vision of...

“Vision of...” by Yang Zi

 

Approaching in silence, suddenly brakes. Woke up haunted.

 

At the second half of the night, many of them toss and turn, eyes wide open, like a fresh caught tuna. Living in this boundless metropolis, they are scattered around like stardust into the city’s endless darkness rendered with artificial lights. “Some bad shit is about to happen,” they reckon. The thought strikes, their brainwave the snapping courier of consciousness strikes, however fast, cannot get through the roaming engine sounds of the city, nor penetrates the raving (raging) hormones, drowned by Wi-Fi signals of all rainbow colors, absorbed then disappears into the frequency of this ungentle night, CHUGGA chugga chugga CHUGGA poco loco chugga chugga CHOO CHOOOOOO. What a pity! Signals were sent, so many zeros and ones, only to have their own egos echo back.

 

Those whom are often unjustifiably labeled as the Cynics, might just be the sensitive ones. Still an unflattering term, one which they would never agree to, because “being sensitive” sounds like paranoid. It draws unwanted attention and superficial relation to amitriptyline, or X-files. “Some bad shit is about to happen,” they mumble quietly while prophesying boldly. The world is shrinking and sinking, every bit and part that once was a whole, has now turned against each other with raging gaze. Peasants chose to forget how expensive to stay alive; chose to constantly be chasing progress. As being progressive is now the magical currency to procure a sense of security, a necessity for survival. They might say, it is the acceleration of forgetfulness that’s causing this apocalyptic future.

 

Only an idealistic idiot daydreams about getting different results from relentlessly running the same trial. DREAM. Searching on Xiami music (as my VPN becomes ever more unstable), 94521 songs are found using the keyword “dream”, 29323 for “fantasy”, and 23498 for “vision”. In Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”, the pathetic prisoners had to delightfully waste their entire existence sitting in front of the blank wall, without knowing that all their senses of truth are fabricated in a shadow cast onto a theatre of collages, of mismatched fictional nonsense. As the destination is only ludicrous until destiny brings one to it, one could also argue it is pointless to proclaim the sense of true or false. Meanwhile, we have lost the ability to differentiate truth from its false reflection. The disguise came from familiarity, as our world is constructed with images, with memes, and screens as enforcers.

 

There is not much hope to be heard in the song itself. Yet it is said to have “inspirational” power. Like many soul music, it stores memories of despair. Despair is the source of energy, unquestionable discipline that defied questioning. Because it’s forceful, because it well knows people’s minds of despair, there is not much “love” to be heard in the song. People prick up their ears, losing about themselves in music. The singer is the magnet, and like iron filings, people were drawn to her. While there are always iron filings that resist the magnetite. People hope, in vain, to transcend the law of gravity, replacing the magnet, replacing the sun, replacing the origin of the sound. Like trapped beasts in a cage, these “iron filings” tear and bite at the metal slats, howling, releasing anger. This is the other side of that song. People do not need to travel afar. Prep a passport and EVUS, wait in line, get on a plane, enjoy the radiation, enjoy the terrible in-flight lunch, enjoy neck pain, while mind completely occupied with the glorious tragedy of a plane crash, and if there’s a difference between “lavatory” and “restroom.” For those trapped beasts who live in the present, “the distant place” is an adult fairy land, a place far-far away where they store their last hope and dream. Yet the distant place is not necessarily as one wishes. “Some bad shit is about to happen.” This sentence is far more violent than it sounds. Far more.

 

“Love” is described as a mysterious thing, many think. Sleepiness rises gradually, just like the rising sun, whose radiance is destined to be obstructed by the skyscrapers. This is not a sleep-inducing song. The female singer has a high, sharp voice, wishing to cut through the skin of the invisible monster in the air. The female singer recorded her voice in her teens, completely unaware of what her future holds: Marriage, divorce, remarriage, divorce. She goes through ups and downs. At her villa in Aspen, there are five bedrooms, five bathrooms, a wood-burning fireplace and two living rooms, and a 100-inch flat-screen TV. Everything is shiny, everything is glowing. With these, she can finally stay under the constant gaze of others forever. For this she much yearns. People look at her, people no longer listen to her, people stare at her. People pick up cellphones, open web pages, looking intently. Then, people gradually get tired, bored. The noisy dream turns into a stale joke.

On the bad days, she stays idle, burning the tongs red, or watches the sky drizzle. She opens her big mouth, soft, undulating verses flow down the river, listening to the harp on the lake, the song of the dying swan, the rustling of leaves falling on the ground, the sound of the pure virgin floating up to Heaven and the eternal Father preaching in the Sacred Valley. She feels bored, but won’t admit it, sorrow becomes a habit at first, and then, because of pride, continuing to grieve. In the end, strangely, she found peace, no sadness in her heart, just like there’s no wrinkles on her forehead.


