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[ A Traveler's Dream ] Reportage 1 ] Reportage 2 ] Reportage 3 ]

   

 

A Traveler's Dream

Trans. by Ronald Egan

[ "Taiwan Literature: English Translation Series," No. 1, August 1996, pp.54-57.] Santa Barbara : Forum for the Study of World Literature in Chinese, the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center.

Just give me a home to which I can never return. A travel is someone fated to attain identity in the midst of his drifting. Wind and snow, bright sun, hailstorms, and cold rain, not to mention the dirt on his hair or the tears at the corners of his eyes. A travel's dream--perhaps it is only a home. But it is a home he can never return to once he wakes up.

Every tree trunk contains the homes of insects, every leaf can be the nest of dew drops. Every road has the the shoe prints of travelers, or perhaps the prints of their feet. But
the trail of each shoe print or footprint is eventually covered and obliterated by the wind and dust.

To be called a "traveler" one can only go forward all alone.
 

Tang dynasty poet Tu Fu In the fifth month of the year 765 in the Western calendar, the Tang dynasty poet Tu Fu resigned his post and departed from his thatched hut in Ch'eng-tu. There was no rain or snow, but rain and snow were falling inside his frustrated and troubled heart. Travelers have always been the same, regardless of their historical time or where they come from:
the same frame of mind recurs in them. As Tu Fu boarded his boat and sailed eastward down the Yangtze, nightfall was soon upon him.

Night fell on that land of the Great T'ang dynasty in 765. The empire at the time was not known as "China," and Tu Fu at the time was a poet who had resigned his post and took no interest in politics.

Night fell on the two banks of the Yangtze, swept by light breezes, and fell as well on the mast of Tu Fu's small boat. Tu Fu was like a tiny stem of grass, his mind sharp and fragile. Power and fame-- the two biggest plums for humankind-- he had formerly possessed, but now he had abandoned them. Along the road a traveler plucks flowers and grasses, but finally the flowers wilt and the grasses wither, so that all that is left besides him is the natural scenery.

Stars hang distantly over the level plain,
The moon bobs jn the flow of the grand river.

Sea gulls are said to be the special favorites of travelers.

From a positive perspective, as he looks at a sea gull flapping its wings between the deep blue sky and the deep blue water, the traveler can appreciate its freedom from all
restraint and confinement, its freedom and self-attainment.

Viewed from a negative perspective, the sea gull has no eaves of its own and no inch of its own ground. Its flight carries it into empty air, and when it alights it is upon a lone sail. It searches for fish to eat and its drawn-out cry elicits no echoing answer. The traveler himself is like this. Behind his freedom lies loneliness; his self-attainment gives way in a moment to emptiness.

Fluttering about, what do I resemble?
A lone sand gull, drifting between heaven and earth.

Actually, all those people who do have a slab of tile or inch of land where they may take refuge are travelers themselves. Their slab of tile is borrowed, and their inch of land is leased. Their entire life is something acquired on credit.

At each stage of the seasonal cycle, flowers bloom and flowers wither. Sometimes it is a natural process of fading and regeneration. Sometimes the plants are snapped off by some irresistible external force.

In every month people are born, age, fall sick, and die. Sometimes the causes are clear and known long in advance, and other times what happens is completely unexpected.

Even if a traveler has his piece of land he must keep on the move. Even if he has a home he cannot remain peacefully there.

From this home to another home, from this plot of land to another plot of land, from this friend to another friend, from this livelihood to another livelihood, from this status to another status.

Every person is in the act of traveling every minute and every second. Every person is a traveler.

Some people love the strange and unfamiliar. Unfamiliar countries, unfamiliar landscapes, unfamiliar feelings, and unfamiliar peoples.

In fact, the unfamiliar is also a dream. Things that are well-known and familiar to us do not, because they are familiar, touch us and move our feelings. The unfamiliar, on the other hand, readily gives rise to dreams.

