18 Jul 2013

既然你說軍隊不是幫派,軍人不是流氓;那我說殺死人就要償命,一個一個揪出來

        軍營裏死人不是什麼新聞了,從古至今,哪個時期不出軍中流氓虐待人、殺害人的事?雖說今日已是民主的社會,但不公平不會因為民主就自動消失,而可憐的、無助的、無權無勢的老百姓,唯一能用的武器就是媒體,只有藉著媒體的強力放送,才有可能喚回那無聲消逝的公平正義。
        在戒嚴時期,軍中流氓打死人了,基本上是不用償命的,反正官官相護,打個軍法的名義就草草結束。某些人的隻手遮天,背後還是上面人眼不見為淨的政策使然,反正軍隊、媒體都是國家的,上面人怎麼說,你也只能照著作,如此一來,風平浪靜,可憐的是那莫名其妙斷送了生命的年輕軀體。白髮人送黑髮人的痛,沒人知曉。
        但今日不同了,聲淚俱下的那一句「怎麼好好一個兒子,當了兵就這麼不見了」,母親的痛擴散到全體觀眾的心中,在移情作用下群情激憤,激盪出對公平正義的質疑。可憐的母親說「這是什麼年代了」,沒錯,怎麼號稱民主自由的今日,仍不斷重複著軍營裏死了無辜老百姓的事,怎麼號稱進步的現代人,會如此殘酷的傷害別人,就只為了心理的不爽,只為了滿足一下變態的報復。荀子的性惡說或許才是真理,人的劣根性似乎永遠無法根除,一點點的外在刺激辨導引出極凶殘的行動。
        荀子說:「人之性惡,其善者偽也」,對照這當前最受注目、討論的事件,以偽善遮蔽惡性,不正好是那些士官、連長、輔導長、正副旅長等人的嘴臉嗎?這種人的行為舉止,根本上就是一種類似精神分裂的癥狀表現,一副道貌岸然的外表,骨子裏卻姦邪恣行,不過是假正經的真流氓。泯滅人性至此,不又呼應了 Fredric Jameson 對現代人精神分裂傾向的預言嗎?在這種精神分裂的狀態下,人根本從懷疑而忘了自己身為人,也就否定了人性的存在,而浮沈於物質性、虛無性之中,認假為真。這同紅樓夢中太需幻境那一副對聯說的:「假作真時真亦假,無為有處有還無」,易言之,沒了人性的人根本就不是人,而沒了人性之作為真的定數,「真作假時假亦真」,此時這批人不啻是真流氓假正經嗎!
        好好一個大有為的年輕人,就這麼莫名其妙地、難堪地離開了人世,再多的道歉根本無濟於事,不過是滿足了道歉者自身的人性需求罷了,又或者,不過是為了保住烏紗帽,意圖擺脫這事件可能對自己造成的永久性傷害。再說,道歉來的這麼遲,不過是再次應證了現代人的真假混淆、認假為真罷了。說難聽一點,若沒有媒體的強力放送,或許連最基本的道歉也不會有,或許在搓湯圓的效應下,事情就擺平了。說到國防部提出的懲處,就如同受害者家屬說的,這又有什麼意義,就算記了一百支大過,就算解除職務回歸死老百姓身分,加害者仍是自由地在過日子,仍是可每天用智慧型手機在玩樂場所打卡。這種種一切,讓人對軍方難以信任,也因此所謂的軍事檢查,到底能給出什麼能看的、合理的交代?是不是最後就是找個替死鬼擔了一切責任,而可能的對象就是那醫官?
        對照以往的例子看,軍事檢查似乎並未走出戒嚴時期那種睜一支眼、閉一支眼的消極態度。這又可從國防部的慢動作反應看出,是事件發生後的多久才有所行動,現在事情搞得如此之大,他們又有多積極?不錯,軍法的存在就是要對付軍隊裏的惡份子,但是否就必須如此神神密密的辦,就一定要慢吞吞的辦?其實就這個事件看,有眼睛的人都看得出來哪些人有問題,那為什麼不能直接以殺人罪嫌先行偵訊、收押?或者,若沒有所謂的串供、袒護問題,何不請特偵組協助辦案,就民間司法力量來取信於人民?其實當代社會的媒體力量分常強大,雖說媒體引導辦案絕非良策,但至少在這個事件上,確實媒體已經揪出了直接加害人,也是媒體的運作下,新證據不斷出現。此時,軍事檢查那套說法根本不能讓人心服口服,不過讓人對軍方更加厭惡。