"Love" is like a rose-colored big bird, flying only in the golden glow of a poetic sky. She can merely carefully sing about “love,” or loudly roar "love.” This is out of reverence and fear for “love.” Of course, for an instant of one-thousandth of a second, she also suspected that "love" is very likely to not exist. Many finally relaxed their vigilance, fell asleep, or died, no matter how bad things are going to be. Their tightened nerves need to rest once in a while. Twice. Thrice. The world is shrinking, sinking, each part glaring at one another. People choose to forget how expensive life is. People need to make progress. Progress is like a currency that can exchange for the sense of security. It’s a necessity. They perhaps think that all this should be blamed on people forgetting too fast. They temporarily forget about people's forgetfulness. “The forgetfulness of peasants”, they think.

 

In dreamland, they return to the long-unvisited place once called home. Inside that warm cave, they remember it all at once. On that day, a man with hale and hearty eyes came among them, began to speak loudly of the clear light, the indescribable happiness, and called them “prisoners.” Truth, idols, and archetypes. And they, angry and not willing to leave home, started to talk about the strange death of a group of monkeys:

 

There once were five hundred monkeys wandering in the forest. All arrived under a big tree. There was a well under the tree and a reflection of the moon appeared in the well. The then monkey leader saw the reflection, and said to its companions: Now that the moon died and fell in the well, we should get it out together to prevent the long nights of the world from being dark. The monkeys discussed together, wondering how to get it out. The then monkey lord said: I know a method to get it out. I hold onto the branch. You hold onto my tail. As such, we connect with each other and can get the moon out. Then, the monkeys, as its lord said, connected with each other. The tree is weak and the branch broke. All monkeys fell into the well water.

 

Until now, everything is great. They have the upper hand, intellectually and morally. Only that later, the man with hale and hearty eyes were executed.

 

On the first few days they cried very sadly. Those who cannot adapt to darkness should not be put to death. Enlighteners should not be put to death. They should live in eternal debate, refutation, and listening. Like a pot of boiling porridge. They used the hair of the deceased to weave into a picture of mourning, wrote a letter. The letter is full of sorrows and sadness toward life, and demanded that they be buried in the man's tomb after death. They were secretly proud, feeling that they unexpectedly grasped the darkness of life so easily, while the ordinary soul can rarely enter this ideal realm in a lifetime. At this point, her voice, like the ringing of an alarm clock, suddenly sounded again. Louder and louder. They can't avoid waking from the dream, can’t escape every repetitive, reincarnated day.

 

It’s about time anyways. It’s just right.

 

悄悄逼近,猛然攫住,惊醒。

 

许多人反辗转侧。到后半夜。“有些坏事即将发生”,他们想。他们生活在偌大无垠的城市里,星星点点地散落在人工灯光照亮的漆黑中。这念头一闪而过,承载着意识的脑电波一闪而过,速度极快,穿不过交通工具的引擎声,穿不过荷尔蒙的群魔乱舞,穿不过五光十色的WiFi信号,穿不过轰隆隆隆隆隆隆隆。令人惋惜。许多人发出讯号,却只能听到回响。

 

他们常常被不够公正地指认作犬儒主义者。他们只是比较敏感。但这是个不得已的说辞,他们大概也不会认同该说法——“敏感”听起来神神道道的,让人联想起阿米替林或者午夜播放的肥皂剧。“有些坏事即将发生”,他们大胆预测,小声咕哝。

 

重复同样的进程,却期望不同的结果,是痴人说梦。梦。在虾米音乐(我的VPN很不稳定)上,搜索“dream”可以搜索到94521首歌,“fantasy”29323首,“vision”23498首。在柏拉图的“洞穴说”里,有些可悲之人毕生没有辨别真实和虚幻区别的能力,并沾沾自喜地坐井观天,最终浑浑噩噩地混过一生。当然,还有另一种说法,远方无论真实与否,未曾有幸抵达,便是妄想。在思辨中,泡影与实在颠倒,翻来覆去,没完没了。人们身处屏幕和图像的世界,对此熟悉到视而不见。

 

