nucifera: 傍晚时分,送了国明上MRT我便只身走到Jurong East的Popular bookshop。先到影音部转转,而后来到新书出售部。之后再到人文部看看。突然间,龙应台的《香港笔记》映入眼帘。随手翻翻,大略扫过了几篇文章,直到了这一篇《咏儿和慧儿——文明小论》。览完毕,赶紧把书本合上走到cashier台还钱——就只此篇就足以让我把这书买下!

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沙湾径25号
  
  文明,你说得清它是什么意思吗?

  在香港,看一次牙医,就明白了。挂号柜台的小姐微笑着取出资料让你填写;请你坐下时,轻声细语地告诉你,“对不起,要等五分钟喔。”你要再订下一个约会时,她仔细地看医师时程表,无法满足你的指定的日期时,她满脸歉意,一再地说“不好意思”。

  真的在五分钟之后,有人呼你的名字。你回头看看柜台小姐的名牌,苏咏儿,仿佛宋词里的名字。咏儿害羞地跟你笑了一下。

  五号房,一位女医师,看不出面貌,因为她严严地罩着口罩,还带着透光罩镜保护眼睛。她细声细气地说话,预先告诉你每一个要发生的动作,免得你吓一跳或突然痛苦:我要将椅子降下来了。灯刺眼吗?她让你也戴上罩镜。现在我要检查你的牙齿,然后再帮你洗牙。她把一只小镜子放在你手上,然后细心地解释你看得见的每一颗牙的体质状况。这个会有一点点刺刺的感觉,但是只有一点点。你不舒服的话就动一下左手,因为右边有机器……

  躺在当头照射的强光下,各种机器环绕,像在一张手术台上等着被宰割,那是多么脆弱、多么没有尊严的一个姿势,可是她用礼貌的语气对你说话,用极为尊重的肢体语言和你沟通,即使她居高临下,往下俯视你,而你正撑大着嘴,动弹不得,自我感觉像生物课里被实验的青蛙。

  检查结束了,她对你解释你的牙齿问题可以有哪几种处理方式。她手里拿起一个牙颚模型,像哈姆雷特手里拿着一个骷髅头,认真地、仔细地,跟你说话。你还有点不习惯,老觉得,她怎可能花那么多时间跟我说话?门口难道没有一排人不耐烦地等着她吗?

  她确确实实不慌不忙地跟你把牙的病情和病理仔细地说完,然后和你亲切地道声再见。

  你走出五号诊房,回头看看门上的名字,黄慧儿,哎,怎么又是一个宋词里的名字。

  咏儿和慧儿的专业敬业、春风和煦,不会是她们的个人教养和道德如何与众不同,而是,她们的背后一定有一个制度支撑着她们,使得她们能够如此。如果咏儿必须每天接待三百个神情烦躁的客人,从清晨工作到晚上,她不可能维持她的笑容可掬。如果慧儿医师所得工资微薄而且升迁无门,与她的辛劳不成比例,她不可能态度从容,心平气和。如果慧儿所受的医学教育没有教她“以人为本”的医疗哲学,她不会懂得怎么让一个龇牙咧嘴躺着的人感觉受到尊重。

  在咏儿和慧儿的春风和煦的后面,藏着好多东西:有教育理念的成熟与否,有管理制度的效率高低,有社会福利系统的完善不完善,有经济力量的强或弱,有人的整体文化素质的好或坏,有资源分配的公平合理或不合理……后面有一层又一层错综复杂的社会网络与基础结构在衬托和支柱,才可能,你随便进入一个牙医诊所,就会遇见一个咏儿和慧儿,温温柔柔地和你说话,同时将你的烂牙有效地治好。

  你离开时,签一个字就可以,咏儿不会追着你要现金。检查的结果报告会随后寄到你家,你订的下一次约会,提前一个星期电邮信箱里就来了提醒的通知;时间到了,请来赴约。也就是说,在咏儿和慧儿后面,还有财务管理系统的周全不周全,还有传讯系统的先进不先进。

  咏儿和慧儿安安静静,但是后面深藏着很多你看不见的东西,那些你看不见的复杂网络和制度,全部加起来,就叫文明。

By VERLYN KLINKENBORG
Published: November 28, 2007

Over the past few days, I’ve looked again and again at recently published images, drawn from two enlarged photographs in the Library of Congress, that very likely show Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg 144 years ago on the November day, the 19th, when he delivered that famous address. A bearded man in a top hat rises above the crowd (we are looking at him from behind, over his left shoulder) and there’s no real reason to doubt that it’s Lincoln. He appears in a minute portion of two stereoscopic photographs that were meant to be looked at in a special 3-D viewer.

