Black day for the blue pencil
Black day for the blue pencil
Once they were key figures in literary publishing, respected by writers who acknowledged their contribution to shaping books. But, argues Blake Morrison, editors are now an endangered species
Saturday August 6, 2005
Has editing had its day? A Dutch publisher recently described to me how a British author had sent her the first draft of his new book. Though a great admirer of his work, she felt that this time he hadn't done justice to his material. So they sat down together and mapped out a different perspective and storyline and he went away and rewrote the book. It's not often you hear publishers speak of being so frankly interventionist - and I wondered if that was why the author had sent his book to a Dutch editor, because this kind of intense collaborative process between author and editor no longer exists in Britain.
A novelist friend, hearing the story, said: "When I hand in a book, I've usually been working on it for several years, so I like to think there'll be little left to do to it. But if I did need editing, I'm not sure, these days, I could get it."
A graduate student of mine at Goldsmiths College expressed similar nostalgia in an email: "I have a notion of editors in days of yore," he wrote, "being straight-backed and terrifying, all integrity and no bullshit, responding to a vocational calling and above all driven by a love of the word, brave enough not only to champion the best but also to tell their authors whatever might be needed to improve the work. And that now such personalities are as distant a myth in publishing as yer Shanklys and yer Cloughs are to football, that sharp-dressed corporate beasts run the show, reluctant to make decisions of their own, and ill-equipped to challenge those who rule a star-led system, so that everyone from JK Rowling to David Eggers suffers from the lack of scissors that might have been to their benefit."
Just after getting that email, I read about a literary conference at which both writers and agents were complaining that, because of the pressures they're under, modern-day editors simply don't have the time to edit. A news item about an initiative by Macmillan to encourage first novelists left a similar impression - the authors will receive royalties but no advances; however, if their books needed significant editing, they will have to pay for the services of a freelance editor, since no one can do it in-house.
If editing is in decline, that's bad for literature. History suggests that while some authors work alone, more or less unaided, the majority benefit from editors - and that a few are utterly dependent on them. Take Thomas Wolfe, not the white-suited New Journalist and author of Bonfire of the Vanities, but the other Tom Wolfe, his outsize predecessor, a man of 6ft 6", who used to stand up while he was writing, using the top of a fridge as his desk. Clearly standing didn't inhibit Wolfe's productivity. The typescript of his first novel, as submitted to Scribner in New York, was more than 300,000 words - what a contemporary publisher would call "fuck-off long". But a young editor at Scribner, Maxwell Perkins, agreed to publish it, if Wolfe agreed to cut 90,000 words, and between them they did the job.
Soon Wolfe was working on a second novel. By early 1933 it was four times as long as the uncut version of the first - and growing at a rate of 50,000 words a month. "I think I'll have to take the book away from him," Perkins told colleagues, and invited Wolfe to gather all he'd written and bring it into the office, since he was sure the skeleton was already there. Some skeleton. There were jokes about the typescript being delivered by truck. The bundle stood two feet high - more than 3,000 pages, unnumbered - and this was only the first part of the novel. They began working together, two hours a day, six days a week - then nights, from 8.30 onwards; then Sunday nights as well. It was like painting the Forth Bridge. Wolfe would be asked for a short linking paragraph - and return a few days later with 10,000 words. In the end, while Wolfe was out of town for a few days, Perkins had the typescript set - all 450,000 words. It was published as Of Time and the River, and though another of Perkins's authors, Hemingway, said it was "something over 60 per cent shit", it became a bestseller. Wolfe later wrote an account of its composition, "the ten thousand fittings, changings, triumphs and surrenders that went into the making of a book".
There was a sad end to the Wolfe story. First rumours circulated about all the help he'd received, then a damaging piece appeared in the Saturday Review alleging that any organisational skills and critical intelligence in his work were down to Perkins. Wolfe grew resentful and paranoid, and in a letter accused Perkins of wanting to destroy him (the letter, characteristically, ran to 28 pages). "Restrain my adjectives, by all means," he wrote, "moderate ... my incondite exuberance, but don't derail the train, don't take the Pacific Limited and switch it down the siding towards Hogwart Junction". Shortly afterwards Wolfe ditched Perkins and went round telling people: "I'm going to show them I can write my books without Max." It didn't happen. There wasn't the time for it to happen. Wolfe died of TB and pneumonia, at 37.
Wolfe's dependency on Perkins was extreme. It's not so life-and-death with most of us. But all writers need editors.
A truism. All writers need editors. So why isn't the matter more discussed?
There are several reasons, I think. The editorial tradition, first of all, is for self-effacement. As human beings, editors may be far from self-effacing, but as workers their contribution goes largely unacknowledged - a nod in the preface or a thank-you from the author at the launch party and that's it. They're the ghosts in the machine, the secret sharers, the anonymous power behind the throne.
