Monday, 30 December 2013

笙歌再现


一部小说的诞生,其实也得依靠自身的生命力。

我写笙歌的时候,每朝起来都会满脑子情节。故事中人昨天的遭遇,由于我要吃晚饭而被暂时冻结。今天他们苏醒之后,究竟会如何反应呢?我变成了“欲知后事如何 必须续写下回” 的心急人。吃罢早餐,连忙打开电脑找答案。我对故事主人翁们的命运的好奇,变成了一种推动力。

整个创作过程中最需要铺排和营造的,是故事的背景。一个不育的人类世界,人口和社会结构究竟会如何演变呢?这方面需要下功夫研究,构想才会合理。至于框架内的详情细节,大多是写作当时的念头幻化而成的现象。但念头这东西一向不受控制,更莫说悉心策划了。从这个角度看,故事的发展并不全由作者刻意安排。情节之间也有因果关系,节节相连;更曲折的布局也得顺理,方能成章。

Writing of Man's Last Song


When working on Man’s Last Song, I discovered that a story has its own life force. 

Most mornings, I would wake with a headful of ideas, wondering how to match them with my fictional characters. I had left them for dinner the night before, temporary frozen in a situation. How would they continue today? After breakfast, I rushed to the computer, anxious to find out. The story, yet incomplete, was spurring me on with the intrigue of its emerging fate.
Designing the global setting — a diminishing human world due to infertility — required research and planning. Once the general framework had been constructed, filling it with details became a day-to-day happenstance that could neither be planned nor controlled any more than real life. My thoughts of the moment — spontaneous and unruly as usual — would shape the vagaries of life faced by the protagonists. 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

37 - A Beautiful Movie


Movie “37” is a Mainland and HK joint production, supported by the Hong Kong Film Development Council, directed by Chen Guo Xin. Main actresses include Liu Xiao Qing, Charlie Yeung, and Lin Miao Ke. 

When a friend invited me to view the movie, promising breathtaking scenery and delightful songs by cute and organic Mongolian children, I was skeptical. I love good movies but don’t have the stamina to sit through bad ones. That’s why going to the cinema has become an annual event. The occasional experimental artsy creation could be a pleasant surprise; unfortunately, most are impenetrable. Straightforward coherence, though extremely rare in everyday life, is paradoxically regarded ordinary and unoriginal by many artists. 

The name “37” turned out to be the worst thing about the movie. It was beautiful, moving and charming, not hokey as I cynically suspected.

一套感人的电影 “37”


“37” 是一部中港合作电影。导演是香港电影发展局的新锐陈国新。演员包括刘晓庆,杨采妮和林妙可。

当友人彭博士邀请我观赏“37”的时候,我起初的反应老实说是少许忧心,恐怕半场熟睡而失礼老友。我一年上不了一次电影院。因为看一般的“流行电影”时总忍不住诸多挑剔,连自己也觉得扫兴兼讨厌。独立制作和实验电影间中会带来惊喜。可惜多数艺术创作都有点玄,令我散场后一头雾水,精神仿佛。说起来也奇怪:有条理的平铺直叙其实在日常生活中十分罕有,毫不寻常,但艺术家门似乎仍然觉得要转弯抹角才能突出创意。

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Man's Last Song - Event Diary





(KINDLE  version available)
My perpetually nearly completed Author's Page URL at Amazon


ORDER FROM BOOK DEPOSITORY
Free Deliver Worldwide


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The HKU Library Book Talk turned out to be a great event. Every seat was taken, and the audience stayed after the talk to ask many excellent questions. All copies sold out, with orders to be delivered later. Are books back in fashion?















Watch the presentation on YouTube
https://youtu.be/pFJmr-82GKg

This is my write up of the talk: 
Tuning into Man's Last Song 
My conjecture on what’s wrong with the world today...


