四签名”。拍摄此剧时两个演员已经颇为年长,David Burke看上去五十多岁,两鬓斑白,被迫跟三十来岁的女演员谈情说爱,看上去挺sad的。剧中布景、美术设计、灯光、摄影等等都明亮整洁,与原著中潮湿恐怖的气氛非常相左。

刚才顺手狗了一下Jeremy Brett,才发现他原来也是弯的!虽然结婚两次,似乎相当不幸福。悲惨的时代和环境呀。而且还有 bipolar disorder。

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前两天翻了翻海军协议,开头一段满有趣的,介绍丢失海军协议的主要人物是Watson的中学(显然是公学)同学,外号豆芽菜(实际是“蝌蚪”,估计跟豆芽菜一个意思)的Percy Phelps,跟Watson年纪一样但是高他两班,当时经常被同学讥讽和欺负,但进入社会之后靠了家族裙带关系事业猛进,入了外交部工作。后来的国家机密故事都扯上Mycroft ,但这最早一篇倒是拉上Watson的关系。

小说中一切线索都指出Phelps是个年轻人,对他的描写甚至直接说:"A young man, very pale and worn, was lying upon a sofa near the open window." 既然他是年轻人,那么跟他同年的Watson怎么可能是老头涅?

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新剧集里最爱的还是第三集,没事拿出来瞅瞅开头的语法课部分,又暴笑一场。然后心中一动,拿出Kindle做个文字搜索,hung vs. hanged. 发现全集各个故事中有不少次(十次左右)用hanged指“吊死”之意,而用hung只有血字的研究中一次,其他时候hung都是指“挂”的意思。想必那第一次是笔误。难道Gatiss写的这段也是从Doyle医生的文法笔误里得到灵感? 这也太精细了。

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PBS网站上有几个访谈视频,包括跟Gatiss与Moffat一对活宝的Q&A。

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一不做二不休,又search了一下"if inconvenient come",发现这句话出现在 The Adventure of the Creeping Man的开头: It was one Sunday evening ... that I received one of Holmes's laconic messages: Come at once if convenient---if inconvenient come all the same. ---S.H.

中国古玩瓷器的话题也不是无中生有,在The Adventure of the Illustrious Client里面,Dr. Watson不得不恶补Chinese pottery知识(Doyle医生居然没有捏造,说得像模像样)。

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Besides Shakespeare, few literary works ignite such a profound and universal resonance as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The generally accepted interpretation of the story is "the duality of man," the coexistence and conflict between good and evil. Yet, a closer look at the story led me to believe that the author's attention is less on duality but more on repression --- repression of the baser nature of man and, consequently, the failure of such repression as one grows older.

(TBC)

Friday, October 29, 2010

化身博士

最近正在读 Kindle 上的化身博士,不过进展灰常慢。一方面是工作(瞎)忙,另一方面是花样滑冰赛季开锣,每周五六都有比赛转播,连续六个星期,十一月的周末全部报废。

重读这篇小说,一部分是想跟 Moffat 的 Jekyll 电视剧对照一下。目前只看了一半,且慢慢地整理感想吧。

前几日被某同学捉到读这本小说,我问你看过没?他答看过,很失望。切,我说,怎么会失望?他说,以前看过了很多同名改编的恐怖片儿,里面各色的奇形怪状的恶魔都有,结果一看原著,怎么跟恶魔本人连个照面儿都没打过?整个故事全部是间接叙述的,所以很失望,一点都不吓人嘛。

现在看过来,并非完全没有打照面,但是对 Mr. Hyde 只有一处是直接的描写,大约是要树立一下“此人确实存在”的 plot element,剩下的部分确实都是不同人物间接叙述拼凑起来的。从这方面来看,本小说奇特的叙述手法,侧面证明金庸受到 RLS 和同时代维多利亚的英国作家影响至深,拼凑间接叙事的手法在 Collins 的月亮宝石中是典型,但化身博士中的手法更加隐秘和自然,不易觉察。

小说原著中描写 Mr. Hyde 为身材矮小貌不惊人,但是一打照面,人人都觉得他说不出的诡异可憎,只是人人都说不出到底什么地方不对劲,因为他并没有明显的眼歪嘴斜歪瓜劣枣相。几乎可以说是描写罗敷美貌手法的硬币反面。某同学习惯了恐怖电影里的扭曲造型,觉得这种描写太不刺激,实际上这种模糊的手法才更令读者发挥自己的想象力,更令人寒毛倒竖,而且也更真实 --- 最后这一点以后再讨论好了。

Thursday, October 28, 2010

纪事两则

1. 今天下班回家,在公寓楼里等电梯。电梯门一开,一个头矮小淡褐色头发的中年妇女一骨碌地钻了出来,我一眼看见她手里拿着一封信,脚上没穿鞋。她快走几步,把信扔进电梯前面墙上挂着的信箱,回头看见我正拿手挡着不让电梯门关上,等她回来。她快速地钻进电梯,连声道谢,脸上还带着一丝疑问。我知道她心里想什么,“你怎么知道我要立刻回到楼上?” 我心想,你手里拿封信,脚上还没穿鞋,显然是急急忙忙地从家门里跑出来把信丢进去,立刻就要回家的,elementary. 然后,我住六楼,先出电梯,她一边说着晚安一边又道谢一次,我赶紧说不客气。

2. 前几日跟固执难缠的MH医生加上我的同事三个人开会,闲话中他提起他的上司GB医生年轻时是海军陆战队队员,差点被送到越南打仗。我噗嗤一声笑出来,GB医生六十来岁,秃头,红脸,酒糟鼻,啤酒肚,一把老烟枪嗓子,真难以想象他年轻时的样子。MH医生接着说GB医生是德州人,说实话虽然我的第一个老板也是德州人,但我仍然辨别不出德州跟其他西南口音的区别。然后,MH医生继续讲,他们部门的另一个头头SM医生是三藩市人;这时我脱口而出,“你是纽约来的。”

MH医生略带惊讶地看了我一眼,点点头说,没错,我是纽约来的。他没问我怎么知道的,也许以为我是从其他人那里听说的。其实是他的口音有点纽约味儿,以及典型的犹太人长相和姓,让我的潜意识早就推断出他多半是纽约人,但直到想都没想就脱口而出的时候,大脑中的表层意识并不知道这些下意识的推理和判断。