And when they do come out from the shadows to write their own memoirs, they tend to be bland and uninformative. This isn't true of Diana Athill's Stet or Jennie Erdal's Ghosting, both excellent and at times very funny books about working with authors. But Tom Maschler's recent autobiography is more typical in its unrevealingness. Maschler is an outstanding publisher, whose list at Cape includes Gabriel García Márquez, Salman Rushdie, John Fowles, Kurt Vonnegut, Philip Roth - but none of the many anecdotes he recounts about drinks, lunches, dinners, parties and prize ceremonies sheds light on the process of editing. "I have often been asked to define what makes one decide on a particular book," he writes in the closing pages. Ah-ha, we think, here it comes. "The choice is so personal, so subjective ... To publish well the publisher must be passionate about the book for its own sake ... and for me to care I must admire it for its quality." Well, thanks, Tom, that's really cleared things up.
Writers have done little to clarify the role of editors, either. Where the experience of being edited goes well, they're grateful, but the more publicised cases are when the experience is bad. Henry James called editing "the butcher's trade". Byron associated it with emasculation and, he said, would "have no gelding". DH Lawrence compared it to trying "to clip my own nose into shape with scissors". And John Updike says: "It's a little like going to ... the barber", adding, "I have never liked haircuts." Or listen to the condescension of Nabokov: "By editor I suppose you mean proofreader." There are, of course, many different kinds of editor - from fact-checkers and OKers (as they're known at the New Yorker), to line-editors and copy editors, to editors who grasp the big picture but skip the detail. But in popular mythology they're lumped together as bullyboys, bouncers or, to quote Nabokov again, "pompous avuncular brutes".
Those who can, write; those who can't, edit - that seems to be the line. I prefer TS Eliot. Asked if editors were no more than failed writers, he replied: "Perhaps - but so are most writers."
Behind hostile images of the editor lies the pressure of Romantic ideology, according to which the writer is seen as a solitary creative genius or Übermensch -and the editor as a meddling middlebrow. "Invisible behind his arras," one Victorian critic wrote, "the author's unsuspected enemy works to the sure discomfiture of all original ability - this fool in the dark who knows not what he mars." What the editor is accused of marring isn't just originality but that other cherished notion of Romantic ideology, "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings". By this measure, any sort of interference with a text is a violation. Even authors are castigated for tidying up their younger selves, as Wordsworth did with the 1850 Prelude and Auden did by revising or disowning poems he had written in the 1930s. But the real enemies are held to be a writer's friends, family and publishers, whose suggestions can only dilute or contaminate the pure spring of inspiration. The accusation that Ted Hughes was "suppressing" Sylvia Plath when he rearranged the original edition of Ariel and left out certain passages from her Letters and Journals, was connected to a suspicion that he had driven her to suicide - silencing her twice over. Something similar has been alleged against Percy Bysshe Shelley, for the changes he made to his wife Mary's novel Frankenstein, changes which one commentator has described as "a kind of rape", a "collaboration forced by a more dominant writer on a less powerful and perhaps unwilling 'partner'". In fact, Mary seems to have been a fully consenting adult, who approached editing as she did parenting - "the good parent, like the good author, neither abandons its offspring nor seeks wholly to control or shape them" - but the accusation that she was violated remains.
Perhaps I've been unusually lucky, but in my experience, editors, far from coercing and squashing writers, do exactly the opposite, elucidating them and drawing them out, or, when they're exhausted and on the point of giving up (like marathon runners hitting the wall), coaxing them to go the extra mile. And yet this myth of the destructive editor - the dolt with the blue pencil - is pervasive, not least in academe. Perhaps the antipathy stems from the perceived difference between the publisher and the scholar: for whereas a scholarly editor, appearing late in the day and with the wisdom of hindsight, seeks to restore a classic, the publisher's editor is the idiot who ruined it in the first place.
A good illustration of this antipathy is the Cambridge edition of DH Lawrence. "Here at last is Sons and Lovers in full: uncut and uncensored," the editors of the 1992 Cambridge edition crow triumphantly. Their introduction goes on to allege that in being reduced by 10%, the text was "mangled"; that the editor Edward Garnett's censorship was "coy and intrusive"; that Lawrence "reacted to Garnett's decision to cut the novel with 'sadness and grief', but was powerless to resist"; and that when Garnett told him further cuts were to be made, Lawrence "exploded" with rage.
Read Lawrence's letters and you get a rather different impression. "All right," he tells Garnett, "take out what you think necessary," and gives him licence to do as he sees fit: "I don't mind what you squash out ... I feel always so deep in your debt." Lawrence was short of money, it's true, and had his mind on other things, having recently eloped with Frieda. Even so, when he writes that "the thought of you pedgilling away at the novel frets me" (pedgilling, a nice coinage, a cross between pencilling and abridging), the fret isn't what Garnett will do to the text, it's that the task is an unfair imposition: "Why can't I do those things?" And when Lawrence is finally sent proofs, he's not unhappy. "You did the pruning jolly well," he tells Garnett, and dedicates the book to him: "I wish I weren't so profuse - or prolix, or whatever it is."
