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2010年12月30日 星期四

Gibran's Song of Love XXIV

I don't believe there is any one in this world who does not dream of love. Love fascinates. Love drives people crazy. Love is used as a trap for the unawary. Love sells. Love is in every pop song which describe its excitement, its joys, its ecstasy, its hopes, its sorrows, its losses, its despair, its worries and its memories. Love is on the lips of the pastor, the priest, the rabbi, the monk, the saints, the mystics, the therapist. Some say the world is created by love. Others say that the world is moved by love. Yet how many people know about what that word means. If there is any one in this world who may be more qualified than some of the others to talk about the different faces of love, then Khalil Gibran must be one of them. He was loved by a famous female poet Mary Haskell who became his patron and helped him in his career and to whom he proposed but was rejected. He also fell in love with a beautiful and impulsive French girl Emilie Michel for a short while in 1904 .He carried on a Platonic relationship with May Ziadah another Arab poet for almost the entirely of his short adult life by corresponding with her for more than 30 years and only occasionally meeting her. 


Gibran's message to the world is: "let love, human and frail, command the coming day.". To him, love is a something uplifitng, holistic and spiritual. It is a "sacred mystery" that remains "forever wordless" and a path which may lead us to self-discovery and self-fulfilment. It is something rapturous and ecstatic but is inextricably bound to pain, suffering and sorrow. It is not a simple emotion and knows only how to obey its own laws. But let him speak for himself and let's hear what he has to say in one of his poems, "Song of Love XXIV"


                                  Song of Love XXIV


                      I am the lover's eyes, and the spirit's


                      Wine, and the heart's nourishment.


                      I am a rose. My heart opens at dawn and


                      The virgin kisses me and places me


                      Upon her breast.


 


                      I am the house of true fortune, and the


                      Origin of pleasure, and the beginning


                      Of peace and tranquility. I am the gentle


                      Smile upon his lips of beauty. When youth


                      Overtakes me he forgets his toil, and his


                      Whole life becomes reality of sweet dreams.


 


                      I am the poet's elation,


                       And the artist's revelation,


                       And the musician's inspiration.


 


                       I am a sacred shrine in the heart of a


                       Child, adored by a merciful mother.


 


                        I appear to heart's cry; I shun a demand;


                        My fullness pursues the heart's desire;


                        It shuns the empty claim of the voice.


 


                        I appeared to Adam and Eve


                        And exile was his lot;


                        Yet I revealed myself to Solomon,and


                        He drew wisdom from my presence.


 


                        I smiled at Helena and she destroyed Tarwada;


                        Yet I crowned Cleopatra and peace dominated


                        The Valley of the Nile.


 


                        I am like the ages--building today


                        And destroying tomorrow;


                        I am like a god, who creates and ruins;


                        I am sweeter than a violet's sigh;


                        I am more violent than a raging tempest.


 


                         Gifts do not entice me;


                         Parting does not discourage me;


                          Poverty does not chase me;


                          Jealousy does not prove my awareness;


                           Madness does not evidence my presence.


 


                           Of seekers, I am Truth, beseeching Truth;


                           And your Truth in seeking and receiving


                           And protecting me shall determine my


                           Behavior.


If we may summarize his ideas of love in the poem, we may discover that:


1. Love is something entirely human and subjective. It depends on the eyes of the lover.


2. Love helps our spirit to mature.


3. Love is a source of pleasure.


4. Love is a source of peace and tranquility


5. Love helps us forget our pains and sufferings.


6. Love is the stuff of dreams. 


7. Love makes the poet happy.


8. Love is an endless subject for discovery by the artist


9. Love inspires the musician


10. Love is what a child craves for and what the mother gives


11. Love must be be freely given in response to a cry for love and can never be demanded as a right


12.  One loves not by empty words but by deeds


13.  Love was the cause of the downfall of Adam


14.  Love can be a source of wisdom


15.  Love has acted in history to bring peace.


16. Love involves both creation and destruction: it destroys as well as builds and can be both tender and violent.


17. Love is untouched by poverty nor lured by wealth nor destroyed by separation.


18. Jealousy is not love.


19. People seek love as their Truth


20. Our behavior in seeking, receiving, protecting Love determines our destiny.


Jacques Prévert's (賈克. 普維) Déjeuner du Matin (Breakfast)(早餐)

In a modern city like Hong Kong or Paris, breakfast is something everyone takes before leaving for work. Some take it at home. Some take it at a neighborhood restaurant. Some take it at the office. Some take more. Some take less. And some even do not need any breakfast. But for those who do, breakfast has become a daily ritual. What can we write about a perfectly ordinary breakfast. Let's see what Jacques Prevert (1900-1977), a Parisien poet and film script writer has to say.


Dejeuner du Matin      Breakfast in the Morning         早餐


Il a mis le café                 He put the coffee                 他把咖啡放


Dans la tasse                   In the cup                            進杯內


Il a mis le lait                   He put the milk                     他把牛奶放


Dans la tasse du café       In the cup of coffee               進咖啡內


Il a mis le sucre                He put the sugar                    他以小匙


Dans le café au lait           In the coffee with milk            把糖放


Avec la petite cuiller        With the little spoon                 進牛奶咖啡內


Il a tourné                       He stirred it                              他攪拌一下     


Il a bu le café au lait         He drank the coffe with milk     他喝下牛奶咖啡


Et il a reposé la tasse       He replaced the cup                  他把杯放回  


Sans me parler                  Without talking to me               沒與我說什麽


Il a allumé                        He lit                                         他燃着


Une cigarette                   A cigarette                                  一枝煙


Il a fait des ronds             He made rings                             他把煙


Avec la fumée                  with the smoke                            吹成煙圈


Il a mis les cendres           He put the ahses                         他把煙灰


Dans le cendrier               Into the ashtray                          放入煙灰缸


Sans me parler                 Without talking to me                  沒與我說話


Sans me regarder              Without looking at me             沒瞄我一眼


Il s'est levée                        He got up                                   他起身


Il a mis                               He put                                         他把帽子


Son chapeau sur la tête      His hat over his head                     放上頭


Il a mis                               He took                                        他拿起


Son manteau de pluie         His raincoat                                他的雨褸


Parce qu'íl pleuvait              Because it was raining               因正下雨


Et il est parti                       He left                                         他已離去


Sous la pluie                       Under the rain                              在雨中


Sans une parole                  Without a word                           沒說一句話


Sans me regarder                Without looking at me                沒瞄我一眼


Et moi j'ai pris                      And I put                                   而我把我頭放


Ma tête dans ma main           My head within my hand          我手中


Et j'ai pleuré.                       And I cried.                                 我哭了。


 


In this poem, he deliberately describes an action which has just happened to give it a sense of its proximity to the present. He repeats a verb "mettre" and uses it in all the possible senses of that verb. He uses the passé composé or the present perfect tense, a tense to  emphasize the recency of the action and its close relation to the present to increase the sense of its immediacy. He does not use the usual form of the word for breakfast "petit dejeuner" but uses a rather unusual form "dejeuner du matin" , meaning literally, " meal of the morning" to emphasize that the emotional situation that occurs in the morning or one of of the mornings.


Not only does he repeat the verb. He also repeats almost exactly the form of his short sentences. He keeps exactly the same sentence structure.  As in all literary writing, the repetition serves only one purpose: to build up the energy and the force of the contrast when that repetition is broken, more or less like adding heat to the water in the kettle being boiled, until it reaches the boiling point and turns into steam, something entirely different.