Sunday, October 24, 2010

闷骚蔫坏

昨天看花样滑冰的比赛转播,我喜欢的瑞典小哥Adrian Schultheiss 又搞出一个非主流的自由滑作品,不是象去年的疯人院节目那样一看就知道是标新立异的那种,而是外表正常(罗密欧与朱丽叶是最常用的题材啦)但实际上很有点儿奇异感的东西,乍看上去既不浪漫又不深情,但我就特喜欢这个偏门的调调儿。

某花滑粉朋友表示这人太先锋了,理解不能。我脱口而出这是瑞典文艺里常见的闷骚蔫坏外冷里热的特点。说完之后挠挠头,发现原来真的看见过很多这种闷骚蔫坏幽默又黑又干的风格的作品。小时候读长袜子皮皮和小飞人卡尔松就觉得好搞啊,这么调皮捣蛋都成?后来看到很多北欧喜剧电影都是这个怪兮兮的腔调,看得我心花怒放。难怪后来变成了Wallander系列小说的粉丝,遇到作者Henning Mankell 发现他也是板着脸讲晦涩笑话的家伙。这是一种出人意料的幽默,看似普通平淡,但又有点不对味儿,然后脑子转几个圈才笑出来。

不过这种冷笑话不是每个人都能接受的,很显然在各国代表组成的花样滑冰裁判团里就没有什么爱好者。Kenneth Branagh 还说 Wallander 不是个幽默有趣的人,可见他也没看出来。英国式的幽默跟瑞典式完全两样啊,难怪他没看懂。

在YouTube上暂时没找到他本季的节目,不过发现了一段瑞典电视台的访问,在翻译过来的文字里称之为 disrespectful, with an attitude,没错儿,就是这样子的家伙。

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Connie Willis







今天在Capclave有两个讲座是由Connie Willis出席的,中午的讲座跟另一个关于时间旅行的讲座冲突,我就选择了后者(再说已经派了党代表去打探),然后去听她下午的讲座。

文如其人这句话果然没错,Connie Willis本人跟她的文字非常非常一致:风趣、亲切、坦率、犀利的幽默,humanistic。屋子里不仅座无虚席而且经常爆发出会心地哄笑。记得毛姆曾经在某个短篇里写过,上流社会名媛的乡下女亲戚新进社交圈,奇怪地发现自己说句话常常引人哄堂大笑,而她只不过是说真话而已。真话可比假话更出人意表,也就更能引起大笑。

Willis 说她当年(1970年代)辞职回家生孩子,趁机决定闯一闯写小说为生的职业,埋头写了八年才开始卖得出去故事出版。其间为了贴补家用(她没提起,想必老公是breadwinner但也不是富翁),她替 true confessions 类型的杂志写故事赚点钱,同时在一边写自己想写的科幻小说。

过去我从没听过true confessions这种杂志,回家放狗一搜才知道是1920年代开始美国流行的女性杂志,里面的文章都宣称是“真实的忏悔”,实际上都是专业写手编的。面向读者群是20-35岁的女青年,内容都是女青年自述如何误入歧途之后接受教训走上正道或者如何坚韧勇敢地克服人生逆境而熬出头的故事,既符合社会主流的道德价值观又提供很多sensational 情节满足大家的好奇心和代入感。大约跟八十年代中国流行的“法制文学”或“纪实文学”差不多,一分voyeurism,一分警世教训,一分社会现状报道。既然读者群是女性,当然免不了走女性白日梦的套路,从罗曼史到soft porn都有。

Willis 说这段经历说起来不那么高雅,但实际上对她的写作能力有很大的历练。她说她很同意Malcolm Gladwell 在 Outliers 里面描写的成功者的必要条件之一:积累至少一万钟头的练习,才有可能彻底地掌握一项复杂的工作。虽然写 true confessions 故事很傻冒很机械,被固定在一个很狭窄的框框里,发挥余地很小,但让她渐渐掌握了各种讲故事的必要技术和套路,以后写自己想写的科幻小说时就驾轻就熟游刃有余了。

她的小说比较接近软式科幻(soft sci fi)类型,没有大段大段地解释科学技术(包括已知和未知的),而是探讨科技对人的生活的影响,以写人为主。她自己很喜欢romantic comedy类型的电影,特别是三四十年代的经典screwball comedy,例如His Girl Friday, Bringing up Baby, It Happened One Night。她的小说里也经常地采用rom com的传统结构和戏剧机制。

她关心的、描写的都是普通人,而不是单枪匹马力挽乾坤的heroes。普通人的善良和正直和勇气才是历史的真面目---这是她的许多 time-travel 历史小说的主题,也是她的所有作品的subtext。历史是人民写的,常常喊这个口号的人其实并不相信这个,而是需要拍人民的马屁为自己所用。而Connie Willis并不喊口号,只是写好看的故事证明这个真理。所以在她的时间旅行小说里,后人并不能改变历史进程,时间旅行机被牛津大学历史系拿来做研究和实习而已,但是时间不能抹煞普通人的微小贡献,一切都没有丢失在历史的迷雾里。这样的humility and humanity,我觉得,在女作家的小说里更常见,例如Ursula LeGuin 的小说,包括The Lathe of Heaven,里面的主角,有能力左右历史进程的人,是一个极其普通卑微的工人,而且自己根本不想控制世界和历史。而沉浸在Missiah/Neo The One/天降大任于斯人这类神话里的大多是男作者(JK Rowling也是,但她的创意大量取自传统神话/fantasy经典)。

Willis 最近出版的两本书---实际上是一部小说,因为太长了,被出版商硬拆成两本印出来多赚一笔---Blackout 和 All Clear,跟Fire Watch一样讲的是二战期间的普通伦敦市民的故事。S同学和我打算去买 Kindle 版。

出得门来,在开车回家的路上,我一拍大腿,后悔忘记了问她一个之前就想问的问题,她为啥对伦敦/英国那么感兴趣呢?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An Eavesdropping Session on the Bus

"This is my 3rd day on the job!" She exclaimed and giggled. He smiled and noted that he was no veteran at the agency himself. But he was permanent staff, while she was a one-year fellow at one of the divisions.

"I only arrived in America last Sunday," she shrugged.

"From where?" He asked.

"Beirut," she said, and added. "Lebanon."

"No wonder I had never seen you on the bus before."

She was about 30, tall, pretty, and very slim. Her face was Kabuki-white --- either she hardly ever saw the sun or had put on an inch of make-up, or both. The bright red on her lips was on the verge of bleeding into the pastiness of her complexion Her expensively-layered shoulder-length hair was brown with a red tint.