It's true that, just as some writers write too much, some editors edit too much. As the New Yorker writer Renata Adler acerbically puts it, there are those who "cannot leave a text intact, eating through it leaf and branch, like tent caterpillars, leaving everywhere their mark". When he edited the magazine Granta, Bill Buford was sometimes accused of being overbearingly interventionist - in his spare time he hung out with football hooligans, and it was said he brought the same thuggishness to editing, though personally I never found him brutal in the least. At the other extreme are the quiet, nurturing sorts, the editors who ease you through so gently that when they do tamper with the text you barely notice and can kid yourself they did no work at all. Frank O'Connor compared his editor William Maxwell to "a good teacher who does not say 'Imitate me' but 'This is what I think you are trying to say'."
When people speak of writer's block, they think of the writer stalled over a blank page, or of throwing scrunched-up bits of paper - false starts - into a wastebin. But there's another kind of block, which is structural, when you've written tens of thousands of words, but can't figure out which are superfluous and what goes where. Something's wrong, but you don't know what it is, and that can make you pretty desperate, so that if some new acquaintance rashly expresses an interest in what you've written, as happens to the Californian wine buff and would-be published author Miles in Alexander Payne's recent film Sideways, you foist your typescript on them, which in Miles's case means retrieving from the back seat of his car not one whacking heap of pages but two, and even though you know this will a) place the recipient in an awkward situation b) sprain his or her back and/or c) ruin a beautiful friendship, still, you do it anyway, because you're desperate.
And that's why editors matter, not as butchers and barbers, but because what's wrong with a book can be something the author has repressed all knowledge of, something glaringly obvious which, the moment an editor or other reader identifies it, you think yes, of course, Eureka, and then you go back and fix it. Editing might be a bloody trade. But knives aren't the exclusive property of butchers. Surgeons use them too.
Three major works of early 20th-century literature - Sons and Lovers, The Waste Land and The Great Gatsby - were transformed by the interventions of others. The uncut version of Sons and Lovers is the one in general use now, so we can see exactly what Garnett took out. Mostly, he pared back passages about Paul Morel's brother, William, at the risk of betraying the title of the novel, which declares this to be a book about "sons", plural, but mostly with a gain in focus and narrative pace. The censorship, too, is largely innocuous. "She had the most beautiful hips he had ever imagined," Lawrence writes, when Paul sees Miriam naked for the first time. Garnett changed "hips" to "body", which seems to me an improvement, "hips" being an odd thing for Paul to focus on and, I suspect, a euphemism, and at any rate not a major breakthrough in sexual candour.
The one serious misjudgment Garnett made concerns the scene where Paul and Clara go back to her mother's house, after a night in town at the opera. Paul is invited to stay over and use Clara's bed while she sleeps with her mother. He hopes to have sex with Clara, nonetheless, and it's only when her mother refuses to leave them alone together that he reluctantly makes his way upstairs to Clara's bedroom and undresses. Garnett cut the following:
Then he realised that there was a pair of [Clara's] stockings on a chair. He got up stealthily, and put them on himself. Then he sat still, and knew he would have to have her. After that he sat erect on the bed . . .
A braver editor might have allowed Lawrence both his double entendre - "erect" - and the authentic resoluteness of a man on heat ("he would have to have her"). But the real censorship concerns those stockings. Too kinky, Garnett must have reasoned. The sensible Clara might have thought the same, had she known what Paul was getting up to in her bedroom, and not responded to him as warmly as she does when he creeps back downstairs and finds her naked in front of the fire. (Garnett trimmed a paragraph from this scene too, including a reference to Paul holding a large breast in each hand, "like big fruits in their cups".) Still, for us it's an insight into Paul - a clue to his feminine side, perhaps, or closet transvestism, or masturbatory male heterosexuality, or, on a deeper level, his need to know what it feels like to be Clara. The modern reader wants the stockings, and will wonder why Garnett didn't dispense with the Mills & Boon stuff instead ("She gave herself. He held her fast. It was a moment intense almost to agony"). But this is now, and that was then, and by making Sons and Lovers a novel which, unlike The Rainbow, escaped moral denunciation and legal writs, Garnett did Lawrence a service - as also did Frieda, Jessie Chambers and Louie Burrows, all of whom read the book in draft and made suggestions.
Thanks to the discovery of the original typescript of The Waste Land, in the New York Public Library in 1968, Ezra Pound's part in the poem's composition is well-known. Most of his comments are plain and workmanlike - a fellow maker offering sound advice. "Verse not interesting enough," he scrawls in the margin; "Too easy", "Inversions not warranted", "rhyme drags it out to diffuseness". He's particularly severe whenever the poem teeters into Prufrockian tentativeness - "make up yr mind", "Perhaps be damned" and "dam per'apsez", he complains. Other cuts are motivated by ear, not logic - Eliot at this point was using quatrains, and Pound chastised him for such old-style regularity. But taste comes into it, too, as when Eliot describes the young man carbuncular, leaving the typist he has just seduced, "delay[ing] only to urinate and spit": as "probably over the mark", Pound says, and takes it out, as he also does a chilly, misogynistic account of a woman having a bath.
