錯有錯著

今日看電影,有以下對白:

You know, they say that in big cities, there’s this… Alienation. Nobody knows anybody.

中文字幕:聽他們說,在大城市裏,有個…… 外星人王國。沒有人認識他們。

譯者是看錯成alien nation,還是想以外星來比喻大城市人際間的疏離和陌生?後者的話,倒十分貼切。

這,算不算錯有錯著呢?

Fishing Fear

Another weird and rather macabre dream. For fun, I’ll describe it in rhymes:

I stood on the beach, with my fishing rod,
Something hit the bait, a giant cod,
I pulled it out, with all the strength I’ve got,
It was taller than me, and translucent as quartz.

A man came, offering a sack,
To help me carry, the fish on my back,
But then he ran off, saying it was his catch,
I sent him to hell, with a smack to his head.

A woman came, holding a blade,
Cut the sack to shreds, and dragged the fish away,
Back off, or share the sack’s fate!
She said with a vicious glare, how depraved.

But the fish, still having reflex,
Flapped and bit her on the neck,
I watched her bleed and twist, not feeling slightly sad,
Because you deserve that, you sorry ass.

I’m going to London

It’s done. My leave application has been approved and I can start planning my long-awaited London holiday.

I’m planning to arrive on 12 June morning and leave on 19 June, meaning I have one whole week to explore London. Alternatively, I may revisit Paris (in which case I shall name my trip report “A Tale of Two Cities”) because I liked it and I want to try the EuroStar. Paris should take about two days, leaving five days for London.

Would a whole week in just London be too long? Or would it be too hasty if I divide the holiday between two cities? 

往事如絲

老套歸老套,還是要說:Youtube真好。沒有它,許多好歌可能就此無緣再見。

上一次聽這首歌,已經是整整十年前:

當年,有線每晚都會播一套很舊的日本時代劇,叫「新必殺仕事人」,片尾曲便是這首「想い出の糸車」,字面意思大概是「記憶的紡車」吧,因為我見過有英文譯作The Spinning Wheel of Memory的。

如此冷門的音樂,如果沒有Youtube,到哪裏找?想買也買不到。

當時我正準備高考,每晚聽完這首歌,便會到圖書館(不是溫習,是看小說,順便也看女孩子,考試前減壓最重要)。現在再聽,當年的心情就像歌名的紡車一樣,一絲又一絲的轉出來。

記憶和絲有何相似?其一,剪不斷理還亂;其二,一輩子纏著你不放。

許多人,就是太喜歡執著過去,脖子讓萬縷千絲綁得緊緊的,活活纏死。

More on MB and Arts Faculty

I love the Main Building and I wish the Faculty of Arts didn’t have to move. But as depressing as that may be, it doesn’t justify jumping to quick conclusions. I realized I did just that after re-reading my post yesterday. I’ve edited the post and the changes are marked.

Also, while we all have special feelings towards the Main Building and love its atmosphere, does it have anything else to offer? Would the presumably advanced facilities and bigger space of the new building outweigh MB’s atmosphere? Are the limitations of MB suggested here, namely, lack of gathering space and facilities for special storage needs, true? If true, are they urgent/severe enough to justify a relocation?

I would like to hear more views from current/past faculty members, because I’ve only used the MB as a student, so my knowledge of its benefits/limitations is limited.

The eviction of Arts Faculty

In 2000, when I was a first-year student at HKU, we were told the Faculty of Arts would be moved from the Main Building to make way for the Vice-Chancellor’s office. A protest followed and the MB has remained the faculty’s home since then. 

That will change in 2012, when the university will celebrate its centennary and relocate the Faculty of Arts to a new building in the Centennial Campus. In other words, to celebrate its 100 years of tradition, the university will kick one of its founding faculties from its oldest building. Anyone can sense the irony in this. You celebrate traditions by keeping traditions, not discontinuing them.