Incredible as it is to see Lincoln there, a crowd swirling around him, blurred by their own motion, it’s every bit as surprising to see the whole scene that the camera captured in that moment. The camera has been positioned well away from the crowd, and there’s open ground just ahead of the lens. Deep in the crush of bodies, Lincoln is looking off into history, toward us in a sense. But out in this open ground, it’s a November day in Pennsylvania. A few men — including one in a broad white collar and a voluminous top hat — stare at the lens with a truly American candidness.

There’s a kind of conviction in the ordinariness of what this photograph shows us — ordinary even though it was a day, as Lincoln said, of consecration. We’re always surrounded by hard evidence that the past existed, and yet a photograph like this seems to offer a special testimony precisely because it witnesses an ephemeral moment.

So many kinds of evidence overlap here. It’s tempting to say that we have an idea of what was in Lincoln’s mind that day, but we don’t. We know only what words he read aloud for a few minutes, not what he was thinking as he did so. His identity mattered then as it does now, and it is the only reason we find ourselves looking at this photograph.

Meanwhile, that unknown man in the broad collar stares at the camera. We have no idea at all what’s on his mind, no idea who he is. By the tilt of his head, the angle of his body, he seems to be expressing intense curiosity about the camera and its operator, and none at all about the scene going on behind him. He looks as though he might have walked out of a line of Whitman.

Perhaps that’s what is so convincing about this photograph. At the edges of every crowd — even at moments of intense historical importance — there is an unknown someone being distracted by the world, uninterested in what’s happening behind his back. You can see it here. We feel the power of what Lincoln was saying more strongly than those who were present did — that is, we feel its ongoing power. But if you begin walking outward from where Lincoln stood, how far would you have to go before any trace of the extraordinary nature of that day had vanished into the ordinary? The evidence of this photograph suggests that you wouldn’t have to go far at all, a few hundred yards at most.

I don’t quite know why this thought seems to matter so much to me. Perhaps it’s the irreverence of the world, the way it is always tempting you to pay no attention to that great human being uttering words that will live forever behind your back. Perhaps it’s the fact that the moments we have traditionally called history are really just brief disruptions of the heavy, dense fabric of ordinary life. Perhaps, too, it’s the way that humans, for all their ability to concentrate, will nearly always behave, if given the chance, like the animals we are — easily distracted, diverted by a sudden motion, drawn off guard by the glint of light on a camera lens.

Looking at Lincoln in these two photographs — all but his hat nearly lost in the emulsion of the film itself — I find myself wondering what it would have been like if photography had been a rudimentary discovery and had been with us, say, as long as the printing press. What would the photographic record show if it reached back, say 500 years, instead of 180?

One answer is that it would show us this same structure over and over again: a fiercely concentrated knot of people hanging on the words of someone at the center of the crowd. And around them? People standing in looser and looser concentrations, until finally — far enough from the epicenter — their attention turns away from history and focuses on the abiding interest of almost anything else. And this is somehow the inherent bias of the camera. It always directs us toward the center of attention, never away to the periphery, even though that is where our attention eventually wanders.