It's good, practical stuff. But not infallible. And Eliot was far from slavish in following Pound's advice. If he had listened to Pound, we would not have the lines about the young man being someone "on whom assurance sits / as a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire". Nor would we have those tense snatches of conversation from a couple in bed in Part 2 of the poem: "My nerves are bad tonight. Yes, bad. Stay with me. / Speak to me." Pound objected that this was mere "photography", but Eliot stuck to his guns, preferring to rely on the opinion of his wife Vivienne, who thought the passage "wonderful".
Pound wasn't a Redeemer, any more than Garnett was a Mangler. Both had good advice to offer but the integrity of the work - someone else's work - remains. Maxwell Perkins's editing of The Great Gatsby is exemplary in this way, too. He had edited Fizgerald's previous two novels, but Fitzgerald wanted this one to be a more "consciously artistic achievement", and Perkins helped in numerous ways. For instance:
1) The title. Fitzgerald's running title was Among the Ash-Heaps and Millionaires. His second choice was Trimalchio in West Egg. Perkins didn't like either. Nor plain Trimalchio. Nor plain Gatsby. A month before publication day, Fitzgerald cabled in a panic from Italy to suggest Gold-Hatted Gatsby. Perkins held firm. The Great Gatsby was best.
2) Ideas: At an early stage, to spur Fitzgerald along, Perkins showed him a possible dust jacket for the book - two gigantic eyes, brooding over New York. The jacket inspired Fitzgerald to develop a key image and motif in the novel - the billboard of optician Dr TJ Eckleburg.
3) Length: One week before he thought he'd finish, Fitzgerald estimated Gatsby at 50,000 words, more a novella than a novel. Perkins encouraged him to fill the story out, and Fitzgerald spliced in about 20 passages, adding up to 10,000 words. I've never heard anyone complain the book is too long.
4) Character: Perkins thought Gatsby himself too vague: "The reader's eyes can never quite focus on him, his outlines are dim ... Couldn't you add one or two characteristics, like the use of that phrase 'old sport'." He also thought readers would want to know how Gatsby got his wealth. Fitzgerald agreed: "I myself didn't know what Gatsby looked like or was engaged in ... I'm going to tell more." And he did.
Fitzgerald had written three drafts of Gatsby before Perkins intervened, but then, he said, "sat down and wrote something I was proud of". Perhaps there's no better example of the proper balance between author and editor. One little mystery concerns the last page - the blue lawn, the green light at the end of Daisy's dock, and "the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us". "Orgastic" isn't quite a neologism but it's extremely rare; whereas "orgasmic" and "orgiastic" are common enough. Was it a typo? Neither Perkins nor Fitzgerald was good at spelling: after This Side of Paradise was published, spotting the typos - there were more than 100 - became a parlour game in New York book circles (without his secretary, who saved him time and again, Perkins might have become infamous as The Editor Who Couldn't Spell). But "orgastic" does work. Perhaps it was conscious artistry.
The years 1912 to 1925 seem to have been the golden age of editing. Most of the publishers I've talked to, both young and old, say it's impossible to do such editing today. However diligent you are, the sheer speed at which books have to be pushed through prevents it. These days you have to be an all-rounder, involved with promotion, publicity and sales - all of which are crucial but mean that when a writer is trapped in a wrong book you don't have the time to sit down together and find a way out. One editor spoke of a colleague who had managed to do brilliant work purely because, having small children, she was allowed to do most of her work at home; were she in the office all day, having to attend meetings and fend off phone-calls, she'd never manage it.
Meanwhile, most people say the real editing of books is now done by agents, since agents offer authors stability, whereas publishers' editors are nomadic, moving from house to house.
Does it matter? Books still come out, and if writers these days moan about being edited too little, where once they moaned about being edited too much, well, writers will always moan. By common consent, two of the outstanding debut novels of recent years, Zadie Smith's White Teeth and Monica Ali's Brick Lane, were insufficiently edited -but that hasn't stopped them achieving commercial and critical success. And who wants to see the return of what Lawrence called the "censor-moron", cutting whatever he deems improper for us to read?
But think for a moment of another kind of culture, where nothing is edited. A culture where we're all so logorrheaic we haven't time for each other's words or books or blogs, where everything goes into the ether - and there's no sign that anyone reads it all. A culture that doesn't care about editing is a culture that doesn't care about writing. And that has to be bad.
It seems no coincidence to me that there should have been a massive growth in creative writing programmes in Britain in recent years. That the reason so many aspirant writers are signing up for MAs and PhDs is to get the kind of editorial help they no longer hope to get from publishing houses. If Perkins were alive today, would he be editing texts for Scribner? Or teaching fiction to creative writing students at Columbia University?
