楊照的小說練習曲

:::

2012 / 9月

文‧蘇惠昭


「楊照,本名李明駿,可能是五年級世代生產力最旺盛的一位作家。他寫小說、散文與文化評論。作為知識分子,他延伸出去的知識觸鬚,橫跨文學、歷史、政治、經濟、音樂、藝術,已經接近百科全書的領域。」政治大學教授陳芳明在《台灣新文學史》如此定位他。

楊照的文字幾乎每日見諸報章雜誌,維持一定的深度與高度,他的文化評論,對讀者產生的衝擊遠遠大過他的小說;但,小說,才是他的生命核心。


楊照寫小說,幾乎每一天。

盛夏,南海路星巴克咖啡忽然成了鬧哄哄的避暑之地,填滿了人,連走路都要側過身子。卡其褲白襯衫的楊照坐在其中一張小圓桌,等人的空檔,他打開隨身攜帶的筆記本寫了幾個字,彷彿包圍他的是巨大的寧靜。

主持廣播、撰寫專欄、出版新書、讀書、講學、陪女兒練琴,還有無法推托的採訪、顧問工作,楊照的每一天都滿得像河水溢出河岸,能夠留給小說的時間其實很少很少。

寫詩靠天分,寫小說靠練習

楊照的社會影響力主要來自他的文化和時事評論,而非已出版的《蓮花落》、《大愛》、《紅顏》、《暗夜迷巷》等小說,這一點楊照不會不清楚,但他卻始終認定自己是個小說家,一個把寫小說視為生命核心卻同時「做很多雜事」的「寫小說的人」,以及,一個讀書的人。

今年6月他飛大陸重慶宣傳《對照記1963》,從成都到重慶的旅途上,手提箱搞丟了,「裡面有什麼重要東西?有小說稿嗎?」同行的香港作家馬家輝緊張的問。楊照想了想,皮箱裡當真有一萬多字的小說稿。

只有親近的朋友知道10年來楊照每天「練習」寫小說,就像鋼琴家為了上台演奏必須日復一日的彈哈農、李斯特的練習曲,及巴哈十二平均律。

他是早慧的人,12歲開始有意識的讀書、寫作,13~18歲是一段瘋狂寫詩以表徵叛逆的騷動青春歲月,一直到發狠檢視少作且自評「不成熟」,到承認「寫詩靠天分」,才放棄了做一名詩人,與詩告別。

寫詩靠天分,但寫小說不然。

「寫小說不同於游泳、騎腳踏車,學會了就會了,終其生不會忘記。」楊照解釋他的小說寫作論,「寫小說比較像拉小提琴和彈鋼琴,它們都不是自然的事,當你停下來,5年10年不拉不彈或不寫,不會就是不會了,小說家和演奏家必得每一天不斷的練習,就算再有天分也一樣。」

會如此類比,緣自楊照一段為其往後人生投下巨大陰影的小提琴學習歷程。

撕開童年學琴的傷痕

他學過6年小提琴,但這並非出於書香世家的音樂教養課程,而是學校老師的任性指派。為了撐起班級樂隊,老師認為楊照家在中山北路晴光市場賣高級服飾,理當擔負得起孩子學琴,便把學提琴的差事丟給他。

結果他遇到了從維也納回來的雷老師,雷老師鄙棄台灣老師的教學內容,卻使用了令人顫慄的東方教學方法指導楊照;每一次楊照總是像走向地獄般的走向老師家,總是在神經繃緊的恐懼中拉琴,不知老師的弓何時落到身上。他害怕到不敢對老師、對父母說,自己不想學琴、不要練琴。

楊照的父親原來擔任會計,由於家裡的服飾生意做的有聲有色,便成為妻子的幫手。他教育子女只憑一句話:「這款代誌若不會自己想,一世人撿角。」台灣話的「撿角」,就是沒出息、沒有用、不成材的意思。

後來雷老師離開台灣,「凡事自己想」的楊照從此不拉琴,甚至不聽小提琴曲。為什麼不聽?因為他根本拒絕去想這件事。

於是讀建中時,全班沒人知道楊照拉過小提琴,台大歷史系時期,他是學問博雜、筆墨酣暢的才子,後來到美國留學,專研思想史。「從台灣到美國,我不斷的買小提琴CD,卻從來不拆。」第一個發現楊照這種「接近於精神疾病的異常行為」的是他的妻子。

寫小說,一如練習彈琴

後來他們有了女兒,女兒4歲開始學鋼琴,楊照解釋其中的矛盾:「因為我上過台」。

因為上過台,楊照知道能夠上台演奏是多麼了不起的事,他知道人和音樂之間有一種關係,一種境界,那是只有演奏者能夠體會。「就算音樂鑑賞力已經來到大師等級,都和自己演奏不一樣。」

