Save Matt Damon! — or, Why These Chinese Viewers Don’t Want You To See “The Great Wall”

Just about the only good thing that comes out of Chinese censorship is the popular talkback. The imagination of the online Chinese community leaps and soars, as they lightly arch their necks against the boot keeping them down. After all, they are kept in a rosy state of fresh chafe by whispered rumors of people taken away for posting a comment, the uncertainty of whether a favorite column will survive the latest round of official scrubbing, and goofy admissions from Chinese Internet companies that “aliens have abducted the webpage you’re trying to access”:

 

 

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That cutesiness is the most outspoken the company can get about gag orders from on high. Chinese Internet users are fed up. They long to strike back at the daily scorn of censors powered by their tax dollars. Woe, then, to the object of their collective wrath, such as the collaboration between the Chinese and Hollywood, the movie “Great Wall” starring Matt Damon, due out February 2017.

Here is a quick sum-up of what the most upvoted Chinese users of Douban.com (Goodreads and Imdb rolled into one), have to say about the “Great Wall”:

“So spineless Hollywood was knocked to its knees with cold hard Chinese cash – I can accept that. But why should our very own Matt Damon get dragged into this muck? Giv’im back to me!”

“I can’t tell you how much I wanted this icky movie to be one gigantic prank, just a cult movie concocted by Director Zhang Yimou.”

“Okay, fine, Jing Tian’s acting is world-class —— now will you please drop the gun?”

A little aside about the gun. The Chinese government brought in the operators of the Chinese equivalent of Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB and Amazon for a chiding recently. They thought the sites were not doing a good enough job as gatekeepers of movie-goer reviews. Ambitious well-heeled domestic productions that sail forth with the full blessing of the propaganda department consistently flounder on the open sea of audience opinion. The authorities ordered more patriotism and less criticism in movie reviews by users. In other words, the government has just made movie reviews political.

One of the upsides of the ban on political comments of any kind in China is the chromatic way it paints everything political, in the sense that it raises political awareness in people who otherwise wouldn’t notice or care. Censors cast a wide net. To debate whether soup kitchens, legal aid and tutoring networks for children should be supervised by the police can catapult your average Joanie swiping her iPhone 7 to dissident status overnight. Chinese Internet users return the courtesy by twiddling with the many and exquisitely painful thorns buried in the side of the Chinese leadership. In this instance, they maliciously speculate that Jing Tian, the female lead of “Great Wall,” got the role through high-level connections within the Chinese system.

For Jing Tian is a great mystery. Of a belabored, heavy-duty beauty, with eyes surgically enlarged to achieve the terror-stricken stare of silent-film era stars in vogue, she has starred in a series of box office and critical low-ballers that hemorrhaged eye-popping sums of money. A veteran Chinese co-star provided an insight into the reason for her low popularity. Her icebreaker on the set was nothing short of artless: “I don’t know the first thing about acting. Do your best with that!” Only someone who paid to play could have afforded such disarming candor. Who footed her bill? There is a list of four names in circulation. A deputy Vice Minister of Propaganda? One of the direct descendants of the men who founded People’s Republic of China on a platform of banning official privilege? The possibilities are as fruitfully ironic as the imagination of the online Chinese republic, the only place in China where one can speak up.

But “Great Wall” could have survived even an association with the hybrid monster of a proletarian princess, if it had been done well. Part of audience disappointment is directed at Zhang Yimou himself. This one-time Gold Lion winner, whose courageous exploration of forbidden cultural and political territory was once banned (“To Live”), morphed into a champion of the state long ago. His movies consistently toe the censor-mandated line that the people of China require benevolent despotism to save them from their own folly and weakness. Viewers will never tire of revisiting this smarting betrayal, by tearing Zhang’s output to shreds. Hollywood merely put the finishing touches on this disaster, spitting out a predictable script “with as many plot holes as monsters.”

Little surprise, then, that “Great Wall” is struggling with a 50% rating on Douban (worse than 93% of all fantasy movies), despite a surge of paid boosters who attack the film’s detractors for “kissing the foreigners’ ass” and “sneering condescension at their own culture.” (Both the government and businesses in China are adroit manipulators of culture wars – sounds familiar?)

The Chinese government has reportedly gotten very good at jiggling Western guilt about the legacy of imperialism to get what they want. That’s how it got all these movers and shakers of the American policy establishment to accept, for decades, the bad things it does to its own people. (The idea is that if China should stop manhandling the Chinese, chaos would ensue. It’s fitfully benevolent despotism seen from a different angle.) If you feel bad that the Western powers had humiliated China for 150 years, keep that 50% rating in mind when debating whether to shell out another $39 bucks for your next movie outing. Follow the Chinese  people’s advice and skip the “Great Wall.”  The Chinese government would be delighted that the West is finally, in keeping with their rising power, looking to the Chinese for guidance. President Xi and company figure that the average Chinese patriot will be more willing to overlook the way they are treated at home, if their country is great again abroad. Sounds familiar?

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Where Has All the Chinese Internet Traffic Gone? – Business Solutions to Content Overload in China

The Chinese content market offers a fascinating comparison to the rest of the global Internet. According to research by KPCB and Hillhouse Capital, Chinese Internet users numbered 688 million by the end of 2015. Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter clone, saw its market worth catch up to Twitter at around 11 billion dollars in 2016. Tencent, the owner of popular social messaging app WeChat, achieved a market capitalization of $242.04 billion in August 2016.

An underlying factor to consider in understanding China’s online content market is its unique appeal to readers. The Internet offers Chinese users more space for free expression and access to news than offline. That unique appeal translates into more eyeballs and advertising revenue, and Chinese businesses have been fighting fiercely over the prize. Here is a snapshot of two notable trends in China’s mobile content apps market, currently dominated by WeChat but remaining open to ambitious and nimble startups:

Information overload

Like elsewhere, content has exploded on the Chinese Internet and harmed user experience. For example, the Financial Times ran an article in April 2016 titled “Overloaded China users battle ‘WeChat fatigue’” stating that many of the app’s 806 million users find WeChat content, distributed through channels which include 13 million official accounts, “overwhelming and useless.” According to academics at Fudan University and Guangdong Foreign Language University, China’s top mobile news apps, such as Tencent and Sohu, suffer from the same malaise of overflowing information that is badly organized and comes with little personalization. One important demographic factor underpinning this problem of too much content chasing too few viewers is that the growth in both users and time spent on the Internet has been flattening, according to the tech site Huxiu.

User response in turn has been punishing. According to a year-end report on the “WeChat Ecosystem” by Yeezan, a digital media service platform, official accounts are losing followers and page views; featured stories at popular accounts (some with millions of followers) see an 8.9% click-through rate. Dishonest tactics attempting to cover up such decline illustrate the extent of the problem. Reports of faked clicks and bought “zombie” followers to the tune of 1,000 for $3 on WeChat went viral in September 2016.

Solutions to information overload reshaping the content space

In some fascinating ways, WeChat is illustrating the possible outer limits of content distribution via social networking. Chinese commentators have pointed to sources of strain within WeChat that are likely contributing to its declining reach:

1. As social grows, quality slumps:

Both the quality and personalization of the information users receive tend to decline as social network broadens and content from less familiar contacts dilute the information stream, until the stream explodes by several orders of magnitude;

2. Winner-take-all:

The of traffic flows to a small number of top influencers, and the cost of acquiring followers is increasingly steep for latecomers.

3. A laggard in algorithm adoption, WeChat still largely relies on a timeline structure with minimum filtering.

Users have been flocking to curation that pares down content in ways tailored to their preferences. Jingri Toutiao (“Today’s Headlines”), the 4-year-old newcomer mobile news app that has gained an impressive advantage over competitors from traditional portals (such as Netease, Sohu and Tencent), solves the problem using algorithms with impressive success. It now boasts 580 million users, 63 million active daily users, and some of the longest average daily use time in the industry. Tencent News comes in a remote second, with 120 million users.

Consequently, there are now signs that the news industry is investing in algorithms and moving away from human curation. The Chief Editor at Sohu News, for example, is leaving the company, and CEO Zhang Chaoyang admitted to reporters that they are reorganizing the editorial team to take advantage of machine curation. Zhihu, Quora’s Chinese equivalent, stopped having its team of professional experts curate answers, throwing open the door to all users to crowdsource recommendations.

What next?

From the point of view of Chinese users, there is a lot of room for improvement. In response to declining reach, advertisers have been pulling back from WeChat. The WeChat team is now getting its toes wet in developing algorithms and intervening more actively in content distribution. One analyst pointed out that, even though the company is sitting on a goldmine of data comparable to that of Facebook, only 10%, or $514 million, of Tencent’s overall revenue comes from advertising, of which WeChat’s advertising income is only a portion. Similarly, despite its vaunted technical edge, Toutiao’s content customization is rudimentary compared to Facebook’s FYI. Yidian, Toutiao’s acknowledged rival that just received D-series funding, is vowing to improve user experience with a combination of search, human and machine curation. A head-on collision between WeChat and upstart rivals may be hovering on the horizon, and bear close watching. A lot of money hangs in the balance.