"But can you really teach creative writing?" people ask. I like to think so - that certain skills can be passed on. But maybe it's the wrong question. Better to ask: "Can you teach would-be writers to edit?" Yes, absolutely, yes. Walk in on a creative writing class and you'll hear the kind of babble you might have heard from Garnett with Lawrence, or Pound with Eliot, or Perkins with Fitzgerald: why not think of losing that, or moving that there? Give the reader more signposts. Stop bombarding us with so many characters. Don't parade your research, integrate it. Show, don't tell. Get in and out of the scene more quickly. Is that simile really working? And so on.
Perkins warned editors against delusions of grandeur. "Don't ever get to feeling important about yourself ... an editor can get only as much out of an author as the author has in him." He's right. When a book appears, the author must take the credit. But if editing disappears, as it seems to be doing, there'll be no books worth taking the credit for.
1. 真實還是惡搞? 永遠成迷.
* The Nude Town Party Secretary Dropped Dead While On Duty
* 跟進: The Most Humorous Website Of The Year (PS)
2. 全球之声, 越南：网路审查制
移居国外的越裔部落格大部分些关于食物和旅行,但最有名的移居外国的越裔部落客Joe Ruelle转型成行动者，并在近来触及了审查制的议题，在他的越南文Yahoo! 360° blog中的一篇滑稽文章中。
讀後還有兩點想追問. (反正他洗版成性, 還是重貼如下.)
但是在國會至上的原則下, 怎樣理解行政當局與法院的關係, 就不是看得很明白. 似乎還需要交代一下, 討論才充份.
2. 據說自從歐盟成立, 英國國會與法院之間的關係已出現微妙的變化, 因為國會立法受歐盟條約所規限, 英國法院可以引用歐盟憲法來審斷國會所訂立的法例. 因此國會不再那麼至上. (sth like that la, 唔在行, 用錯術語的話請將就下)
3. 司法覆核 = 法院覆核行政當局做行政決定的時候有否 __?___
阿蒂亞著, 范銳等譯, 法律與現代社會. 社會與思想叢書. (香港: 牛津, 1998) (ISBN 9780195909777) 譯自: P. S. Atiyah, Law and Modern Society. Second Edition. OPUS series (OUP)
(公共圖書館, 竟自行把作者名改為 "阿提耶", 怪!)
時事評論P12 信報財經新聞 戴耀廷2007-08-29 法治人
* Posted on: Wed, Aug 29 2007 6:18 PM
我說怕煩, 因為script裡面嵌了不少dirty code / dirty hack. 要換盆, 工程浩繁, 還是免了. 他聽見dirty這個字, 杏眼圓睜, 十二萬分緊張地追問我甚麼意思.
一個programmer沒道理不知道甚麼是quick and dirty的豪橫手段? 他自己也耍過不少吧? 有甚麼出奇.
1. china as religion
2. juteson, 日製漢語
3. new perspective on st. paul
* 飲者, 關於保羅新觀
* the paul page (Dedicated to the New Perspective on Paul)
4. 余光中, 從西而不化到西而化之:
這是大學一年級上通識課時讀到的文章, 裡面點出的種種毛病, 到今天猶未能免. 不過有些所謂毛病, 要認真講究起來, 也並不容易. 有時邯鄲學步, 連路也不曉得走了. "被懷疑" 那句之所以矇矓, 也許是說話者刻意如此.
時方晚秋, 氣象肅穆, 略帶憂郁, 早晨的陰影和黃昏的陰影, 幾乎連接在一起, 不可分別. 歲將云暮, 終日昏暗, 我就在這麼一天, 到西敏寺去散步了幾個鐘頭. 古寺巍巍, 森森然似有鬼氣, 和陰沉的季候正好調和; 我跨進大廳, 覺得自己已經置身遠古, 相忘於古人的鬼影之中了.
On one of those sober and rather melancholy days, in the latter part of Autumn, when the shadows of morning and evening almost mingle together, and throw a gloom over the decline of the year, I passed several hours in rambling about Westminster Abbey. There was something congenial to the season in the mournful magnificence of the old pile; and, as I passed its threshold, seemed like stepping back into the regions of antiquity, and losing myself among the shades of former ages.
一條大路, 兩旁白蠟樹成林, 路盡頭可以望見牧師舊宅的灰色門前, 路口園門的門拱已不知在哪一年掉下來了, 可是兩座粗石雕成的門柱還巍然矗立著. 舊宅的故主是位德高望重的牧師, 現已不在人世, 一年前, 他的靈柩從園林裡遷出, 移向村中公墓, 也有不少人執紼隨行.
Between two tall gateposts of rough-hewn stone (the gate itself having fallen from its hinges at some unknown epoch) we beheld the gray front of the old parsonage terminating the vista of an avenue of black ash trees. It was now a twelve month since the funeral procession of the venerable clergyman, its last inhabitant, had turned from that gateway towards the village burying-ground.