The photos: http://www.civilwarphotography.org/lincolngettysburg.html

陶杰:人在Bel-Air

十一月 30, 2007

黄金冒险号
2007/11/29

  天价的豪宅楼盘,名字要染上一层「伪欧洲」、「假美国」的包装,像凯旋门和比华利山。最近,还有一幢One New York,座落在深水埗长沙湾,还有一个楼盘,更加巴闭,用拉丁文和西班牙文Fusion,名叫Oceanus at Sausalito,地点为马鞍山。连住在贝沙湾,为了彰显高尚身份,记住不要用华文讲出这个地名,即使向那个满嘴金牙的小巴麻甩司机,告诉他:「Bel -Air有落」。你以上海口音说贝沙湾三个字,他会「藐嘴」,认定阁下是周正毅的亲戚,凭炒起一个中石油的号码住到这里。如果字正腔圆的一声Bel- Air(记住,Bel的那个L,要连着Air的元音一起发音),那位司机大佬,会快乐地一伸手臂,那只穿着人字胶拖的黄脚板,专业而尊敬地贴着油门,踏得正正的,实实的,方向盘一扭,欢欣地开向Bel-Air那一片法国南岸一样的蓝天碧海。在中国香港,谁都知道,一个越「不似中国香港」的环境地区,越值钱。像IFC的二楼商场,斜对面是city’super,这一边是美式戏院,旁边有一家书店咖啡馆,装修欧式,书架上摆设的是包装豪华价贵的英文电影和设计丛书。香港和中国珠三角「连成一体」?看看又不像。不要信嘴皮上吹的一套,香港的地产商,都很「爱国」,但从来不会把楼盘命名为「东莞花园」、「樟木头豪庭」、「海陆丰一号」的,怕消费者一看到名字,联想到北姑、渔船和足底按摩店。要营造Feel Good气氛,必定要令消费者觉得身处一个不像中国的社会,九龙城名校根德幼儿园,四十年前就摸通此一真理,根德,是英国东南部的一个郡,「回归」之后,幼儿园的校长是不会改名为顺德幼儿园的是不是?上海黄浦江边的The Bund也一样,殖民地洋建筑的一座阳台,一家意大利餐厅,一室金发碧眼的玩家,夹杂着一两个衣着性感的章子怡,看上去就像伦敦巴黎,除了窗外那个东方电视台粉红色的「娘」气圆球,有点扫兴。一切值钱的东西,都不像中国。当这个市场,明明在北婶出没勾引公园阿伯的地方,出现了一座「纽约一号」的豪盘,你就知道,为了消除悲情,天水围改名为「六本木」,也为期不远。我实在浅陋,看不到如此形势,这个城市,如何会培养「国家情怀」和「民族自豪感」?因此,当你下次学舌表态,大骂李登辉,你在心中,也会对李前总统顶拜的,因为他本名岩里正男,他就是六本木、比华利山、One New York,以及在那片菜田马鞍山冒起的Oceanus什么苏沙里图。因为,别看他个个爱国得那么成熟世故,每个人心中,没有一座断背山,却有一座根德幼儿园。

陶杰:手术博物馆

十一月 30, 2007

黄金冒险号
2007/11/26

  西九龙要建几座宏大的博物馆。有识之士开始窃窃私语,花几亿「打造」了几座博物馆,但展品呢?香港是一座没有记忆的城市,也是一个反人文知识的社会。偏偏博物馆之「博物」,从木乃伊到兵马俑,从十九世纪的古老打字机到人力车,通通是记忆和人文的物品。开了一家博物馆,总不成把《忽然 1周》第一期到第十期的第一版书,当做「历史藏品」吧,即使这头十期版本,又有几多位读者师奶收藏?先有「博物」,才有博物馆,而不是博然空无一物,而投资亿万建一座「博乜馆」。不错,亿万富豪有很多珍品,从梵高油画到乾隆的鼻烟壶都有,但他们不会把东西借出来的,即使借,最多一两批,以后,博物馆只有货架,没有货,市民排队进去,纷纷赞叹博物馆本身这座建筑──啊,这座建筑物,是英国大师诺曼福士打从非洲卢旺达收养的一个黑人小工,在伦敦的工作室,用一个周末,仿照师傅的风格,画出草图,多么有创意呢。世界上必先有了货,才有货架。先有金庸小说,才有明河出版社,而不是相反。伦敦的圣汤马士医院,像香港的玛丽和伊利沙伯医院一样,平时收容许多急症病人,但在医院的一角,就有一座小小的博物馆。
  
