何凡文集

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1990 / 3月

文‧樂茞軍



住在台灣、五十歲以上的人,如果習慣讀聯合報,大約都可以說一句「我是看何凡的『玻璃墊上』長大的」。

「玻璃墊上」辛勤耕耘

何凡先生在「玻璃墊上」勤耕了卅多年後,經過精選收集了大約六百萬字,彙編成廿五卷的「何凡文集」。對於這樣一部大書,何凡先生自己說:「……有的竟有『沒想到我還寫過這篇文章』的感想,這像是多妻的男人忽然發現陌生的子女,充滿了意外的驚喜。」(我深知何凡先生的為人,所以不會抓住這句幽默來另作文章。)可以想見他寫作題材之廣、關心的層面之大、不僅是位資深的作者,也是位廣博的專欄作者。

對於讀者來說,這部大書正像何凡先生的二女兒夏祖麗所說「是一部近卅年來台灣社會的發展史」。已故作家吳魯芹先生認為何凡是「最早灌輸現代化觀念、提倡改善生活素質的一人。在西方國家,這一類的專欄作家,統稱之為Social Critic,與文評藝評有別,他們立論的對象就是整個社會。」

在這部社會發展史中,由於何凡先生執著「鍼砭社會、宜婉宜諷、能夠微中事理,促人省悟,才有意義」,所以是發掘問題而不是吹毛求疵,是微帶辛辣的幽默諷刺而不是尖酸刻薄的漫罵。因此讀的人常能鼓掌叫痛快,有時雖明知自己也是製造問題者之一,也是含笑省悟,力求改善了。

寫專欄在國內的文壇上被歸類為「雜文」,幾乎任何學術或文學獎別都不設「雜文」獎。而有些讀者則認為這塊園地是個「出氣筒」,他們會說「告訴你一件事,替我在報上罵一罵」,但專欄要寫出特色,卻需要高手執筆才行。同樣是發掘問題,高手能「見人所未見」,這需要有「專欄眼、耳、鼻」,在芝蘭之室能聞到特殊的香味,在鮑魚之肆則能聞到不同的臭味。有些問題已是「陳芝麻爛穀子」,卻一直存在,困擾或妨礙生活,並無人注意,高手上場馬上能「明察秋毫」,揪出問題來。

明察秋毫,鍼砭社會

而同樣是「鍼砭社會」,高手能「言人所未言」,不是拾人牙慧,也不是人云亦云,當然更不是譁眾取寵或危言聳聽。一針見血,扎到痛處,搔到癢處。能讓讀的人或得到新觀念,或領悟到問題關鍵之所在,或明白自己該如何走到正確的方向。

何凡先生正是這樣一位專欄高手。

我有幸跟何凡先生在「聯副」做過一陣子「樓上樓下」的「鄰居」,在寫作專欄時曾偷學過這位高手寫作的不止一兩招,來增強我自己的專欄素質;同時我也是「玻璃墊上」的忠實讀者。我個人覺得何凡先生的文集特色是:

一、有情的

夏祖麗說她長大後,「卻能感覺出他那份拙於傳達的愛心,有時是更寵愛我們的。」何凡先生是位有情人,他不但愛妻子兒女,更關愛這個社會上的人。

雖然他曾經為了少數的計程車「惡司機」而鍼砭過很多次,但他在「被『熬』的司機」這篇中,為司機們在工作時間,車行制度等等不合理的情況下受煎熬而呼籲改善。

他心疼小學童「幾乎每天都把全部課本裝在書包裡,外加老師『介紹』的參考書、作業。手裡還要拿著大鐵餅乾盒、硯台和碰不得的勞作;另一肩上則揹著水壺、或手持水瓶,這樣在馬路上行軍、或是上下擠車,真是危險。」他不忍見一位父親因有一妻九兒、為孩子繳不出學費而自殺,認為這是「家口拖死人」。他抨擊西德製造的「泰利多邁度」鎮靜劑,使孕婦服用後產下「缺胳膊短腿,或像海豹肢」的怪嬰。他也關懷台灣的珍禽異獸在人們濫殺濫捕下絕種,不但被世上進步國家視為野蠻,也是自斷生機。至於青少年吸煙,身體受到煙毒的傷害更讓他憂心,他認為「一個人如果從小就抽煙,很可能一輩子脫不了圈套。」

