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金婉婷:疫情·思考·創作

來源:順豐集運收費 | 金婉婷  2020年12月11日16:11

或許你們中有些人會對此感同身受。我媽媽對她的兩個孩子早有人生規劃。

這規劃説起來極其簡單,冒着強化對亞洲父母培養方式的刻板印象的危險,也可以説極其“亞洲式”。因為她有一對雙胞胎女兒,那麼一個要成為醫生,另一個則成為律師。但是我媽媽要求更高。不僅如此,律師必須牛津大學畢業,醫生一定要神經外科。

我姐姐設法做到一點小叛逆,她沒去牛津,去了劍橋。但總體而言,作為一名成功的國際貿易律師,她算是盡職盡責地踐行了母親給她制定的人生規劃。

但我如果真當了神經外科醫生,非鬧出人命不可。我毛手毛腳,難以專注,大腦時不時地從手頭工作溜號到哲學問題上。有意思的是,這種讓我成為手術室殺手的性格,恰恰成就了我的作家生涯。

母親為我們訂下的刻板人生規劃讓我對自由有一種病態的痴迷。自由的追求, 自由的行動,自由的創意表達。諷刺的是, 她越是抑制我的藝術傾向, 反而越驅使我成為一名藝術家。

這種對自由的痴迷去年達到頂峯,當時我決定放棄我的公寓,就只背了個包去追求未知的未來。應該指出,這個包不是手提箱,僅可以裝下我最簡約的家當: 五件襯衫,兩條牛仔褲,筆記本電腦和一本我看過的戲票的粘貼簿。

我承認,對多數人來説,揹着個小包闖蕩聽上去是自由的反義詞。但對我來説,這是令人難以置信的解放。我不再被任何東西約束。我可以隨時説走就走,去任何地方。 我計算了一下生存的最低所需,發現其實並不是很多。是的,就操作層面來講,確實讓我手忙腳亂。我時不時會感到失去方向,感到壓力,還會感到與世隔絕。但是,這絕對是放飛自我。

過了一年周遊世界、提包浪跡的日子。接着,新冠大流行來了。

在中文普通話中,"自由"這個詞由兩個字組成,"自"和"由"。”自”源自鼻子的符號,演變成象形文字,代表自己。自己的鼻子就代表自己。普通話裏自由的詞源來自“自我”。這是一種語言學對自由的個人主義定義。

在英語中,我們將老式英語前綴"freo"與後綴"dom"相結合,獲得"自由"一詞。"Freo"從日爾語單詞"friaz"演變而來,意思是所愛的人, 家族中人。"-dom"是一個抽象的後綴,用來表示圍繞集體狀態或條件的想法。因此,英語中"自由"的詞源產生於兩個概念的融合: 親情和集體主義。 自由是集體性的。

我以為,基於這種語言分析,我可以對語言如何體現自由的文化定義給大家提供深入的見解。但是顯然我的論點不攻自破了。因為作為一個全球社會,我們所有人現在都必須要學會理解個體自由與集體自由之間的關係。封城囚禁了我們,但帶來了更大的羣體自由 – 遠離新冠傳染的自由。為了實現這種集體自由,我們剝奪了個人自由。 世界各地不同的人羣對這種自由悖論反應不一,從自私到無私、從個人主義到集體主義,不一而足。

今年失去了行動和追求的自由,我卻重新感受到了自由表達的慰籍。因為即使我作為漂泊國際藝術家的生活被剝奪,我仍然能夠接觸到無國界的文字、 故事和思想的世界。

這次全球疫情使我對於全球社會里自由的概念充滿疑問。政府的權力在危機中到底應該有多大的延申?我們願意放棄何種自由來換取技術便利? 哪些自由是以犧牲我們的生態系統、我們的討論、還是彼此互為全球公民為代價的?我認為作為藝術家, 我們可以提出問題,而不被要求給予簡單簡易的答案。我認為我們需要捍衞永遠不止的探尋的權利,使得世界各地的藝術家能夠提出不易回答的問題,而無需為安全或生計擔憂。

我母親在泰國坎查納布里的一個農村小鎮長大。她經常給我講她小時候經歷過的極度貧困的故事。她光着腳走路去學校,因為舊鞋子已經破爛不堪,但買不起新鞋。

當我還是孩子的時候,母親對我的人生規劃讓我壓抑,作為一個成年人,我明白,這是為了保證我們的自由。經濟穩定、對自己有把握、職業成功,唯有如此,一個年輕女人才能避免雄心壯志和智力不被貧窮窒息,她絕不希望我們經歷這種被貧窮壓迫的人生。因此,雖然我可能錯過了駛向諾貝爾醫學獎或在神經外科手術室裏做手術的命運之船,我仍然認為母親的規劃成就了我的成功人生。

(翻譯:任翔 校對:韓靜)

Pandemic. Reflection. Creation.