        國防部長說可以下台,陸軍司令也說可以下台,但你們下台了事情就解決了嗎、壞人就受刑了嗎、軍營裏的流氓就沒了嗎、軍隊就不再是幫派管理了嗎?這是多麼不負責任的說法。何不勇敢地把事情說明清楚,公布所有相關證據,以最嚴厲的刑責起訴所有加害人,還給受害人家屬應得的一份公平正義!
        此同時就要談到許久前也曾是頭條新聞的討論。到底死刑是廢還是不廢?要廢者打著人權的名義,但說人權者有沒有考慮到這些被判處死刑者到底還有沒有人性。其他不論,就看這件事好了,在沒有深仇大恨下,可以如此虐殺一個年輕人,且這些加害者甚至在受害者尚存一息時,完全忽視並予以嘲弄,這是在泯滅人性下拒絕了受害者的人權,那麼以公平正義的原則看,這些加害人在否定人權的存在下還需要人權的保護嗎?再說,如果今天事件是發生在你的身上,你還會打著這人權的說法來原諒加害人嗎?
        這裡須分清楚的是原諒並非建立在人權之上,而是出自人性的自然表現,當然從荀子觀點看,或者就法家思想言之,人性是本惡的,所以韓非說:「法者,憲令著於官府,賞罰必於民心,賞存乎慎法,而罰加乎姦令者也。」明顯的,雖性惡觀點異於孔子主張的性善傳統,但基本概念都視人性、人心為禮與法的唯一依歸,這並不同於西方的人權主張,那是基於法的存在而出的概念,也就是說以法來界定人的存在與應有權力。換句話說,這種西方觀點與中國傳統思維模式完全不同,因儒家思想視人與其本性為法的依據,然西方卻以法來規範人性與人的自然存在,則打著人權要求廢除死刑,僅是就法論法的文字遊戲,根本無關於人性問題。當然的,若受害者家屬選擇原諒,這當然是高度人性的表現,也因此種良善人性的存在而更顯公平正義的價值,此時廢除死刑當然是值得稱許的。然若僅以人權的說法來要求無人性者的人權,這反而是詆毀了公平正義的價值。
        這個事件同時也點出了現代年輕人的一個問題:太過自我以致忽略了人際相處上潛藏的摩擦與危險。其實男人都當過兵,多多少少都見試過軍營裏的不公平,然而軍營裏的不公平實不比社會裡琳琅滿目的不公平。人世上本多不公平,若硬是要去爭,就只為說一句可以滿足自己心裡的話,那不就自己跟自己過不去,更糟的就如同這個事件一般,連命都丟了。或許手段圓滑一點、說話婉轉一點、身段軟一點、放一點、低一點,這個災厄也就避掉了。其實現代的年輕人太自膩於自我之表現,加上網路世界的即時性與匿名性,他們似乎在生活上就是少了點與人溝通的社交能力,少了點面對真實外在世界的接受能力。易言之,自我的耽溺加上與外在世界的隔絕,尤其是缺少處理外在於同儕間的人際關係,在他們身上多僅見人與人之間單向性的溝通運作,一旦有了負面情緒也就容易走向危險的領域中。或許傳統中國思維之以人為本位的哲理是一方良劑,這幫助年輕人去認識人的存在意義與社會責任,也就能幫助他們去避免不必要的摩擦和危險,但可惜的是此地的教育制度越來越病態,離固有的文化價值觀越來越遠,因為外國的月亮永遠比較圓。
        我願意相信軍隊不是幫派,軍人也不是流氓,軍隊裏還是有許多正直之士,有著保家衛國的真英雄。就是那些害群之馬壞了一鍋粥,所以處上位者更應積極地把老鼠屎一個一個揪出來,給予最嚴厲的處分。軍方必須要挽回已然喪失的面子和裡子,畢竟國家不能沒有軍隊,軍隊不能沒有軍紀,軍人不能沒有尊嚴。殺人償命,這不僅是法家的觀點,更是傳統價值觀表現,歷代戲曲不都這麼演的,水滸小說不也這麼寫的。既然有膽去虐殺人,就要有膽擔後果,俗語已如此說:「不是不報,是時候未到」,該來的一定會來,此生不報,來世再報必然更慘。