The repetitive structure of the sentence may serve another purpose. It may be intended also to emphasize the perfect ordinariness of the action described. It gives a sense of the monotony, the boredom, the dreariness of routine. He describes the action of the man slowly, step by step.


The poet does not use any adjectives. He does not use any adverb. He merely recites the facts. He does not use any emotive or emotional words. On the face of it, there is no emotion. There is no excitement. There is no joy. Ostensibly, there is no sorrow. There is no hope. Ostensibly, there is no despair. There is merely a series of actions. There is no sound. There is no sense of touch. There is no description of smell. There is no description of taste. There is no nothing except a relentless factual and apparently objective description. He presents. He does not summarize. He does not give his personal opinion on what happens. He lets what he presents speak for themselves.


The effect of the poem relies precisely on this lack of color, this lack of surprise. It describes the action of the man through a pair of eyes. The only time any surprise, if it can be so called, is the description that the man does not look upon the observer and that he does not talk to the observer, which subtly suggests what the observer was expecting.


Is the observer a man? Is the observer a woman? Is the observer a child? Is the observer a father? Is the observer a mother? Is the relation between the observer and the observed wife and husband or merely lovers. We do not know.


What is most surprising is that all the sentences are about positive actions except for three phrases, "without talking"and "without looking","without a word". The observer might just as well not have existed as far as the man is concerned. The observer has become invisible! Hence the last sentence, in which the observer cried because not of action but the absence of any action to acknowledge the observer's existence! The Chinese have a saying, "there is no sorrow greater than a heart which has died.". This is what apparently the poet is trying to describe! The boredom of the man is skilfully brought out without any adjective. It is shown by his action: he'd rather spend the time blowing rings with his cigarette smoke than look at the observer or even say a single word to the observer. The emotion of loss of any hope, of disappointment, of despair is concretely described and objectified by the lack of emotional response from the drinker of the morning coffee. He does not even look at the observer! That is the ultimate denial of the existence of the observer. 


I am sure that in a dysfunctional family where the love has gone out of the marriage, what this poem portrays may be the description of a perfectly "normal" morning. It is a morning without love. The relationship between the observer and the observed stopped at observation despite the fact that the two are apparently in close physical proximity to one another.


We do not know where the lack of drama took place. It could be at the dining room of the typical family or even inside a neighborhood a restaurant into which the two of them may have stepped before the man left for work or for some other purpose. The lack of any specificity may be intended to convey the feeling that it is something which could happen to any couple or at any place and on any perfectly "ordinary" morning. The scenario might probably have occurred in winter with a dull and dreary grey sky and light drizzle because France has what has been described as a Mediterranean type of climate with light rain in winter and little or no rain in summer.


Is Prévert suggesting that what is described is that condition of one particular family. Or is he suggesting that that may well be a universal condition of more than a few modern French families?  The extraordinary is embodied in the description of the ordinary. The emotion of desolation and  despair is emphasized by an absence:  the conspicuous absence of another emotion which the observer expected but did not find: love. Yet throughout the whole poem, the word has never been used at all. Prévert here uses a technique which all paper cutting artists and what all Taoists know: you can convey a presence by an absence: by cutting out instead of leaving in. You can make use of "emptiness" to create a "concreteness": here the concreteness or solidity of the powerful emotion of despair. He describes what occurs inside the human heart by delineating objectively its external manifestation: the silent sobbing of the observer! 


2010年12月29日 星期三

Music in the eyes of Khalil Gibran

Music has become an absolutely essential part of my life. I cannot think of any day in which I do not hear some form of music. Music to me is the art that mimicks the movement of our emotions most directly. Although music may have been developed as an adjunct to religious worship as witnessed the practices of the most primitive peoples, it has subsequently become an art engaged in for its own sake because of the pleasure it gave to our ears. I cannot think of any dance without music. Music provides the rhythm and builds up the mood for the dance. Imagine a movie without music and you will realize how often, without explicitly drawing attention to itself, it helps to colour the emotional tone of what is being shown on the screen whether it be joy, sorrow, regrets, nostalgia, reminiscence, fear, anxiety, despair, excitement, exhilaration etc, Not only is there classical music, there are also pop music, jazz, folk music, dance music, religious music, military music etc. 


Khalil Gibran's very first book in Arab, Al-Musiqah, published in 1905, was about music. So I imagine that he must know this subject most intimately. Therefore, I am interested in what he has to say about this art form so close to my own heart. Imagine my delight when, whilst reading through The Prophet during the holidays, I found two pages specially devoted to this subject. Let the poet speak for himself:


Music is the quivering of a string, charged with waves from the upper air, it penetrates your hearing, its echo emerges from your eyes in a burning tear, and from your lips as they sigh for a beloved being far away, or it utters a moan caused by the string of history and the fangs of destiny.


And it can happen that the notes of music are reflected on your lips in a smile of fulfillment.


Music is a houri in the paradise of the gods, who was in love with the sons of Adam. Then she came down to earth and told them of her love. The gods, in a fury, ordered a terrible wind to rush after her in pursuit.


In this way she was scattered through the air and disseminated to all the corners of the earth. She did not die, she still lives in the ears of humans.


Music is the echo of the first kiss bestowed by Adam on the lips of Eve. And ever since then this echo has caused pleasure to rebound onto fingers as they play and ears as they listen.


Through the eyes of hearing I was able to see the heart of love.


Music is the language of the spirit. Its melody is like a playful breeze which makes the strings vibrate with love.


When the fairy fingers of music touch the doorway of feelings they awake memories enclosed in the depths of the past.


O divine Music! We lay our hearts and our souls closely within you. You teach us to see with our ears, and to listen with our hearts.


In his first book, Al- Musiqah this is part of what he wrote:


I sat by one whom my heart loves, and I listened to her words.
My soul began to wander in the infinite spaces where the
universe appeared like a dream, and the body like a narrow
prison.



The enchanting voice of my Beloved entered my heart.
This is Music, oh friends, for I heard her through the sighs of
the one I loved, and through the words, half-uttered
between her lips.



With the eyes of my hearing I saw my Beloved’s heart.
My friends: Music is the language of spirits. Its melody is like
the frolicsome breeze that makes the strings quiver with
love. When the gentle fingers of Music knock at the door
of our feelings, they awaken memories that have long lain
hidden in the depths of the Past. The sad strains of Music
bring us mournful recollections; and her quiet strains bring
us joyful memories. The sound of strings makes us weep at
the departure of a dear one, or makes us smile at the peace
God has bestowed upon us.



The soul of Music is of the Spirit, and her mind is of the
Heart.

When God created Man, he gave him Music as a language
different from all other languages. And early man sang her
glory in the wilderness; and she drew the hearts of kings
and moved them from their thrones.



Our souls are like tender flowers at the mercy of the winds of
Destiny. They tremble in the morning breeze, and bend
their heads under the falling dews of heaven.



The song of the bird awakens Man from his slumber and
invites him to join in the psalms of glory to Eternal
Wisdom that has created the song of the bird.



Such music makes us ask ourselves the meaning of the mysteries
contained in ancient books.
                                                                     (Translated by A R Ferris)


From the passages above, it is evident that for Gibran, music is always related to history, memories, to heaven,  to the gods, to worship, to the heart, to feelings and to love!.


2010年12月28日 星期二

The Origin of Khalil Gibran's Wisdom?