 

 

 

常春藤廢人:給虎爸虎媽的床邊故事

 

“你說他什麼?”
“他根本沒告訴她。”
“他怎麼會這樣?”
“他就是這樣。”
“你說後來是誰告訴她的?”
“同事。決定以後兩個星期。”
“他有沒有跟她解釋?”
“到離婚那天也沒解釋過一個字。”
“兩個孩子呢?”
“就跟她啊。”
“那她工作也不換?還繼續跟他同事?”
“是耶魯啊,換掉!換到哪裡去?”

故事很簡單,很燒腦。一對年輕華裔夫婦,雙雙學界新星,不知怎的,湊巧總是女的選擇退讓輔佐,搞枯燥的行政工作掙錢養家,修洗碗機,生兒育女。寒窯十多年,他成為終身職的耶魯大學教授。她終於從不相干的同事隨口的恭賀裡聽見消息,遲了兩個星期。他什麼都沒說。沒有辯白,安慰或解釋,簽字離婚。

男女主角我見過,男的略熟一點。圓圓的眼睛,嘴角生得一副自來笑,都跟填了塊灼黑冷鐵的眼神犯冲。說不了幾句話,偶爾語驚四座,卻是埋著頭咕噥出來的。女的是那種難得的活潑,叫人樂意親近,近了也不帶刺的甜姐兒。他家人都說他對不起妻子。若說他就是陳世美,明明外頭又沒有人。誰會去睡一張車床?他近年來連難得的俏皮話都不說了。

他玩過重金屬樂團,寫歌似乎很有幾分才氣。他媽到現在還是常提,“若不是我攔得早,你哪來的今天。”

每一段婚姻都是南京大報恩寺那樣凌雲摩天的五色琉璃塔,閒人只能在塔基徘徊惋嘆兩句,進不去看不清,插不上嘴。但是我老想多一句嘴。我比別人好像多知道一點。

又是一個常春藤廢人。

美國的廢人,據他們自己說,像是很不少。美國的哲學家或文化評點泰斗,得往電視往夜店裡找,都是講脫口秀的,郭德綱一流人物。在大麻合法之前,美國社會門戶大開,“供應兩種刺激物質,週一到五咖啡因值班,支持生產力,週末酒精接力,這樣才能喝高喝笨,不至於察覺自己在坐大牢”(比爾稀客思,Bill Hicks, 1961-94)。 由此推斷,上班族不廢不笨的,少之又少。

但是常春藤批量生產的那些,卻大家齊了心,鉗口不提。板上釘釘,背後一個絕大的媒體陰謀。

我老撞見這些廢人,清一色亞裔,可見陰謀的凶狠毒辣,歧視我們。有的功績彪炳:大使館專員,聯邦巡迴法院本區官階最高的法務官。乍看最廢的一個,哈佛學士,史丹佛法商學院雙探花,牛津遊學還拿過個正經的二流獎,學歷相加起來相當於一座紫金牌坊,砸得死一兩車雙眼放光羨艷的虎爸虎媽。他可不是東亞病夫,肩膀可以跑馬,體貌特別揚我東亞雄風的那種棒子弟兄。

他找了分不上不下坐辦公桌的活,不冷不熱的做著。不動用同學關係,做金融國貿,不考國務院商務部外交官的試。外頭的矽谷何止黃金遍地,上市的股票多如樹葉,吹口氣就是數額任填的銀票。他冷靜的旁觀,說想寫本書。聊起天來,他的想法總是半途斷掉,說不上來他心裡有什麼。

大家都納悶。跟看見周子瑜坐街角賣珍奶差不多。

有一回他靜靜的說:“父母親要的,我全做到了。那些學位不是都到手了嗎,還少什麼?”

我答不上來。突然想起中過舉人,在船頭微微的雪影裡,一襲猩猩紅袈裟倒頭下拜,把天大的恩情還諸父母的寶玉。

還有一位,高堂老父八九十歲,盼著抱孫。官階頗高打進了本來是白人圈子的專業,資歷華彩炫目。好容易喜歡上了人,是職場暗戀,對方已經訂婚了,跟他並不熟,可能性近乎零。是叫座的韓劇劇本,放在美國此時此地,則是心理諮詢的範本。

中文不怎麼樣,想送母親中文書看,我推薦了齊邦媛的巨流河和王鼎鈞的抗戰回憶錄,他父母同代人的作品。他說跟家人沒什麼話說,真得靠這些書籍找話題,可惜他看不了。反正親子對話,就是兩老合力催他找對象。跟他相比,耶魯教授的父母倒也還該偷著樂;這一位鑽石單身狗,結婚禮堂的門檻都沒跨過。

他是清朝末世某位力挽狂瀾的名臣後裔,有一八幾,隆長臉頗有幾分相似那位網上都搜得到肖像的先祖,別人看他總要年輕十來歲,亞洲人經得起擱。畢竟也坐五望六的人了。

這些廢人的障礙心結,和極客宅男不一樣。二次元徜徉忘返啦,看到事業線如登極樂啦,在我看來,都算健康自然頭好壯壯。他們不是那樣。

他們也都各有各的故事。耶魯教授的父母相敬如冰,或許他寧願不像他們。說不定他欠妻子的債欠累了。想換個自己,不要只蹲在和妻子相處久了,她熟習的模子裡,生怕嚇著了她一動也不動。紫金學歷矽谷隱者只是順應自己的性情,他畢竟不是哪家新銳公司的股票,市場可以隨便定價,他的人生他做主,誰能給他貼成器不成器的標籤?

而且,鄉民一樣會離婚,失戀,找不到事業的方向。

可是跟這些名校人生勝利組念過書同過事聊過天,我總有種感覺,他們都是晴雯。“補雖補了,到底不像——我也再不能了!”用盡全力,裝飾了父母的夢。自己慢慢的力盡神危。

不准失敗。不可以戀愛。永遠趕不上期待。

父母胸口的勳章獎牌,煥然華彩。

女兒順口提了一句:我這數學已經算上來了,總分是B,這學期到現在考的都是B 和 C。我心裡緩緩浮出一隻巴掌,做勢甩過去:考個乙你也好意思誇口,你不害臊,我都替你害臊!我眼睜睜和那隻長著獰厲眼嘴的巴掌對看,等它化作青煙四散。

我問要不要幫忙。

算了,我還是找爸爸吧,她說。你每次都繃得好緊。

對不起,我說。

她親親我的臉。可憐的嘟嘟,她說,你小時候被打被罵才會變這樣的,不是你的錯。

那還不是最糟的,我說。父母為了我犧牲,最吃不消。

咱華人有個習慣,與其說服,認為恫嚇更合情合理。或許我講這些也只是在嚇人。天知道,華人都是嚇大的。

我很樂意聽名臣後裔聊他的苦戀,我讀過宋詞,有足夠的文化訓練,不會認為他對一個陌生人的感覺是跟踪偷窺,需要叫警察。他大學專攻過中古法語,和父母激烈爭執多年,他們怕他走上了歪路,所有的叛逆大概就是那時候用掉了。“你知道戰爭與和平裡,羅斯托夫伯爵家的少年少女晚上滑雪橇開心玩的那一段?她讓我想起透過雪聲的鈴聲,娜塔莎的笑聲。”

我也聽見了。那些夢想的窸窣銀聲,像一場紛紛的大雪。

且玩且讀 —— 歐遊讀書雜記

旅遊的時候,要不要帶書,帶什麼樣的書,一向是個為難的選擇。最正宗的自然是「量身定做派」︰知道要去黃山或康斯坦丁堡了,就事先作好功課,勤懇精確的帶上《徐霞客遊記》或蒙太固夫人的《土耳其使館書簡》(Turkish Embassy Letters, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu)。除此之外,還有認為「行萬里路,讀萬卷書」的上下聯勢不能同時並行不悖,堅持純粹體驗,旅行時只讀導遊書的「原教旨派」;擔心被職業導遊和七彩明信片的刻板印象先入為主,連導遊書也不看,要保留想像童貞直到和異地相見歡為止的「驚喜掛帥派」;以及因為沒作功課,錯過羅孚宮的水晶妝臺或融聖妙狂蕩于一身的聖德列莎雕像,捶胸頓足的「事後追悔派」等等。于這些派別,我或多或少都做過入門弟子,滄桑甘苦,一時也說不盡。