3 Jun 2013

Contemporary "crooked" art in Taiwan: my essay on a group of daring artists and their unique artworks

As the title said, this essay is not simply an introduction to artworks created by my daring friends, but a deeper reflection on the interrelationship among the artist, the spectator, and the contemporary sociocultural phenomena, and by means of such a reflection, I intend to not only highlight the power of art on our perception of the world as well as our individual existence, but also re-evaluate the established methods to the understanding of art. Hence, the content of my analysis and discussion in fact exceeds these selected "amateur" artists in the context of Taiwanese art scene, and instead it targets on certain problems on both the creation and appreciation of art, that is, the prevalent false assumption of the discourse of art. 

My essay
Minchih Sun, "Hybrid Art and Culture: Reflections on a 'crooked' art show in Taiwan," Modern Art Asia 14 (May, 2013),  http://modernartasia.com/category/issue-14/  (click here to download the full essay)

18 May 2013

Why Gay Cruise?: a testimony in "Les témoins" ("The Witnesses," 2007)

Although it is fictional, the last words of the tragic character Manu (by Johan Libéreau) shed light on the reason of gay cruising, which is a product of fear that originates from the longing for love, a love that is threatened by the straight prejudice and violence. It may not be as true as what it truly is in the ears of those who judge, as always, in terms of morality and ethics, and it may sound superficial and phony for those who see sex as the only means for love, but these words surely disclose the insecurity that every gay man or woman would have experienced at some point, or, a frustration that not only eats you up, but also kills your faith in both life and love.

source: Wikipedia

Right before his death, when he has lost his sight, Manu uses the dictation recorder, a Christmas gift from Sarah (by Emmanuelle Béart), the wife of his lover Mehdi (by Sami Bouajila), to record his own interpretation of his short gay life. He speaks with remorse lamenting his early departure from this world where he has not seen enough, where he has only experienced the bitterness of love rather than the bliss that love can bring to life. His frustration at AIDS and his deteriorating health slowly produces a self-loathing, guiding him to reexamine his failure to live. Impulsive actions coming from desires account for this failure, and his primary fault is that free exploration of cruising in the bushes for any possible sexual pleasure at possibly Le Champ de Mars (the location is never explicitly revealed by the director André Téchiné, but its proximity to the Eiffel Tower says so). Stemming from this self-loathing, he reaches a conclusion of gay cruising in terms of an existentialist philosophical falvour, which is quite a surprise to hear from a mouth of a youth who has only been educated in the culinary art, but meanwhile, such an existentialist utterance reinforces that gloomy feature full of doubts and helplessness in most French films, such as the very recent one Amour (2012) directed by Michael Haneke - a film that digs a hole so deep in my heart that I had temporarily lost myself in that powerful message addressing the meaning of love and life.