The streets of Tokyo, the streets of Paris, the shore of the Persian Gulf, or even the basin of Turfan. Some unfamiliar sights you will probably only experience once in a lifetime. Some unfamiliar faces you will also likely only get to see a single time. In the mind of a traveler, too much dust and sand accumulates. All those unfamiliar sights eventually become just like so much fine sand. In the end, these unfamiliar things, as different as they may be, take on a single hue.

It is at such a time, and only then, that the familiar reveals its special nature. Hometown, homeland, old friends, wife and children- these are things we never forget. No matter how we wander, their faces are always vivid in our minds. The truly unfamiliar, when clearly understood, is the familiar.

Traveling in history is another kind of traveler's dream.

History, however, is regularly a fictitious creation. Different dynasties construct different historical viewpoints, and different countries each write their own version of history. Clan genealogies are one kind of historical writing that is relatively free from fictionality. Yet in these massive compilations of ancestors' names, apart from the transmission of the bloodline, no other meaning exists. Fiction, sometimes, is the origin of meaning. So long as you believe that it is not a fiction, meaning will exist there for you.

Fiction is the essence of history. Fiction is also the reason the traveler himself has an ongoing existence. In fictional dreams, the traveler exerts the energy of his whole life pursuing and searching, all to prove that his fictional dream is a fictional reality.

Yet although the so-called reality exists in the reality that has already come into being, it does not exist in the human consciousness that is associated with that reality.

Consciousness and reality exist in ways that are fundamentally antithetical to each other. Consider separate travelers: although the scene they pass through and the season they do so may be the same, each traveler will have his own interpretation. The scenery does not talk, and yet different travelers will give it different narratives. The scenery drifts away in the different consciousnesses.

Obviously, scenery and reality both have an ongoing existence, but in one's consciousness it is just as obvious that they have no ongoing existence. The Bodhidarma originally had no tree, and the Bright Mirror is not a tower.

Reality, in the traveler's mind, is just lies and dreams transformed and rationalized into scenery.

This is even more the case with the realities perceived in political struggles and media news.

In the process of traveling, a traveler comes to understand that his existence is founded on his dreams, which have none. Everything he acquires is the start of a new loss, everything he comprehends is the start of a new disappointment; every footprint that he makes in his deliberate progress forward is an outward trace of his inner feelings of retreat and apprehension. The so-called "going against the traveler" (i.e., hostel) refers to this.

A traveler has a dream, but it is a dream that will never be fully formed. Because form itself has no ongoing existence. All forms are simply constructions made of various dots and lines, and dots and lines themselves are empty.

Emptiness, that is what the traveler truly possesses.

[First published in "Jen-chien fu-k'an" (Human World Supplement), Chung-kuo shih-pao (China Times), November 28, 1993.]

 

旅人的夢

向陽


 

 

 

給我一個回不去的家。旅人,註定在漂泊的過程中完成自我。風雪、艷陽、冰雹、冷雨還有髮上的塵灰,眼角的淚。旅人的夢,也許只是一個家,但醒來就回不去了。

每一棵樹中都有蟲兒的家,每一片葉子中都是露珠的巢;每一條路上都有旅人的鞋印,有時則是足跡,但每一步鞋印與足跡的走向都被風沙覆滅。

既然叫做旅人,只有孤獨地前行。

西元七六五年五月,唐代詩人杜甫辭官離開成都草堂時,並無雨雪,但雨跟雪下在他鬱卒燥煩的胸中。所有的旅人都一樣,沒有世代交替的問題,也沒有省籍區別,意識形態瓜葛。杜甫乘舟沿江東下,夜很快就降臨了。

夜降在西元七六五年大唐的土地上,那時的唐,不叫中國,那時的杜甫,是個辭官不問政治的詩人。

夜降在兩旁微風的江岸,也降在小舟的桅檣上。杜甫猶如一株細草,心思敏銳而脆弱。權位與名聲,這人間世最大的兩塊餅,他曾擁有,現在都去了。旅人沿路攀折花草,終致花枯草萎,只剩下身外的自然──