這次去歐洲,是我第一次順其自然,哪塊書磚掉下來砸到頭就帶哪塊,沒有刻意強求書本必須和旅途沾親帶故。一共兩本,一本是兩個月前看過書評,在網上隨意預訂之後就忘光光;到出門那天早晨圖書館才來電郵通知,飛車去取沒時間衡量的《艷麗的土壤︰顏色的發明與美術史》。一本則是十年前看過,至今已經全無印象等于新書的《玫瑰的名字》,出門前二十分鐘隨手抓的。

沒想到,這兩本書就像事先配好套似的,和旅程相輔相成,絲絲入扣。

早早遭文字蠱鈍,對繪畫彫刻的反應一直停留在「很像很像」的我,偏偏和許多裝模作樣的讀書人一樣,總覺得這樣沒美術素養很可恥、很不體面。幸好想起來,心理學先驅威廉‧詹姆斯好像說過,人是先跪下然後才對神明起敬畏之心的。所以,我的雙膝在歐陸的美術館階上,都快跪腫了。每次去每次看,看不懂也要看,就巴望能從朝聖的空虛儀式裡培育出信仰真知來。《艷麗的土壤》可真讓我悟了道。比方說,原來聖母的衣服都是藍的,是因為十九世紀以前西方畫家用的藍顏料都是半寶石搗煉的,特別貴重。到柏林、倫敦的時候我就伸長了脖子用心看,聖母果然是穿藍的多呢!以往走過多少趟,從來也沒注意過﹐可見書是不能不讀的。(還是說觀察能力如此低落的腦袋,就拿書來修也沒希望了?)

說正經的,作者談各代畫家或因顏料會退色、或財力不足、或原料難得,用色時大受限制,照理講都是常識而已,我這藝術白痴卻是聞所未聞,大開眼界。比方說,倫敦維多利亞博物館裡,拉斐爾給掛毯作坊畫的底稿不是「正經畫」,而是準備剪成一片片墊在機底給織工照著織的「颯颯去」物件。畫門徒捕魚與耶穌神蹟的時候,耶穌的衣裾用的不是耐久的銀硃,而是便宜的植物染料,到現在早已退成蒼茫的灰白。水裡耶穌的倒影卻還是真材實料,紅灩瀲瀲,兩相對照似真似幻、誤打誤撞的居然有種哲理的神異——人性與神性的並存?

小拉當初是怎麼想的呢?完美主義者和現實妥協得快抓狂了,細節處明知于事無補的奢侈一下來取得平衡?知道作坊裡折騰得多顏色退得快,只好在倒影上提醒織工一下?還是預算沒抓準,錢用完了?光憑書裡學的一點皮毛,就可以胡思亂想好久,像打開整整一個阿房宮,看裡頭綠雲擾擾,明星熒熒,渭流漲膩直打到腳上,是畫家在調色,畫寶石和絲絨,倒洗畫筆的水,動腦筋剋扣顏料錢好補大毛、二毛的襪子,就像菜市場小販在磅秤上耍花樣。像這樣,懂得一點創作過程裡現實與理想的落差,美術品和畫家都伸臂踢腿的活過來,不只是一生下地已經披盔貫甲、完滿無缺的神祇。

這次去愛丁堡以北的聖安德魯,是頭一次到蘇格蘭。想當年,天主教和新教在各國爭鬥慘烈,許多中古的宏偉寺院就此遭殃,聖安德魯大教堂便是一例。本來嘛,跑這種斷垣殘壁的古蹟最乏味了,放眼看去只是一堆爛石頭,遊客懾於盛名不得不走一趟,看不出所以然來,往往敗興而歸。好好,也許別的遊客比我有慧根,我承認,連頭尾俱全的凡爾賽宮,我還恨不該一應傢俱陳設都革命革光了,像吃空心湯圓。燒得塌得只剩頭蓋骨、半邊肩膀的和尚廟,有什麼好看的?

可手持一冊《玫瑰的名字》一切都不同了。艾柯從書裡探出頭來,就連石頭都和他一問一答。哪,那邊二十公尺高的哥德式複花長窗的殘破花飾,看久了漸漸浮凸圓足,是當日裸女與人頭馬在聖徒眼皮下公然交合的詭艷彫刻。看看錶,十一點鐘,在早起的僧侶們已經是下午了。他們可沒錶,清晨三點就得上堂早禱,報曉的雄雞又靠不住,只好專人擔任人鐘,熬夜不睡。早禱的時候,另有人拿著燈在旁邊監視,只要抓到你前仰後合,燭光馬上抖到臉上來,妙的是儼然成為儀式的一部份。(不像小學朝會,不管多少小朋友中暑昏倒,老師還是一副不能置信的表情。如果有個高瞻遠矚的校長,事先授命每班挑一個芝麻官,配備水壺,一看到倒下去的晝寢朽木馬上澆醒,就不至于要一個個向醫護室抬了。)

走過終年飄雨、瑩潤如芝的青草地,我不脫華人習氣的按書中插圖擬想廚房該在哪裡。沒有老婆,總得吃好一點吧?富裕的寺院自給自足,宰了豬放下一大缸的血,不像老美避之唯恐不及,而是留著寺內自製臘腸。村裡的貧農少女如肯陪老醜的僧侶睡覺,也可分一杯羹。昨天飯店供應蘇格蘭名菜羊雜腸(haggis),黑褐燕麥帶血條濃香實腴,和豬血糕長得像表兄弟,寺院想必常吃。看來僧侶的日子和利用尿桶、佛燭燉罈子肉的和尚一樣,差不到那裏去。

石柱纖巧得像玻璃吹出來的拱頂窖室清森有鬼氣,讓人想起書裡的藏寶地窖,得化點力氣把在各地美術館看到的諸多聖骨盒、祭器、書匣、十字架、權杖、袍服、冠冕、絲毯、畫屏、寶飾都搬運過來。看哪,家用神龕的兩根黃金與青金石柱框住精工的耶穌下葬銀雕,頂著嵌黑縞瑪瑙底、鑲代表十三門徒的十三塊鑽石的黃金十字架,三角楣上以五色瑪瑙與紅寶石鑲成扇貝形邊飾。在這金寶堆裡樂以忘死的執事長老雖說貪財怕事,卻不是連續劇裡對著銀兩搓手咂嘴口吐白沫的丑角。跟他走過深幽迴廊,石雕鏤析下陽光有如金束,照得他手上的戒指虹彩輝煌。聽他高談珍寶的語言,就連惡魔都不能不魂飛魄喪——綠玉髓、黃碧璽和水蒼玉的華美讓魔王回想起他光明之子的過去,煥燦火光則代表地獄的無間熱苦……。

我就這麼和俊美天真的艾索和料事如神的「英國諸葛」威廉長老作伴走過中世紀,門票是手裡三塊五美金買的平裝本。讀書就是玩,玩完了書看得更透,旅途上的見聞風物紛紛撲進書裡,書頁紛飛又包羅了旅途的一切。既不須先作功課也不用事後追悔,真乃賞心樂事也!

『閒話英文中譯』: 查生字水性楊花之必要

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上看到一篇文章,提到中國政府的網路說唱曲和卡通宣傳策略,“中国当局不断通过网络说唱曲和卡通片等加强海外宣传攻势,已引起海外媒体关注。美国《时代》周刊最新一期报道了中国的一个最新的宣传作品说唱曲“这是中国”,认为“这首中国宣传说唱是迄今录制的最令人痛苦的歌”。

原文作 “the most painful song ever recorded,” 看了不怕小粉紅不驕敵自得,大外宣把美帝調戲得拖甲曳兵,創痛平生。殊不知原文字面上意思,並非去到盡頭的劇痛,而近乎北京俗語的“牙磣,” 像聽釘子刮玻璃那種鑽到牙齦裡的酸冷,實在是“做事離譜之極,旁人看著都替你難受著急”之意。認真要中譯,或可寫做“令人不忍卒聽。” 又則,這句型並非正規書面語,乃年輕人誇張輕倩沒三兩重的口語,網路博眼球之用。類似造句包括:

OMG, I’d never seen an outfit that hideous in my life!

諸如此類的“至今最…””有生以來從來沒…” 不建議直接口服,要配著”腦袋瓜那麼大的一顆鹽”吞下(take it with a grain of salt the size of my head。”中文人話的說法,就是“聽聽就好“”酌量參考。”不相信,看紐時或衛報,選情再火爆,川普再胡鬧,也絕不使用最高級形容詞:Donald Trump Is the Most Hate-driven Candidate in US History (川普是美國有史以來最滿腔恨毒的總統候選人)

現代中文翻英文,深情款款,此心不渝,看到辭典第一義就認死扣。依我說,還是水性楊花一點的好。順便多事雞婆一句(大陸的說法是:鹹吃蘿蔔淡操心)上圖據說摹寫的是杜甫的麗人行,“楊花雪落覆白蘋,青鳥飛去銜紅巾。” 杜甫不怕跨省,對網警比中指,公然搬出楊國忠和妹妹虢国夫人亂倫的性醜聞壓軸: “炙手可熱勢絕倫, 慎莫近前丞相嗔,” 膽兒肥碩頂喉嚨了,壯哉!