新英格蘭凡是上了年紀的老宅, 似乎總是鬼影幢幢, 不清不白, 事情雖怪, 但家家如此, 也不值得一提了. 我們家的那個鬼, 常常在客廳的某一個角落, 喟然長歎; 有時也翻弄紙張, 簌簌作響, 好像正在樓上長廊裡研讀一篇講道文----奇怪的是月光穿東窗而入, 夜明如畫, 而其人的身形總不得見.
Houses of any antiquity, in New England, are so invariably possessed with spirits, that the matter seems hardly worth alluding to. Our ghost used to heave deep sighs in a particular corner of the parlor; and sometimes rustled paper, as if he were turning over a sermon, in the long upper entry;--where, nevertheless, he was invisible, in spite of the bright moonshine that fell through the eastern window.
遠處樹蔭中間金光依舊, 可是燦爛之中竟含著一點秋思. 花到八月最華麗, 卻也難掩輕愁, 一一泄露夏盡秋來的妙造. 半邊蓮自是光華奪目, 我卻從未見其生趣. (董橋修訂)
A pensive glory is seen in the far golden gleams; among the shadows of the trees. The flowers - even the brightest of them, and they are the most gorgeous of the year - have this gentle sadness wedded to their pomp, and typify the character of the delicious time each within itself. The brilliant cardinal flower has never seemed gay to me.
(遠處樹蔭中間, 金光依舊照著大地, 可是燦爛之中竟含著一點秋思. 花開到八月正是最華麗的時候, 可是即使是最豔最麗的花, 濃裝豔抹之下, 也掩蓋不了一種淡淡的輕愁; 每一朵都象徵著夏盡秋來這個微妙的季候. 半邊蓮可說是光華奪目了, 但是我從來不覺得它是它是代表歡樂的.)
狡童, 這樣抱你對不對 (tango):
狡童, Javier y Andrea Guided Practica:
聽了istage.hk對邵美君的訪問, 因而買票入場. (EP66-68)
買票, 一受風車草的熱誠感動, 二因好奇, 想去看看潘惠森如此鍾愛的後輩, 到底有多厲害. 老實說, 要花錢看合家歡劇, 始終不免猶疑.
對台上演員台下導演, 最大的鼓舞莫過於觀眾席上, 小孩子此起彼落的笑聲. 有人說這齣劇的題材, 小朋友看不懂. 小朋友的確看不懂, 恐怕連初中生也未必看得懂, 不過單從小孩的笑聲, 已見他們在劇中找到自己的樂趣. 大人小孩子, 各得其所.
我倒想到, 合家歡劇是不是一定要以小孩子為對象? 就令他們快快樂樂地乖乖坐一晚, 讓大人看給大人看的戲, 算不算好的合家歡劇?
飾演蘭蘭一角的演員, 演出令人眼前一亮, 記憶深刻. 布景很出色, 很能捕捉屋村環境的特色. 以旋轉台表示時光的變化也很合適.
可以看出台景的運用花了心思, 劇情推進的節奏很不錯, 很從容很穩定, 不徐不疾. 戲眼清楚: 傳聲的水管與爸爸留下的紅靴.
上半場一開始是神秘婆婆的懸案, 最後以一家三口分隔異地的三重唱, 一個想像的畫面, 來表達他們彼此思念, 和重聚的共同願望. 下半一開場是超現實的红靴貓和近乎鬧劇式的屋村英雄登場, 最後以真正的一家重聚來結束. 劇的結構似乎相當平衡. 上下兩場都以發現作為主線.
上半場是以超現實的眼光去看現實的事, 下半場是把超現實的想像寫成現實. 劇似乎很著意對付中場休息所帶來的中斷, 不過, 上半與下半從現實到超現實的轉折, 我一下子有點適應不來, 感覺有點像看另一齣劇似的.
完場的時候, 女友附耳說那舞台很美, 但是歌詞填得並不太好, 和聲也有些地方唱得不太和. 不過, 見她看得非常開心, 那些瑕疪就不重要了.
(pic from jo)
三行與建築的關是這樣： 我們見到的牆呀、地板呀、天花板呀、窗台呀，都是用石屎做成，它們有不用的形狀是因為用上不用的板模灌注石屎而成。 紮鐵工先扎出鐵框，釘板工負責在外釘製板模，最後石屎工負責放石屎。 萬丈高樓便是將這工序重複又重複而建成了。
* 心湖淬筆, 紥鐵工潮旁觀記:
Jacky, 免費與自由: (tailored quotation)
這篇文章一針見血： Windows is Free 。
為甚麼 Windows 是免費的呢？因為翻版。
「民用免費」影響深遠，由電腦、軟件使用的普及，到資訊科技的發展，網絡時代的來臨等等，都有莫大的關係。這自不然令人想起 Free Software 自由軟體的理念：不受限制地自由使用、複製、研究、修改、分發。
思存, 7月29日，皇后碼頭再（相）見. 過路者留言:
基本上是丟書包小百科, 小書店裡滿架的人生勵志書和實用成功指南的雜燴版. 既然書包琳琅滿目, 自然有合用的東西.