"What will you be working on?" He asked.

"For this project at DSI," she answered. "I'm a clinical pharmacist -- that's my specialty, clinical pharmacy." She emphasized the "clinical" a couple of times. She had a soft, exotic accent, slightly French but not quite. "I'm the only clinical expert on the team."

"Wow," he sighed enthusiastically.

She gave a long explanation about her educational history. She received her undergraduate degree at a pharmacy school in Boston, then went back to Lebanon and practiced pharmacy while getting a doctor of pharmacy degree with an extra year and a half at the American University in Beirut. He was entirely ignorant of the peculiarities of pharmacy education and practice, and she explained patiently how she had worked at a hospital, practicing the most advanced clinical pharmacy service for 2 years.

"That sounds so exciting," he marveled. "Was it hard to give up?"

"Oh, I didn't give it up," she giggled again. "I'm only on sabbatical for a year. I applied for this fellowship and was accepted in August. After this year I'll go back to my clinical pharmacy at the university."

Even in the shade inside the bus, she had a pair of gigantic sunglasses on --- typical 1980s' style and all the rage in 2010.

"So, what do you do at the agency?" She asked after a brief pause. The bus was bumping along in the afternoon rush hour.

"I'm a project manager for the personnel department," he replied. "I'm in Building 1, so it's easy for me to pop out the door and catch the bus."

The bus stops right outside Building 1. If you happened to be working in a building across the campus, it could take 10 minutes to get there.

"So where are you from?" She asked.

"Originally?" He asked with a hint of surprise as never had anyone asked him this question.

"Um ... I guess."

"Nebraska."

She looked puzzled. He felt a little thrill shooting up his spine. "Where is ... Neb, Neb ...?" She asked.

"It's right in the middle of the country," he said. "There is mostly agriculture --- corn and cows," he laughed. "I went to college in Wyoming, then went into the army. I flew helicopters and stuff." After a pause he continued, "Then I hurt my back and left the army. I worked for a few years in Virginia for a couple of consulting firms that had a lot of government contracts."

She gazed at him with curiosity. He was a little over 40, medium built and height -- which made him half a head taller than she -- and still had a military air. Light brown hair brown eyes. The most distinguishing feature about him was a Cyrano de Bergerac nose. He was wearing a navy blue suit and red-and-blue tie.

"Where do you live now?" He asked.

"In Dupont ..." She searched for the name of the neighborhood.

"Dupont Circle? That's a very popular area," he said. "It's in the heart of DC."

"Yes, I'm a city person," she chirped. "When I first came here before I thought about living in Silver Spring. It seems like a busy place, but at night it is completely empty. There is no one around. So I said no way and found an apartment in Dupont. It's very lively. At night I can walk around the corner and get a cup of coffee or go to the bookstore if I want."

"There is a bookstore there ... What's it called? Oh, I can't remember ..." He tapped a finger on his knee.

"Kramer's?" She offered helpfully. He opened both hands palm up and shrugged. When was the last time he went in town? He could not even remember.

"Yes, I think so," he mumbled. "How quaint."

"Quaint?" She turned over the word in her mouth. "Hmm, I've learned a new word today. What does it mean?"

He was stumped. He hummed and hawed for a while and came up with a few incoherent explanations. She happily accepted them without any further comments.

"So where do you live?" She turned to another subject.

"Falls Church," he named a suburb of DC. "It's in Virginia."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This Crazy Person

无聊地跑到 Stephen McCauley的网站上去瞎逛,忽然发现他的 blog 很搞笑。从六月开始,他伪称Stephen McCauley 的助手Sean Michael,年轻而ditzy,替McCauley写博,其实就是McCauley自嘲上了年纪之后被年轻人讥笑,以及用第一人称写这个虚构人物!好玩死了,肚子都笑痛了。

翻翻他之前的entries,发现McCauley写blog 的时候永远不肯用主语 I。哈哈。

嗯,说不定什么时候我也假扮别人上来自嘲。说实话我还真没见过这么玩blog的,就是用blog写第一人称的fiction。有趣有趣,值得试验。

Monday, October 18, 2010

Wallander and Mankell

第二季网站上包括了PBS采访Henning Mankell 的视频。他讲的一些事挺有趣的。例如明年将出版的 The Worried Man 不一定是最后一本 Wallander 小说 --- 虽然据说 Wallander 在这本书里又老又开始有痴呆症的现象。

访问中还提到 Ystad 旅游局搞的 Wallander 步行旅。今年跑去 Ystad 时很遗憾刚刚错过(只有夏天才有,一过八月就没了)。第三集 The Fifth Woman 里面高潮戏是在火车站拍的,本来很小很不起眼的火车站,在屏幕上忽然显得挺大挺像样的,几乎认不出了。

坦白地讲,BBC 拍摄的 Wallander 还算不错了,至少比黄鸟公司拍的系列好很多,而且从第一季到第二季有明显进步。Branagh 有点很不瑞典的 weepy,编剧有点过度煽情,这些都是没办法的事。(KB 对 Wallander 的诠释是他是个很严肃的人,不幽默,弄得我好想扁他!居然没看出人家干干的幽默感。)

对比之下回想起原著,发现此系列吸引我的特点正在于Mankell 描写的中年人生,而现在随着自己深入中年,越来越觉得真实: Wallander 跟他爹的复杂而模糊的关系,眼看着年轻时的梦想随着岁月流逝而错过(他一直念叨着想离开小地方周游世界,又想去歌剧院干活天天听免费歌剧),被老婆甩了以后一直恋恋旧情,即使努力找新伴侣也大多不了了之,岁月急速地流过而一事无成 --- 这些都是90分钟的电视剧集没法表现的感慨。中年就是放手让梦想流走而接受现实,接受自己的平庸人生,接受控制自己而不是被自己控制的命运,接受人生的有限。

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Excellently Unwatchable

After watching half of the first part of the 3-part movie made by UK's Channel 4 The Red Riding, I gave up. It's too violent and too bleak. I know it is critically acclaimed and probably very good. Still, there is a limit to what I can take (which seems to fall lower as I become older). Then I went to Netflix and deleted all 3 DVDs from my queue.