中文觀點:https://pao-pao.net/article/718 中共“军事文化网络主题论坛”上透露了什么信息

英文原文:http://time.com/4388991/china-rap-propaganda-cd-rev/

The Knowing Ducks of Spring: How to tell when China is Ready to Compete with Hollywood

琅琊榜 黄金分割

People associated with China’s film industry recently declaimed on the CBS program 60-Minutes that the Chinese are poised to give Hollywood a run for its money. Rob Cain of Bloomberg was quite emphatic as to why not. And I wholeheartedly agree with him.

In this I am taking my cue from China’s own tough-love critics, whose opinion I figure must be weighty on this subject. Ranging from Chen Danqing, an artist and arbiter of culture, to Ran Yunfei, a public intellectual harassed by authorities, they all agree that cultural China is but a shadow of its former self. They feel that the ravages of the country’s recent past, such as the Cultural Revolution, left China adrift, severed from much of its heritage and uncertain of its future. You can’t tell powerful stories when you don’t know who you are or where you might be.

China is, therefore, in a long cultural convalescence, and in such straits poses no threat to Hollywood’s global dominance. By the same token, however, healing may eventually usher in a renaissance.

The great Song-dynasty renaissance man, Su Dongpo (1037-1101), writes that “When warm once again the tides of spring grow/The ducks are always the first ones to know.” Here are two spheres of Chinese cultural life to watch, as Su’s proverbial ducks, for the arrival of that cultural renewal. Now, it is inevitable that observers will vehemently differ on whether backsliding or leapfrogging is gaining the upper hand. There will be inexhaustible opportunities to track eye-popping developments on the ground and to wrangle over what they mean. That will be part of the fun.

The Chinese Language. Chinese is slowly recovering from the Maoist style of writing and speaking. Li Tuo, a literary critic, pointed out in 1997 that the language of propaganda and revolution held back modern Chinese. The standardized Maospeak outlawed, and virtually wiped modern Chinese clean, of classical Chinese.

To understand what this means, imagine an English with the widest part of its Saxon and Latinate vocabulary surgically removed. Then ponder how you can grapple with that state of things, knowing only a few odds and ends from your entire literary past that political leaders, the government press and a couple of lionized writers happened to cite. That’s what the Chinese are up against.

Restoring and regrowing Chinese language and culture is an uphill climb. Still, Hollywood should not get too comfortable. For the last several years, a section of Chinese society has honored their past by waxing nostalgic for the culture of the Republican era that immediately preceded Communist rule. For example, Mu Xin, a recently discovered writer’s writer, is beloved of young hip readers as representative of “what Chinese literature would have looked like, had it not been devastated after 1949.” Readers and writers are slowly reforging the broken link to their rich birthright.

Chinese Dramas and Their Critics. While the majority of Chinese audience put up with what domestically produced movie and TV theatricals censors allow them to see, an irrepressible minority have made a wildly popular cottage industry out of ripping into government-approved content that offend them as insults to their IQ. Barrages of jokes and quips greet trite fare restricted to a few categories:

a. Imperial court intrigue emphasizing the sagacity of rulers and the grandeur of Chinese empires;

b. The 101th rehashing of myths on how underground tunnels and airplane-felling pistol shots from Communist guerrillas beat back the Japanese invasion in WWII;

c. Shoddy rom-coms slovenly modeled on Japanese and Korean originals, adapted to Chinese tastes with endless catfights between daughter- and mother-in-law.

Stuff that will not shake Hollywood to its foundations any time soon. Having said that, watch out for the gush of irreverent creativity from their critics: theirs is an outstanding testament to the Chinese imagination and its potential for storytelling. 

Given how formidable that creativity would be if harnessed the right way, just like the country did in the manufacture of more tangible things, China may yet catch up with light-year speed. Nirvana in Fire, a popular 55-episode drama that was seen a total of 3.5 billion times on Chinese streaming platforms as of October 2015, is one recent breakthrough that for once has the homegrown critics applauding. This historical fantasy differs in many regards from mainstream fare. A re-conceived Count of Monte Cristo, it sports a moral backbone, where other censor-sanctioned drama veer between saintly stereotypes (WWII) and nihilistic cynicism (court intrigue). It boasts strong female characters whose horizons extend beyond the love of men. Its treatment of historical details is precise and intimate, going beyond professional polish to that reforging of links to Chinese heritage so vital to China’s renaissance. All this result in a reticent aesthetics rooted in the high tradition of Chinese painting and poetry. The camerawork, costumes and set design are of an understated beauty in a quintessentially Chinese way that has won over viewers both old and young.

In a word, I think we would do well to look to Chinese civil society in order to figure out when their creative springtime is at hand. Until then, Hollywood can try to stay ahead of the game by learning from the worthiest Chinese endeavors. For Hollywood, like China, has to endlessly recreate itself to stay true to its dreams. In that there is no zero-sum game. 

Why The Better Chinese Writer Is Often the Harder Sell in the West: Musings on Wang Zengqi 汪曾祺

 

 

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http://solo78.deviantart.com/art/Broken-Bridge-Scene-252501731

 

Here are some personal reaction, cum brief background, about the writer of “The Connoisseur,” a short story I translated. Wang Zengqi (1920-1997) is, in my opinion, one of modern China’s best writers. He belongs to that last flowering generation of intellectuals who, steeped in an uninterrupted cultural tradition that assimilated every successful invader of China, took up the challenge and clarion call from the West. As a young writer, he counted Woolf and Faulkner among his influences. Li He, an 8th-century poet (imagine a Coleridge who fulfilled his promise with 220 poems), inspired Wang with his gorgeous desolation. Wang represented the best hope of a China that died young.

 

The post-1949 dystopia destroyed the promise of China’s writers. When the Party permitted them to write again, they no longer knew how. Having had it hammered into them that Western literature was a pernicious colonialism and Chinese culture a tool of class exploitation, they had nowhere to turn. Servile to political goals for decades, their stunted genius saw a second burial. Wang was one of a handful of exceptions. 

 

What makes Wang stand out among those chosen few is his purity and freedom. He writes as if the Communist devastation has never been. There is no more remarkable act of writerly rebellion. His language, now nourished by a brawny vigor from years of folk theater work, is of a lovely simplicity. A Chekhov who has finally reached peace with himself, he reimagines a China at once panoramic and exact, its struggles, injustices and beautiful things ordered by an ineluctable humanity. That goes against the grain of everything the Party upholds. His classical learning, effortlessly wielded without ostentation, defies and undoes the harm of Newspeak. To this day the Chinese remains largely robbed of their capacity to envision a world and future other than what the Party wills, because their language itself has become so corrupted. In writing like Wang’s, where what is human and universal from China’s enduring past is distilled and fit into the present, the hope for another renaissance beckons. 

 

Wang has not been translated much, perhaps in part because of what makes up his genius. I hope to change that in what small way I can. The Western reader has very little knowledge of the cultural backdrop which informs Wang’s writing. What makes him so valuable to the Chinese makes him a harder sell here. It struck me that the Internet is our best friend when it comes to bridging those gaps. I try to illuminate the lost world of his writing through web links to Chinese architecture, paintings, calligraphy and cartoons of the inside of a 1920’s Beijing clothier. They are easier to get to and less disruptive to the flow of reading than footnotes. I’m hoping to get reader thoughts from my DC Literature meetup, if I can lobby the folks there to hold a discussion session on the story. My goal is to turn reader feedback into revisions to this translation. Whether a story from a foreign land leaves readers baffled, irritated, bemused or hungry for more, their response shines a bright light on where the two cultures collide and coincide, in ways slowly revealing to us. 

Criticism (in Chinese) for 2011 Korean Drama, “Secret Garden”: Free Women Cost the Most

This is the first part of my  magnum opus, ahem, drama criticism on Secret Garden, a 2010 Korean drama. Originally published in daily installments on Baidu group dedicated to the drama, my criticism attracted excellent comments from other posters. Before Baidu shut down its viewer meter in 2011, the conversation had earned 500,000 visitors. Five years later, posters and new fans still visit and write on the thread,with around 6,000 posts in all.

The whole thing comes out to 127 pages, 124,000 words, single-space, written from April to August 2011, coinciding with the worst human rights crackdown in China that I had witnessed, at my old job as a grant-maker to rights activists. I had to find an outlet, and this was absorbing enough for the job.