I have quoted a number of the short aphoristic passages by Khalil Gibran from the little booklet "The Prophet"  which was first published in French as L'Oeil du Prophete  in 1923. Prior to this, he has already published Al Musiqah (Music), his first book in 1905, Ara is al-Muruj (Nymphs of the Valley) in 1906, a savage attack on church and state, al-Ajnihah 'l-Mutaksasirah (The Broken Wings) 1912, his autobiographical narrative upon which he had been working since 1903, then Dam'ah wa 'Ibtisamah (A Tear and A Smile) 1914, a collection of his prose poems, The Madman in 1918, his first book written in English and in 1920, The Forerunner, his second English book, in 1921, Iram Dhat al-Imad (Iram, City of Lofty Pillars) a thematic play written in the form of a discourse on mysticism. It was however the publication of the Prophet which finally launched him into international fame. This is how he introduced the aphorisms in the book. He says that he had studied the Abrahamic religion: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Confucius, Taoism, Hinduism, Greek philosophers and learned from the poetry of India and Arabia:


"I have lived from the alpha of Creation and I shall live until the omega of Eternity. And my existence shall never wither away.


I have floated in the universe of the infinite and flown in the upper air of the imaginary world. There I was close to the circle with its divine light; here, I am in the prison of matter.


I have listened to the teachings of Confucius and the wisdom of Brahma. And I have been with the Buddha in the shade of the Knowledge-Tree. And now I face ignorance and apostasy.


I have climbed Mount Sinai where in the past Jehoveh rose up before the eyes of Moses. I have purified my body in the Jordan and I have lived through the miracles of the Nazarene. And at Medina I have listened to the Messenger repeat the Word in Arabic. And now I am undecided.


I have known the strength of Babel, the glory of Egypt, and the splendor of the Greeks. And perpetually I see weakness and servility, always present in these creations.


I have kept company with the magicians of Ayn Dour. Elsewehre I have been the guest of the Assyrian hermits, and I have followed the prophets in the land of Palestine. And still I am searching for the truth.


I have learned wisdom revealed in India and poetry breathed forth in Arabia. And I have heard the melodies that formed in the heart of the countries where the sun is dying. And I see myself as still blind and I remain deaf to the sound of my unspeaking lips.


I have endured the ferocity and greed of conquerors and I have suffered beneath the yoke of tyrants. And I remain a force which fights at the stroke of every minute.


I have seen and heard all that when still a child, and I shall continue to look and listen to all the shallow deeds of my youth. Once my hair is white I shall brush against the fringes of fulfillment and I shall regain the dwelling of Allah.


If you are dead, he will restore life to you.


And if you die again, he will raise you up until the hour comes for your return to him. ..."


To Gibran, the source of his wisdom therefore is within himself and in the book, he says:


"I have come in order to live in the glory of Love and in the light of Beauty. On this earth I live, and no one can drive me away from the sphere of Life.".


No one can stop him from living to the full, free from sorrow because he is determined not to allow anything to dampen his love of life and of love and of beauty. To him, such desires come from deep within a man's soul. Hence nothing from the external world has power to silence it forever. Such desires come to him in the form of a voice which has its origin within the his heart and his soul. It appears in the form of a friend. He conceives of the purpose of the life of the prophet, as fictive narrator, to be to speak his mind so that he speaks for and with everyone else. He hopes that what he says will be echoed by the hearts and minds of thousands in the future. In this hope, he has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Next to the Bible and LaoTzu, The Prophet is the most popular book on spirituality in the world. The book has already been translated into 25 languages of the world. He says:


"If my eyes are torn, I shall feel joy as I listen to the songs of Love and the melodies of Beauty. And if my ears are cut off I shall feel the pleasure of touching the upper air, in the sighs of lovers and the fragrance of Beauty. And finally if my mouth is stopped, I shall live with my soul. For the soul is the daughter of Love and Beauty."


There is within me a friend who consoles me every time that troubles overwhelm me and misfortunes afflict me...he who finds no confidant within himself will die of despair. For life streams out of man's inner self and in no way from what surrounds him.


I have come into this world with a purpose, to be for everyone and with everyone. And that which I accomplish today in solitude, the masses will form into its echo Tomorrow. What is spoken today by one heart alone will be spoken Tomorrow by thousands of hearts."


The advices that he gives are the result of his study, his own personal experience of the effects of war and racial struggles and his own deep reflections. And today, his voice is echoing throughout the world. Amongst all the echoes of that world, he can certainly find a tiny one which is that from me. By writing about him, I am hoping to make that echo a little louder and for the resonance of that echo to reveberate a little further amidst the spaces of that jungle of highrise buildings that is  Hong Kong.


2010年12月27日 星期一

Khalil Gibran's Wisdom

Since he was first introduced to me by one of my fellow bloggers, I have felt a special affinity with this Lebanese wiriter and poet of spirituality. I bought all the books by him in Hong Kong that I could lay my hands on. Whenever I have time, I would turn a few pages of one of his books. There is a feature in his books which renders him particularly attractive as a book which one can read at random: unlike me, he writes with extreme economy. His passages seldom exceed 6 pages at the most. More often, he writes in couplets or epigrams. Not only that, he writes with a poet's sensitivity and imagination. And he writes with great beauty. There has never been a single time when I read him without being surprised at how insightful he is in his reflections upon various aspects of life which I regard as important to me. 


Over the Christmas vacation, I read parts of his "The Eye of the Prophet". As he already writes so concisely, it is impossible for me to do summaries, as I do with the works of other writers which I have from time to time introduced in this blog. So I shall let the poet speak for himself on the various subjects I read about.


Faith


Is faith not the sense of the heart just as sight is the sense of the eye?


God has created several doors which open onto truth. He opens them to all those who knock onthem with the hand of faith.


Good and Evil


Remember that a single just man causes the demon more trouble than a thousand blind believers.


Prayer


A word of compassion addressed to a criminal or a prostitute is more noble than the long and meaningless prayer that we repeat each day in the temples.


Religion


..the varying pathways of religion represent the different fingers of the single loving hand of the Supreme Being. And this hand is stretched out towards us with ardor and offers us all the fulfillment of the Spirit.


The Priest


A priest is often a traitor who uses Scriptures as a threat to spirit away your money, a hypocrite who carries a crozier and uses it like a sword to open your veins, a wolf in sheep's clothing, a glutton who has more respect for the table than for the altar, a creature hungry for gold who follows the dinar to the most distant countries. He is a strange being, with the beak of an eagle , the claws of tiger, the teeth of hyena and the skin of a viper. Take the bible from him, rend his vestments, pull out his beard, and do as you wish with him. Then place a dinar in his hand, and he will thank you with a smile.


God


The drop of dew curled up in the heart of the lily is no different from you when you deliver your soul into the heart of God.


Without doubt we are closer to God each time we try to divide him and find he is indivisible.


Most religions speak of God in the masculine; in my eyes, he is as much a mother as a father.


And we can be united to God the Father through the mind, but the Mother-Goddess can only be reached through the heart, through love.


Jesus of Nazareth


Jesus did not come from the heart of the Circle of Lights to destroy our dwellings and build convents and monasteries over their ruins, nor to persuade men to become priests and pastros. But he came to breathe into the air of this earth a spirit as powerful as it was new, with the strength to undermine the foundations of all the monarchies erected over the bones of mankind.


He came here to demolish the majestic palaces constructed over the tombs of the weak and to destroy the statues erected over the corpses of the poor.


