中國,依舊神秘?

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1989 / 8月

文‧王家鳳 圖‧鄭元慶


絲路上的駝鈴、汪洋堛漲|船,後來還加上洋槍和大砲;探險家的足跡之後,商人、傳教士、漢學家也遍遊東方。

 

為什麼兩千年來中國依舊神秘?現代歐洲人怎麼看中國?且讓我們聽聽「中國文化視覺教材」計畫主持人許理和教授怎麼說。


您認為在現代西方人眼堙A對中國仍然存有所謂的「刻板印象」嗎?

不至於像以前那樣。因為現在他們知道中國人究竟長什麼樣子。特別是現在,電視上經常有來自台灣、香港,和大陸的電影。

不過某些印象當然還是持續著。比方說,很多人認為中國人對「死」毫無畏懼,所以因此,視人命如草芥也不在意。

這種想法有點瘋狂。當然每個人都怕死,但這種想法至少不像早年所謂的「黃禍」那樣具危險性。

西洋人對「黃禍」的恐懼感可說是完全過去了,現在他們倒是對「數字」的力量感到威脅。怎麼說呢?因為中國有十億人口,有人因此認為,如果有一天中國大陸變得像日本一樣的時候,全世界豈不塞滿了中國人、中國貨?他們為此恐慌。

另外有些人認為中國人都非常「智慧」,每個人都是哲學家,像老子或孔子那樣。這些人設法研讀各式各樣翻譯的老子、莊子,道家經典;等到他們終於發現一般中國人也熱中於賺錢,享受生活,汲汲於找個好工作的時候,可憐的他們驚訝不已。

這也是一種「刻板印象」,不過與馬可波羅時代以為中國遍地金銀財寶的那種,是完全不同了。現在沒有人會覺得中國大陸是個有錢的地方。

儒家的智慧形象也仍然持續。至於其它方面,最普遍的想法是:中國人很勤勞、節儉——從來不浪費一分錢。至少對中國大陸,他們仍然有這樣的印象。

義大利導演貝特魯奇的「末代皇帝」,在此間風行嗎?您認為西方人會由電影中所想要強調的某些特別形象,來理解中國人嗎?

「末代皇帝」這部電影在這堳D常風行。人人都去看了。你知道電影的魔力有多大,觀眾當然接受了其中的某些訊息。

對我個人而言,他們重構清代的形象,做得不錯,很吸引人看,特別是第一段。但是後面那一部分就不那麼好了。

世界上沒有一個監獄(編按:中共的勞改營)會那麼和藹可親地教育你。我想貝特魯奇本人的確相信那是個理想的監獄制度,在那兒,囚犯被友善地教育,然後改頭換面變成好人。這就有點過份樂觀了。不過那是貝特魯奇,他相信那個。

這恐怕也是六○年代西方人普遍的樂觀想法吧?

是的,特別是六○年代晚期。那時候「毛主席」、毛澤東思想在巴黎的學生當中非常受崇拜,在美國也一樣。「讓年輕人來改造世界!」,這聽起來多好,如此革命性的、新的創舉。

當然,包括中國大陸自己在內,一九七六年以後,沒有人再相信它了。七六年以來,關於文化大革命的小說、文章大量出版,知識分子、一般大眾所遭受的經驗都被寫了下來。我不認為還有很多人會相信那一套。

不過接下來他們又有了另一個新印象,像是鄧小平和進步的形象。

那是一九八○年早期的事?

是的。開放政策。這大大符合了許多人的期望,西方人看到了一個天大的市場,想要把產品賣給十億人口。一般說來,此後的制度的確比較開放,交流也多些。不過,你也知道那兒的情況是時起時落、時高時低…,而現在,恰巧又是一個低潮。

現在(編按:六月中旬)這堛犒q視、廣播每天都有大量關於中國大陸的新聞,目前的情況令人非常難過。

兩年前,我曾在倫敦看過一個叫做「中國集錦簿」(China Scrapbook)的展覽,那是由主辦單位出資請四位英國年輕藝術家到中國旅行,畫下他們對中國的印象。對於一個中國觀眾而言,我有點驚訝他們所傳達的東西,仍然是小腳、熱水瓶、毛像、紅衛兵之類,稱得上是「刻板印象」的東西。似乎六○年代的夢並沒有褪色,百年來西方對中國的印象也沒有改變。

這個現象其實舉世皆然。假設一個日本人到歐洲來,他們也不見得會對尋常生活感興趣,他們會想看特別不一樣,或是特別有名的東西。如果他們到巴黎;或許想拍的是艾菲爾鐵塔,而不是巴黎市民。這就是啦!尋常生活不那麼有趣的。這是人之常情,也是文化傳播上比較困難的一部分。