A Spanish coworker (the one I watched World Cup final with) mentioned a couple of times to me how uninhabitable England is to him. They all drink endlessly, he said bitterly. Racist and drunk --- I can't stand it, he complained. David Peace (the author of The Red Riding and "the next big thing" in British literature) is certainly no help to improve on this impression. He lived in Istanbul and Tokyo for years and years, but apparently has still not gotten the bleakness of his Yorkshire youth out of his bones.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Misalliance

今天跟看戏伙伴朋友去马里兰 Olney Theatre 看的戏。George Bernard Shaw 作品。挺好看的。

卡司还挺大的,共九个角色/演员。基本都是本地演员,但是颇有几个英国口音像模像样的呢,最后还来了个 Cockney 口音。

Friday, October 15, 2010

Jekyll




Just heard about and subsequently looked up this miniseries on Youtube. Written by Steve Moffat and based on, of course, RLS's novel. Starring James Nesbitt.

Apparently this was another modernizing effort by Moffat before he tackled RLS's buddy. Quite interesting. I've added it to my Netflix queue.

Nesbitt is very good, but I'm a bit disappointed that he did not get a Scot to play this role. Not too scrupulous about details are we?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (4)

07年参观普拉多时, Goya的铜版画连影子也没看见,也不知被藏到哪里去了。真正带来巨大震撼的,除了五月三日枪毙图之外,就是他的Black Paintings

72岁的时候,Goya又老又病又潦倒,搬到了这栋房子里闷头住了四年,陪着的只有照顾他多年的远亲Leocadia Weiss 和她的私生女。有史学家相信私生女是Leocadia和Goya生的,谁知道呢?如果真有爱人女儿陪着他度过最潦倒孤独的老年,未尝不是安慰。

Goya在墙上涂了14幅画,楼上楼下,前后左右,每日环绕着他,毫无疑问这些绝对彻底是自己画给自己的,是压抑不住直接从心里倾倒出来的蒸汽和岩浆。这些画全无文字记录,Goya也未曾解释,连个题目都没有,现在的画题还是后人给加的,其中有几张画让人想起他过去的作品,如飞行的女巫朝圣的人流,但其他的黑画,让人惊骇战栗,难以置信:那张几乎是抽象派的,从墨墨黑的地面战战兢兢地探出头来仰望昏黄的空白---有谁敢用这样的构图?比Rothko还大胆超前。

给我印象最深的几幅黑画,一是血淋淋的著名的食人老头,虽然被人按照神话命名为Saturn Devouring His Son,可实际上谁也不知道他所指是否Saturn,我倒觉得这世上吃人的现象多得很,Goya活到这把年纪,见过经历过的真事,足够填满许多幅这样的画了。另一幅是行走大地的巨人,第一次看见这幅画我简直不敢相信,这画面非常非常眼熟,记得在恶梦中看见过。但是,搞笑的是,最近几年有西班牙特别是普拉多的艺术研究员认为这幅画不是Goya画的,因为画中的牛和驴太难看了,太假了,不可能是Goya的手笔;于是把作者名也改成了"Follower of Goya"。想想也真奇怪,Goya一个人躲进小楼成一统,自顾自在墙上画了一堆随心所欲的壁画,怎么突然跑出来一个天晓得的"Follower"也凑上去作一幅风格、色彩、主题都十分相近的仿作呢?麻烦的是,Goya自己没留下书面记录,所以也没法证明他当年到底画了几幅,哪些是他的,所以也无法确认会不会有人跑到他的屋子里去画了一幅仿作。可是我仍然认为,巨人是无名追随者的仿作的可能性不大---我又不是毕生研究艺术史的专家,我的看法能值几分钱?反正死无对证,除非发明时空穿梭机才会有定论。

可是黑暗恐怖并不是黑画或老年Goya的全部,其中还有一幅女肖像,丰腴性感,亲切挑逗,连身后的背景都是明亮的蓝天。后人加题目指其为Leocadia,真是她吗?谁知道呢,但我们看得出Goya仍有荡漾春心,并非陷入深渊不可自拔,在看透、控诉、讽刺的同时不忘谈点儿恋爱。

把动物变成象人的东西,即拟人化 (anthropomorphism),是文艺里常见的手法,牛头马面的人身也不罕见,可是Goya另有一套:他把人脸画得七歪八扭,有时象骷髅有时象鬼魅更多象野兽,连卡通漫画都没这么玩的。扭曲变形的人脸,Goya早在Los Capricos 铜版画里就开始试验了,有时候我甚至疑心他给卡洛斯四世画的肖像都有点猪头猪脑。Goya想表达的是人之荒谬与兽性,这一点已毫无疑问,不过在愤世嫉俗之中又透着仰天大笑的墨墨黑的幽默,更让观者抓耳挠腮如坐针毡哭笑不得。这些画中的人脸让我没法不联想到《动物农庄》的结尾一段:

Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.


重看黑画,我长叹一声,它们都有一个特点: 一方面你觉得这些画面有点奇怪的熟悉,过去读过的某些神怪小说或段落曾在你的想象中激发类似的景象,留下梦一样的印象;另一方面,惊骇不已,没有任何人做这样的东西,他的脑子...我无法形容,只能说,不是个画家的脑子,而是个小说家的脑子,里面重重叠叠曲曲折折塞满了一部又一部的书,从Plato到山海经,从新闻杂文到Catch 22。完蛋了,我又联想到鲁迅,那个又写杂文又写故事新编,又写阿Q正传又写中国文学史的鲁迅。

黑画里最好看的(我认为)就是最佳例子:二人棒击图。两个农民打扮的人,脚下似乎已经泥足深陷,但还是高举木棒斗个你死我活;远近是宁静优美的山野景色,蓝天白云,简直是田园风光。画中的矛盾气氛特别古怪。这幅画是象征西班牙内部保守派和进步派的斗争么?是指西班牙与法国的战争么?是讽刺愚昧械斗的农民么?是指超人或巨神么(因为背后的山脉显得很矮)?关于此画含义的理论满天飞,可是别忘了Goya画这幅画的时候,并没有“画给别人看”的计划!我相信他决无“画以载道”的打算,他只是忍不住要把脑子里那些黑暗荒诞的幻像画出来。Goya的黑画比现代艺术更加自我中心,更加无视买主、市场、观众的接受程度,因为他当时已全聋、失势、如丧家之犬,画布也不要,直接在自家墙上涂涂涂,根本没想拿出来给别人看,哪怕是用来惊世骇俗。这些画在Goya死后许多年才被人复制(拓?临摹?我看见的资料都语焉不详)到画布上,后来被普拉多收藏,复制时已七零八落,很多细节无法还原。如果有什么含义,也不是要给世人传递什么警世恒言。两个人凶狠打斗,你死我活,两败俱伤,原因是什么,谁对谁错,有什么关系?这难道不是人类自古一贯的写照?