從「何凡文集」中處處都可以看出他是位有情人。事實上沒情的人也不可能關心人類社會的問題,更不可能作好一個「鍼砭社會」的專欄作家。有情才有心,有心才能發現問題。

關愛民眾,熱愛世間

二、講理的

何凡先生的專欄常讓讀者在讀了以後會興起「言之有理」的感觸。像在「小大人」這篇堙A何凡先生認為「有些父母為了孩子能在人前出風頭,常常以耍猴馴獅的苦功,去教導孩子歌舞演講和各種技藝。聽見了觀眾禮貌的掌聲,就是父母最大的光榮。……孩子聰明伶俐本是好事,但是以『明星』為目的來培植他們,硬造成了『小大人』,就是違反了自然的程序。」這些觀念在廿年後仍然言之有理。

在「人情味兒成災」中有「國人常常以有人情味兒自豪,但是味兒太濃的時候,卻成了災害,試想花盤纏請學人回國,是希望他們貢獻所學,以為國用。但是在他們回來以後,又用應酬佔去了他們的大部分時間,這不是瞎忙一場嗎?」廿多年後,由於國人更有錢,應酬場合更多,回國學人吃到瀉肚子的大有人在。在「建築道德」中有「那些蓋房子的傢伙真成為街頭一霸,他們的眼尖根本沒有街坊鄰居……在文明講理的國家,這種侵犯他人的安靜與清潔的行為是不容許的。……日本建築商如果動工時妨害他人,就會受到攻擊而影響業務,中國的建築商卻靠他人而獲利。」

社會脈動的代言人

像這些被已故文學家梁實秋先生認為「把我想說的話,從我嘴堳鶪F出來」的話,就因為言之有理而讓人深感這位專欄作家,正是大家信賴的代言人。由是大量的讀者會寫信給他,告訴他「想說的話」。一位好的專欄作家在跟讀者的雙向溝通上,往往會超過其他文學作品的作者。社會上有些不合理的現象也就在作者和讀者的共同努力下,有了改進。

三、守法的

一個講理的社會也必是一個守法的社會。何凡先生從人們的日常生活中,時時「點」出守法的重要。攤販不守法,霸佔街道,把行人逼到快車道上而有些竟慘死輪下;人民不守法製造噪音與髒亂,結果大家生活的環境越來越糟;司機或行人不守法,車禍自然不斷;出版商不合法,台灣就成了「海盜之邦」;做官的不守法,會禍延國民;商人不守法,消費者倒楣。在公寓剛剛興起不久時,何凡先生更寫了一篇「公寓生活十誡」,要想在這種環境生活得愉快、最好能遵守公寓法。

法治社會裡,當然要先人人守法,才能有良好的治安。雖然何凡先生被他的子女們笑說是「出生在清朝的人」,但他的觀念往往比現代人更現代,他早早看出現代社會中很多問題的癥結是種因在某些人的不守法。

他對於不守法的看法,卻不是像大多數人認為的「中國人天生就是低一等,所以不能希望和先進國家比。」他「以為投機取巧乃是人性的一面,知法守法卻是後天的訓練。」必須要「法條嚴厲,執行徹底,使想犯法的人覺得犯了即難倖免,於是衡量輕重的結果,覺得還是乖乖兒的聽那條法律的約束為更便宜。久而久之,自然會養成守法的習慣了。」在大部分是華裔的新加坡,國人守法,治安良好,應是何凡理論的最佳詮釋。

四、前瞻的

「玻璃墊上」的前瞻性,在卅多年後,重讀「何凡文集」的前幾卷,更有很深的感觸。在民國四十二年何凡先生剛寫「玻璃墊上」專欄時,就提倡戒煙,說「如果煙草毒兵不能除,只好請煙退讓,因為享神仙之樂而為鬼是划不來的。」現在禁煙幾乎已是最時髦的事情了。

觀念前瞻,洞悉未來

四十三年來,何凡先生就說過「丈夫的待遇不夠養家,妻子自然要出去做事幫一把。妻子騰不出空兒來,丈夫自然要做飯、抱孩子,這才是平等與合作。」但有些在四十三年左右出生,現在卅多歲的男女,還僵持在不懂平等與合作的陳腐觀念下而鬧得家庭不和呢。

也是四十三年,何凡先生在「住者有其屋」這篇,就談到行政院的「都市住宅興建籌備委員會」就要成立,達到「住者有其屋」的目的。「夏夜院中閒坐,看見蝸牛在牆上爬來爬去,常常覺得牠們的『形勢』似乎比人還強。……牠們既不怕失掉職業要搬家,也不怕房東鬧漲房租。」卅多年後出現「無殼蝸牛族」,前後對照,不由人會心一笑。