I don’t know who will occupy the MB. One reason given for the relocation, according to here, is that the MB “lacks common gathering spaces for Faculty staff members to discuss projects or hold meetings”. Not very convincing, especially if another faculty eventually takes the building. The reason cited would make the MB unsuitable for ANY faculty. Why single out Arts? But the university (and Hong Kong) has a reputation of favouring “practical” subjects over humanities, and the eviction of Arts Faculty will only reinforce that reputation. (8 April 2010: While the university may have such reputation, the relocation of Arts Faculty is not necessarily an evidence of it. Neither is Arts “singled out”; both Law and Social Science will also move to the Centennial Campus. The suitability of the new building is disputed, but does it really have anything to do with whether Arts is disfavoured?)

The new building may provide more advanced infrastructure, but it can never replicate the tasteful atmosphere of the MB. The importance of such atmosphere to the study of arts and literature needs no explanation. It’s sad that future academicians and students will have to study Dickens and Shakespeare in a frigid structure devoid of human touch. But in the minds of the university’s administration, numbers and statistics override matters of taste. (8 April 2010: The words “numbers and statistics” may have oversimplified the issues considered in the planning of the Centennial Campus, although it’s true that aesthetics, being unquantifiable, are sadly seldom given due consideration.)

I miss the MB’s red bricks, granite, arches, ionic columns, heavy wooden doors, rusty window frames, palm trees, fountains, bench and breeze. I consider myself fortunate to have studied in such a classy environment. Future students of the faculty will be missing a great deal of this tradition, and the faculty will be stripped of a central piece of its identity. Sure, a new sense of belonging will develop at the new location, but much will be lost in the process.

Dream journal

I’m starting a new category called “Dream journal”.

I don’t know if I’m a more prolific dreamer, or if my dreams are more unusual, but I’m probably the only one who looks forward to having dreams every night. I liken sleep to an inter-continental flight and dreams are the in-flight movies, without which I’ll be bored. I know it sounds strange to feel bored during sleep, when one is supposed to be unconscious, but that’s how I feel when I wake up without dreaming. Maybe, if I seek entertainment even when I’m supposed to rest, I simply don’t want to sleep. Also you never know what will come up in your dreams and that excites me.

I don’t care if it’s a sweet dream or nightmare; just give me something to watch in my slumber. 

* * *

And last night, I had a nightmare.

I found myself in a translation lecture, taught by an old lecturer known for his Spartan ways. He believes in hardening students with humiliation.

He asked a student to translate a sentence. She did it very well. Then it was my turn, and I made a mess.

The lecturer yelled, “WHAT THE HELL IS YOUR MALFUNCTION? ARE YOU DREAMING? (Exactly!) YOU LEFT SO MANY WORDS UNTRANSLATED AND ADDED THINGS THAT AREN’T THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE. WHY ARE YOU WASTING MY TIME HERE?”

I begged for a second chance, which attracted more humiliation: “I’LL GIVE YOU ONE MORE CHANCE EVEN THOUGH A LOSER LIKE YOU DOESN’T DESERVE IT! BUT BE QUICK, YOU’RE JUST WASTING EVERYONE’S TIME!”

The second attempt was even worse. My brain jellified and I totally screwed up. The way the lecturer stared at me made me feel like the lowliest, filthiest vermin in the world.

The shame was too much to bear. I opened the window and jumped out, but I woke up seconds before splattering myself on the floor.

* * *

How do you interpret this dream?  I think it reflects my obsession with being “correct” all the time and my fear of making mistakes, or perceived mistakes. If you know me then you also know that I’m a silent person. The fact is, I can’t speak without mulling over these questions: How might others misunderstand and misinterprete my words? Are there holes in my logic? Do I really have anything new/useful to contribute to the conversation, or am I just stating the obvious and will I look stupid for that? Is my response concise and to-the-point? Are the pronunciation and intonation proper? Am I using the most accurate words? Most of the time, and especially to strangers, I can’t speak at all because I get side-tracked by these questions and the anxiety is too much to bear.

That’s why I blog so slowly because when one Kevin writes, twenty Kevins would censor the post.

For many years I believed I should keep my mouth shut unless spoken to, because presumably no one is interested in what I say. Any attempt to find listener risks drawing contempt. And even when spoken to, I should keep my response to a minimum unless I’m certain it is a genuine attempt to solicit my opinion, to play safe. Otherwise I would look like a fool by assuming that people would care.

I think I’m recovering from such cancerous thinking, and I hope it won’t relapse.