《月亮和六便士》的结尾叙述画家主角在南洋小岛上穷困潦倒,死前在简陋茅屋里画了整墙的画,把疯狂的内心整个吐出来,留下遗言死后让爱人把画连房子一把火烧了。因为之前看过这本小说,所以听说Goya黑画事迹的时候,惊异混杂着似曾相识感 --- 跟他的画带来的感受是一样的。当然这是毛姆的老一套:毫不脸红地照抄现实人生。因此我以为Goya画完这些画就死了,如此呕心沥血之作,他又已经那么老那么衰,怎么可能在画完这些画之后还有气力活下去呢?但现实比小说更出人意料。1824年,Goya 跟费迪南七世及其政府的关系更加恶化(到老也没学会服从和归顺),连马德里郊区也呆不下去了,逃亡到法国,又多活了好几年,甚至有继续作画(例如玩lithograph/石版画)直到1828年才去世。

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (3)

1808年,拿破仑入侵并占领西班牙(半岛战争),此后一直有民间游击队骚扰攻击占领军,直到1814年法军被欧洲联军打败撤出,西班牙国王斐迪南七世(卡洛斯四世的儿子)回来重拿王冠。拿破仑入侵,令Goya十分难做,本国人民的爱国抵抗运动与曾经代表进步与理想的法国文化,在战争与杀戮之中撞得粉粉碎。他心里是怎样的呢?没人确切地知道,只能从他留下的作品中间接猜想。

1814年,西班牙被解放回归之后,皇室出钱请Goya画个爱国画,他画了两张油画,第一张是 1808年5月2日,在这一天马德里市民自发暴动,跟法军中的穆斯林骑兵(Mamluk)发生直接冲突;第二张是1808年5月3日,描述法军枪毙西班牙暴动者的情景。看上去,这两幅都是买主指定的爱国作品 --- 哦不,我并不怀疑Goya的爱国感情,但是,只是,两幅画都是以血腥暴力为重点,流了一地的血,虽然让人自然联想到Delacroix的自由引导人,却没有那幅画里的英雄主义的激昂感觉。特别是5月3日枪毙图,背后是无边的黑夜,眼前一盏灯从脚下往上照亮了即将被杀的囚犯的脸,围观者掩面不能面对,留下观画者心惊肉跳。

可是,这两幅油画还不算什么,战争留下的创伤记忆,Goya的铜版画系列,战争的灾难(Los Desastres de la Guerra), 才是真正血淋淋的记录。在马德里我没有看见这些铜版画,后来在书里找到,从第一次看见,到现在重看(中间也未曾/不敢多看),它们象饱含暴雨的黑云越聚越浓,压得人喘不过气来,象绝望的铅块,拖着人坠入无底洞,象鲁迅所形容的密封的黑屋子,醒来却伸手不见五指。The depravity. The unthinkable enormity of human depravity.

恰好前天带爹妈去城里观光,抄近路穿过 National Gallery of Art 的雕塑花园时,我爹指着树丛中远处说,那里有一群无头的铜人是啥?我探头张望,原来是现代派雕塑之一,题名为 Girls 。我爹口气古怪地说,这雕塑让他想起小时候日本人打过来时跟着家人逃难到山里,路过一个村子,看见一大片树桩上绑着许多村民,每个人的头都被砍掉了。七十年之前的血腥记忆,在这个意外的场合被勾起。The things people do to each other. The horrible things people do to each other. How do we live with it? How do we live among ourselves and survive the human nature?

什么样的人能承受这么重的噩梦,然后毫不躲避或粉饰地直视着它,不需要英雄主义、爱国主义、道德理论、或任何其他信仰支撑一下或用艺术遮盖半点,就这么赤裸裸地瞪着血淋淋的事实,看画的人通过他的眼和画,面对真实丑恶可怕,我们自己无法面对、拼命涂抹装饰的人性。每次看见战争的灾难中的一些画,我会产生直觉反应,跟听说或读到野蛮实事时的反应一样: 呆若木鸡,手脚冰凉,paralyzed, seized by horror, disgust, misanthropy。

这些铜版画有素描的感觉,让人联想起战地记者拍摄的那些越战照片,只是这些画更尖锐,更充满了愤怒的冷笑 --- 真奇怪,在如此黑暗绝望的画里,Goya独有的讽刺和幽默口吻只有更强烈更诡异地透出来。而且,这些铜版画并非简单直接的爱国宣传画,它们留下的印象决不只是打倒侵略者驱走鞑虏而已。如果主题单纯直白,这些画也不会等到Goya去世35年之后才面世发表。

有不少索引派历史研究学者认为,Goya 在半岛战争中的那几年并没吃多少苦,当时还有不少法国贵族和军官请他画画,日子显然过得比大多数西班牙人好多了,所以,他的铜版画里那些 macabre 画面多半是他道听途说添油加醋甚至哗众取宠赚人眼球的结果。对啊对啊,世上哪有这么丑恶无耻恐怖野蛮血腥暴力的行为呀,一定是Goya 捏造出来的。

你能想象Goya当时的痛苦么?曾经向往的理想、代表进步的法国,宣扬传播的那些新思想新文化,本以为可以消灭西班牙百多年Inquisition留下的愚昧落后的思想牵制和专制压迫。结果,法国人来了,屠杀很多很多的同胞,同胞起义抵抗,目睹更多的流血和死亡和惨剧。拿破仑虽然是侵略者,把西班牙国王关起来,把自己兄弟(Joseph)安插在王位上,但他又把扩大民主和法制的宪法塞给西班牙(1812宪法),且废除了Inquisition 制度。Goya must have been torn to pieces inside. How do you survive all this?

Yet survive he did. 1814年,拿破仑被打败,费迪南七世回归,他对宪法毫无兴趣,他爹 (Carlos IV) 推行的进步政策也被丢弃一边,皇家专制和教会 Inquisition 再次统治西班牙。当然,Goya在新国王面前大大失宠也是必然的了。

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

All Seated on the Ground

Another fantastic story by Connie Willis, which can be read in full text here. I laughed. I cried. I smiled. It is cute, funny, warm, and poignant (written in 2007). :D

I’d always said that if and when the aliens actually landed, it would be a let-down. I mean, after War of the Worlds, Close Encounters, and E.T., there was no way they could live up to the image in the public’s mind, good or bad.