這是我在港大討論“Man's Last Song“ 的中文譯本。

根據我的非主流印象,今天的世界一塌糊塗,程度史無前例。全球人士不論背景,唯一的共識是世界不對版。至於如何走樣,則看法很多,無法一致,更莫論應對方法了。我在小說裡借用了未來的時空,嘗試做事後孔明。。。




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Read Synopsis of Man's Last Song: 
http://guo-du.blogspot.hk/p/mans-last-song-synopsis.html


Read Chapter ONE  & FREE PDF download:
Chinese Version - 中文姐妹作「笙歌」
http://guo-du.blogspot.hk/p/blog-page_29.html


Download PODCAST
by HK Writers Circle

Link to the Man's Last Song episode with all the blurb, timings, etc: http://hongkongpodcast.libsyn.com/episode-1-mans-last-song

Link to download the Man's Last Song episode directly: http://traffic.libsyn.com/hongkongpodcast/001-hkwcpodcast-episode001-manslastsong.mp3

Link to HKWC podcast of other Hong Kong Writers on I Tunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/hong-kong-writers-circle-podcast/id1088666803


RTHK Morning Brew Link:

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News Updates


8 February 2016
Happy Chinese New Year!

Though I remain committed to indolence, the beginning of 2016 looks ominously busy. Just in the coming few weeks, there will be three events related to Man’s Last Song, in chronological disorder:

1. Feb 20, Saturday, Proverse Readers' Club Event at Dymocks, Discovery Bay. I know to many HK people, DB seems foreign. But it’s actually only a few kilometres away. Yes you do need to take a ferry because there’s water in between, but passports are not necessary. A 20-minute ferry ride from Central on a Saturday afternoon is actually a very nice way to kill time. Details can be found in the flyer below.





2. On Feb 19 (i.e. the day before the 20th) I’ll discuss with Phil Whelan on Morning Brew (RTHK 3) whether human extinction is dystopian or utopian. Tune in, or wait patiently for my link.

Here's the link to the RTHK Archive. I ended up talking a lot about "garbage" than the story. But who's to say they are unrelated? 
RTHK Morning Brew Link: 
http://programme.rthk.hk/channel/radio/programme.php?name=radio3/morning_brew&d=2016-02-19&p=2505&e=346554&m=episode#

3. On March 31, I’ll give another talk at the HKU Library. This time it’ll be 45 minutes long, including Q&A. I’ll even prepare Powerpoint Slides to make it look very serious. I’ll bring only a dozen books or so for sale. If you need many many many copies for Easter presents to friends and relatives, please order in advance. Can you think of a more felicitous Easter gift than a novel about the end of mankind? I’ll post another reminder in March.

See you in one or more of the above events!





4 June 2015
Just discovered that Samsung phone users can download the Kindle App for free, and it comes with a free e-book of their choice. 
And on Samsung's Recommended Book list is Man's Last Song! 
Quite a pleasant surprise that a mobile phone company has such excellent literary taste :-) 
If you need a new phone, my recommendation is BUY Samsung!

25 March 2015
Event at the HK University Reading Club
(There'll be another on in the fall of 2015)



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TimeOut Review 
by Laura Besley

"It's Hong Kong -- but not as we know it. The year is 2090 and Song Sung, 42, is the youngest person alive. James Tam's debut novel, Man's Last Song, is a complex-yet-compelling exploration into the balance of mankind -- for individuals, as well as for humanity as a whole. This superbly written dystopian novel is appealing on many levels: for its dramatic use of Hong Kong, for the intriguing characters, for the questions raised and, more importantly, for those which are left unanswered. A highly recommended read."
Laura Besley 

Monday, 14 October 2013

A spooky coincidence during Chong Yang Festival



Yesterday was Chong Yang, one of two annual grave sweeping festivals in Chinese tradition. A few years ago, Chong Yang and Halloween fell on the same day. East met West in the afterlife. After visiting ancestral graveyards, youngsters dressed up as Count Dracula or George W Bush for a macabre good time in Lan Kwai Fong.

It was a beautiful autumn day yesterday. After the beach and lunch, we made a spontaneous visit to the Military Cemetery at Stanley, and was spooked by an uncanny coincidence... 

重阳坟头 迷离插曲




昨天重阳,天气特佳,和家人到沙滩打发了一个上午。在赤柱午饭后,经过军人坟场时突然心血来潮,带老婆和小女儿进去参观了一下。谁料一个不寻常的巧合,在几个陌生人的坟旁将我们引进了逝去的时空。 。 。

Monday, 30 September 2013

Writing About Asia -- Words and Prejudice


(I wrote this piece for the Hong Kong Writers Circle on-line newsletter to substitute for a panel discussion planned earlier.)

Writing about something as dynamic and diverse as Asia at this exciting juncture could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for writers living here; but chances are most of us would miss it.