「不可能上台演奏了!」他不希望女兒到15歲時發出這樣的遺憾,卻沒有想到學鋼琴的女兒會回頭來敲碎他內心堅硬的石塊。女兒上小一後,不知為何開始要求拉小提琴,楊照當然不准,「為什麼不行?」女兒一直吵,「我學過小提琴,知道學小提琴有多難。」

最後他被逼到不得不說出那個真正的理由,關於一個孩子與小提琴的搏鬥和傷痕,那個被層層掩埋起來的故事一旦說出口,就像一道光束射進長久以來陰暗的洞穴。楊照終於打開封印,去檢視雷老師如何以奇特的方式把音樂放進他的生命裡,體悟到「他是一輩子對我最好的老師」,當然還伴隨創傷。

沒有雷老師的音樂課,恐怕就不會有今天開古典音樂基礎講座、寫音樂散文《想樂》的楊照,這也是楊照寫在《尋路青春》裡很重要的一段少年回憶。

但是想回頭再拉琴,楊照的手已經全然不聽使喚了。他認為,「曾經」已不重要,而是某個東西被丟到千仞深谷無路可尋。

9歲能彈莫札特協奏曲的神童,如果一年不彈兩年不彈,當神童長成為大人,面對鋼琴,他就和所有從來不曾彈過琴的大人一樣。一樣的不會。船過水無痕。

100篇小說的百年荒蕪系列

一如寫小說這種技藝。大部分人以為寫小說和寫散文一樣,但對楊照來說,那是不一樣的事,散文跟著個人,只要知道「我」怎麼想就能寫出來;而小說,必須觀照每一個角色,知道他們怎麼想,沒有這種想像力、感受力和表現力,就會讓每一個人物說話都像「我」在說話,小說從來就不是一個人的自言自語。

這正是楊照日復一日練習的所在。「如果我不能用不同的方式描述一個同樣的場景,譬如我現在所在的星巴克,我就沒有把握在小說中書寫這個場景,因為我不知道要用誰的眼睛去看它;如果我不知道要用誰的眼睛去看,小說寫起來一定很難看。」

有一天,他與女兒在車上聽〈柴可夫斯基第一號鋼琴協奏曲〉,「爸比,你知道我的夢想是什麼?」女兒問他。「有一天能上台彈〈柴可夫斯基第一號鋼琴協奏曲〉?」他說。

「不是,」女兒搖頭,「是不用練習就可以彈〈柴可夫斯基第一號鋼琴協奏曲〉。」他笑了,知道女兒一定會去練,一百遍一千遍。

夢想在那裡,同樣的道理,楊照也在鍛練他的小說技藝,已經進行10年的百年荒蕪系列,就是他準備有一天登台演奏的〈柴可夫斯基第一號鋼琴協奏曲〉。

2002年,當楊照回望20世紀滾滾煙塵,一百年來台灣發生的大事小事逐一流過,歷史經驗山高水長,留下的史料卻貧乏有限。用小說的語言,正謂荒蕪,他決心透過小說的複雜與細膩去追索這百年台灣的荒蕪,從1901年到2000年,以年分為題,歷史時空為景,一個年分一篇小說,一百年就是一百個故事,每一篇皆獨立成格,但其中很多人物和情節重疊互串,總體則互為鎖鍊,到2012年他已經寫完83篇,預計2013年全部完成。

10年,他斷寫的日子屈指可數,幾乎每天寫,即使只寫一百個字。

所有一切都跟著讀書而來

至於那個不是小說家的楊照呢?

通常只要講到小說,他正在寫或者正在讀的小說,楊照便如同從一場沉鬱的夢中醒來,他最常鼓勵自己的話是「再撐一下,再撐一下就能去寫小說了。」

寫小說之於他永遠是一種享受,但現實中,基於家庭責任以及知識分子的社會責任,他必須認真工作,「小說是創造財產,其餘都是工作。」

總是有人「嫌」他的身分與工作太複雜以至於難以定位,楊照則簡單的歸納為一條:「所有的一切都是跟著讀書而來」。

「涉獵廣泛」是楊照的讀書風格,他就像某種類型的讀書酷斯拉,無所不讀。蘇東坡論治學名言「博觀而約取,厚積而薄發」,楊照大約只有因為多產而未曾做到「薄發」,而他「博觀」、「厚積」的程度,可從所出版的每一本文化評論集、經典重讀系列,窺見一斑。