Jesus did not come to teach men how to build huge cathedrals and opulent temples close to humble cottages and cold, dark, homes. But he came to make the heart of man into a temple, his soul into an altar and his spirit into a priest.


Oh Jesus, to your honor and glory they built those churches and those cathedrals, adorned them with silk and melted down the golden calf over their cupolas. They filled the sky with the smoke of candles and incense, while leaving your faithful worshippers without bread. They intoned hymns of praise, while remaining deaf to the cries and tears of widows and orphans.


O living Jesus, if only you could return to chase the merchants of Faith out of your sacred temple! For they made it into a dark cavern where the vipers of hypocrisy and trickery crawl in their thousands.


Time


Tomorrow is conceived in the womb of yesterday.


Perfection


Man will be on the path to perfection when he becomes a universe without bounds and a sea without shores...He will have to embody the child crying in its mother's arms, the father concerned about his family, the young man wavering between desires and sigh, the old man struggling against the past with the future, the devout man in his hermitage, the criminal in his jail, the scholar among his endless writings, the ignorant man stumbling against the shadows of the night and in the darkness of his days, the priestess surrounded with her blossoming faith and her thorny solitude, the prostitute caught between the fangs of weakness and the claws of need, the deprived man between fatality and honesty, the rich man between passion and reason, the poet between the mistiness of his nights and the clear light of his dawns. If man can live out all these things, he will grasp perfection and will become one of the shadows of God.


Death


The beginning of life is not in matter, and its end is not in the tomb. For the years that pass are only a moment in the eternal life, while the world and matter and everything that composes it is only a dream in the sight of that awakening which you mistakenly call the terror of death.


Eternity


Humanity is a river of light which runs from the valleys of Creation down to the ocean of Eternity.


Between the peoples of eternity and the peoples of the earth there is constant communication. And we must obey the wll of this invisible power. Often the individual performs an act believing it takes place with his consent and on his orders, while in fact he has been precisely guided and inspired in order to accomplish it. And a great number of men have achieved fame by abandoning themselves to the will of the spirit in proud submission, without objecting and without resisting its demands, as the violin abandons itself totally to the will of the good musician.


Between the world of the spirit and the world of matter there is a pathway that we tread as though we were half asleep. It supports our steps but we are not conscious of its strength. And when we wake, we shall discover that we are carrying in our own hands the seeds we must carefully sow in the good soil of our daily life so that they will produce our good actions and our finest words. If there were not this pathway between our lives and the lives of those who have left us, there would never have been among us any prophet, poet or genius.


They only return to Eternity who have sought it on earth.


Truth


Truth is like the stars: it shows only in the darkness of the night.


Truth is like the beautiful things in this world: it reveals its attractiveness only to those who have first felt the influence of falsehood.


A truth which needs to be proved is a half-truth.


2010年12月26日 星期日

Xu Zhimo's "I'm waiting for you"除志摩的『我等侯你』

I remember earlier I posted a blog by Yu Guangzhong about waiting for a girl. Well waiting for girls seems to be the common fate of not a few men too. Even poets enjoy no privilege nor any exemptions. As they say, all in love is fair. But perhaps poets suffer more. They suffer more because of they are more sensitive to what is going on. Perhaps the pain of disappointment cuts deeper because of their more powerful imagination, which brings to their hearts more vividly the  consequences reaching even further into the future to which the less sensitive are blind. In this poem, Xu Zhimo generalizes from a specific and particular experience of one fruitless and despairing wait into some more universal and archetypal experiences. As the seconds, minutes and hours tick away, they tick away more and more of his hopes until he can no longer hope against hope and accept the unpalatable bitterness of the realization that his girl is never going to come.


 


               我等候你                                                I'm waiting for you


 


我等候你。我望着戶外的昏黄,   I'm waiting for you. I'm looking upon the the yellowing dusk outside


如同望着將來,                               As if I were looking  at the future,


我的心震盲了我的聽。                   My heart has deafened my hearing.


你怎還不來?希望,                       Why aren't you coming? Hope,


在每一秒鐘上允開花。                    blooming on top of each second.


我守候着你的步履,                       I'm waiting for your steps,


你的笑語,你的臉,                       Your words of laughter, your face,


你的柔軟的髮絲,                           Your silky soft hair, 


守候着你的一切;                           I'm waiting for your everything; 


希望在每一秒鐘上                           Hope is dying on every second---


枯死---你在那裏?                          Where are you?


我要你,要得我心裏生痛,          I want you, I want you until my heart hurts,


我要你的火似的笑,                  I want your laughter of fire,


要你靈活的腰身,                           I want your nimble waist,


你的髮上眼角的飛星;                   The stars in flight from the corners of your eyes above your hair


我陷落迷醉的氛圍中,                    I'm sunk in the mesmerising atmosphere


像一座島,                                        Like an island,


在蟒綠的海濤間,不自主的在浮沈---in the turbulent green of seawaves, rising and falling against my will


喔,我迫切的想望                           Oh, I ardently desire 


你的來臨,想望                               Your arrival, I long to see 


那一朶神奇的優雲                           That exquisite cloud of wonder


開上時間的頂尖!                           blooming upon the tip of time!


你為什麽不來?忍心的?              Why aren't you coming? So hard hearted?


你明知道,我知道你知道,           You know well, I know that you know,


你這不來於我是致命的一擊,       Your not coming is a fatal blow to me,


打死我生命中乍放的陽春,           You'll kill that explosion of sprintime sun light


教堅實如礦裏的鐵的黑暗,           You'll order that iron-ore like darkness 


壓迫我的思想與呼吸;                   To oppress my thoughts and my breath;


打死可憐的希冀的嫩芽,               Killing off the buds of pitiful hope,


把我,囚犯似的交付給                   And deliver me, prisoner-like


妬與愁苦,生的羞慚                       To jealousy and to sorrow, to the shame of my life


與絕望的慘酷。                               And to the cruel misery of despair.


這也許是癡,竟許是癡                  Maybe it's madness, madness even


我信我確然是癡;                          I believe it really is madness;


但我不能撥一支已然定向的舵,But I cannot turn the rudder preset upon a determined course,


萬方的風息都不容許我猶豫,---  Winds from a thousand directions won't permit me to tarry


我不能回頭,這運命驅策着我!  I can't turn back, I'm driven by this fate!


我也知道這多半是走向                  I also know I'm  probably running down    


毁滅的路,但                                  A path of destruction. but


為了你,為了你                              For you, for you 


我什麽也都甘願;                          I'm prepared for anything;


這不僅是我的熱情,                      Not  just my passion,


我的僅有的理性亦如此說。          What's left of my rationality says so too.


癡!想磔碎一個生命纖微              Madness! Thinking of smashing the delicacy of a life


為要感動一個女人的心!              To move the heart of a woman'!


想博得的,能博得的,至多是      All you wish and can wager for, can't be more than


她的一滴淚,她的一陣心酸,      A drop of her tears, a twinge of her heart


竟許一半漠然的冷笑;                  Perhaps even a half-indifferent smile of scorn;


但我也甘願,即使                         But I'm willing, even if  


我粉身的消息傳到                         The news of my disintegration were 


她的心裏如同傳給                          To reach her heart as if it were reaching  


一塊頑石,她把我看作                  A hard rock, if she will look upon me as       


一地穴的鼠,一條蟲,                  A mouse in a burrow, a worm


我還是甘願!                                  I'm still willing!