Asia is changing at an unprecedented rate, causing a historic paradigm shift yet to be understood, hence the challenge. Most people, writers included, are more comfortable with familiar patterns and hindsight than gazing into the unknown, particularly when the road to future appears chaotically revolutionary as well as hesitantly evolutionary.

When we “write about Asia”, therefore, we could be talking about a dramatically different place depending on whether it’s in the past, present, or future.

文字与偏见 —— 有关亚洲的写作


香港的英語作家聯會前陣子計劃搞個研討會,邀請我分享以亞洲為背景的寫作心得。我自問並非專家,但也臉皮厚厚地答應了。最後研討會改為線上論壇,我便借題發揮了幾句心底話。以下的中文版本歸納了英語原文的一些看法,並非譯本。

亞洲很多方面都在急劇轉變。東西南北的交流,不但史無前例地頻繁,亦較過往互動。這文化匯流所產生的旋渦其實創造了不少故事題材,是寫作人士的黃金機會。但我覺得很多文人,不論本身國籍和文化背景,都會錯過這千載良機。原因是當局者迷。大多數人身處變化時都需要時間去消化和反應。依賴熟識的一套去聯想將來,是人類的思維惰性。作家當然不例外。

外國人寫亞洲,尤其容易忽略了急速變化對一個傳統社會帶來的衝擊。亞洲的過去,現在,將來,有如脫了節的時空單元,依靠著抽象無形的文化神髓連接。外人要掌握這混亂中的微妙,需要很大的敏感度。


Friday, 6 September 2013

Calculus of Predetermination


中文版本:微積分談宿命論 


Reality being increasingly counter-intuitive is not only a problem in politics. Quantum mechanics is also taking us further and further away from the neat and simple perception of reality that Homo sapiens have enjoyed for millennia. The more we think we know, the less sure we become. Perhaps it’s meant to be. 

The latest dilemma is that “Reality, Relativity, Causality, and Freewill” cannot coexist (New Scientist No.219 Vol 2928, 3 Aug 2013). One of them has to go. But which one? To me, the answer is obvious: Freewill! 

I suspect General Freewill to be an anthropocentric delusion spawned by arrogance and wishful thinking, a notion I briefly entertained fictionally in Man’s Last Song. Believe it or not, I reached this conclusion through a mathematical approach. Well, kind of.

微積分談宿命論

English Version: Calculus of Predetermination 

量子物理學目前面對的問題與國際政治很相似。兩者都越來越 違反常理,與直覺 現實不符,甚至不可思議。我們自以為知道得越多,就越糊塗。1383號的新科學家New Scientist)的一篇文章歸納得很好:現實,相對論,因果關係,和人的自主,四樣東西不能並存。要解決矛盾,必須否定其中一樣。但四個概念均被視為基本,要開除一個並不容易。

我卻認為答案很明顯:廢除自主!因為所謂自主,無非人類的自大幻覺。這點我在小說 「笙歌」(Man’s Last Song)也略略討論過。

信不信由你。我這結論其實頗有科學基礎,是按照微積分概念推斷出來的。

Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Age of Propaganda

Propaganda are like a virus. They enter through the eyes and ears, anchor in our head or heart, then grow and spread. Once in a while they turn epidemic, with devastating effects. 

It has been said that modern propaganda were invented in WW-I. Caricatures, novels, and poems assisted recruitment to excellent effect. Newsreels from the front was a sensational innovation. Total WW-I casualties reached 35 million. Most died without having asked why. It was unpatriotic and cowardly to question. 

Most atrocities since then had at least been partially fuelled by mass propaganda. Millions of ordinary folks had been induced to murder by surprisingly simplistic slogans. Posthumous propaganda such as cowboy movies and Islamophobic hate messages are arguably more heartless. Is it not enough to destroy a community unprovoked without demonising the dead and their children?

A scary fact about New Age Propaganda is their transient and “entertaining” nature. As long as a sensational lie is believed for the time being, when it’s needed, subsequent uncovering carries little if any consequence. The International Community’s atrophied attention and memory spans have apparently shrunk shorter than its moralising sermons. The Gulf of Tonkin conned the American people into an atrocious war. More than a million Vietnamese were killed. Tens of thousands of American young men died for nothing. The false-flag operation had since been declassified. So?