Anchuli Felicia King

Perhaps some of you can relate to this.

My mother had a life plan for her two children.

The plan was exceedingly simple - and at the risk of reinforcing stereotypes about Asian parenting - exceedingly Asian. As she had two identical twin daughters, one was going to become a doctor and the other a lawyer. But my mother wasn’t going to settle there. No, the lawyer was going to graduate from Oxford, and the doctor would specialize as a neurosurgeon.

Now, my sister managed some minor rebellions. Instead of Oxford, she went to Cambridge. But by and large, as a successful international trade lawyer, she has dutifully enacted the plan.

I would have killed people as a neurosurgeon. I have restless fidgety hands and a short attention span. My mind often drifts to big philosophical questions at the expense of the task directly in front of me. Funnily enough, the traits that would have made me a murderous imbecile in an operating theatre are probably what make me a decent writer.

The rigidity of my mother’s plan instilled in me a kind of pathological obsession with freedom. Freedom in my pursuits, freedom of movement, freedom of creative expression. Ironically, her attempts to clamp down on my artistic inclinations as a child only drove me further towards becoming an artist.

This obsession with freedom reached its zenith last year, when I decided to give up my apartment and live out of a bag for the indeterminate future. The bag, it should be noted, was not a suitcase. It was a bag. And the bag was just large enough to fit my barest possessions: five shirts, two pairs of jeans, my laptop and a scrapbook for my theatre tickets.

I acknowledge that for most people living out of a bag for a year sounds like the opposite of freedom. But for me it, it was incredibly liberating. I wasn’t bound by anything. I could just pick up at a moment’s notice and travel anywhere. I worked out the bare minimum I needed to survive, and it turns out it wasn’t much at all. Yes, it was an administrative nightmare, and at times proved disorienting, stressful and isolating. But it was overwhelmingly freeing.

And after a year of travelling the world, living out of a bag, the pandemic hit.

In Mandarin, you get the word freedom: 自由 - by combining two prepositions, “zi” and “you.” “Zi” in ancient script was a pictogram of a nose, which evolved into an ideogram to indicate the self. One’s nose, one’s self. In Mandarin, the etymology of freedom arises from one’s self. It’s a linguistically individualistic conception of freedom.

In English, we get the word “freedom” by combining the Old English prefix “freo” with the suffix “dom.” “Freo” evolved from the Germanic word “friaz,” which meant a loved one, someone in your clan. And “-dom” was an abstract suffix used to indicate ideas around a collective state or condition. So the etymology of “freedom” in English arises from the fusion of two concepts: kinship and collectivism. Freedom is collective.

I thought that based on this linguistic analysis, I’d be able to offer you some perspicacious insights on how language informs respective cultural conceptions of freedom. But of course, my argument completely fell apart. Because one of the big things we all had to learn as a global society was that tension between individual and collective freedom. Being stuck in lockdown allowed for a greater collective freedom - freedom from disease. And in order to achieve that collective freedom, we had individual freedoms stripped away. People around the world responded to this freedom paradox with great displays of selfishness and selflessness, individualism and collectivism in equal measure.

Having lost my freedom of movement and pursuits this year, I took renewed solace in my freedom of expression. Because even though my life as a nomadic international artist had been taken away, I still had access to a borderless universe of words, stories and ideas.

This pandemic has raised so many questions for me about our conceptualization of freedom as a global society. How far should governmental power be allowed to extend in a crisis? What freedoms are we willing to give up in exchange for the ease of new technologies? Which of our freedoms are coming at the expense of our ecosystem? Our discourse? Each other as global citizens? I think as artists we can ask those questions without expecting concise or reductive answers. And I think we need to defend our right to be restlessly inquisitive, for artists around the world to ask those difficult questions without fear for their safety or livelihood.

My mother grew up in a rural town in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. She used to tell me stories of the extreme poverty she had experienced as a child. Walking to school on scorching bitumen with bare feet because her shoes had fallen apart, and she couldn’t afford a new pair.

While as child, my mother’s plan felt oppressive, as an adult I understand that it was intended to secure us freedom. The freedom that comes with economic security, self-assuredness, professional success. Freedom from the oppressions of being a young woman whose ambition and intellect is stifled by poverty, an oppression she never wanted us to experience. So while I’ve probably missed the boat on winning a Nobel Prize in Medicine or performing live brain surgery, I still think the plan has been a staggering success.