癡到了真,是無條件的,             When madness is true, it's unconditional,


上帝他也無法調回一個                 Even God cannot turn back


癡定了的心如同一個將軍             A heart determined to be mad as a general         


有時調回已上死線的士兵。         May sometimes withdraw soldiers despatched to  the deadline


枉然,一切都是枉然,                  Futile, all is futile,


你的不來是不容否認的實在,      Your not coming is a fact which cannot be denied,         


雖則我心裏燒著潑旺的火,          Though my heart burns with a raging fire, 


饑渴着你的一切,                          Thirsting forevery part of  you,


你的髮,你的笑,你的手腳;      Your hair, your smiles, your hands and feet;


任何的癡想與祈禱。                      None of the mad thoughts and prayers.


不能縮短一小寸                              Can shorten a single inch more of


你我間的距離!                              The distance between you and me


戶外的昏黄已然                              The yellowing dusk outside is already


凝聚成夜的烏黑,                          crytalizing into the darkness of the night,


樹枝上掛着冰雪,                          Snow and ice are hanging upon the branches,


鳥雀們典去了它們的啁啾,         Birds are pawning their chattering away,


沈默是這一致穿孝的宇宙。         Silent like an entire universe in mourning . 


鐘上的針不斷的比着                     The hands upon the clock are constantly


玄妙的手勢,像是指點,             Making mysterious gestures, as if hinting,


像是同情,像是嘲諷,                 as if sympathizing, as if mocking,


每一次到點的打動,我聽來是     each strike upon the hour it makes, sounds to me


我自已的心的                                As if it were a knell 


活埋的喪鐘。                                Buried in my heart.


In this poem Xu Zhimo again establishes the immediacy of what he feels by using a monologue in which he expresses directly his thought which embodies the uncertainty, the anxiety of what appears an interminable wait. The arrival or non-arrival of his girl is elevated to the level of his fate and his destiny. Of course, the fate and destiny there can be little more than his provisional fate and destiny


During the non-existence that constitutes his wait, his thoughts turn naturally upon the object of that exercise. He thinks of her laughter, her face, her hair, her eyes, her waist , her hands and feet etc. He imagines the flowering of a colorful cloud blooming upon the tip of every second. And her non-arrival plunges him into the hell of despair, shame and jealousy. As some have said, a woman measures a man's love for her by the extent he is willing to abandon all sense of shame and dignity and the extent he is prepared to cower before her like a mouse, a worm. How cruel are women! But men will take their revenge but only after marriage when the tables are turned! To the poet, every tick of the clock is a death knell: the death knell of a love which shall never come!


Sunday Fun

This week passes really fast. Before I know it, it's already Saturday yesterday and I forgot to post my usual Saturday jokes. I'd blame it on Christmas. It's such a big festival and people forget everything else. I was reminded by a fellow blogger to post something related to this season of joy. So I had to start to wrack my brain and came out with a rather unusual piece the ideas of which only occurred to me whilst writing about the more and more extensive commericalisation of Christmas . It's a rather heavy piece. As penance, I shall post something much lighter today but as it is Sunday, I thought may be I should post something about my religion. So here they are.


Catholic One-Upmanship


Four Catholic ladies are having coffee together.


The first one tells her friends, "My son is a priest. When he walks into a room, everyone calls him 'Father'.


The second Catholic woman chirps, "My son is a bishop. Whenever he walks into a room, people say, 'Your Grace'."


The third Catholic woman says smugly, "My son is a cardinal. Whenever he walks into a room, people say, 'Your Eminence'."


The fourth Catholic woman sips her coffee in silence.


The first three women give her this subtle "Well...?"


She replies, "My son is a gorgeous, 6'2", hard-bodied stripper... Whenever he walks into a room, people say, 'Oh my God...'"


 


The Difference between Jesus and a Painting


Q: What is the difference between Jesus and a painting?
A. It takes only one nail to hang a painting.


 


The Most Popular Sin


There's this old priest who got sick of all the people in his parish who kept confessing to adultery. One Sunday, in the pulpit, he said, "if I hear one more person confess to adultery, I'll quit!"


Well, everyone liked him, so they came up with a code word. Someone who had committed adultery would say they had "fallen".


This seemed to satisfy the old priest and things went well, until the priest died at a ripe old age.


About a week after the new priest arrived, he visited the Mayor of the town and seemed very concerned. The priest said, "You have to do something about the sidewalks in town. When people come into the confessional, they keep talking about having fallen."


The Mayor started to laugh, realizing that no-one had told the new priest about the code word.

Before the mayor could explain, the priest shook an accusing finger at the mayor and said, "I don't know what you're laughing about. Your wife fell three times this week."


 


Good Deed of the Day


A priest is walking down the street one day when he notices a very small boy trying to press the doorbell on a house across the street. However, the boy is very small, whilst the doorbell is placed at normal adult height. The little fellow just can't reach it.


After watching the boy's sorry efforts for some time as he moves closer to the boy's position, the priest steps smartly across the street, walks up behind the little fellow and, placing one hand kindly on the child's shoulder, leans over the boy and gives the doorbell a solid ring.


Crouching down to the child's level, the priest smiles benevolently and asks, "And now what, my little man?" 

The little boy replies, "Now we run like Hell!"


2010年12月25日 星期六

Xu Zhimo's "She's Asleep" 除志摩的『她是睡着了』

There is hardly any activity more relaxing that a man can engage in than sleeping. Everyone needs to sleep, though some more than others. Sleep is the temporary cessation of activity. Bed time is a time during which we wind down, a time during which we allow our hardworking body and even harder working brain a temporary respite. Sleep is enjoyable in and of itself.


In addition, bedtime also an excellent time for bonding between parents and child and even between lovers. Many domestic disputes are more readily resolved when both parties to the marital bond are in a more relaxed mood.


Thus not only is sleeping enjoyable, it is also good for our health, both physical and mental. There  can hardly be any greater punishment for a man than his inability to sleep well. It is a medical condition called insomnia. Insomnia will render us irritable and tired the following day and also affects our digestion.. 


Some people need more sleep than others but there are some who can sleep practically anytime, anywhere and for hours on end. I am fortunate to belong to the latter group though I do not need a lot of sleep. I have fallen asleep on ferries, on buses, on the MTRs, in trains, in the sofa of my office, whilst watching television at home and once or twice, even in a concert after a particularly hard day's work at the office! Two or three times, I have missed the MTR stations where I should have gone off and had to take the train again in the reverse direction simply because I was dozing off during the journey. Once I even fell asleep in the middle of a dinner at home!  


Whenever I want to fall asleep quickly, I have a method which works perfectly. Thus I have never felt the need for any sleeping pills. All I need to do is to pop myself up on one of those sofa like cushions with arm rests in bed and get myself a thick book on philosophy. Within 3 minutes, my body will slip lower and lower upon the mattress and my eyelids will follow suit and before I know it, I shall be sound asleep. Those with sleeping problem may well like to give it a try. For me, this is a tried and trusted method, guaranteed to work.


However though sleep is such a common activity or more precisely, such a common cessation of all activities except dreaming, there are not that very many poems on the theme of sleep. This morning, I found one in Xu Zhimo's Complete Work. I dedicate it and my translation to all who love to sleep. It is beautiful poem about a beautiful girl in sweet slumber. Very sensuous. 


       她是睡着了                                 She's Asleep


       她是睡着了---                                    She's asleep---


星光下一朵斜欹的白蓮;                A white lotus reclining under starlight;


       她入夢境了---                                   She's dreaming--


香爐裏裊起一縷碧螺烟。                A curl of pale smoke rising from the josstick bowl.