面对现代化政治宣传


宣傳有如病毒,可以在我們的腦細胞繁殖滋長,甚至發展為瘟疫,為害無窮。

以前的統治者們由於有上帝支持,奉天承運,或許身上流著世世代代內部通婚積聚下來的貴族淤血,一切理所當然,無容置疑。宣傳對他們來說作用不大。所以政治宣傳通常都是搞造反的人們的玩意而已。

有人說第一次世界大戰是轉捩點。英國政府利用宣傳發動人民參軍,與不久之前還是皇親國戚的德國拼命。當時的宣傳手法簡單:只不過一些把德軍描繪成凶殘暴虐的海報和小說,和激勵戰鬥心的詩詞等等而已。最先進的是首次利用電影播放聯軍在前線英勇作戰和犧牲的片段,哄動一時。

歐洲看宣傳看得滿腔熱血的後果,是四年間死傷三千五百萬人。他們把生命斷送之余,來不及問一句整場戰爭因何而打。當時來說,誰有疑問誰就是奸細懦夫,可以被 扣上手銬送上戰壕。而衝動的不單只頭腦簡單的粗人。不少貴族學院精英,也唱著校歌衝向德軍的機槍陣地,硬著頭皮吃子彈。「一戰」之中,窮的富的,貴族與賤 民,一律踴躍當兵,爭相捐軀。

在「一戰」之中,統治者發現了一個新的大殺傷力武器:政治宣傳。

自此以後,很多大規模暴行都依靠政治宣傳來爭取廣泛支持,加大破壞力度。但貴族們經過「一戰」教訓,學懂了君子動口不動手,開始遠離前線,站到炮火射程之外指手劃腳。

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Democracy Mission - A Conspiracy Theory



Amid the overwhelming Democracy narratives, even sensible skeptics tend to echo apologetically: “Of course we support Democracy! Who doesn’t? Just that our folks ain’t ready yet. Too stupid and uneducated you see. Sorry sorry. One day soon!” This unthinking concession, mostly a reaction to the intimidating pressure wave generated by an enormous propaganda turbine, is irrational and contrary to facts. The long-term effects of repeating the hypnotic mantra of Democracy include loss of judgement as well as the confidence to say black is black. 

What people should strive for is good governance, and a reasonably fair, rational, sustainable and civil society (which depends on the people as much as their government), NOT an ostensibly participatory Democracy controlled by greed, dominated by corrupt politicos and financial charlatans. The Chinese, having learnt numerous lessons in their long history, should feel qualified to explore a feasible balance for themselves. 

Whatever the merits of democracy, I’m more curious about its evangelical preachers. 

Democracy is a vague term, like “Christendom”, “Islamic World”, or “the West”.  Besides the democratic banner, the political landscapes of the USA, Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan, India. . . don’t share many common features. In the end, I suspect Democracy could be fantastic for some, at some point in time, and disastrous for others, under different circumstances. Any system, like its human inventors, would age, turn insufferable, then die one day. Some reincarnate, others don’t.

The brute force and passion with which democracies export their faith is bewildering, reminiscent of colonial missionaries. Is the missionary complex simply a hangover from the religious past? Could there be an element of altruism in their uncontrollable urge to share a great social discovery with the rest of humanity? But. . . come on, these are ruthless invaders, operators of 21st Century torture camps and lynching drones so. . .

民主傳教士:一個陰謀論

English: The Democracy Mission -- A Conspiracy Theory 

在西方話語籠罩之下,我們最容易犯的一個毛病,便是人云亦云地贊同民主當然頂呱呱。
“民主誰不想哦?就是同胞們不爭氣,未夠資格。求大哥通融通融,咱們早晚趕上,與你齊齊民主。” 這未假思索的取向毫無理據,與事實不符,卻十分普遍,是個危險的現象。長久被催眠的人,早晚會失去客觀分析和判斷能力,和指鹿為鹿的信心,淪為二等應聲蟲。
每個老百姓所應該要求的,是一個有管治能力,盡量為民謀福利的政府,和大致公平合理的社會,而不是有招牌無實際,被政棍財閥壟斷,到處一塌糊塗,甚至生靈塗炭的 “民主” 騷。天性務實,社會經驗豐富的中國人,尤其應該有信心向這幌子說不!