秘密花園劇評: 不要錢的女人最貴 從社長談起

蔣行之 2011, 百度貼吧

(十二萬四千餘字的萬言書)

轉發請註明作者與出處

有个台湾文化人说过一句肺腑之言,凑巧被我听到:兄弟,要记住,不要钱的女人最贵啊。

秘密花园的金社长真是个妙人。时时刻刻提醒别人他身上的豪富细节,他什么都要最贵最好最用心的。而且终究没有辜负他的泼天富贵,果然找了个最贵的女人。

吉罗琳。一个工作场合不断道歉的女人,15块人民币都一时拿不出来。

他差一点就给不起的女人。一个不要钱,因此无价的女人。

因为透过罗琳,他追求的是尊严与自由。作为一个富贵然而被家族利益操纵,被母亲威胁利诱的人,他几乎无法承受的昂贵追求。

但是社长比我们聪明。他知道他最需要的是什么。他之前是役于物,那一切都是他妈妈给他的,随时可以拿走,用来操控他的生命。就算爱情淡去,他也应该感受得到,得回的是自己的生命。说:就算以后后悔,也要一辈子后悔着和她生活下去,因为那是他自己的意志和选择。

社长的父亲消失,母亲把他当工具和完美玩偶,他需要久远而坚牢的关爱。一个勇敢,真实,买不动,吓不跑的人的爱。

第二集在百货公司门口,罗琳幻影第一回出现。穿着他那个阶级的盔甲,三件头意大利西装的社长,和她并肩站着,表情还事不关己,大概以为只是路过的孤魂野鬼。那种浑然不知自己正和自己的命运两两相对的漠然,像Lady of Shallott,活在魔咒里的谢萝特的贵主,在遗世独立的庄院里看着魔镜纺织,恬然眺望着亚瑟王的坎密罗城大放光明,从来不知道自己是一个人。直到有一天,骑士兰斯洛特路过,黑发在镶宝石的头盔下光辉灿烂。社长重新低下头去,抿出颊上的笑涡而并不笑,把经济学人杂志抖了抖继续往下看,任由罗琳化灰为风吹去。那一刻,他相信他是自由的。

罗琳将会成为社长的兰斯洛特,永远的勇士。在他像谢萝特的贵主一样,为了见兰斯洛特,甘愿放弃自己的生命之后。

第一集的社长,因为他得不到母亲的尊重,也不知道如何去尊重别人。优雅且好整以暇的忽视别人的尊严,就像造化小儿,高高在上,随意摆弄别人的悲欢吉凶,自己从不曾红尘历劫。在会所遇到凝眸不瞬的相亲酱油女,从头到尾连瞥都不瞥她一眼。他的抽离很合理。他这样的人,只有他去操弄世界,世界于他应当无能为力才是。由他妈妈的观点来看,就连那次电梯事故,都不该由他这个阶级的人来承受。所以,周元谪仙一般一步步走向他的劫难和重生的历程,越发精彩淋漓,穷尽了观众所有施虐和被虐的能力。像爱神失手被自己的黄金箭头戳伤那样大快人心。

世界上没有一见钟情这回事,只是运气好,刚好那个人表里如一,而你又有眼光看得出来。虽然社长和尹瑟相亲,说了这样的话,下场众所周知,我还是要冒险重复一次。社长不是一次爱上罗琳的,而是在一次次印证中,知道罗琳的确是他希望中的那个人,而且她逐次打破他的成见,重塑他对世界的观感和愿望,养大了他的希望。是这样的,火山一次次爆发凝固的熔岩,把他封在里面的爱情,才有后来牢不可破的誓盟。世上没有一天造成的罗马。

社长第一次为罗琳脱出常态,是在饭店。别看社长发现罗琳不是朴蔡琳,叫嚣着要她负责,问她“跟来干嘛,这笔交易值多少钱你知道吗”,凶狠计较得像钱庄伙计,难怪她会随意猜测他的职业人生。可是,才过了两分钟,罗琳接完导演电话要离开的时候,他马上阻挡,问她要去哪里?把和奥斯卡的续约交易忘得一干二净。还要等她提醒他:想见朴蔡琳吗?他才恍然的噢了一声。这和社长前面作为Alpha-male 经济动物所向无敌的精明刻薄,差别太大。这么早他已经开始离魂了,一旦知道她不是哥哥的情人,不需有所挂虑之后。

说到这里,先往前跳跃一下。那个孩子气的“噢” 再出场,是12集开头罗琳问他,就那么喜欢我吗?社长脸上一点表情也没有,就像答只有一个选择的选择题那样,乖巧又明快的说出了正确答案。这两个”噢“像诗句韵脚的前后呼应。前一次,是一个强大无比的人突然糊涂了,心防被攻破而并不自知。后一次,则是这个人从容低到尘埃里,不挣扎了,把自己交出来,有种前所未有的纯净。

很多人都认为罗琳很平凡,或至少刻画不如社长深刻。我觉得作为如此贵重的一个人,罗琳和社长形影相吊,和他平分秋色。否则,社长不可能如此动人。这剧的珍奇在于,市政厅之外头一次,我能够认真考虑,女主是否值得男主这样牺牲,而还比市政厅铺垫得完全。

从沙发上那段经典对话开始,罗琳就占了上风。虽然受伤,虽然担心导演生气,工作无法继续,她还是眼珠子一转就先猜出了社长的错误,伶俐无比。素来宽厚待人的她,飞车抵达片场,忍不住要开那个五脏六腑都在翻腾的小混混一个玩笑:“怎么,不是说男人最喜欢刺激有侵略性的车戏吗?”连打趣带挖苦,那一刻的罗琳英气夺人,急智戳得社长一句话答不上来 (当然也因为他正在干呕,)可他什么时候嘴上输过人了?这样的女人难道和社长那件不朽的运动服似的,满大街都是?我不信。

他的没教养从一开头就惹上了她。家境清贫的救火员的女儿,比金家的男女老幼都更像个世家闺秀,自尊自重。哪怕误会解开,社长仍旧连一句像人的话都不会说。从“脑子不好才干这活”直到“为什么踢我,”受伤又流年不利的罗琳都是三娘教子的作风,言教不如身教 – “是啊,到底为什么踢你呢?”先做了再说,让他自己去琢磨。他再俊美,她也看不上,因为此时的他,的确是扭曲的。无论怎么看,此时的社长,都配不上罗琳。

配不上罗琳,是因为他是还没摔到墙上的青蛙王子。(金编不知道是不是故意记错,公主没吻青蛙,而是掼了出去,就像第二集的过肩摔。)要说社长是无忧无虑一生的男人,造化小儿,他其实又过得有苦说不出,正是中了魔咒的青蛙。奥斯卡给他打电话要求摆平朴蔡琳的时候,他明明正在和医生商量别减药量,怕这样下去,连班都上不了。一接电话,说的是:“我在玩啊,我什么时候不玩了。”对最亲的兄弟尚且要这样隐瞒,连亲生母亲也不会谅解他的病,这个谨慎的男人谁都不能相信,被他的财宝牢牢囚禁着 ,不能示弱,不能叫苦,逞强得令人心酸,比孤儿还孤独。

能不说谎的时候他总是大实话:“我才不要每天上班,因为会堵车。”他对不以为然的百货公司管理班子朗朗的说。其中况味,只有他自己知道。

感谢小舟的翻译,原来四集医生来他家诊视的时候,说的是:“好久没这么失常了不要去上班了,但是药量我就不给你加了。”罗琳这剂药下得太猛,他这时候还没有尝到爱情的甜头,心理上越来越依赖药物,往死胡同里走。

在谈更衣室一役之前,先来点开胃细节。周元听肖邦看着那四万块发怔,是从破晓看到大白天。搞不好大半夜就起来格物了,看窗外天光的转变可知。音乐极其陡峭,听得见社长无所凭依的灵魂一次次下临无地的跌宕声响。是恋爱中人的荷尔蒙反应,不吃不睡都无所谓。

第三集听奥斯卡问他是不是被拍照了,这样战战兢兢, 社长立即翻脸。有苦说不出啊。连奥斯卡那么冰雪剔透的明白人自己人都认为,那么个穷替身,周元肯定上手了,玩玩而已,一定是罗琳风急火燎的要把这事长久下去,立此存照。只有周元自己知道,事实和别人理所当然的想像,差的有多远。比之于朴蔡琳的摄影威胁,他也是偷拍,但是两者之间天差地别。他甚至没敢偷拍真人,只能翻拍储物橱里的照片,真的像乞丐一样。

这种苦痛,和他的失忆导致的心病,是完全不一样的。社长从来没有遇见过到不了手的东西,不听使唤的女人,没有价钱的感情。“为什么我想做,你却不让呢?” 社长困惑罗琳不让他送她回家时这么问。任意行使他的意志,原本是他所有的幸福,是他自在翱翔的蓝天。让人把画廊搬到他那博物馆一般的家,是他理解中唯一的快乐。花钱是他的爱好。他偶尔也玩女人,虽然兴致还不如对那琳琅满橱柜的名表浓厚,因为没听他说女人是男士必备的配件。

他母亲在他父亲离家之后对他悉心的教育,宗旨是:每个人都有个价钱,包括社长自己。在罗琳出现之前,他对自己的价码,非常满意,他的意志,是被关在以金钱来算计的世界里的。那是笼中鸟的自由。

罗琳让他第一次想要飞上真正的蓝天,想要幸福。这都是社长贬落红尘,成为真人,所必须吃的苦头。

社长慢慢成为真人,妩媚已极。罗琳幻影第二次出现,粉红女士挂他电话,他责怪幻影,幻影开口責怪他老要人負責。他抱头说:这女人,什么时候冲我笑过啊我不会是真疯了吧?