 


      她是眠熟了---                                  She's sound asleep--


澗泉幽抑了喧響的琴絃; Streams and springs quietly muffling the boisterous noise of strings


     她在夢鄉了---                                  She's in dreamland---


粉蝶兒,翠蝶兒,翻飛的歡戀。Pink butterflies, blue butterflies, fluttering love's joys.


 


     停勻的呼吸:                                   Even pauses of breaths:


清芬滲透了她的周遭的清氛;       Fresh fragrance immersing surrounding fresh air


      有福的清氛,                                   Fresh air of bliss,


懷抱着,撫摩着,她纖纖的身形!Embracing, caressing her delicate form!


 


      奢侈的光陰!                                   Time of luxury!                                 


靜,沙沙的盡是閃亮的黃金,       Silence, shimmering gold sands everywhere,


      平鋪着無垠,---                               Paving infinity,--


波鱗間輕漾著光豔的小艇。 Beautiful and bright little boats lightly swaying between  glistening waves.


 


      醉心的光景;                                     Mesmerising scene;


給我披一件彩衣,啜一罎芳醴,     Let me don a rainbow, sip a jug of Ambrosia'


      折一支藤花,                                     Break a twig of ivy,


舞,在葡萄藤中,巔倒,迷昏。     Dancing, amidst the vine, topsy turvy, dazed.


 


      呀,美麗!                                    Look, beautiful!


三春的顏色移上她的香肌,The triple colours of springs moving up her fragrant flesh       


    是玫瑰,是月季,                       They're roses, they're tea roses.


是朝陽裏水仙,鮮姘,芳菲!They're daffodils in the morning sun, fresh, with lingering  fragrance


 


     夢底的幽祕,                                      Secrets hidden in her dreams.


挑逗着她的心,---潔純的靈魂---     Luring her heart,---a soul most chaste--


    像一隻蜂兒,                                      Like a bee,


在花心,恣意的唐突---温存。  in the corolla, ravishing in brusque abandon--in tenderness.


 


     童真的夢境!                                      Childlike dreams!


靜默;休教驚斷了夢神的慇懃;Silence; don't you dare interrupt the gallantry of Morpheus


     抽一絲金梭,                                      Draw a strand of gold shuttle


抽一絲銀絡,抽一絲晚霞紫燻;Draw a strand of silver waft, draw a strand of purple dusk;


 


     玉腕與金棱;                                     Wrist of jade and shuttle of gold;


織縑似的精審,更番的穿度---  The precision of woven waterproof silk, more foreign weaving craft


     化生了彩霞,                                   Transformed into colorful clouds of red,


神闕,安琪兒的歌,安琪兒的舞。The song and dance of gods, of angels.,


 


      可愛的梨渦,                                    Lovely dimples,


解釋了處女的夢境的歡喜,          Explaining the joy of the dreams of virgins,


     像一顆露珠,                                  Like a pearl of dew,


顫動的,在荷盤中閃耀晨曦。Trembling, upon a tray of lotus of the sparkling dawn.


2010年12月24日 星期五

Some Hiccups at Christmas with the Philharmonic

Blame it on an act of God: the snowstorms paralyzing European airports.Thanks to the blizzards, a concert orginally planned to feature some of Bach's Oratorio and Handel's operatic offerings by the famous English soprano Lucy Crowe under the baton of Harry Bicket had to be cancelled. The two pieces we could have but did not hear were Handel's Giulio Cesare (Julia Caesar)'s "Tu la mia stella sei" , (You're my star) "Sei pieta" (you're mercy) and "Da tempeste"( The tempest) and Bach's oratorio Cantata: Jaurchzet Gott in allen Landen BWV51 (Shout God in all the land). Instead we had guest conductor Ken Lam. The other parts of the programme however remained unchanged. They were Bach's Orchestral suite No. 3 in D BWV 1068, his Brandenburg Concerto No.3 in G BWV 1048 and Handel's Water Music Suite. The two originally scheduled pieces were replaced by Haydn's Trumpet Concerto and Handel's Solomon: the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. In the end, it proved not a bad concert at all.


The evening's works opened with Bach's Orchestral Suite No.3 in D. It consists of an Ouverture, Air, Gavotte I and II, Bourrée & Gique, something he wrote whilst he was director of Leipzig's Collegium Musicum, a student orchestra at the U of Leipzig whilst he was simultaneously the Kantor at St. Thomas Church during which he wrote this work as well as the Brandenberg Concertos. As the names of the various pieces comprising the Suite indicate, they were a series of French dances, with various rhythms, moods, styles done by a typically small baroque chamber orchestra. The Ouverture (overture or opening) starts out rather formally as if the King were slowly entering the ballroom, and then changes into a more lively mood. Then comes one of the most famous pieces, Air on G String, played entirely on one violin string, the G string (connoisseur of female torsos may well have other ideas about what this means), a slow piece of exquisite elegance, nostalgia and reminiscence, followed by two measured but lively Gavottes, then a brisk Bourrée and then ending with another very lively Gique. This is a very popular piece with typical contrapuntal techniques which one has come to expect of Bach. As always, there is a lively swing and lilt to the music. I am sure that if Bach were living today, he'd probably have made an extremely good jazz composer!


We next had Bach's Brandenberg Concerto No.3. I first heard this piece together with Handel's Water Music nearly half a century ago, as the sound came out from two huge JBL horn speakers from a ground floor storeroom at the backyard of the drugstore below our flat. At that time, I was a Form 1 student and did not have the faintest idea what classical music was, nor what the names of the two composers stood for. All I could tell was that I was extremely attracted to the golden sound of the violins, the brilliance of the sound of the trumpet, the jollity and swinging rhythm of Bach's music. If I remember correctly, they were then played by St. Martin in the Fields. Of course, I have since heard these two pieces many many times. But music does have this peculiar property of recalling to our minds certain emotional experience one had whilst one was still very young. These were pleasant memories. I remember going down to that storehouse and moving between the huge carton boxes containing various types of over the counter medicine to be sold in bottles, packages etc and admiring the beautiful jackets of the huge vinyl discs and shaking, liftng or nodding my head and waving my hands along with the rhythm of the music as if I were really the conductor of the chamber orchestra. I would spend an hour or two listening to the music, being engrossed in it for reasons I did not really understand. They just seemed good. Bach's piece, an allegro, adagio and allegro, used one simple motif which got repeated successively by the violin, the viola, the cello in the first movement and got two chords in the adagio. In Bach's music, there is seldom any pause, whenever one section was about to finish their part, another section has already begun and there is this constant motion and constrast and counter points between the high and low notes which only come together at the end. The changes or modulations are always very slow and gradual so that it is often difficult to tell one piece of music from another. One has to have listened to the piece and played it many many times if one were not to make mistakes playing it from memory.


Then the we had Haydn's Trumpet Concerto in E. There are not that many trumpet concertos. The solo part was played by our principal trumpeter Colin Goldberg, from Colorado. He had already played under such famous conductors like Michael Tilson Thomas, Bernard Haitink, Ricardo Muti and Pierre Boulez. There is a brightness to the sound of the trumpet that makes it an instrument of joy, of cheerfulness, majesty, of stateliness, of dignity and glory which I like. And Handel's Trumpet Concerto must be one of the most popular trumpet concertos around.. The technique for making trumpet was not perfected until about 1795. The music was in turn rousing, sad, nostalgic, playful and jubilant by turns. Despite a few hesitations, Golderg was very good.