民主的利弊,已經有很多人辯證不休,無需我插嘴。我想探討的,倒是民主大國盡其所能,甚至不惜動武,也要把他們的制度推廣於世的心態和原因。 

民主的定義極為含糊,跟基督教世界回教世界之類的通稱同樣概括。試問美國,阿富汗,伊拉克,日本,印度等民主國家除了民主旗幟之外,政治上有多少共同點呢?我覺得民主制度,最終跟君主制,貴族制,神棍掌權制,有錢萬能制,共同無產制等等的智人花招一樣,好的時候蠻好,差的時候挺差,一切視乎情況,時機,運氣,數理像的配合。另外還得視乎是否已經好過了三代。

哪麼民主大國不顧一切,把一個有待時間考驗的政制加諸別人,究竟居心何在呢?況且很多的實例證明,一個國家只要掛上民主羊頭,便可以公然販賣狗肉;正常情況之下,大哥不但視若無睹,還會維護,這又是甚麼原因呢?

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Maternal Love 母爱?



This is not an uncommon sight in Hongkong. I’ve witnessed parents of all ages and descriptions performing assisted feeding on their beloved kids, so the game may go on. It inspired me to write the article New Age Narcotics (http://guo-du.blogspot.hk/2012/10/new-age-narcotics.html). Last week, I finally couldn’t resist capturing it with my phone. 

Love is a universally positive word in the modern world, though the boundaries between love, care, obsession, indulgence, etc. are not clear. I suppose they are, and should be, a personal definition. However, these boundaries seem to be shifting further and further away from my old-fashioned sense, becoming increasingly incomprehensible. At what point does “love” become toxic, I wonder.

The characters in Man’s Last Song (http://guo-du.blogspot.hk/2013/03/mans-last-song-event-diary.html) used up an entire section to dissect love, trying to discover its illusive nature: While so-called “love” from an enlightened person can be liberating and enriching, blind passion from a fool is annoying at best, murderous at worst. Fervid love chokes us when happening, and pains us with regrets when dead. . . Of course not everyone agrees.

只要够“八卦”,留意周围,这感人场面在香港不难看见。我见过不少衣着入时,看上去颇有教养的年轻父母,不忍亲生骨肉为了两餐把电子游戏中断,也在酒楼餐厅悉心喂饲“中童级”小朋友。这也是我较早的一篇博文“摩登鸦片” (http://guo-du.blogspot.hk/2012/10/blog-post.html) 的灵感来源。

在现代社会,“爱心”被视为文明素质,不容置疑。可惜爱与痴迷,狂热,娇宠,放纵等的界线,除了是个人选择之外,也很难划清。对我这个食古不化的人来说,“爱”在物质过盛,时间缺乏的社会中,变得越来越难理解。中国人都听过物极必反。究竟爱到什么程度才会“作反”呢?可能很值得思考。在 Man’s Last Song (http://guo-du.blogspot.hk/2013/03/mans-last-song-event-diary.html) 的故事中,几个“文明过后原始人” 把酒论爱,希望找出它的玄妙真谛。就是一直还没有空完成中文“笙歌”的最后版本!

Guo Du  31.07.2013

Friday, 5 July 2013

My Hundred-Year-Old Neighbour Mr. Chan


[中文: 我的百岁邻居陈老先生

I’ve lived in the same building for more than half a century now. Standing twelve storeys high, it was the tallest structure on Robinson Road in 1958, if not all of Mid-Levels. We were surrounded by colonial style mansions and low-rise apartments. Until the mid-sixties, we could pick wax apples just across the street. The neighbourhood, like everything else in Hong Kong, had since changed beyond recognition. The panoramic view of Victoria Harbour has long disappeared, replaced by a barricade of oppressively tall buildings, spotted with industrial-standard windows that never open.

我的百歲鄰居陳老先生

我三歲到現在都住在同一棟大廈。我和兩個女兒都在這五十年代建成的公寓成長。它樓高12層,當年可能是半山區最高的建築物,俯瞰維多利亞海港。周圍都是富有殖民地色彩的古老大宅和四五層高的洋房。直到六十年代中期,我只要橫過羅便臣道路,便可以和朋友攀樹採摘洋蒲桃,現在很難想像。過去半個世紀,香港改變不少。 今天,我的家被高得有威脅性的新廈重重包圍。舉目環顧,無數永不打開的工業鋁窗密麻麻地遮擋著視野。在天台看海景煙花的日子,老早已成過去。

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Other Snowden Revelations

Allow me to hop on the bandwagon and make a few comments about Edward Snowden from a slightly different angle.