他担心自己的疯狂没有错,但担心的理由更证明了他的疯狂,令人捧腹。他不是担心自己白天黑夜无时无地的见鬼,而是进一步在意她还没对他笑过。社长您,要是罗琳冲您笑过,莫非您就不算疯了吗?半夜临水坐着走神,连妈妈面前都冲口说出择偶的真话?不怪您,毕竟您根本还不知道自己心里打什么算盘。要说他疯,他又还记得要念清心咒。这里的稚气的惶惶不可终日,和稍前奥斯卡中诡计,签名签得手都断了,周元凭栏下望那个“欲回江河唯画地”,一切都抓在手心里的危诡的笑,对比太鲜明了。他平常有多能干,这时候就加倍的有多惶惑。

就因为他平常不是贾宝玉,这过程更刺激,这痴心更珍奇有趣。

谢谢27楼魅影冒泡。我也是万年潜水,上次发言好像是07年了。

第二集周元找上门的时候,心理负担还不重。已经知道对方有本事伤自己自尊心,但面试的时候微露梨涡,斜斜站著,有恃无恐得不得了。这次见面,他虽然一直在成熟温柔,威严自然流露的领导者和幼稚抽风闪痞之间跳换,但并没有三集之后展现的矛盾冲突。还不知道怕,没想起自卫。

他拉衣服的时候说:我看看伤口,要是你刚才好好跟我说伤势,我也不必这样。这话非常有力,一下把人骗倒,好像错全在自己不肯配合。就像栗琰说的社长哲学,这个人从来不浪费力气,能够迅捷的说服你。那么有效率的人,花时间花力气做这件小事,看那条蚯蚓似的浮肿伤口,不是瞄一眼,甚至不像关切,而是他看书那样,小孩刚认字一样,勾著头,眼光依依不去,用看韩国第一美人的认真来看。他自己都不知道自己动心的程度,心意贴着蓝天凉风一般远飏,他的意识刚追得上地下的影子。

说:留疤了,恐怕不能竞选韩国小姐了 閒散的,很亲的口气,一下子她就是自己人了。那居然不是恭维的话,也不是开玩笑。他前面话说得有多难听,这时候就有多甜蜜宜人。

据说真正的英国贵族,当众说脏话,顺手把贵妇绣珠绕翠的荷包拿来小解,往壁炉灰里一扔。不是刻意无礼,就因为他那样的身份,想做什么都可以。他就是原则。这种不自觉的狂傲,前面说的意志的恣肆行使,平常是没教养,在这种关头翻了个面朝外,成为只倾注于一人的华美的殷勤,软缎铺天盖地的掩上来,庶民恐怕很难招架得住。直到第九集,罗琳翻案人鱼公主论,把青蛙摔出去之前一刻,社长还维持着这种狂傲: 我们还会再继续,就因为我刚刚这么说了。

透过狂傲,体现的却是他的纯真,他的本心。在他心底埋藏的,那个看爱丽丝梦游奇境的孩子,他自己都不相信的他。 没有这个,罗琳说什么也不会感动。

如果他能一直保持这样水平,不到第五集,就算强大如罗琳,说不定也会沦陷,自愿当人鱼公主了。当然,他不可能一直这样。

轻描淡写交代下去:不会让你留疤的,去医院给我打个电话,是CEO的口气。离去的步伐体态优雅閒豫,和那件尖着嗓子喊“只看我”的高领运动服一反衬,绝了。我们知道,那是CEO的背影,而罗琳不知道。所以她是唯一一个,没有功利性质,就对他动了心的女人。就说她没有价钱嘛。

(我把金钱的地位压得这么低,可能听起来像幼稚园大班生一样天真可笑。但我真的是这么想。不是钱不重要,而是有比钱重要的多的东西。下文慢慢说。)

长篇大论,连我自己都受不了了,各位包涵则个。我有强迫症啊。

爱整洁守秩序的社长几次看书,一次比一次无序。第三集看诗集,阖上看手机照片想念罗琳,还知道把书归回原位。第二次十集想要戒掉罗琳,在家苦捱看爱丽丝,把书盖到脸上,已经有错乱迹象。第三次是十三集,被罗琳赶回美好童话世界里,翻两页就随手一扔。要知道社长是对整个书架了若指掌的,靠的就是一切个就各位,看他后来听奥斯卡报告,逐本搜索,很快找到罗琳的人鱼公主留言就知道。社长书架上的书,他全都看过。光这一点,就足以让他不朽。

虽然书作为镇静剂止痛剂不再管用,但毕竟是习惯了的支撑,知道罗琳父亲营救殉职的真相之后,他站在窗口沉思,一册书还是捏在手里 – 直到金秘书奔进来报告噩耗 (大哭)

主歌和片头是解译这部剧的钥匙。主歌說:我喜歡你,因為我們相似,都是一樣的傻瓜..

周元和罗琳都聰明,反應快,口才好,自尊心強,情深一往。对了,还都是工作狂。

片头那对闪灼的鳳蝶,对影翩跹。希腊神话里的赛姬,是爱神失手自伤后爱上的凡人,经过爱神母亲阿佛黛蒂的诸般考验,终于升上奥林匹斯山,成为人类不朽灵魂的代表。蝴蝶是她的象征。他们是soulmates, 灵魂的伴侣。

那天晚上,在会所门口,周元看到了罗琳的自卑与受伤,看似扬长决绝的走掉,因为知道他们不可能,也歉疚伤害了她, 還吃奧斯卡的醋,照例是千手千眼的忙。但他根本管不住自己,走不掉,水准堪比密谍的跟了他们一路,最后又跑到她家,看她坐在小公园里,把围上没受伤的脖子的围巾拿来包上受伤的破包,两处相思,一种凝愁。

要不是他跟踪了奥罗二人,当晚两兄弟月下对饮,他怎么会不耐烦的对奥说:问什么尹瑟,不是都听我妹说了吗?至于问奥是不是送了罗琳,大约是信不过,想看看奥会不会对自己说真话吧。社长很小心,对于罗琳,尤其如是。

(别看在会所罗琳请周元喝啤酒,他貌似没听见,自顾自滔滔说出那番逼走她的责难。到头来孤零零一个人回到家,拎了罐啤酒在月下神伤。这样也算我们俩在一起喝过了?)

要说贵公子的寒乞相,从这里也开始可见端倪。对着一向丝毫不肯让步的奥斯卡殷殷追问:罗琳说了我什么?无论什么,骂我也好,透露一点消息给我。奥斯卡人太好了,又认为周元不可能和罗琳认真,所以没注意到周元居然愿意低声下气。

周元对她怎么样,罗琳其实知道。明明刚才会所里那样血肉横飞,周元对她那样折辱,她居然已经跳出去了,周元真有眼力,她真是个人上人。所以奥斯卡问她你和周元什么关系,她会轻描淡写说:一个包就能看透彼此内心的关系。这句话石破天惊。他们的灵魂已经认出了同伴。蝶翅上的闪电,直劈到梁祝坟上。

但是这不是一般的肥皂剧。所以听到他天天相亲,她沉了沉气,回到现实里来。在这里,她不是飞不过沧海的蝴蝶,她只有自爱。所以她拿领巾包裹心上的微痕,这事到这里算完。

周元可完不了。他和自己挣扎了许久,看诗集,看手机照片,过门不入。当晚大概熬夜,想定了几个品牌,第二天傍晚才到办公室,从怀里拿出品牌清单来递给金秘书,声色不动的吩咐送冬季目录来。他要改造灰姑娘,明知不可为而为之。饭局之后他本来开始遵循罗琳的规则,拿两三块美金的事来绕她,他们之间短暂的平等了。但是在他的世界这样行不通,他太习惯于支配,更习惯服从他的世界的支配。

更衣室的惨烈战役要开始了。

社长麻花似的别扭,矛盾和抽风很多人说过,只是办公室到更衣室的争吵,层次太多了,不理出来,作为园丁,总是不安心。他们一边互相误解,一面争夺主动权,诠释他们之间的关系到底要依谁的规则来定,一边其实一直都在同步。