In Manu's words, gay cruising is an inevitable disaster for gays because they are deprived of any normal chances to meet their love. They are insecure for they are always in the doubt about whether or not their target of love would bash them to death for their inappropriate love. When the potential target of love could in realty be the one to kill you and when the reality does not allow a channel to meet the others who share the same sexual orientation, they must go underground, go into the dark zone where light is blocked to ensure safety, a comfort zone where names are erased and faces are blurry. This is a zone of uncertainty in which extra pleasure is complementary due to its form of an adventure that satisfies the desire of the human nature for the unknown. This thirst for the unknown is so toxic and addictive that men are eventually bereft of their ability to love and care after their over-indulgence in physical pleasure. Only in such a dark and hidden place could these men who share the same desire find a safe target to release their natural sexual drive, but the problem remains for names are unspeakable and every contact ends physically, so love is still only a dream to dream, only a fantasy that can never be realized. Hence, gays have a double existence in this world. In the bright daylight, they are no different from any straight members in this straight society, but at night, their identity changes, and they become ferocious predators in the park or in any unknown dungeons, haunting each other for the any possible happiness. Since they know so well that the pleasure is ephemeral before the sunrise and since insatiable desire can never be fulfilled, their practicing not only makes them highly skillful in cruising, but at the same time enlightens them that sex is the only way to love, if the other one allows them to, as if love is nothing but sex.

This way of confusing love and sex eerily erases the existence of love, and thus, with a simple logical deduction, gay love basically does not exist at all. How ironic this is, and how true it is still. All starts from looking for love, but it ends in forsaking love in favour of safe sexual pleasure, or, do allowed me to use the label for gay cruising from the straight world - the "misconduct." To confirm it, all you need is to stay in a gay bar and see what happens around you. How many of them are looking for love? I would assume that there are many. Then how many of them are looking for sex? Almost all of them. The question can be rephrased to: are they expecting to find love after their sexual contact? The answer is always yes, but the sad truth is that most of these encounters will end in disasters: some months, while mostly weeks or even days. Of course there are lucky ones who find "true love" through cruising, but if this kind of love can only stay in the dark and be ephemeral, then how it could last and blossom! Logically it just does not make sense at all, particularly if you take into consideration the thought of those true predators in the bars, and quite sadly these predators are usually the charming and the sexiest ones. You don't want to be involved with them, only if you are aware of what you are dealing with, and your heart is well-prepared for the consequence.

Living in a straight society following the straight norms, gays have to be cautious during the daytime just to keep themselves away from the omnipresent threat of hatred. This may be different now, even though I truly doubt it - who can say gay hate-crime will no longer happen, but it was a bloody fact back in the 80s, which is also the time when AIDS started to surface on international news. Does this mark the failure of Stonewall riot in 1969? At least it does in the 80s, a time when police still had the right to raid bars, clubs, and parks for the "misconduct," a moral judgement that has been used by the straight society as the sole weapon to exterminate anything that violates their value system. Even though what happened in the 80s does not repeat again now, but that label of "misconduct" has never been removed for gays, and the action of cruising in fact complicates the whole situation and ironically confirms the moral attack made by the straight society. In other words, "misconduct" becomes a legitimate crime for which gays are responsible: they must be damned and they must pay for their crime. Maybe now such a statement is only reserved for those religious extremists, but in the general mind, they would still consider gay cruising a moral crime.

Manu does not offer a moral explanation of cruising, which is quite unnecessary to the plot of the film, as well as not possible to emerge in his way of thinking. What he contemplates on is an existentialist question: cruising sustains his gay identity that has been suppressed against his will, and only through such a gay existence could he taste the power of life and the sweetness of love, no matter how short it is and how bitter its consequence is. Without gay cruising, he does not exist at all, and his physical existence ceases to mean anything to himself. To expand such thinking, maybe many contemporary gays still share the same attitude towards his/her own gay existence in the straight world, one that has not changed much since the 80s or the 60s. Pondering on this thought, we could even argue that gay cruising, ignoring the biased moral judgement, is what gays need so that they can confirm their effective and meaningful living in the world that is in fact hostile to them. In this dark comfort zone, they live as what they truly are, a short-time freedom from the tiring disguise in the daytime, and they search a dream which can only exist in the form of a dream. This dreaming of love keeps them moving, otherwise they lose the hope for tomorrow and cease to exist as a human being.