I’d also said that they would look nothing like the aliens of the movies, and that they would not have come to A) kill us, B) take over our planet and enslave us, C) save us from ourselves à la The Day the Earth Stood Still, or D) have sex with Earthwomen. I mean, I realize it’s hard to find someone nice, but would aliens really come thousands of light-years just to find a date? Plus, it seemed just as likely they’d be attracted to wart hogs. Or yucca. Or air-conditioning units.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wallander (series 2)

PBS 正在播放第二季 Wallander,包含三集: Faceless Killers, The Man Who Smiled, The Fifth Woman。

看到第二集 The Man Who Smiled 才发现彻底砍掉了小说中不停在背景中晃悠吊人胃口的拉脱维亚女友 Baiba。这倒也没什么,不影响情节。这集中还有 Rupert Graves 出现。加上下面要播出的 Sherlock,本季他是连续出镜。

大概有人看了第一季之后给 Kenneth Branagh 指出了我也看出的问题: 原著里的 Wallander 脾气甚暴躁,压力大疲倦的时候容易发火,而 Branagh 的演绎有点太忧郁脆弱了。第二季中有些改善,目前的两集里都有拍桌子发脾气的戏。但总体来说还是觉得不太象我心目中的 Wallander,多愁善感了些,还是缺点瑞典味儿。

其他几个配角,电视剧就不那么精心保存原著风味了,改动颇大。Ann-Brit Hoglund (Sarah Smart) 和 Martinsson (Tom Hiddleton) 都比小说中年轻太多了 --- 虽然我很喜欢 Hiddleton 的样子。Martinsson 变成一直跟 Wallander 有矛盾的设计,而 Hoglund 缺乏小说中的才干而沦为 Wallander 的跟班。Forensic 专家 Nyberg (Richard McCabe) 的变化最大,从小说中的坏脾气爱骂人的老头变成了体贴关怀的胖子。

Insignificant Others


After much distraction, I've finally finished reading the new book by Stephen McCauley. I have a feeling that this book may have been difficult to write for him, as it is more difficult to get into for me. The characters seem somewhat removed from the author's own experience and sympathies, thus making it difficult for me to sympathize with the characters either.

Yet in the end the book still came out fairly satisfying and, might I say, helpful. All of his novels are on some level about the same thing: to make a change in one's life for the better, to take a step toward a new direction that is more honest with oneself, or, like the line in Company, "to want something, to want something."

Richard is a 50-ish psychologist-turned-human resource manager in the corporate world. He is lethargic about his job and love life. Rather than getting to the heart of the problems, it is less painful and overwhelming to relegate his attention toward insignificant distractions: an extracurricular affair with a married man, office politics, obsessive exercise ...

Unlike his previous novels, the flaws in these characters are more hardened and less vulnerable (ie, lovable and sympathetic). Again I am reminded of how earnestly people set traps for themselves in life. Yet there is no right answer. It is quite silly but I am continually shocked by how my instinct has still not fully accepted the lack of a right answer for anyone in life. I accept it intellectually, but my emotional brain is still not used to the universal truth. Somewhere in all this there is a story waiting to be told.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (2)

如果这个人象拉斐尔之类英年早逝,恐怕也就没啥事儿了:逗人喜爱的皇家肖像画,运用光影和色彩颇有两把刷子的风景画,散发着性感和亲密气氛的Maja女图,加上几幅让人摸不着头脑的女巫和疯子画,基本上后代观者都能安全而欣喜地欣赏爱戴。可见活得长与活得短,差别巨大。

四十几岁的时候,Goya忽然大病一场,没人知道具体是什么病,有人根据记载症状认为是霍乱,令他元气大伤,渐渐恢复后耳朵已经半聋,而且在未来几十年中逐渐恶化,越来越聋。不知为啥(他又不是贝多芬,靠声音过日子)耳聋对他影响深刻,渐渐孤僻起来,不爱跟人来往,脾气变坏。不知是因为暴病带来的人生无常感还是耳聋带来的孤独隔绝感,大约从这时候开始,Goya的任性和愤世嫉俗的倾向开始大爆发,作品顺着“我喜欢/我要/我想/我感觉/我表达”的现代艺术道路越滑越远。

耳聋后,Goya一边还在做本行生意(买主出钱他做工),一边开始玩副业aquatint etchings,是一种黑白色的、快速简捷的铜版画技术,刻完之后可以复印很多幅,常用在插图画里。铜版画不象油画那样仅此一幅,价格昂贵,只有皇家贵族或教会能负担起,而是一种相对平民化大众化的媒介。Goya画了一系列讽刺抨击社会现状的铜版画,称为Los Caprichos。其中最有名的一幅大约是The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters。 Los Caprichos 的攻击对象,不是愚昧的民众就是用Inquisition迫害异己的教会,现在看看这些画完全是在针砭时弊,充满了黑色幽默而又毫不留情的痛骂。

访问普拉多的时候,我没有见到他的铜版画原作(Los Capricho 系列和后来的战争纪实系列),也许当时借给别处美术馆展出,也许是错过了没看到。后来在资料书中看见这些画,看得目瞪口呆 --- 第一联想到的是鲁迅,第二想到的是,MD,这家伙一定是个damned liberal。胆儿不小啊,Spanish Inquisition当时已经几乎绝迹,但是两百年的教会恐怖统治留下的阴影仍笼罩在大家的头上。很明显Goya脑子里装的净是激进的北佬法国人,如伏尔泰他们,宣扬的可怕而危险的“自由民主博爱”理论以及反封建反教会的Enlightenment运动,画的铜版画“丑化”教会人士,攻击伟大的Inquisition制度,讽刺民众愚昧和迷信。这套充满了政治内容,极其不合时宜的铜版画,发行不久即悄悄地被收了起来,铜版后来送给了国王。

除了铜版画外,Goya还画过几幅抨击Inquisition和教会的油画,显然也不是有人下单子要买才做的画,例如The Inquisition Tribunal。作为一个中国人,虽然没有亲眼见过类似的批斗场面,却也比普通洋人对此景更感到心惊肉跳。

目的性强、政治主题的艺术,一般都是很难看的。可是这些铜版画却异乎寻常的好看,线条粗犷,眼光奇突,构图自由,形象夸张又精准,内容建立在细致的生活观察上,加上作者诡异的幽默感,即使不知道它们的题目都会不由自主被紧紧抓住。有谁会做这样的东西?文艺复兴的时代,艺术家在政治斗争里插一脚绝不是罕见现象,例如雕塑家Cellini 就掺和进大公、王族的叛乱和争权。但是有谁象Goya这样左手搞“高雅艺术”右手玩政治漫画,而且混合二者呢?毕加索也就只画了一幅Guernica,还是百多年后的事儿。还有那个画家玩这种东西呢?所以我总觉得Goya 如果没去画画儿,多半会写很多很多的字,写小说,写新闻,写哲学,但最可能的还是写小说。