四十四年的時候,他就贊成汽車要有安全帶裝置,反對買東西討價還價,提倡「自己做」、免拜年啦,憂慮青少年犯罪問題等等,而超級市場,速食店種種當時的「新名詞」,今天都成了「確有其事」。這都可以看出何凡先生的前瞻性,當時讀了覺得新鮮,現在就是敬佩了。

至於何凡先生的幽默,也是他專欄的特質之一。這些幽默常使讀者本來隨著問題或現象而為之氣結時,突然忍不住湧上笑意,不愉快的情緒中摻進了寬恕、同情,或一些無奈,進而能夠更冷靜理智的思考、分析,作家吳魯芹先生生前說他「也有幽默感,並不像訓育主任那種板起臉來教訓人。」讀者大都不會反對這句話。

以幽默情緒,帶動思考分析

「何凡文集」的確是近卅多年的台灣社會發展史,這部發展史中有你有我,我們跟何凡先生一樣「目睹國家地位,人民生活和社會道德的升沉進退,感到每個人皆當投身這個建國復興的戰場,認清退此一步,即無死所的嚴重性,這也就是如台語說的『愛拚才會贏』。」

我們要對於這樣一位四十年來「搖動原子筆報國」的專欄作家,致上敬意!

〔圖片說明〕

P.112

四十餘年的辛勤筆耕,成就了今日六百萬字、廿五大冊的「何凡文集」。(黃麗梨攝)

P.114

何凡和林海音並肩走過五十載歲月。(張良綱攝)

相關文章

近期文章

EN

Ho Fan's Collected Works

Yueh Ch'ai-chun /tr. by Charles H. Wagamon, Jr.


People over 50 years of age who live in Taiwan can probably make one statement: "I've grown up beading On the Glass Table Top, by Ho Fan." Following more than 30 years of writing since On the Glass Table Top appeared, Mr. Ho has put together a collection of his literary works in 25 volumes containing approximately six million characters. About this type of mammoth work Mr. Ho himself said: "Some of the articles gave me the feeling of 'Did I write that?!' It's something akin to a man with a harem suddenly discovering strange children, filling him with great surprise." (I know Mr. Ho's character, so I would not use this jocular remark to imply anything nasty about him.) You can imagine the wide range of subjects he writes about and the large number of aspects he shows interest in, as he is not only an experienced author but also an erudite columnist.

As for the reader, this book (in the words of Mr. Ho's second daughter Hsia Tsu-li) constitutes "a history of the development of Taiwanese society over the past 30 years." The late writer Wu Lu-chin believed that Ho Fan was "the first person to propagate modern ideas and to promote the upgrading of the quality of life." In Western countries such columnists are all referred to as "social critics," as distinct from literary and artistic critics; their targets are the entire society.

In this account of social history Ho Fan's adherence to the principle of giving painful but sorely needed criticism and advice to society, using both tact and sarcasm, pointing out the rationale behind events, and spurring people into realization means that his writing is a case of digging up issues as opposed to faultfinding, humorous satire with a light touch of biting irony and not a carping diatribe. Readers often find themselves clapping with joy. At times they may realize that they themselves are the ones creating the problems, but they can also smile at the realization and strive for reform.

And it is the same with giving painful advice: the experts can say what no one ever said, not merely parrot others' words, and of course they will not seek to attract attention by shocking utterances. A reader can either obtain new ideas or come to understand the crux of an issue or understand what is the correct course he should take. Ho Fan is just such an expert columnist. I have had the good fortune of being an "upstairs downstairs" neighbor of Mr. Ho's on the literary page of the United Daily Mews. While writing columns I stealthily conned more than a trick or two from this expert wordsmith to enhance the quality of my own work; at the same time I was a loyal reader of On the Glass Table Top. I personally feel that the special features of Mr. Ho's literary collection are as follows:

(1) Warmth and affection-Hsia Tsu-li said that after growing up she "could yet feel that tender love which he was so inept in conveying; at times he was still more affectionate toward us." Mr. Ho was a man of feeling, one who loved not only his wife and children but also the people of this society.

Although he berated a small number of "wicked taxi drivers" many times, in his article "The Tortured Taxi Driver" he called for improvements in the cabbies' working hours and other unreasonable conditions that they endure.