「誠品講堂:現代經典細讀」是楊照在誠品講堂持續7年不曾間斷的一門課,這堂課連續創下幾個紀錄:持續開課時間最久、報名人數最容易額滿,且80%都是舊學員回鍋上課。

雖然楊照把以上紀錄歸功於「人們對文明累積的東西沒有那麼容易厭煩」,但學員衝著他的講學魅力而不斷回來上課,是不能否認的事實。

楊照就是有能力和熱情把叔本華、馬克思、尼采、傅柯、托爾斯泰、杜斯妥也夫斯基、三島由紀夫、村上春樹、卡夫卡、馬奎斯講到進入學員的思維與生命,乃至給予「新的看待生命的方式」。但你以為他只講哲學和文學時,他就去解析佛洛伊德《夢的解析》,還原達爾文的《物種原始》。

講學,也詮釋時代

在敏隆講堂,他開過一門漫長的「重新認識中國歷史」,前後5年,總共130講,從新石器時代一路講到辛亥革命,這門課程讓楊照終於懂得過去隱約知道,卻總是說不清或不敢說清的一樁事實:「歷史這回事,最關鍵、最要命的地方,就在於真的無法言簡意賅。」

歷史不能「言簡意賅」,歷史只存在於囉哩囉唆,「唯有囉哩囉唆、絮絮叨叨的說法,才讓我們看到歷史上不同時代不同的人的差異,才有機會從歷史中領受認知做為人是件多麼曖眛、模糊、不定、錯亂的事,歷史能給我們的核心教訓、終極趣味,不正就在彰示了如此豐沛飽滿的曖昧、模糊、不定、錯亂?」

2010年獲中國時報開卷十大好書的《如何做一個正直的人》則來自一個中學校長的疑問:「我們到底該不該鼓勵孩子看新聞?」這是一個楊照無法回答的問題。看新聞如果是為了理解政治,那麼從新聞理解到的政治差不多就等於「與我無關的事」、「兩黨惡鬥」、「官商勾結」、「做秀」,孩子如果在這樣的新聞中長大,「那麼他們長大後會成為一個怎樣的人?」楊照憂愁的想。

「理解政治後面如果沒有一個正直的標準,不如不理解。」因此他決定串連一身政治、經濟、歷史和新聞知識,動手寫一本以「正直」為名的書,每一個篇章都以解釋一個觀念為核心,譬如公民意識、原則、絕對真理、複雜、庸俗、偉大。

楊照認真嚴肅看待「正直」,「正直」就是即使換了處境、換了位置,對是非黑白仍有一致的標準。他一直在追尋「正直」的標準,並冀望把這樣的正直思考帶給台灣社會。

最後,讀書又帶給楊照一個奇特的工作經驗,三年多來,也是受朋友之託,他到宜蘭一家醫院擔任顧問。這家醫院面臨轉型,需要重塑形象,做品牌,楊照先到公關部門,後來涉入越深,如今舉凡醫生調薪、門診病人數量、醫療糾紛、護理人員服務態度種種,他都參與,從前當作知識處理的組織行為、心理學、藥理學、企業管理,一件一件應用到實務上。

這是楊照最大的快樂,因為他證明了一件事:「一個人只要讀了夠多沒用的書,就可以變得很有用。」

相關文章

近期文章

EN

Yang Chao’s Literary Prelude

Su Hui-chao /tr. by Josh Aguiar

“Yang Chao, who goes by the nom de plume of Lee Ming-chun, is quite possibly the most expansive and prolific of all the authors born in the 1960s. His oeuvre, which includes novels, prose, and cultural criticism, reveals a polymath capable of navigating a nearly encyclopaedic intellectual terrain spanning literature, history, politics, economics, music, and art.” So writes National Cheng­chi University professor Chen Fang-ming in The History of the New Taiwanese Literature.

Yang’s brand of incisive cultural criticism can be found on a near daily basis in various publications. These are the pieces that by far have the greatest influence on his readers; yet it is his novels that form his literary essence.


Hardly a day goes by without Yang working on one novel or another.

During the sweltering summer the Starbucks on Tai­pei’s Nan­hai Road becomes a bustling oasis. Yang, dressed in khakis and a white shirt, is seated at one of the tables, and as he waits for a friend to arrive, he whips out the notebook that is his constant companion to jot down a few phrases. As he writes, he is enveloped in an aura of impregnable calm.

His daily schedule is a relentless tornado of activity, but how could it be otherwise with the number of hats he wears: the radio show host, columnist, author, lecturer, avid reader; the consultant and the journalist; the devoted parent who helps his daughter with her piano lessons? It’s a ferocious grind that leaves hardly any time available to devote to his novels.