lifehack, 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines:
Here are some tips for making deadlines work:
1. Use Parkinson’s Law - Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
2. Timebox - Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
3. 80/20 - The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
4. Project VS Deadline - The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
5. Break it Down - Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
6. Hofstadter’s Law - Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
7. Backwards Planning - Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
8. Prototype - If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
9. Find the Weak Link - Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
10. No Robot Deadlines - Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
11. Get Feedback - Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
12. Continuous Planning - If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
13. Mark Excess Baggage - Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
14. Review - For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
15. Find Shortcuts - Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
16. Churn then Polish - Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
17. Reminders - Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
18. Forward Planning - Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
19. Set a Timer - Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
20. Write them Down - Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
21. Cheap/Fast/Good - Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
22. Be Patient - Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!
Author: Scott H Young
Posted: Thursday, August 16th, 2007 at 10:30 am
LOD = length of day
TAI = International Atomic Time
UTC = Coordinated Universal Time
GMT = Greenwich Mean Time (basically UT1)
rotational speed of the earth is not uniform.
rotational speed is also slowing down on average.
LOD increases at a rate of about 1.7 ms/cent.
LOD = 86400 s (GMT, by definition)
= 86400 s (TAI in 1820)
= 86400.002 s (TAI at the end of 20th cent)
= 86400.004 s (TAI at the end of 21th cent)
1 day (GMT) is defined to be LOD.
1 day (TAI) is defined to be 86400 s (TAI).
LOD = 1 day (GMT) =/= 1 day (TAI), except in 1820
UTC = TAI with correction = a close approx. of GMT (+/-1s)
1 s (UTC) = 1 s (TAI) by definition
correction = leap second at irregular intervals
(+1s/500day at the end of 20th cent, on avaerage)
(+1s/250day at the end of 21th cent, on avaerage)
leap second announced:
去了猶是不捨, 復來始終過門不入. 回頭走了幾步, 心頭一怔, 把頭一別, 轉身又走了, 只留下濕濕濛濛的天氣. 細細的雨, 細細的風. 微冷.
坐在紅色的沙發上, 斜靠背枕, 端著紅紅的茶. 茶很香, 帶果味. 據屋主人說是來自波蘭的, 紅得像利賓納. 抽著茶包的繩子, 一起一落, 茶包彷彿兩生花裡人偶師操縱的提線木偶, 一舉一動都是另一個心靈, 另一個意志的反映.
環顧四周, 房子不大, 前面的白牆開了一扇窗, 左右兩堵卻塗上slate blue, 藍中帶點灰. 一邊四橦高高瘦瘦的白色書櫃靠牆分立, 錯雜地塞滿了書. 一邊掛了一幅大大的畫, 畫中的曲髮少女, 用一雙水汪汪的大眼睛, 怔怔地端詳著窗外. 我順著那雙大眼睛的目光望向窗外. 雲厚厚的, 低低的, 一片灰濛濛, 灑著雨.
屋主人坐在沙發的另一端, 吃著茶. 我靜靜地望著窗外, 望著那隱藏在迷濛天色中看不見的海港, 想起已嫁往外國的妹妹, 彷彿囈語般斷斷續續地喃喃吐了一些話----正式來說是她是我堂妹, 不過我一直稱她妹妹, 自小青梅竹馬, 人生三分一的年月都在同一屋簷下度過. 她的兒子現在應該一歲了.
對妹妹的感情跟對情人的差別, 在於對情人, 要是她有事, 你總希望在她身旁照顧她. 對妹妹, 當你知道有人在她身邊好好照顧她, 就安心.
最早見於華秋苹琵琶譜, 後收於李芳園南北派十三套大曲琵琶新傳, 改稱淮陰平楚. 各家演奏段落不同, 部分演奏家不演最後三段.
銀瓶乍破水漿迸, 鐵騎突出刀鎗鳴, 曲終收撥當心畫, 四弦一聲如裂帛
王猷定, 四照堂集 湯琵琶傳:
這塊黑土, 是生我的黑土. 你是那樣濕漉漉, 那樣油乎乎. 依呼呀呼咳!
這塊黑土, 是養我的黑土. 埋著我的血和汗, 淚水和幸福. 依呼呀呼咳!
啦呼--啦呼--咳! 呀呼依呼咳! 呀呼依呼咳! 呀呼依呼咳! 呀呼依呼咳!
The music opens with the mellow, profoundly deep tone colours of the dadi (大笛), thus creating a hollow, deserted feeling. Then the sanxian (三弦) tells a story that takes people to the land with the black earth, very much in the same strain as the narrative singing with the big drum popular in northeastern China. The soloist's soliloquy, heavy, age-worn, tells of the life of the people and their feelings on this patch of land. Many daily items or instruments that the northern Chinese use are incorporated into the music as rhythm instruments. The rather unusual orchestration therefore gives the listeners a refreshingly different experience. The music ends with a unanimous shout from the members of the orchestra. The sound goes straight to the listener's heart with its sheer volume while at the same time leaves a lot of room for imagination.