There have been legitimate questions concerning the apparent ease with which he copied highly confidential information, his background, and the escape. They seem sensible queries, without the fingerprints of Disinformation Agents. However, observations and gut feelings have convinced me that Snowden is genuine. 

Most of these operational puzzles can be answered if we let go of one assumption: That the US secret machinery, powerful as it is, must be competent like what we see in movies. People who have worked for major multinationals might agree that the functioning of huge organisations is appallingly less coherent and rational than what outsiders might perceive. A simple example: The computer servers of most companies, big or small, are maintained by an outside contractor or a relatively junior staff member. No highly paid senior person is willing — or capable of — maintaining the system. Now, unless top executives exchange confidential correspondence by hand-written notes, relatively junior technicians could access them if they want to, including an audit trail of the Chairman’s furtive visits to unwholesome websites during office hours.

斯洛登的启示

让我也来凑凑热闹,从其它角度就斯洛登事件插两句口吧。

有些人对斯洛登是否“无间道”有所怀疑,我认为十分合理。不过事态发展到如今,我相信斯洛登是“反间谍”的可能性甚低。至于他如何能够成功掌握高密资料,顺利逃离美国等的具体疑问,其实甚有启示作用,值得思考。

有些人觉得像美国这样庞大的军事集团,给斯洛登这小子把高密文件顺利抄走离境,难以置信。但假如你了解所有外表堂皇的大集团的内部运作的话,你可能不会觉得惊奇。举个简单例子:无论规模多大的公司和企业,电脑伺服器都要由比较年轻的中低级专业员工负责。任何“高密”文件和高层交流,除非不经电脑准备和传送,否则他们都不难看到。难道要主席大人自己动手运作和保养伺服器不成?算他老人家愿意,也不懂得如何入手。这是个很普遍的操作死结。唯一的解决办法可能是“疑人莫用,用人莫疑“。还有便是尽力把员工对公司的忠诚和归属感拿稳,不能光靠银弹指挥。

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh



I recently learned three things from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s Hong Kong retreat.

The first thing was mindful eating: chew every mouthful thirty times before swallowing (if the food has not yet disappeared). I had known this for decades, but never put into practice. But during communal meals at the retreat, everyone chewed relentlessly. I did not want to be the first one to swallow, so I munched on doggedly. Then it clicked — a sudden enlightenment!

一行禅师



大概由于福德所限,我对大众化开示布道等活动一向抱有疑惑。今回一行禅师访港,有友人赠票,于是随缘参加。谁料得益不浅,启发良多。


第一个启发是多年来听过不少次,心里亦甚理解,却从未实行的“用心进食”。想不到在禅修营吃了几餐大锅饭,便突然“顿悟”。营友们每口饭都尽量嚼磨至少30下,我唯有本着人家不吞我也不吞的精神,死磨烂嚼,想不到有所得着。

Friday, 10 May 2013

Midlife Triad (Part 1 of 2)



Midlife Triad and other excellent stories by Hong Kong based writers can be found in the HK Writers Circle Anthology: Of Gods and Mobsters.






WHEN Dragon Arm Ah Wah arrived at Dorm L1 of the Tong Fuk Correctional Institution, I was stretching in bed, breathing into my knee tendons.  
Each evening, I’d do some gentle yoga to prepare my body for the damp hard bed, and to create a little mental space while young inmates built up an evening cacophony. The room, nearly full, could incarcerate up to twenty-eight in fourteen bunk beds.
One could tell from his calculated gait — unhurried and confident — that Ah Wah had walked into more troubling situations before. His tiny round eyes, deep-set and intense, scanned the room as he came through the door, taking snapshots. They were cool and alert, but not hostile, even cautiously friendly.
The de facto head inmate Fat Shing, a quiet 30-year-old Wo Kee Gangster bearing an image of the Wheel of Fortune on his back, told him which beds were available. He took the one across the central aisle from mine. The kids’ quarter, though only a few feet away, was nominally noisier. He must have had taken note of that in just a few short minutes. Before settling down, he gave me an assessing glance so quickly that I did not have time to offer a smile back. 
After expertly laying out the military blankets, he took off his shirt, revealing a blue dragon caught in a web of bulging veins, entwining his right upper arm. Dragons, tigers and eagles used to be standard body adornments in gangland. Now they have become classic. Judging from the young ones in the room, nearly anything goes these days: Wheel of Fortune, Tree of Life, Mickey Mouse, Buddha, Popeye. One guy had a plum blossom bonsai across his back. His sobriquet was — as would be expected — Plum Blossom. I was at first surprised that a thug by profession, not gay, not even effeminate in manner, would call himself Plum Blossom; but what did I know. 
Time had changed everything, sparing nothing, not even the underworld.
Ah Wah’s dragon looked weary, slightly crinkled, not as assured as its host.