小舟认为罗琳一看到社长那个笑,就知道自己弄错了。我想不是。社长那个笑的开端,和二集最后那个盛大出场时,对罗琳的一笑,几乎完全一样,只是眼睛始终森冷。玄二爷这个笑真是绝了,先是花枝一般倚斜,然后逐渐凝上一层寒霜。罗琳小心翼翼的看他的脸色,至此方始恍然。来不及了。

这个笑,设计精绝。城府很深,算盘很硬,谁得罪了他都前途渺茫的贵公子,倏然出显。这就是周元,绝不是贾宝玉的周元。这时候他已经两手环抱在胸口了,那是自卫的姿态。而深谙商场战略的他,只会寓守于攻,后果可以想见。

基于误会,社长下了合理的判断。如果罗琳真的是为领吸尘器而来,可说是穷酸无比,不看看他可以给她神仙一般的物质享受。(对比刚才他掏出来的那张承载着可以堆成一家精品店的服饰的薄纸。)这种自轻自贱的态度,让他打从心底看不起。

所以他问:真的只是为吸尘器而来吗?满心希望她会承认是为了他。

罗琳不作声。(要叫她怎么作声?)他大受打击。以下的心理矛盾开始运作:

.我这样的美男子/富豪/精英知识分子,竟然这么卑屈去求一个除了(有伤疤的)美貌,不具备以上条件的人。自尊心一再受到冲击,无法接受现实,反扑了。

.婚恋观/财阀门第的束缚与责任/客观鸿沟 浮现,与上面的反扑相辅相成。(这部分是理智的,客观的,不是意气用事, 包括维护自己在员工心目中的形象的合理忧虑。如果罗琳真是他想像的轻骨头,他的确会颜面扫地。)

丙。你根本心里没有我,也不懂我。 (完全矛盾,迷恋继续中,气她没替他着想。)

丁。纯粹反射的嫌恶贫穷 。

一方面,在社长的经验里,再怎么恶毒羞辱人,没教养,别人都继续容忍。所以他只是实话实说,觉得既然是真相,对方就该接受,没设身处地去着想会对她造成的伤害。一方面他已经知道,罗琳和别人都不一样,买不动,吓不倒。他希望,她会转身逃跑,放彼此一条生路。

和这个意识相反相成的是,他本能知道,罗琳很诚实,很真实,可以告诉她心里的话。所以他不光是要羞辱她,也相信她终究听得出,他是拿她当知己在发脾气。

另一方面,他好像真有些庆幸。在对她残酷的当下,他庆幸:原来真的就是个来领吸尘器的平凡女人,这样我就可以放下她了。只是一时的鬼迷心窍。(他一直希望她会平凡下来,第十集都还在盘算,三个月她就会宝变为石,让他心安理得的厌倦。)

罗琳乱了阵脚。“你就不能像我对待你一样的待我吗?”他拉了那一堆为她付出,她差点伤害到他的清单,她的确内疚了,虽然再怪也怪不得她,她们的世界相距太远。忍不住说:“我,我只是…”(周元这里眼神突然灼热,希冀她会说,来領吸塵器的理由是想见他,这段萌芽的感情不是他一个傻瓜在唱独角戏。她再一次让他失望。罗妹妹这时候已经打死也要咬紧牙关了,差一点就承认的真心,被生生咬回去。参见撞车挡风玻璃练习后与黄前辈的对白。)

到此为止,如果罗琳的反应有如一般的无脑灰姑娘,或甚至就是杉菜那种单细胞的有勇无谋,社长的迷恋差不多也就可以归罪于荷尔蒙了,最多剩下的就是刺激的,出轨调剂一下的欲望。但是罗琳和他是透过一个包就可以洞悉对方心灵的人,虽然这种洞悉必须花很多时间精力去飞度他们之间的关山天险。她笑了。

本来以为生气的时候漂亮,没想到我笑起来更漂亮吧 (罗妹妹这里很狠,比周元请吃饭时做得更绝。那时候她说怕你更喜欢我,所以故意不生气,因为你说生气的时候更美。现在是回马一枪,正面承认并随手使用他的迷恋:让你鬼迷心窍的美,比你想像的更丰艳,可惜,没你的分。上次是否决,这次是肯定他的喜欢,紧接着全部扬弃。果然示威成功,周元眼里立即出现恍惚眩迷的神色。他最欣赏的本来正是她的勇气,她的自尊自爱。)

不管为了什么理由,我不该来的。你说的都对。(奇哉怪也,明明说他对,社长的表情,比说他错要郁怒得太多。罗琳这句话以后说出数次,每次都是他们之间的里程碑,都以社长推翻他的对来终结。)没替你着想,向你道歉 (这里是以礼貌反击无礼的他,也让他突然猜想她是不是心里的确有他。一方面,他又最恨她放低姿态,现在竟然是他在逼她道歉,他心里怎能不百味杂陈。)

我走了。(罗琳这话一出口,社长马上扭开脸。明明已经达到目的,她马上要逃开,他却怒火中烧。她真的要走了?他简直不知道怎样发脾气才好。)

要不要受伤的走开,长远留在你心底 (再度挑衅他他的迷恋/到不了手,一方面还是间接承认了自己已经受到伤害。周元的眼睛更亮,彻底被她碰触到了。他害怕。面对着她指点出的,没有她的未来,周围金沙砾砾。他是碰什么什么就变成黄金的密达斯王,富甲人寰,无所得食。)

既然什么都不会改变,还是拿个吸尘器。

(效仿他,提醒他他们之间的鸿沟,急转直下。看似自卑,终究还是自尊自重的。你怎么看我,在我心里的确还不值一部吸尘器。我的价值,我自己来定。但也有一种哀婉,觉得他们之间的事像泡沫一样,了无痕迹,任何努力都无用。)

周元: 不要再说了。

(他开始后悔,醒悟或许事态已经无法弥补。预见到她话锋的方向,也知道自己马上就要发飙。这里是他那磐石般的理智最后的挣扎。继续愤怒:她之前的轻视,现在的难以驾驭,都逼他希望能够把她压低,这样他不会这么处于下风,像乞丐一样。他更气她竟然是用攻击她自己来攻击他,让他心疼。尽管刚才他还火力全开。)

罗琳:不会拿坏机器给这么学历差的穷女人吧(嘲讽他对穷人的歧视心态,把自己踩到泥里。社长真的动摇到罗琳了,这是她第一次放弃自尊,就为了要伤害他。爱情真是九死一生的勾当。)面子上实在下不来,就说是玩了几次就甩掉的女人。 (故意自轻自贱,但也未尝不是下意识提醒他,人他还是没到手,她还是会走。)

他;我办不到,知道为什么办不到吗?(拽罗琳出) 

周元心理:愤怒,得不到理解的委屈,恶人先告状 ,以及恐惧。看她这样强硬决裂,居然还坚持要吸尘器,一篇话有理有据有节,自己一定错怪她了。他完全无能面对,当下也绝对不可能道歉。所以他只好大发雷霆了,示范他如何对待只是玩玩的女人。

我一个好朋友说,周元这时候已经知道罗琳无财无势,理智上明白和她只能是玩玩,但这话是从罗琳嘴里先说出来,他暴怒了,反过来觉得是她侮辱了他对她的感情。这种微妙心理,仿佛张爱玲红玫瑰白玫瑰里的振保,明明是他自己心底的卑劣逻辑,因为是由他母亲嘴里率先吐出来,他就觉得是他母亲下作,无法承认他和他母亲并无分别。这和社长从一开头就对罗琳的认真并不相悖,他就是这么矛盾冲突着的。一面忍不住幻想和她厮守,一面又想全身而退。到十一集,听到罗琳对他的确动过心,他坦白说了:因为是什么都不算的女人,一直自信不会来真的。对人性的刻画很真切,金编圣明。

撇开藏娇情妇论且不谈,其实,周元也真的只是纯粹想给予。看到有网友说那些精品服装不是他心甘情愿给的,我觉得事实正好相反。他想看她穿配得上她美貌的衣服,实现他心底周而复始的名牌秀。换魂后那些衣服被他妈找到,惹出轩然大波,他乘机对罗琳说:所以说叫你穿你就穿嘛。可见他一直有心。可他心底明白,摊上罗琳这么样一个美食华厦和事业抄捷径都不屑一顾的主儿,那些衣服未必送得出去。

(闲话:社长狂怒之下,从架子上随手抓衣服望地下扔,尺码居然一丝不错,买回去后来换魂了都合身。奥斯卡当罗琳的神仙教母,还要目测老半天呢。到底谁是脂粉场里的老手啊?还是社长果然是百货恋人,专业能力无懈可击?难怪祖父要让他继承家业了。)

衣服也代表他们之间的鸿沟。他还没开始自觉的去了解对方的价值观,还想强调他世界观里财富就是尊严的部分,把她的坚持看做不能面对现实的矫情,所以他才模仿她的口气说:把我看做什么样的女人了?然后回答:不过是面对名牌还假惺惺虚伪的女人。他强调:不管你自己觉得自己多了不起,穿得穷酸就是本质上的穷酸,别阿Q别装了。他当然知道世界上有人认为自己可以布衣傲王侯,有诗人自封白衣卿相,但是他压根没见过,而这样的人即便存在,以前是走不进他的世界的。