The next piece was Handel's the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba  from his opera Solomon. It's has got a very solemn and beautiful motif which perfectly matches the mood of the ceremonial arrival of the Queen of Sheba and is also one of the most popular pieces written by Handel.


Then the final piece was Handel's Water Music Suite. It was a most happy composition and according to biographers, it was first performed on a barge with 50 musicians playing other barges on the River Thames. It was a collection of different short pieces with certain repititions with prominence sometimes given to one instrument and sometimes to others. Overall, it was majestic and joyful. In fact, I do not know of any music he wrote which is not so. Theres is a theme which is solemn, majestic, played with the support of the trumpets and winds, which is often repeated and played in the finale as well which I particularly like because it brought back so much of my childhood memories of those wonderful afternoons I spent at the storeroom of the drugstore downstiar with my imagination transported to another world, a world unknown, a world full of mystery and promise and joy. I now know that world much more intimately. It is the world of sound, the world of dissonance and harmony, a world where our emotions can rise and fall with motifs, melody, chords, texture and rhythm. In short, it is the world of music.   


Our guest conductor obviously enjoyed himself. You can see his two hands describing huge circles in the air in front of his chest, waving them up and down as if following some imaginary wavetops and from time to time, he would bow his back ever so low and lower his arms to below navel level and gradually spread them out to quieten down the from particular or all sections and from time to time, he would bend his body to one side, lifting one foot which he would let stay in the air for up to 5 seconds before putting it down in tune with the music and from time to time he would almost jump up as if he were performing a dance. It's good to see a conductor enjoying the music. Somehow his movements cannot fail to infect you with his enthusiasm. That's why I like to attend live concerts. I was alone last night. I was quite surprised to find when the concert started that not a single one of my usual concert friends were there. But whether or not they were there, music will always be music and it will move your emotions the same way. The only difference is that if you wish to tug your companion arm to express how you are delighted, exicited, depressed, sad, jubilant, ecstatic etc.you cannot and can only talk to yourself as if you were two persons in one. It was a good concert. But some of the passages could have been played with more verve.


2010年12月22日 星期三

The Resurrection of the Body

Christmas is near. Everywhere we go, we find long and short silver, gold and red tinted tinfoil  ribbons or silvery mock pine needles along the sides of buildings, straddled or circling the irregular real or plastic green needles of the fir or pine trees amidst similarly coloured and texured balls, balloon, cones and little decorations of Santa, angels or other cuddly figures with sprayed ice foams falling over various parts of the trees.


There seems an electrcity in the air. Millions of internet messages, MSN's, text messages or even voice mails are flickering every second through the optic fibres of the networks of numerous internet and wireless telecommunication network service providers and even pulse through the wireless waves in the air, though invisible to us, from people arranging for Christmas dinners, parties, gatherings etc..


Busy executives would take off their suit and tie and office ladies would take off their high heels and slip into stylishly casual clothes or carefully draw their inner, outer eye lines, paint or stick on their nails, put on their most alluring lip gloss or don their ravishingly beautiful ballroom dresses, generously tip their hairdressers for giving them a hairstyle they consider particularly suited to the shape of their head or complexion or the style of their dresses and douse their dresses, necks, their wrists and even their breasts with their favourite parfumes to attract marauding male eyes and nostrils, and eventually their bodies.


Parents, teachers and students are busy decorating their homes school halls and classroom with all kinds of Christmas decorations to create a festive "atmosphere" and the school's art teacher are eating their heart out in the middle of the night in trying to figure out new ideas to make the school look bright and happy.


Department stores, boutiques, supermarkets are packed with people busily preparing themselves for their big, small, micro-size parties or rendezvous and restaurants and bars compete in putting bigger and better posters and placards on their windows and floor stands in their shop fronts advertising their unique Christmas or Boxing Day breakfasts, brunches, lunches, afternoon teas, dinners, buffets etc. at bargain prices.   Has Christmas become as Don Cupitt says, the "Disneyfication of Christinaity"?


One may well ask, "What for?" or "Why all such fuss"? Christians will of course tell us that Christmas is a time of joy, a time of celebration because with the birth of Christ, all of mankind will thereafer be saved. We celebrate because Christ was born, the Christ, who by his death on the Cross, will restore us to God's favor.


I have never really understood why it was necessary for God's only son to die for us. Can't God spare his own son? Why must He be so cruel to his own son? Why can't God allow men to repent for their sin without having first had his own son to die on the cross? Why must God first create man knowling full well that he will turn against his command, drive him out of paradise, be subjected to the temptation of the devils and see billions die for their sins because they are not strong enough to resist temptations from the devils and his hordes and then cause his own son to be born by a Virgin(?), let him preach for a while and then be accused by his own chosen people before the Sanhedrin and then taken to die a most excruciatingly painful form of death on the cross by the Romans.


If God is almighty, why can't He simply forgive men their sins because after all, it was He who planted the ability to sin and to do evil in man's mind and at the time He created men, He already knew there were fallen angels who rebelled against Him and who were determinined to undo whatever he was trying to do. In computer lingo, He put in the enabling hardware, knowing that Adam and Eve will write the software program of actual sin. If He is as powerful as we are taught that He is, why can't He destroy the devils and wipe them off the face of the universe? If He is powerful enough but refuses to do so, how can we still say He is all good. If He wants to destroy evil and the devil but is unable to do so, then how can we say He is almighty.If He is all powerful and all good, then it must be possible that at the time that He created man, He does not know whether man will succumb to the temptations by the devils. If so, He cannot be all knowing. It simply doesn't make any sense, at least human sense to me, to claim that God is all good, all knowing and all powerful. If He is not so, then why does He create man?


We're taught that God created man to glorify himself. If so, is He not literally a megalomaniac of cosmic proportions, indeed the greatest in the universe which He created, beyond which there cannot possibly be any greater? In particular, I am deeply disturbed by the story of Job, in which God wagered with the devil that Job will remain faithful. If He is all knowing, why does He still need to wager with the devil? The story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac is equally disturbing. If God is all knowing, why did He still need to put Abraham to the test? Is He a sadist? Does it delight Him to see human beings suffer simply because the first man disobeyed Him? Must He punish man for that disobedience by punishing His very own son, whom we are taught is one of the three persons in the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirt. In punsihing His son, is He not punishing Himself? If He must do that, why? Is He a sado-masochist?  Or is He punishing Himself for not having had the foresight to realize that that Adam and Eve may disobey Him thus necessitating His holy anger by banishing them from the Garden of Eden? And if He truly loves the entire human race, as we have been taught, why is He so unjust and allow only those 12 small tribes in the Middle East, the Jews to know of him first. What about the Chinese, the Indians, the Africans, the Red Indians and the people of Oceania and Polynesia? And what about all the people of the world who died before the death of Jesus? Will all of them go to hell before they had the chance to know Him?