He has profound sympathy for schoolchildren. "Almost everyday they pack all their textbooks, reference works 'introduced' by the teacher, and assignments in their satchels. They also tote a big lunch box, an ink slab, and handicrafts that are easily broken, together with a canteen over their shoulders, or else a water bottle in their hands. Going this way on roads where there are moving cars, or getting on and off crowded buses, is really dangerous." He could not tolerate seeing a father who originally had a wife and nine children and who committed suicide because he could not afford their tuition. Ho Fan believed this was a case of "one being dragged to death by the sheer size of one's family." He criticized the West German-made Thalidomide tranquilizer, which caused pregnant women to bear monstrously deformed babies without arms, with stubby legs or flipper-like limbs. He also took to heart Taiwan's rare birds and beasts becoming extinct due to indiscriminate slaughter and seizure by man, which was not only viewed as barbaric in the advanced nations but also as willfully breaking one's life-support mechanism. As for young people smoking, he was even more concerned about the damage it inflicted on their bodies, contending that "if one smokes from a young age, it very possibly will become an inescapable lifelong trap."

From numerous places in Ho Fan's Collected Works we can see he is a compassionate man of feeling. In reality, no one who is devoid of feeling can show concern for the problems of human society, let alone turn out a column that gives badly needed advice to that society. Only by having feeling can one have a heart, and only by having a heart can one discover the issues.

(2) Ability to reason--After seeing Ho Fan's column, the reader will often be aroused to a feeling that he is "saying what is logical." As in "The Little Adult," Mr. Ho thinks, "Some parents make their children learn singing, dancing, public speaking, and other tricks and skills like trained monkeys so they can show them off in front of others. Hearing the audience's courteous applause is parents' greatest glory. . . . Children's intelligence and agility are basically good things, but training them up to be 'stars' or forceproducing 'little adults' violates the natural order of things." These concepts are still reasonable 20 years later.

Sayings like these were viewed by the late literary figure Liang Shih-chiu as "taking the words right out of my mouth." Since they were reasonable, they made people feel deeply that this columnist was exactly the kind of spokesman everyone could depend on. This was because a large number of readers could write letters telling him what they thought of saying. A good columnist, when in two-way communication with his readers, will always outdo those who produce other types of literary works. In society there are several unreasonable phenomena which, by the collective efforts of author and readers, can be made better.

(3) Obedience to laws--In a society governed by laws, everyone must naturally first observe the rules; only then can there be good law and order. Though Mr. Ho was laughed at by his kids as "one born in the Ching dynasty," his ideas were always more up-to-date than those of "modern" persons; early on he could see that many problems in modern society had their origins in certain persons' failure to abide by the law.

His view of non-adherence to laws was unlike that of the great majority, who believed that "China was naturally one class lower and therefore couldn't compare with advanced countries." He believed that taking advantage of the moment was one side of human nature; knowing and abiding by laws was acquired training and necessitated "strict rules, thorough enforcement, causing those who would think of violating the law to realize if they do so, they will have a hard time avoiding punishment. Therefore, by weighing the pros and cons, they feel that the best course is obediently to heed the restrictions of law. In the long run people will naturally become accustomed to abiding by the law. In Singapore, where most of the population is of Chinese descent, the citizens conform to rules, and the public order is good, serving as the best illustration of Ho Fan's theory.

In 1954 Ho said: "The husband's salary is insufficient to support a family, which of course means the wife must go to work and help out. When the wife can't find the time, the husband has to cook and look after the kids. That's the real meaning of equality and cooperation." But there are some men and women born round 1954 who are now over 30 years of age and who still cling to the dated notion of not understanding equality and co-operation, thereby disrupting harmony in the household.

It was also in 1954 that Ho Fan, in an article "Houses to the Dwellers," discussed the Executive Yuan's Planning Committee on Urban Housing Construction that was about to be established with the goal of ensuring full housing for all. "Sitting leisurely in the courtyard on a summer night, I watched the snails climbing up and down the walls, often feeling that their lot appeared happier than that of people. They were not afraid of losing a job and having to move their home, or of the landlord troubling them by raising the rent." More than 30 years later the "tribe of snails without shells" appeared; comparing before and after, one can hardly help smiling at the thought understandingly.

Ho Fan's Collected Works is most assuredly a history of Taiwanese society during the past 30 plus years, and you and I are included in this historical display. We, like Ho Fan, "are eyewitnesses to the ups and downs of the country's position, the lives of its people, and the society's morals. We feel that each and every individual should throw himself into this battleground of national construction and recovery. We must realize clearly that if we don't do so, we will be driven into a corner. "You've got to fight in order to win," as the saying goes in Taiwanese.

We must pay our respects to such a columnist author who for these past 40 years has thus "offered services to his country by wielding his--ballpoint pen."

[Picture Caption]

Ho Fan's Collected Works: 25 volumes and 6 million characters representing more than forty years of literary endeavor. (photo by Huang Li-li)

Ho Fan and his wife, Lin Hai-yin, have been at each other's side for 50 years now. (photo by Vincent Chang)

 

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