Writing: a daily communion

He makes no bones about the fact that he wields the greatest influence as a pundit and critic and not as a novelist. Yet he nevertheless regards himself as a novelist first and fore­most—albeit it one involved in a number of peripheral activities—as well as a devourer of books.

Only his closest friends under­stand his need to hone his craft on a daily basis, much in the way that a concert pianist constantly practices Hanon, the Liszt Etudes, and Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier to guarantee onstage success.

A precocious child, by age 12 he had set his heart on a literary career. From age 13 through 18, his rebellious teenage spirit manifested itself in one angst-filled poem after another before condemning his early work as immature and ultimately concluding that he did not have the makings of a poet, after all.

Writing poetry requires God-given talent, but novels are born of dedication and craft.

“Writing novels isn’t like swim­ming or riding a bike, which, once you’ve learned it, stays with you your entire life,” muses Yang. “It’s much closer to playing the violin or piano, in the sense that they are all unnatural acts. You can’t stop playing a violin or piano for five or 10 years and expect to just resume where you last left off. Novelists and instrumentalists have to adhere to a daily regimen regardless of whatever level of innate ability they may have.”

Yang’s choice of metaphors is undoubtedly influenced by his travails as a violin student years ago.

A haunted past

He studied violin for six years in his youth, not as an accessory to a gentrified upbringing, but rather as the result of a teacher’s arbitrary demand that he take it up in order to fill the ranks of the school band; his parents owned a high-end fashion boutique by Qing­guang Market on Tai­pei’s Zhong­shan North Road, so the teacher assumed that they would be able to afford the purchase of one of the more costly instruments.

He eventually started taking lessons from a Mr. Lei, just recently back from living in Vienna, who despite his Western pedigree and purported disdain of Taiwanese music pedagogy, nevertheless employed the most draconian Asian teaching methods. Yang marched off to every lesson like a damned soul plunging into the inferno. His playing was fraught with tension, never knowing when the master’s bow might descend upon him once again. But he was too afraid to tell his teacher or his parents that he wanted to quit.

His reprieve only came when Mr. Lei once again departed Taiwan. Yang never played again. For that matter, he never even listened to violin music afterwards. It was a painful chapter that he didn’t care to revisit.

By the time he arrived at Tai­pei Municipal Jian­guo High School, no one in his class had the remotest idea that he had ever played the violin. Later on at National Taiwan University’s Department of History he was a precociously learned youngster with a flowing pen, but when he went to the US for his graduate studies, he began buying every violin CD he could get his hands on, all of which remained unopened. The first person to notice this “borderline pathological behavior” was his wife.

Pain and transcendence

Later on his wife gave birth to a daughter, who began studying the piano at age four, despite the ambivalence stemming from his own experience—“I know what it’s like to be onstage.”

But because of his musical background, he understood the transcendence, that unique state of consciousness only performers can attain. The last thing he wanted was to deny his daughter that privilege only to have her lament the lost opportunity later on, perhaps as a teenager. Then, much to his surprise and chagrin, his daughter forced him to confront his past. As she was entering her first year of elementary school, she insisted on switching from piano to violin. Yang flatly refused, and when his daughter persisted he responded: “I used to play the violin—you have no idea how hard it is!”

At that point he was forced to drag all of the old skeletons out of the closet, recounting bit by bit the entire traumatic tale, until he could feel the darkest crevices of his soul become gradually illuminated. As he examined his past he began to realize that for better or worse, Mr. Lei in his own curious fashion had in fact inextricably fastened music to his soul, and for that very reason, Lei was the best teacher he ever had, even though the encounters had left him emotionally scarred.

If there hadn’t been a Mr. Lei, neither could there be a Yang Chao lecturing on the fundamentals of classical music or writing a prose collection, Musical Musings.

At this point, Yang’s violin-playing days are long behind him. Whatever skill he used to possess is irrelevant; at this point he can hardly get a squeak out of it.

If a nine-year-old prodigy who can play Mozart violin concertos stops playing for a year, or two years—then what? And when that nine-year-old becomes an adult he’s suddenly no different from the other people who never touched an instrument in their lives.

Evoking a century

Writing a novel is no different in terms of daily dedication. Most people just assume that novels and other prose forms require substantially the same approach, but as far as Yang is concerned, nothing could be further from the truth. Most prose is written from an individual’s subjective point of view; so long as the writer’s thoughts are lucid enough to themselves, they should be able to convey them to others. Novels, on the other hand, require the writer to create characters that are separate from the self, a feat which requires a totally different level of imagination, empathy, and expressive ability, lest all the characters be thinly veiled avatars of the author’s own personality.