星垂平野闊,月湧大江流。

海鷗,聽說是旅人的最愛。

從積極的角度,看海鷗,在蔚藍的天與蔚藍的海之間展翅飛翔,旅人可以感受到牠的無羈無束,自在自得。

從消極的角度看,海鷗既無片簷,亦無寸土,飛則虛空,降則孤帆,覓魚食,嘯聲,也空無迴響。旅人亦復如是。自在,背面是孤寂;自得,轉眼成空虛。

飄飄何所似,天地一沙鷗!

那些有片瓦寸土可以遮蔽、站立的,其實也都是旅人。

片瓦是借來的,寸土是貸來的,一生也是賒來的。

在每一個季節中,花開花謝,有時是自然的凋零與再生,有時是受到不可抗拒的外力所摧折。

在每一個歲月中,生老病死,有時是早種前因,有時則料所不及。

旅人,即使有了土地,仍在流浪,即使有了家,仍然不得安頓。

從這個家到另一個家,從這塊地到另塊地,從這個朋友到另一個朋友,從這個行業到另一個行業,從這個身分到另一身分。

每個人每分每秒都在旅行,每個人都是旅人。

有些人喜愛陌生。陌生的國境、陌生的風景、陌生的心情,陌生的人。

陌生,其實也是個夢。那些我們熟悉的,因為熟悉而不再觸動我們的心弦;陌生,因此容易營造夢境。

在東京街頭,在巴黎街頭,在波斯灣海邊,甚至在吐魯番窪地。有些陌生的景象,你一生大概只能體會一次;有些陌生的臉顏,你一生大概只見這麼一次。旅人的心,累積了太多的塵沙,所有的陌生,後來都像細沙一樣,每一種不同的陌生,最後是同一種顏色。

熟悉,到此才顯印它的特殊。家鄉、故土、老友、妻小,一生忘不了,再怎麼流浪,他們的面顏依舊清晰。真正的陌生,分明清楚,就是熟悉。

到歷史之中旅行,是旅人的另一個夢。

但歷史通常造假,不同的朝代建構不同的史觀,不同的國家寫不同的歷史。家譜是其中較能免於虛構的歷史,但是在一大堆祖先的名字中,除了血緣的傳承,意義並不存在。所以,有時候,虛構,虛構了意義,只要你相信那不是虛構,意義就存在了。

虛構,是歷史的本體;虛構,也是旅人得以存在的理由。在虛構的夢中,旅人窮一生精力,追索探討,只為了證明虛構的夢是個虛構的事實。

但所謂事實,雖然存在於已發生過的事實之中,卻不存在於所有與此一事實相關的認知之中。

認知和事實根本上是對立的存在。對每一個旅人而言,同一幕景色再同一個季節中,就有每一種不同的解讀。風景並不說話,是不同的旅人給了它不同的陳述。風景在這些陳述中早已漂流。

風景,事實當然都存在,但在認知中,則又當然都是不存在的。菩提本無樹,明鏡亦非臺。

事實,在旅人的心中,只是一大串謊言與夢想被加以合理化的風景。

在政治鬥爭與新聞運作中,尤其如此。

旅人,從他的旅行過程中,清楚曉得他為了不存在夢而存在。每一個獲得,都是拋棄的開始;每一個了解,都是失望的起點;每一個旅人肯定前進的腳步,都印刻著退後畏怯的心情。所謂「逆旅」,此之謂也。

旅人有夢,卻永遠圓不了夢。因為,圓也是不存在的,所有的圓都是在點與線的組合中完成,而點與線都是空無。
空無,是旅人的所有。


《人間副刊》,2004年11月28日
 

 

First published: July 3,1998   Copyright 2009 Xiang Yang. All Rights Reserved