  博物馆是什么?是一间一八四六年落成的最古老的手术室──一张长方形的木桌子,放在正中,四周还有展列着维多利亚时代手术仪器的木柜,有一个洗手的瓷盆,搁在木架子上。那时的手术,不经常做,而且往往是交通意外为伤者截肢,不到最后关头,不敢动手术,因为对防止细菌感染,还没有那么大的把握。麻醉早期用草药,效果不好,因此截肢要快,锯一条腿,在一分钟之内。病人杀猪般痛叫,医生往他嘴巴塞一条木棍,今天,这根短棒还在,看见上面深陷斑斑的牙印。那时候的手术,是一件大事,医科学生进来观看,因此这个手术室三面有一级高一阶的座位,像罗马斗兽场一样。到今天,手术室的英文叫Operating Theatre──手术剧院,为什么是Theatre?因为机不可失,医科生就是观众。病人没有私隐的,但保命要紧。这就是先有货,后有货架。这是全世界最古老的手术室,没有因为医院要「发展」而拆掉。香港的旧事,都倒进堆填区了,这是一个赚钱的城市,不要那么扮嘢嘛,博物馆,不需要的。一根满布齿痕的木棒,不须要天价购买,也不必排长龙恭赏当做清明上河图,朴实自然,就像一件旧衣服穿在人身上,是猴子,就造作了,这才叫博物馆。

By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
Published: November 27, 2007

A man with a deep voice may have a survival advantage, a better chance of passing on his genes.

Researchers have found that men with deeper voices have more children — at least among the Hadza, a group of hunter-gatherers in Tanzania.

According to background information in an article published online for the Dec. 22 edition of Biology Letters, most women in Western societies find lower-pitched male voices more attractive, judging them healthier and more masculine. Meanwhile, men find higher-pitched voices more appealing.

The evolutionary reasons for reproductive success are difficult to discover in a society that uses modern birth control methods. The Hadza use no birth control and choose their own spouses; this makes them what the researchers call a “natural fertility population” where hypotheses about human reproductive success can be tested.

Researchers collected voice recordings (the Hadza speak Swahili) and reproductive histories from 49 men and 52 women to determine if voice pitch might affect the number of children.

After controlling for age, voice pitch was a highly accurate predictor of the number of children a man fathered, and those with deeper voices fathered significantly more. The researchers estimated that voice quality alone could account for 42 percent of the variance in men’s reproductive success. The quality of women’s voices was unrelated to how many children they had.

The reasons that a lower-pitched voice gives a man a greater chance of producing many offspring are not clear, but the researchers make several suggestions. Deep-voiced men might have more mates, healthier mates or shorter intervals between births; perhaps they start reproducing at an earlier age.

This study, the authors write, is the first to examine the effect of vocal pitch on Darwinian fitness in humans. The findings coincide with those of a number of studies showing that acoustic signals play a role in influencing female choice of mate in animals.

Coren Apicella, the lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in biological anthropology at Harvard, said the findings “might not actually translate to anything in our society about reproductive benefit.” We look at many traits when choosing mates, she noted.

Also, since fatherhood was determined by self-report, not DNA, it may just be that deeper-voiced men are more confident about paternity.

nucifera:这是一篇很新的报导,无论是在观点还是时间上。主要来说,它简略了报导学术工作者在艺术好几个问题上的重要探索。为什么人类会演绎出艺术活动,是什么样的因素和动力驱使着这种活动的逐步形成?而艺术在人类自身的生存,还有在整个社会的运作里头扮演者什么样的角色?它纯粹是一个个人的自娱活动,还是另有更深层广泛的意义?

这些问题的解答,单纯地从社会学的角度来尝试可能还欠缺严谨。从进化论的角度来说,艺术在人类思维和日常活动的出现是个很奇异的成果,而当我们从物种、人类进化的角度,再配以现有的社会、心理学和艺术理论的认识重新看待这些问题的时候,或许我们能提出更完整的解说。那有益于我们对艺术的更完整了解。

这是一个跨学科学习的时代。

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By NATALIE ANGIER
Published: November 27, 2007

If you have ever been to a Jewish wedding, you know that sooner or later the ominous notes of “Hava Nagila” will sound, and you will be expected to dance the hora. And if you don’t really know how to dance the hora, you will nevertheless be compelled to join hands with others, stumble around in a circle, give little kicks and pretend to enjoy yourself, all the while wondering if there’s a word in Yiddish that means “she who stares pathetically at the feet of others because she is still trying to figure out how to dance the hora.”

I am pleased and relieved to report that my flailing days are through. This month, in a freewheeling symposium at the University of Michigan on the evolutionary value of art and why we humans spend so much time at it, a number of the presenters supplemented their standard PowerPoint presentations with hands-on activities. Some members of the audience might have liked folding the origami boxes or scrawling messages on the floor, but for me the high point came when a neurobiologist taught us how to dance the hora. As we stepped together in klezmeric, well-schooled synchrony, I felt free and exhilarated. I felt competent and loved. I felt like calling my mother. I felt, it seems, just as a dancing body should.