This is the ideal that keeps Yang inseparable from his daily practice. “If I can’t call upon a number of different ways to evoke a scene—say this Starbucks, for example—the novel’s just going to be flat. I have to have command of tone and perspective, to know whose eyes I’m seeing it through.”

One day he and his daughter were listening to Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto when his daughter said, “Daddy, do you know what my dream is?” “To be able to perform this concerto someday?” he guessed.

“No,” she replied. “My dream is to be able to perform it without having to practice!” He laughed, because he knew without a doubt that she would play the piece through hundreds, thousands of times.

Yang’s series The 100-Year Wasteland, 10 years in the writing, is an application of those very principles, just like preparing years and years to perform Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

In 2002 Yang found himself sifting through the dust of the 20th century; so many events, great and small, forming a mighty current, yet leaving behind such paltry residue. In literary terms, such a lack might well be termed a “wasteland,” so Yang determined to use the detailed intricacies of the novel to gather up the bits of the lost century. For each year between 1901 and 2000 he would write a historical piece, 100 separate works in total with each one standing on its own merits, yet with the characters recurring and overlapping so that the stories would merge into one overarching narrative. As of 2012, 83 stories were complete, and the remaining stories, he estimates, will be finished during 2013.

In those 10 years, the number of days in which he didn’t write a least 100 characters could be numbered on the fingers of one hand.

The common thread

What about the person Yang as distinct from the novelist?

Typically, whenever Yang discusses novels—either the one he’s writing or the one he’s reading—he resembles a man reanimated from a deep slumber. Throughout the day he constantly encourages himself: “Just hang in a bit longer and you can start writing!”

His novels are an indispensable joy, but there are other responsibilities that bind him in both his family and career. He takes his work seriously, but notes, “Novels are my creative outlet; the rest is work.”

Some have criticized him for being too diffuse, that he’s too hard to categorize as a result of his overlapping responsibilities. But Yang succinctly counters, “The common thread to all of it is my reading.”

His reading is ferociously eclectic. He smashes through genre barriers like some sort of literary Godzilla.

For the past seven years running he has taught a contemporary literary canon class at Eslite Books, which has been so popular that it has set several records: It is the longest-running class, is the most consistently waitlisted, and has the highest percentage, 80%, of repeat students.

Yang attributes the success to “culture’s eternal appeal,” but it is undeniable that his charm as an instructor keeps students returning time and time again.

With great enthusiasm and aplomb, he enriches the minds and souls of his students with Schopenhauer, Marx, Nietzsche, Tolstoy, Mi­shima, and Marquez, even equipping them the means to develop a new outlook on life. But then when you assume that the man is only conversant in literature and philosophy, out comes Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams or Darwin’s Origin of Species.

 

His book How to Be an Upright Person, selected by the China Times as one of 2010’s 10 best, has an interesting backstory. A junior-high principal asked him: “Do you think we should encourage children to read the news?” Yang found the question intriguing. If the news is the window to understanding politics, then what kind of political realities will children be exposed to—things completely removed from their own lives, ­unseemly partisan bickering, graft and corruption, tawdry theatrics? “If kids grow up reading these headlines, what kind of people will they become as adults?” he pondered.

“A person needs to have a strong moral foundation before attempting to make any sense of politics; without that foundation, it’s better not to try at all,” he remarks. Armed with this notion, he penned a work on the subject of individual rectitude, integrating his knowledge of politics, economics, history, and media. Each section addresses a specific topic, such as civic consciousness, principles, absolute truth, complexity, vulgarity, and greatness.

His analysis of the subject is earnest and serious, showing that there are bedrock ethical standards that are not subject to the dictates of circumstance and perspective. It is this constant reaching for these standards that he hopes will illuminate Taiwanese society.

Books have provided him with interesting work experience. Over the past three years, at the behest of some friends he has served as an advisor at a hospital in Yi­lan. The hospital was in the process of revamping its image, and Yang’s original post was accordingly in the public relations department. The longer he stayed, however, the deeper his involvement became, to the point that he has a say in adjusting physicians’ salaries, oupatient numbers, medical disputes, and the level of courtesy and concern shown to patients by nursing staff. What were formerly purely intellectual domains for him—organizational behavior, psychology, pharmacology, and entrepreneurial management—gradually entered the realm of practical, hands-on experience.

It is all most satisfying for him, and it bears out his maxim: “The more useless books you read, the more useful a person you will ­become.”

X 使用【台灣光華雜誌】APP!
更快速更方便!