談到尋常生活,我們去參觀了萊登人種博物館的中國部門,他們由北平、南京蒐集許多日常用品,像木馬桶、保溫杯、台燈之類的東西。這很有意思,也很有意義,可是我看了卻非常的難過。因為負責人強調,以他自己的品味,他不可能買這樣的東西,但是他有責任讓荷蘭觀眾瞭解中國人的品味——他指的是一個紫紅色燈罩、綠色支架、青藍底盤的台燈。

當然,他是知識分子的品味,但是人類學博物館要傳達的是一般大眾口味,而大眾本來就沒啥品味,全世界都是這樣的。

問題是,以一個在台灣生長了卅年的中國人而言,那些東西並不能代表中國人的「一般口味」。我相信走遍台灣你也找不出那種配色的台燈,而他告訴我那是南京最流行的樣式。這是使我感到難過的地方。因為一個被扭曲了的品味,並不應該站出來「代表中國」。當然,或許我並沒有權利說這些話,因為中國大陸有十億人口,無論如何,的確稱得上是「大眾」。

其實,如果有人要知道西方人怎麼生活?我也會建議他不要去拍歌劇院;沒人去那地方了,倒該介紹「秀」場或迪斯可舞廳。同樣的,你在博物館看到的那些展品,或許已經嫌老了,因為現在店裡的東西可能還更糟呢!街上晃蕩的年輕人穿著皮夾克、披掛著大大的鬼東西……,可是,這就是生活啊!

那麼,我們又如何期待人們從這些東西上去瞭解互相的文化?

要瞭解一幅絹畫很不容易,可是看漫畫書就簡單多了。我想中國文化所面對的問題,在西方也是一樣。我們也失去了與傳統文化的聯繫。所以你看到中國年輕人所謂的「西化」,無非就是口香糖、可口可樂、迪斯可之類的東西。這些東西是很蠢的,不必用大腦。

也正因為如此,我們才想到要推廣「中國文化視覺教材」,因為我們有責任保存某些東西,並且介紹給人們。此外,你還得絞盡腦汁,設計出一套方法讓他們先有興趣看,然後有效地吸收、接受……。

保存文化不易,要讓人瞭解就更難了。

〔圖片說明〕

P.38

尖斗笠、長辮子,這件歐洲小攤上的T卹,竟也充滿著「東方情調」。

P.39

縣官出巡,到底已經是一世紀以前的事情了。

P.40

這個「馬桶」,是人種博物館東方部范東恩在南京千方百計託人代買的。不能說是「鎮館之寶」,卻也是他們眼中的「傑作」一件。

P.41

人種博物館裡的陳列,不同於藝術博物館;能讓一般人認識日常生活的實貌。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

China, Mysterious as Ever?

Wang Jia-fong /photos courtesy of Arthur Cheng

The Orient has been sought out by caravans traversing the Silk Road, by sailing ships plying the South Seas, by explorers, gunboats, merchants, missionaries, and scholars over the course of the ages.

Why is China still mysterious after 2,000 years? How is it seen by modern Europeans? Let's hear what Dr. Erik Zucher, director of the Visual Presentation of Chinese Culture Project, has to say on the subject.


Q: Do people in the West still have stereotypes of the Chinese?

A: Not exactly as before, because now people know what the Chinese look like. Especially now, from many places, including films from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong that they see regularly on TV.

But certain ideas, of course, are persistent. One of them, for instance, is that Chinese are not affaid of death, so human life doesn't count. That is crazy of course, everyone is afraid of death.

That is one stereotype. Another--not so much a danger I think--the "Yellow Peril" is no more--is they are a bit afraid of the economic development of mainland China. Taiwan is not so big, you can handle it. But if mainland China reaches the level of Japan, they say, then the whole world will be flooded with Chinese people. It's a fear of huge numbers, not as warfare, but rather in the economic sense.

And then you have some people who think that the Chinese are all very wise, all philosophers, like Lao-tzu and Confucius. So they read all kinds of translations, and they are amazed when they see how the average Chinese make money, have a good time, and work hard to get a good job. So that's also a stereotype.

These are quite different from the old stereotypes, for instance, the old ones of Marco Polo that China was rich, all gold, silver, and jewels. Now nobody thinks that China is rich. The image of Confucianism as very wise is still noticeable. And that they are hard working, which is true of course, hard working and thrifty and don't waste money. Especially for mainland China, that is still the image.