然后他就暗渡陈仓了。“你去哪里? 不是要玩儿吗?”就算用这种愤怒,这种不堪的理由,他也想看她穿那件桃色缀亮片的潋滟晚装。忘了他刚才标举的万众瞩目的社长身份与体面,也忘了他的病,他最深的秘密。就算没忘,至少,是顾不得了。(请看妙笔生花呆的论文详解。http://kjmund.pixnet.net/blog/post/33767329 )所以,说他只想玩,终究还是委屈了他。如果这算玩,社长您玩不起。在别的花花公子,密室里耳鬓厮磨挺刺激。在你,就是攸关性命。

罗琳了不起,不仅是因为那些衣物鞋包没有把她砸昏或气昏,也因为在他的不信任与羞辱之下她仍然屹立不摇。进入更衣室之后,她被他看得终究垂下双眼,是因为他那么愤怒真挚的想和她对话,因为两个这么美丽的人的身体忽然靠得这么近,他的欲望像火焰一样欺上身来,而不是因为她真就觉得自己不配。

为什么说周元爱女英雄?他要幫她換衣服,是非常出格的动作,绝大部分的女人不懂防身术,气力不如,又在对方的绝对势力圈内,到这关节眼上多少会恐惧的。罗琳却絲毫没有畏懼尷尬,熟人一樣握住他的手点醒他:然後呢?別忘了你剛才說我沒資格跟你玩。不光是她勇敢,她真的懂得他,本能就知道,他是有話想說,而且和他在说在做的正好相反。那種心意相通,比當場宽衣解带旖旎万分。

(话说,社长说的是假话,做的倒真是真心。手真的搭上人家胸口了!社长阁下,你次序弄错了吧。要到十四集才两情相悦吻真格的,才牵上手,可见跳过基本功只会事倍功半,堪为急色儿戒。)

前面说过,罗琳一贯以简驭繁。话锋直逼中宫,以子之矛攻子之盾,拿社长刚落地的话来堵他的嘴。社长马上招架不住,只能耍赖嘴硬:“跟你,什么都不做。只是要你知道,我这个人离你有多遥远。”(社长您见天拉路人甲进更衣室换穿名贵礼服吗?)换一口气,开始解释自己为了她已经做了多少功课,是在试图了解她这个阶级的人,要求她给他点时间,起承转合一气呵成,以纯粹遮羞的欲擒故纵始,以变相的求饶告终。

周元是生意人,懂得最好的防守就是进攻。接下来句句责怪她没去了解他,没替他想,俨然无视她挑衅的回应:就算你金社长努力了解我,照你一路吵下来的理路,终究不过是要学习我那让你看轻的贫穷而已,有意义吗?对我罗琳来说没有,我没兴趣。周元身为命运的宠儿,不懂得道歉,又还真觉得委屈。只要逼她承认了她没他努力是她理亏,就无形确认了她也该喜欢他,她已经喜欢了他。

而这是买卖婚姻这笔最大的并购交易之外,他头一次非成交不可的生意:心灵的交易。所以她一有回应,他就疯了。很多人说,八字还没一撇,社长就这样需索无度,让人很难同情或理解。话虽不错,但他在这样需索的时候,难道不是已经退无可退?爱情还没开始,他就摊牌了。“求你了,至少为我考虑五分钟。”他的暴怒,其实是哀恳。

他为什么临走要推搡罗琳那一把?因为就算发病了,快窒息了,他还是割舍不下她。不推开她,他就走不了。再不推开她,他就要迎上去了。

自此一役,周元更深一层理解了罗琳是个精神上的贵族。或者不如说,第一次在童话以外看见一个富贵不能淫的真人。

继续剥衣服这个梗。

和朋友聊花园,她看不懂周元把那些衣服带回家,有何浪漫可言。(亏她还是寮侨,还老看泰剧。毕竟是在美国长大的。)我解释:

黄蜂频扑秋千索,有当时,纤手香凝。

罗琳不肯做的事,和她后来愿意为他做的,一样可贵。她的坚持,香气一样薰透了那些她没穿过的衣裳。社长的灵魂闻得见,为她蜂狂蝶乱。

 

 

Is China’s Xi Jinping for Real? – Or, A Romance of Platters and Paddles

曹操月拱門  

A lot of Western pundits used to hold out that Xi Jinping, China’s reigning President, was gathering power to himself and jostling Party elders backstage, for greater and better things. Pick anything you like, say, a free press. Hope is free, anyhow. 

A lot more people inside China shared the Western experts’ optimism. Optimism is a professional skill for Westerners when it comes to China. You have to handle your optimism with tender care, like a hothouse orchid. If Xi is, on the other hand, your Party boss, it is more like Ambien; you need it just to sleep.

The time for that optimism is now past for many of the Party’s own big shots and workhorses. A lot of the Communist officials under investigation for corruption never seem to want to work things out. The Party-owned press reports that they are doing away with themselves without waiting to hear what the Party Disciplinary Committee has to say. To a man, they receive a posthumous diagnosis of untreated depression. Must have stocked up on their Ambien, even though that doesn’t explain the wrists slashed after the guy had hung himself.

Is Xi for real? Is he paving the way to democracy with his great anti-graft drive? And how can we tell? Bloomberg tries to sidestep the question by sticking to the facts. I think Bloomberg can do better. When in doubt, turn to the grab-bag of Chinese history or pay someone like me to do it. Even if you can’t find the answers there, at least you won’t pull out a $1.79 plastic shrimp deveiner.

Maybe you’re an otaku (you’re not if you don’t know what that means) and have come across Romance of the Three Kingdoms online game. It’s based on a 15th-century international bestseller. Koreans and Japanese fell in love with the book too. Three Kingdoms is set in the period when China was partitioned three-way, in 200 A.D. One of the three proud new owners of the crash-and-burn empire was Cao Cao. (Think twice before saying his name to your Chinese friends; both words rhyme with a certain universal physical act if you get the tones wrong.)

Cao seemed a good and sound Young Turk when he started out (that’s what a lot of people liked to think about Xi Jinping too). As a petty magistrate in the capital, Cao had paddles hung on the front door of his office, in five colors, to let the corrupt and powerful know he meant business. And the paddles got used. I’ve always liked the contrast between the dainty visual of those beach-bright paddles and his swift and stern justice. By the way, kindly put away those Fifty-Shades-of-Grey associations.

Eventually, Cao decided he wanted to rule over the powerful; to what end, we are not sure. He found himself with an angry army on his hands. They hadn’t been paid, and what’s more hadn’t eaten. Not a good combination. He had his Chief Distribution Officer Wang brought to him, and said: “I need to borrow something from you.” And Wang, like the use-and-toss extra five minutes into any horror movie, had to ask him what that was. “Your head. I know it’s not your fault that we’re short on food, but if I don’t kill you, the soldiers will turn against me. Go in peace; consider your wife and kids taken care of.” The soldiers cheered when they saw Wang’s head stuck to the bulletin board with a brass tack, convicted of stealing army provisions.

Modern Chinese self-help books for white-collar professionals like to point to Wang as the quintessential Dilbert character who got tossed under his boss’s bus because, they reckon, he didn’t make himself valuable enough to Cao. That’s the great thing about being Chinese. You always feel so much better about your life when you think over how much worse it could be. These days you get to keep your head, literally.

So what have we figured out, except that China too has its own head-on-a-platter story? (Granted, Salome’s love-hate dance around the handsome St. John is much more exciting.) I think we can say Xi, in going after corrupt officials, has been borrowing heads at a furious pace. He needs the average Chinese to keep thinking he is on their side, grilling the bad guys who have been pocketing their healthcare, pension, their kids’ tuition, crazy-high road tolls, whatnot.

I have absolutely no data to back me up as to what drives Xi. This is pure, distilled conjecture. The thing is, though, that both Western and Chinese experts cannot agree on what lies behind it all, either. Could be because the black box that is the Chinese government won’t give up its secrets until the whole thing crashes mid-flight. Just saying.

In Xi’s visits to the West over the last two yearsas part of a charm offensive, he dropped a whole lot of names of Western books he claimed to love: Voltaire, Mark Twain, Pushkin. He could not have intended an insult, delicately hinted at, to his hosts, by mentioning these vessels of the humanist values his government banned in Chinese universities. And the only people rude enough to chortle that the books are more likely a compendium of what Xi hasn’t read are Chinese Internet users living under the censor’s thumb. My only question is: What sort of lessons is Xi drawing, as the ruler of a rising world power, from his diverse reading, judging from what he has been doing? Optimism will be our guide.

 

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