没错,Goya是个damned liberal,一群不停北望的“精英派”之中的一员,老琢磨着要用理性、科学、教育把愚昧的人民从教会的控制下救出来,老觉得西班牙太落后太土太不进步,怎么出不了伏尔泰左拉康德那样的哲学家思想家呢?可是,崇法派的这些知识分子,很快就被兜头浇了一盆冰水。

Friday, October 8, 2010

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1)

自从去过了普拉多之后一直想写 Goya 但一直下不了手,为啥呢?因为这件事太庞大了---倒不一定解释和介绍 Goya 的生平与艺术是一件极其庞大的工程,而是我一想到他的艺术或者打算形容他给我的感受就头痛,千言万语张口结舌不知从何说起。

我在网上逛了逛,没找到有哪个网站收集了很多很全的Goya作品。最系统的去处倒是Wikipedia中的条目和作品列表,连接中收集了众多作品的画面。

现在我终于有点明白为什么美术史将 Goya 定性为古代与现代画派的一个重大分野。现代人常常忘记了艺术自古都是一项手艺,跟银器匠、泥水匠、大厨之类没有本质的区别,艺术品是 commodity,创作本身就是买卖交易,买主指定题材内容之后付出定金,画家才动手,画完了对方够满意再付剩下的账单。不象现代文艺大多是先被创作出来然后拿出去拍卖,谁看中了谁出钱购买,内容与形式都由作者掌握(当然他可以按照市场风头决定内容形式),买主只是愿者上钩。所以古典画的套路是极其程式化的,买主要什么你就画什么:教会要在教堂里挂圣母像,耶稣受难像,圣经里的著名段落;王公贵族要在宫殿里肖像,堂皇隆重的全家福;晚一点商业发达,中产阶级要在家里挂自己的肖像,象征富足的厨房和静物,以及宣扬俗世道德价值的讽喻(allegory) 画。另外,画家都是在名家作坊里多年学徒出来的工人,技巧与风格一脉相承,除非你是横空出世的奇才,否则安安稳稳地重复前人是最明智的谋生哲学。It's a job. 与兴趣、热情、个性之类都没啥关系。至于米开朗基罗这种人,一百年才出一两个而已,在风格上想怎么样就怎么样,但在题材上仍然是买主(patron)说了算。

Goya 的前半生毫无悬念,走的是同一条传统画家的路。从作坊里学徒多年,表现出相当的天赋和娴熟的技巧,同时又透露出丝丝个性。渐渐被人看中,受雇于皇家织毯工厂,画一些鲜艳明朗的风俗画给织毯图案作设计底稿(tapestry cartoons)。这些画是典型的商业装饰画---并非说它们不美,而是说题材和风格是既定的,顾客要什么我就画什么。在Prado里看了好几幅,里面的青年男女踏青嬉戏,红彤彤的脸蛋微笑开朗,让人看了就心情愉快,是居家必备的装饰良品。这时候的Goya大约如新踏上华尔街西装笔挺踌躇满志的青年,The world is his oyster.

继续顺利地往上爬,爬到御用画家的地位,想必是当时所有同行的野心顶峰,一辈子金饭碗抱定了。人人都想做到前辈Velasquez的程度。那是他事业,哦不,生意兴隆的年代,很多皇亲国戚找他买肖像画,Goya本来可以一直如此逍遥下去,名利双收。Prado收藏了不少Goya的皇家肖像,包括最著名的Carlos IV一家 (1800),Duchess of Alba (据说是他的情人)。 这些肖像画还算“正常”,只是有时给人莫名的感觉:似乎画家在勤恳工作的外表下面正咕咕地偷笑。

即使是这春风得意的期间,Goya已经开始画一些让人忍不住要啃指甲的画,这些画的题材与风格,坦白讲,在别处我没有见过类似的东西,也不知他是从脑子里哪个角落里掏出来的奇思异想。例如,他画过好几张女巫图,包括 Witches' SabbathWitches' Flight疯人院。你知道这些画给我的感觉是啥么?它们让我觉得Goya脑子里在上映好几部巨长的电影,电影里充满了特技和幻想,情节曲折诡异,然后他把电影里的几张画面定格拿出来给我们看。我从来没见过这么奇怪的画,怎么说呢?看到的当时和事后都无法形容,只觉得忒眼熟,但决不是在别人的画中见过,而是让我联想起文学作品。对,这就是Goya给我的感觉之一:一般来说画总是 self-contained,一幅画就是一个相对完整的世界,有完整的主题、结构、意义; 但Goya的画让我无法控制地想到文字和电影,而且是没完没了情节巨复杂的大部头,如Lord of the Rings,或者是一篇又一篇的战地记者发回的新闻稿(这个后面再讲)。画面之外的世界鲜明真切而且层层叠叠,让人咚地一下就整个掉进去了,跟着他往画框之外越走越深,不知所终。

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's Official, Man!

I'm pure nerd.

But then I already knew that. I was told I am a nerd, but not a geek, years ago in college.

Mr. S won the coveted Tri-Lamb title, scoring high on both the nerd and the dork scales. But his nerd score (50%) is lower than mine (78%)! XDDD.

川流不息




今天考虑着爹妈周末来访该怎么招待,带去哪里观光,每日吃什么。真伤脑筋,平日两个懒人都是在公司吃午饭,晚上煮煮面条冻饺子烤个劈叉饼对付一下,或者在家对面的超市买点成品,早饭根本跳过。冰箱里门可罗雀 ... (成语好像用错了)

于是忽然想起《伤逝》里的话,“每日川流不息地吃饭”。哎,想想还真是让人烦恼,每天都要做饭做饭做饭的人生真是费脑子费精力费时间,光是喂自己就够麻烦了,古代一喂一大家人,成天什么都别干了,光做饭就是 a full time job.