In the main presentation at the conference, Ellen Dissanayake, an independent scholar affiliated with the University of Washington, Seattle, offered her sweeping thesis of the evolution of art, nimbly blending familiar themes with the radically new. By her reckoning, the artistic impulse is a human birthright, a trait so ancient, universal and persistent that it is almost surely innate. But while some researchers have suggested that our artiness arose accidentally, as a byproduct of large brains that evolved to solve problems and were easily bored, Ms. Dissanayake argues that the creative drive has all the earmarks of being an adaptation on its own. The making of art consumes enormous amounts of time and resources, she observed, an extravagance you wouldn’t expect of an evolutionary afterthought. Art also gives us pleasure, she said, and activities that feel good tend to be those that evolution deems too important to leave to chance.

What might that deep-seated purpose of art-making be? Geoffrey Miller and other theorists have proposed that art serves as a sexual display, a means of flaunting one’s talented palette of genes. Again, Ms. Dissanayake has other ideas. To contemporary Westerners, she said, art may seem detached from the real world, an elite stage on which proud peacocks and designated visionaries may well compete for high stakes. But among traditional cultures and throughout most of human history, she said, art has also been a profoundly communal affair, of harvest dances, religious pageants, quilting bees, the passionate town rivalries that gave us the spires of Chartres, Reims and Amiens.

Art, she and others have proposed, did not arise to spotlight the few, but rather to summon the many to come join the parade — a proposal not surprisingly shared by our hora teacher, Steven Brown of Simon Fraser University. Through singing, dancing, painting, telling fables of neurotic mobsters who visit psychiatrists, and otherwise engaging in what Ms. Dissanayake calls “artifying,” people can be quickly and ebulliently drawn together, and even strangers persuaded to treat one another as kin. Through the harmonic magic of art, the relative weakness of the individual can be traded up for the strength of the hive, cohered into a social unit ready to take on the world.

As David Sloan Wilson, an evolutionary theorist at Binghamton University, said, the only social elixir of comparable strength is religion, another impulse that spans cultures and time.

A slender, soft-spoken woman with a bouncy gray pageboy, a grandchild and an eclectic background, Ms. Dissanayake was trained as a classical pianist but became immersed in biology and anthropology when she and her husband moved to Sri Lanka to study elephants. She does not have a doctorate, but she has published widely, and her books —the most recent one being “Art and Intimacy: How the Arts Began” — are considered classics among Darwinian theorists and art historians alike.

Perhaps the most radical element of Ms. Dissanayake’s evolutionary framework is her idea about how art got its start. She suggests that many of the basic phonemes of art, the stylistic conventions and tonal patterns, the mental clay, staples and pauses with which even the loftiest creative works are constructed, can be traced back to the most primal of collusions — the intimate interplay between mother and child.

After studying hundreds of hours of interactions between infants and mothers from many different cultures, Ms. Dissanayake and her collaborators have identified universal operations that characterize the mother-infant bond. They are visual, gestural and vocal cues that arise spontaneously and unconsciously between mothers and infants, but that nevertheless abide by a formalized code: the calls and responses, the swooping bell tones of motherese, the widening of the eyes, the exaggerated smile, the repetitions and variations, the laughter of the baby met by the mother’s emphatic refrain. The rules of engagement have a pace and a set of expected responses, and should the rules be violated, the pitch prove too jarring, the delays between coos and head waggles too long or too short, mother or baby may grow fretful or bored.

To Ms. Dissanayake, the tightly choreographed rituals that bond mother and child look a lot like the techniques and constructs at the heart of much of our art. “These operations of ritualization, these affiliative signals between mother and infant, are aesthetic operations, too,” she said in an interview. “And aesthetic operations are what artists do. Knowingly or not, when you are choreographing a dance or composing a piece of music, you are formalizing, exaggerating, repeating, manipulating expectation and dynamically varying your theme.” You are using the tools that mothers everywhere have used for hundreds of thousands of generations.

In art, as in love, as in dancing the hora, if you don’t know the moves, you really can’t fake them.