Midlife Triad (Part 2 of 2)




Midlife Triad and other excellent stories by Hong Kong based writers can be found in the HK Writers Circle Anthology: Of Gods and Mobsters.









So, the first time Ah Wah served in TC, he was fifteen. It was 1983.
The “man” he “slaughtered” was a scrawny Wo Kee kid a couple of years his junior. Thin like a matchstick, his dull yellowish complexion reminded Ah Wah of the greasy preserved ducks his mum used to hang out the window to air on a nice day, except not as lustrous. He was mentally and physically desiccated; no doubt a precocious junkie due to die anytime soon of any excuse. “I became that excuse. Shit karma,” he said, apparently still sore about the injustice of fate.

蠱惑仔的中年危機

蠱惑仔的中年危機


當曾經一度打遍尖沙嘴,江湖上人稱尖嘴四小龍之一的阿華第一次走進塘福懲教所 L1 監倉的一刻,我正在床上拉筋,全神貫注呼吸,氣運膝蓋,對抗風濕。


每天晚上,當年輕犯人們興高采烈大話當年的時候,我都會做些輕鬆的床上瑜伽,把老骨頭整理,準備面對睡眠。我還未完全適應監獄潮濕堅硬的床版。沒有足夠的熱身磨合,很難入睡。L1有十四張雙層碌架床,最多可以容納二十八個囚犯。

阿華跨過門坎的一刻,有如一個幾十年第一次回家的的遊子,目光流露著複雜的感情,在陌生了的環境中找尋熟識的過去。不慌忙的步伐,表現出他是見過場面的人,像塘福這種地方,沒有甚麼大不了。細小而警惕的眼睛,藏在深深的眼窩底,像洞穴里發光的獸眼,虎視著外面的動靜。他一手抱毛毯,一手拿著透明塑料袋,裡面有些合規格的日用品,在門口頓了一頓,把房間里的情況打量了一眼。一眼就足夠了。他似乎對周圍的環境比較放心,眼神稍為松懈,甚至帶幾分試探式的友善。

L1 的總代表肥星過來跟他打了個招呼,指出幾張空置的床位。肥星大約三十歲,是個寡言的和記會員,背上紋有命運之輪。健康的牢獄生活令他減了磅;命運之輪縮了水,看上去像洩了氣的塑膠沙灘球表面的花紋。阿華挑了我對面的床位,與我相隔一條一米多的通道。年輕的黑幫——所謂蠱惑仔——都喜歡靠裡面一點的床位,離開門口的監視窗和廁所較遠。雖然二十多人共處一室,聲音並無遮擋,然而近門口的都是年紀較大的囚犯,心理上覺得相對寧靜。阿華放下鋪蓋,順勢掃了我一眼。我來不及點頭,他已經把上衣脫掉,用熟練的手法把毛毯打開,準備鋪床。

他右臂纏了一條瘀藍色的蟠龍。

從前的黑社會,都喜歡在身上紋上青龍白虎等傳統圖案,增加江湖味道。現代的蠱惑仔,已經脫離了這些老套花樣。摩登三合會會員的紋身,以標奇立異為主,不怎麼注重含意或形象。除了肥星的命運之輪,各年輕監躉的胸膛背脊所展示的刺紋,包括了印度教的生命樹,迪士尼的米老鼠,佛祖,耶穌,大力水手,豪乳美人,包羅萬有。有位相貌堂堂,豪不娘腔的黑道青年,背上花斑斑的刺了一大束紅玫瑰。他的綽號理所當然是紅玫瑰。在未曾淪為階下囚之前,我絕對不會相信紅玫瑰竟然是一個跑碼頭混飯吃的男子漢。很明顯,我對黑道上的潮流毫無認識。再者,時間不停的在改變侵蝕一切,連社會里最幽暗的角落,也不會放過。

阿華臂上的瘀龍,看上去意氣闌珊,很滄桑,沒有它主人的自信。