Q: Was the movie The Last Emperor popular here? Do you think Westerners will interpret Chinese people from some of the traits stressed in the film?

A: Yes, it was. Everybody has seen it, and everybody will probably think that China is like that.

They did a nice job of reconstructing the period at the end of the Ching dynasty. It was nice to look at, the first part. The rest was not so good, especially the last part. I think that Bertolucci really believes that in China there is an ideal prison system where people are educated and friendly and so on, and that he came out as a better man. It's a bit too optimistic. But that is Bertolucci, he believes that.

Q: It was the ideal kind of society imagined by Western people in the sixties, wasn't it?

A: Yes, the late sixties especially. Chairman Mao, Mao Tse-tung thought, and that kind of idea were popular with students then, especially in Paris and America. It sounded so nice, so revolutionary, so new--relying on young people to change the world.

Of course, since 1976, especially in mainland China itself, so much has been published about the Cultural Revolution, and nobody believes in it anymore. After 1976 people started writing about their experiences, about the terrible things people suffered. So that has changed, and I don't think many people believe all that now.

Then you have the new image, of course, like Teng Hsiao-p'ing and the development.

Q: That began in the early 1980s?

A: Yes, openness. And of course that had a big impact on many people's hopes, raising big hopes. Commercially they see a big market, to sell a lot of things to the huge population. And in general, the system is more free and open, with more exchanges and so on. Well, we know that there are ups and downs, and now it happens to be down. We have this very sad thing at the moment [time of interview: mid-June], and an enormous amount of talking about China on the radio and television.

Q: A couple of years ago, I went to an exhibition in London called "China Scrap-book" given by four young British artists who had gone to the mainland to paint their impressions of China. As a Chinese visitor, I was a bit surprised that the things they painted were so stereotyped. It seemed the impressions of Westerners toward China hadn't changed in a hundred years.

A: That's international. It's like the Japanese when they come to Europe. They want to see the big monuments and the famous things. If they go to Paris they aren't interested in Paris, they want to see the Eiffel Tower. Normal life is not so interesting. People want to see the big things and take a picture standing there. It's normal human behavior, so that's the difficult part.

Q: Speaking of ordinary things, last week we visited the National Museum of Ethnology here, and they have a lot of items of daily life from Peking or Nanking. It was interesting, but it made me quite sad, because the curator said he would never buy anything like that himself, but he wanted his people to understand Chinese taste: he was talking about a table lamp with a purple shade, a green stand, and a blue base.

A: That's the elite taste, of course. What they want to show is what the common people use, the vast majority. They have no taste. It's terrible all over the world.

Q: The problem is, I think you could search all over Taiwan and not find a lamp with colors like those, and he said that was the most popular style in Nanking. That was what made me sad. A warped sense of taste shouldn't be taken to represent all China. Of course, maybe I don't have the right to say that, because the population of the mainland is one billion, so they're the "masses" no matter how you look at it.

A: Actually if you want to show how people live in the West, you mustn't show the opera house. Nobody goes to the opera. They go to movies and the disco. So you should show them the disco. It's the same way in China. And what you saw may have been old collections. If you go to China now, the things you find in the shops are much worse. It's terrible of course. People walking around in leather jackets, with big things attached to them . . . but it's the way people live.

Q: But how can we expect people to understand each other's culture from those kinds of things? I don't mean that paintings. ceramics, and the ancient classics are the only things that can represent Chinese culture, but it shouldn't be things that look odd even to a Chinese person, should it?

A: It's not so easy to understand a silk painting, but it's very easy to understand a comic strip. So that's the danger in China, but also in the West of course. They are losing contact with their own traditions. And that's why these things are important to show them, especially the young people, who have no idea about them, who have become Americanized with chewing gum, Coke, break-dancing, and that sort of thing, which they don't have to use their brains for.

So that is the idea behind a Visual Presentation of Chinese Culture. We have to preserve and present it to people, but in such a way that they like to see it. And that is the problem, to develop a method of making it interesting.

Preserving culture isn't easy, and making people understand it is even harder.

[Picture Caption]

This T shirt, sold at a vendor's stand in Belgium, is full of an Oriental feeling.

The local magistrate going out on inspection is a scene from more than a century ago.

The curator in charge of the Oriental section of the National Museum of Ethnology, Paul van Dowgen, had to resort to all sorts of trickery to get someone to buy this nightstool for him in Nanking. It may not be the museum's prize holding, but it's one of his favorites.

The exhibits at the Ethnology Museum are different in function from thos e of an art museum. They are intended to acquaint people with the daily life of different cultures.

 

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