跟某同学商量,对方建议道:要是有Bachelor Chow就好了。我问,啥Bachelor Chow? 上网一查,原来是这玩意儿

Monday, October 4, 2010

Edward Hopper



说起来我并不了解 Hopper,他的画也没亲眼看到,在这里跟着Barb后头写一句,其实是为了吐苦水。前年本地的National Gallery of Art开了个Edward Hopper的展出,我一直想看,但是被生活里的各色麻烦大小琐事拌住了,居然总也抽不出身来。一周又一周过去,很不幸错过了。也许过去两年对我来说是最迷糊最不知所谓的一段,在过度工作中乱糟糟地过去了,留下一笔不多的外快和光秃秃的记忆。得到一些,错过大把。Not worth it.

英国与美国的近代和现代艺术作品,我一直都不太有感,总觉得太写实,太讨好大众,缺乏现代艺术追求的主观感受,例外的大概要算Andrew Wyeth。Hopper 的作品让我挺喜欢,有点类似观看Wyeth时的感觉---不是说他俩的画风近似,而是那种介乎写实与主观之间的平衡。不至于看不懂甚至对观众充满敌意或攻击性,但仍然传递画家的性格、感受、气氛。

第一眼印象(至今看到的全部是复制,因为错过了展览)是招贴画,象二三十年代的演出宣传画(playbills)或者有宣传意图的art deco式的实用艺术的感觉。后来翻一翻资料,发现他果然做过广告画与插图谋生,一点不奇怪。很多作品(例如上面的Nighthawks)在明亮的色彩和明确的形象(至少人长得象人样)之内有种强烈的隔绝感,a sense of alienation。总之他的很多画都让我联想起那个时代的特点:硬汉派侦探小说, film noir, jazz。完全一致的气氛。

虽然没赶上展出,NGA的网站上还有一个纪录短片和一些介绍,权当画充饥吧。

Theater Miscellaneous

上上周末跟朋友去看了本地的 The Phillips Collection 私人艺术馆。很有意思,打算有空再去一次。里面有间 Rothko Room。令我又想看舞台剧 Red,都快想疯了。可是它的 Broadway run 已经结束,Alfred Molina 这么忙(最近刚上了 Law and Order: Los Angeles 电视剧组),估计也不会再演,只能等 revival。其实只要有电视录像也好呀。最后一招是找John Logan的原著剧本读一遍,说实话那只是画饼充饥了。

Charlie Rose interview with Logan, Molina, Eddie Redmayne, and director Michael Grandage on the play "Red" can be watched here.

在网上乱找 Red 录像的时候(未果),发现谣言说 PSH 可能明年会上百老汇演推销员之死(Arthur Miller经典),哼,如果他敢上,我就敢去看。

Sunday, October 3, 2010

蒸糯米团

今天午饭去那家讲究的泰国馆子,吃到蒸糯米团。

小小碧绿一包,外面是香蕉叶,打开露出方方一团糯米,真有叶子的清香。蘸了碟子上的柠檬汁,微酸微甜,清淡爽口。但是不蘸汁也很好。

根据菜单,这是 Esan 地区的吃法。也许在泰国街头小摊是很常见的食品。

大连

某友的博讲起 Sherlock 第二集里屡次提到大连 --- 夹带文物的走私者都是从大连回伦敦的,显然是个发货据点 --- 时笑道:

片中屡次出现家乡,作为一个大连人我觉得鸭梨有点大 --- 编剧大人,这不过是一个一百来年历史的小城市,不会有几百年的古董的 ...

说实话这一集我就是草草看过,根本没注意剧中屡次提起的地方是大连 ... 多半是编剧Thompson大人最近刚去大连玩过印象深刻,或者泡了一个大连来的华人,要么就是在中国地图的沿海城市里随手挑了一个没人听过的名字。

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mary and Max




A claymation movie from Australia, written and directed by Adam Eliot. About the friendship between a lonely girl living in Australia and her pen pal, a middle-aged lonely man with Asperger's syndrome living in New York City. It is dark, bittersweet, brave, and honest. And lovely. Voiced by Toni Collette and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Tears guaranteed.

Freud (movie)

一部非常有趣的电影,1962年出品,黑白片(当然是故意的)。本来我以为跟普通的好莱坞传记片一样,会故意戏剧化当事人的生活轶事,本来没啥事儿也搞得事儿事儿的吸引观众眼球。Freud 的理论本来就很 scandalous,很有戏剧发挥的余地,但是这片儿拍得特 wordy,很多学术讨论,很严肃正经,基调跟 Freud 自己写的那些书里的风格很接近,倒有点出乎意料。

主角是大明星 Montgomery Clift。他是个 repressed homosexual,说不定一边演一边对压抑的潜意识这些内容深有同感,可是拍这片儿也没能解决他的问题。导演是大名鼎鼎的 John Huston 。在 IMDB 上看见 Jean-Paul Satre 居然在编剧栏里(uncredited),据说是第一版剧本作者,后来被弃而不用。

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pastime

完了,最近又多了一件浪费时间的爱好:在 Amazon Kindle store 上面淘免费书。看见有点兴趣的也未必就下了,仅仅知道它在那里就心里高兴一下,有逛书店的快感。一逛就是半个钟头。

I Don't Know Me, We Don't Know Us

Just watched the latest episode about decision-making and morality in the fantastic Charlie Rose: The Brain Series. The neurological process of making decisions with varying degree of complexity is one of the hottest subjects in research.

If we still don't know most of the truth about how the brain (or a brain) makes decisions, at least we know one thing for certain: There isn't just one brain, one system, one mechanism, that makes decisions, but rather several (at least two, maybe more) fractured and not very integrated systems, each doing its own perceiving and processing and computing, and the ventromedial prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortices are struggling to mediate and make sense of the babbling committee in order to come to a decision. This is what Damasio wrote. And his outlook for the future was almost comical: He hoped that at some point on the evolutionary road, the human brain will evolve into something that blends a little better within itself, so that one area can at least have a clue and a guess at what the rest is doing.

Isn't this crazy and bizarre? Yet we have proof. This is why humans are crazy to begin with. Different regions and systems are each doing their own things and funneling their messages to the PFC, and they have a hard time even making each other heard. I'd say very often they have no idea what each other is doing and wanting and saying. The PFC tries to do its best but sometimes it just has to make something up. This is why at least half of the time I don't even know what emotions I'm feeling and why, because this is the Babel Tower here. My PFC has to push aside some made-up bullshit some areas has fabricated and sit down with my amygdala and try to get at what it's saying, and most of the time it's worse than a Shanghainese talking to a Cantonese for the first time. And the poor me -- all I have is the PFC, the only literate guy in the skull who can at least spell. The rest of them is hopeless.

Petyr Baelish of Sichuan: Echoes of the 3 Kingdoms

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