The traditional Christian God is totally incomprehensible to me. I can understand Jesus preaching love. But I cannot understand why he must die. Of course, we have been told it was our sins which caused his death. But if sin is as St. Thomas of Aquinas said, simply the act of man voluntarily choosing to reject, to distance, to separate and to alienate himself from God, why must sin be invented in the first place. Some theologians will argue that the ability to sin is part and parcel of man's freedom and that freedom is an attribute of God and that therefore in exercising freedom, we are in a way, partaking in an attribute of God: we are to the extent of our freedom like unto God. But then, this merely pushes the question just one step further: why must we be like God who is supposed to be perfect. Why can't we simply be man, with all our inherent capacity both for good and for evil, with all our reason and our emotion, with all our imperfections? Is God not simply the projection of purely human values conducive to the aim of having a harmonious and functioning social, economic and political society, built up over the ages by different theologians each with a slightly different ideological and moral agenda to push values like co-operation, mutual assistance, empathy, sympathy, pity, mercy, equality and justice epitomized by the word "love" and later the authority of the church, but without due regard to consistency?


If Christian theology does not make sense, ( quite apart from the corresponding extremely anthropocentric Christian cosmology, which has also been shown by modern scientists to be utterly wrong) then the resurrection of the body must be understood in another sense. We have been taught that man has a soul and that after we are dead, our soul will survive us and that at the day of the Final Judgement, all the dead of the world will be bodily resurrected and their souls will rejoin their previously dysfunctional and decomposed bodies which will somehow miraculously be reconstituted and that the resurrected bodies together with the related souls will be judged either fit to rise to heaven to enjoy eternal happiness or be cast to burn in hell fire for all eternity.


The Bible did not say in what way our decomposed bodies can still be reconstituted and joined to our souls. It merely said that our resurrected body would be a "glorious" body, whatever that means. Nor does it tell us what heaven is like nor exactly what hell is like. Such concepts are deliberately vague. I don't blame them. After all, no one has ever come back from either of those "places" (is it a place? or just a condition of mind/body?) to tell us what they look or feel like. To me, all these are merely metaphors to describe our mental state when we do good or do evil. To me, what is good is everything which encourages, promotes and protects Life and evil is simply its reverse. I am not the first to think so. In Tolstoy's War and Peace, he said, "God is life and to love life is to love God. Everything moves and shifts together and that movement is God. God is everything." And heaven and hell are merely picturesque ways of describing our mental state when we are full of life and love or full of death and destruction and hatred or other negative emotions. If we can believe our scientists, then it is impossible for our mind and its physical embodiment the brain, to exist independently of our physical bodies. If so, then if we would like to have a healthy mind, we must first have a healthy body.The Romans have the motto: mens mana e corporo sano (a healthy mind and a healthy body).  Jesus said, man does not live by bread alone. But he did not say we can live without bread. He merely assumed that the latter proposition is self evident. If so, then there is a good deal of reason why we must treat our body well.


To me, whatever is good for the body cannot be bad for the soul. Only a happy body will make for a happy soul. To this extent at least, we must respect and revere our bodies as much as we respect and revere our souls (assuming in the first place that soul is not just human consciousness but something transcending such normal human consciousness and which will NOT expire upon the physical death of our bodies, a rather questionable assumption).   If so, then resurrection of the body may well mean something very different from what traditional Christianity teaches. Resurrection of the body will mean in such a context, the abandonment of all bad habits which restrict, retard, injure, or cause harm to the physical health of our bodies eg. excessive drinking, smoking, alcohol, drugs, work, sex and unhealthy lifestyles and the restoration of a regime fit for our physical health through reasonably moderate practices in our intake and use of food, drink, relaxation, exercises, sex etc via a structured and disciplined but not mechanical or rigid lifestyle.


In the context of contemporary living conditions in an urban commercial environment in which  the capitalist ideal of maximization of profit seems the surpreme value and which thus encourages artificially stimulated excessive consumption to keep the economic and financial machineries moving and which in the process squeezes out the last ounce of our energies, the last second of our working time and the maximum employment of our reason and logic, resurrection of the body  may mean giving ourselves more time to engage in certain totally "useless" or "non-productive" activities (from the point of view of the economy) or lesiure, activities we enjoy in and for themselves e.g our hobbies and the reactivation and re-sensitization of our congenital faculties for the generation of pleasure ie. our perceptual and experiential organs: our eyes, our ears, our noses, our tonques, our skin and for the promotion of that ultimate pleasure: the act of copulation. We must take time off to feel the sensations streaming in from our skin and other sensory organs and learn again to delight in the various forms of beauty accessed and expressed through those perceptual and sensual apparatus peculiar to each of our senses. We must live again but from our body, not just from our mind. We must live up, not down. We must build our happiness downward up, and not top down. We must start with what we most concretely have at our disposal, our body. We must feel the beauty of Nature: the beauty of the plants, the animals, the sea, the sky, the mountains, the rivers, the lakes and the form of the human body. We must learn to celebrate our body, not just our minds! We must never forget that without our bodies, there can be no minds! As a philosophers quipped after long standing disputes about whether idealism or materialism or dualism should prevail, "no matter, never mind.". Long live the human  body!


Let there be no mistakes. I am not advocating indiscriminate use of our sensory faculties and of sex. I am only advocating the removal of artificially and often religiously motivated but unrealistic restraints upon our freedom to employ those facilities for human happiness provided by Nature itself.


To me, nothing which goes against Nature and its laws can be moral. In this respect, I am afraid that religious institutions have unwittingly been the greatest sinners. They sin against Nature, our only true source of happiness, including so-called "spiritual" happiness.  Out of misconceived notions for the promotion of what they think is good, they have turned themselves into instruments for the perpetration of evil. In sinning against Nature, they have also sinned against Man and his humanity! I believe that the time has come for another type of salvation, one not perfect but contingent but one much more firmly based upon facts and evidence and phenomena within our grasp.


Our eyes must learn to turn no longer skyward to the old man in the clouds but downward, upon the apparent solidity of the Earth, its mountains, its seas, rivers, plants, animals and ourselves and we must snatch salvation from amidst the confusion, gratutitousness, the transcience, the contingencies and possibly the ultimate void of this world. It is a world which is constantly being remade, destroyed and remade again and again by us. It is a world that is constantly passing away and constantly being renewed but in a different form and the primary intrument of that renewal and new salvation shall be the friend we have had since we first laid eyes upon this world, our own body and with our body, our mind with our creativity and our imagination ! 


We must find a new spirituality and a new lifestyle which will make us whole, in our own way, through our own brain and our own body. Values and meaning must be sought, no longer from an external and so-called "objective" Being, because we are no longer sure if he exists and if he does, the form that he takes. It must be sought from within ourselves. We must create our own meaning. No one else will or can create it for us. We may cry out for help but our voice may be lost in the void of the universe and if by any chance there shall be any echoes, it is more likely than not that those echoes will be those of our own vpoces, only much fainter and slightly delayed in time and in accordance with the relentless and impersonal laws of sound mechanics which  dictate that they shall diminish in energy in accordance with the square of the distance from the source of the sonic emission! 


The epoque for demythogizing God is long gone. It has been done by Copernicus, Galileo, Freud, Jung, Darwin, Durkheim, Marx and Feuerbach. The time for remytholozing has come. The remythologizing must be done, this time, by ourselves. From a collective enterprise, it may first have to start as a personal enterprise. It may not be a pretty or attractive picture. We may look with nostalgia back to a time in which everything was laid out for us, as Christ said, as a feast in which the host invites the faithfuls. But it is the only realistic one now! We must learn to let go of our former certainties and live in the here and now, through our own body and if we look after it well, hopefully our mind! We must learn to smile and even to laugh in the face of such uncertainties as if  they did not exist and learn to play amongst the myths of existence created and fashioned by our own hands or more precisely our own minds with the assistance of our bodies! We do not have any other viable and realistic choice which is not based on illusion!