那首歌里本来听不到太多的希望,却被人称为有“鼓舞”的力量。像许多灵歌,它储藏着绝望的记忆。绝望是能源,是不容质疑的训诫。因为强势,因为对人们绝望之心的了如指掌,人们从中听不到太多“爱”。人们竖起耳朵,忘却自己,人们被吸附了,像磁铁周围的铁屑。歌唱者是一块磁铁。但是总存在抗拒着磁铁的铁屑。人们妄想着超越引力的定律,取代磁铁,取代太阳,取代声音的源头。这些铁屑像是牢笼里的困兽,撕咬着金属的栅栏,嚎叫,表达愤怒。这是那首歌曲的另一面。人们没有那么需要远行。准备好护照和EVUS,排好队,坐上飞机,享受辐射,享受糟糕的午餐,享受着颈椎的疼痛,满脑子想着飞机失事的悲壮,还有“lavatory”和“restroom”的区别。远方是我们构想出来的。人们寄希望于远方。活在当下,人们就化身困兽。远方却不一定尽如人意。“有些坏事即将发生”。这句话比听起来要暴力很多。很多。

 

“爱”被描述为神秘的东西,许多人想。困意渐渐升起,就像即将升起的、注定会被摩天大楼挡住光芒的太阳。这不是首催促人睡眠的歌曲。那女歌手的声音尖利,想要划破空气中隐形的怪兽皮肤。那女歌手在豆蔻年华录下她的声音,浑然不觉她的未来:结婚、离婚、再结婚、离婚。她三起三落。她在阿斯彭的豪宅拥有五间卧室、五间浴室、一个燃木壁炉和两个客厅、一台一百寸的平面电视。一切都亮晶晶的,一切都在发光。拥有这些,她终于可以永远停留在别人的监视之下,她对此无比渴望。人们看她,人们不再聆听她,人们凝视她。人们拿起手机,打开网页,目不转睛。然后,人们渐渐疲惫了,厌倦了。喧闹的梦幻变成一则老掉牙的笑话。在不得意的日子,她呆着无所事事,把火钳烧红了,或者瞧着天下雨。她张大嘴,柔肠百转的诗句,顺流而下,听着湖上的竖琴,天鹅临终的绝唱,树叶落地的飒飒声,纯洁的贞女飘飘升天和永恒的天父在圣谷谆谆布道的声音。她感到腻味了,但又不肯承认,先是哀伤成了习惯,后是为了面子,就一直哀伤下去,但是到了最后,说也奇怪,她居然觉得自己恢复平静了,心里没有忧伤,就像额头没有皱纹一样。

 

“爱”仿佛是一只玫瑰色的大鸟,只在充满诗意的万里长空的灿烂光辉中飞翔。她只能小心翼翼地吟唱“爱”,或者大声怒吼“爱”。这是出于对“爱”的崇敬与恐惧。当然,在千分之一秒的瞬间,她也怀疑过“爱”极有可能并不存在。许多人终于放松警惕,睡去了,或死去了。无论即将发生的事情有多坏。他们紧张的神经总是要休息一下。一下、两下、三下。世界在紧缩,在沉落,每个部分在朝向对方怒目而视。人们选择忘记生活有多昂贵。人们需要得到进步。进步就像能换取安全感的货币,是必需品。他们或许想,这一切,都归咎于人们遗忘得太快。他们暂时忘记了人们的遗忘。庸人们的遗忘,他们想。

 

在梦乡中,他们回到了许久未回去的家乡,那温暖的洞穴中。他们一下子就记起来了。那一天,一位两眼矍铄的人来到他们中间,开始高谈阔论澄明的光,无法形容的幸福,并称他们为“囚徒”。真理、偶像和原型。而愤怒的他们,不想再背井离乡的他们,谈起来一群猴子的离奇死亡:

 

昔有五百猕猴,游行林中。俱至大树下,树下有井,井中有月影现。时猕猴主见是月影,语诸伴曰:月今日死,落于井中,当共出之,莫令世间长夜暗冥。共作议言:云何能出?时猕猴主言:我知出法。我捉树枝,汝捉我尾。展转相连,乃可出之。时诸猕猴,即如主语,展转相捉。树弱枝折,一切猕猴堕井水中。

 

到此为止,一切好极了。他们占了上风,智慧上的和道德上的。只不过,后来,两眼矍铄的人被处死了。

 

头几天他们哭得十分伤心。不能适应黑暗的人不应被处死,启蒙者不应被处死,他们应该活在永远的辩论、反驳和聆听之中。像一锅沸腾的粥。他们用死者的头发织成了一幅悼念的图画,写一封信,信中充满了对人生的忧思哀怨,要求自己死后也葬在那人的坟墓里。他们暗中得意,觉得自己居然一下就感到了人生的灰暗,而平凡的心灵却一辈子也难得进入这种理想的境界。至此,她的歌喉宛如闹钟的铃声,突然又响起。越来越响。他们难逃梦醒。难逃轮回重复的每一天。

 

时间也到了。就刚好。