樂曲開始時低音大笛深沉、悠遠的音色, 予人蒼涼之感. 隨後三弦以敘事性手法, 彈奏出東北大鼓書的韻味, 領人進入黑土地裡. 獨奏者以低沉、蒼老的獨白, 道出了生長在黑土地上的生活感受. 樂曲中使用了北方人生活中常用的器具或樂器作為節奏樂器, 特殊的配器手法, 讓人有耳目一新. 樂曲結尾, 作曲家特別安排了所有樂師共同吶喊聲, 在震撼人心的聲浪中, 給人留下了無限的遐想空間.
(唔明就算啦. 要等下一世先會明架咯, 呵呵呵.)
cosmic variance, Bad Physics Jokes:
Maxwell’s equations are coupled differential equations, but that we can decouple them and see something interesting (what will turn out to be the wave equation) by simply curling, a practice which still survives to this day as an Olympic sport…..
superconductor at 90 deg
My prof, lecturing on operators and the Dirac system of notation made the following comment: “Operators are lucky: they are represented by matrices. All we've got is politicians!”
My daughter is majoring in biology, but she loves physics jokes. She really loves this joke.
Physicist: We have learned that neutrinos have mass.
Studnet: I did not even know that they were Catholic.
She tells it to all sorts of people and frequently gets blank stares.
So an engineer, physicist, and mathematician are staying in a motel.
Late that night, a fire breaks out in the engineer’s room. He luckily wakes up, sees the fire, and dumps water on it until it’s out. Disaster averted, he returns to bed.
Later that night, a fire breaks out in the physicist’s room. He luckily wakes up, sees the fire, calculates how much water he’ll need, and puts just enough water on it that it goes out. Disaster averted, he returns to bed.
Later still, a fire breaks out in the mathematician’s room. He wakes up, sees the fire, exclaims, “There exists a solution!” and returns to bed.
I’m sure you’ve all heard it, but for the sake of completeness:
Werner Heisenberg was pulled over for speeding. The police officer walked up to the car, leaned in the window and asked, “Do you know how fast you were going?”
Doctor Heisenberg replied: “No, but I know exactly where I was.”
An algebra and number theory lecturer told us that the maths dept had been critisized in their last external assessment exercise for not trying often enough to connect with reality. Thus, he had to give real world examples. Then he “So, imagine an infinite chess board…”
We had to assume spherical potatoes for a P.D.E. question once too.
A hydrogen atom runs into a police station and says “Someone just stole my electron!”
Police officer: “Are you sure?”
Electron:”Yes, I’m positive!”
I heard this joke at a Math awards ceremony and it always cracks me up.
A Physicist was explaining to a Mathematician and Engineer about 9-D spacetime. “How can you imagine 9-D spacetime?” the Engineer asked the Mathematician. Easy, said the Mathematician. “I imagine n-D spacetime and let n tend to 9.”
Why are there no physicists in liberal organizations?
Because they know there is no potential function for a non-conservative force.
按中文的語言習慣, 一等二等三等, 一等最好三等最差.
按中文的語言習慣, 一流二流三流, 一流最好三流最差.
按中文的語言習慣, 一品二品三品, 一品最好三品最差.
那麼, 一級二級三級呢? 哪級最好, 哪級最差, 你知道嗎?
考評局會考成積新制, 明明實質上有所謂合格不合格, 說出來卻死口不認, 甚麼一級二級五級, 真係煩到呢....... 最精采的還要加上報中六學位時的計分制, 報中六要14分, 如何才能得到14分? 五級等於5分, 但一級不等於1分喎, 那麼, 三級等於幾多分?! 今趟真是福爾摩Z也弄不清.
當系統裡的所有事都用數字來表達, 卻不能直接對應, 那只帶來煩惱.
原來是我弄錯了, 1,2,3,4,5 及 5*
2. 笑忘閒遊人, 兩條老柴玩遊戲
3. 經過中大崇基眾志堂, 看見飯堂門口放滿花籃. 君比集團? 原來飯堂轉手了, 裝修改了, 員工也換了一批新面孔.
怪不得年初飯堂老闆對我說, "我們有情味, 大學對我們無人情味呢". 當時他說得那麼不經意, 我還以為是怨大學加租.
以後吃飯, 再沒有大大碟的10元黑椒汁雙火腿雙蛋時菜飯了. 不夠吃嗎? 跟阿姐說一聲, 還可添飯啊!
不知道以後眾志飯堂的員工和學生之間, 還有沒有哪種有講有笑的人情味呢? 別像聯合飯堂那樣規矩多多就好了. (車, 你不過想添飯吧了!)
低調, 古老的講法就是, 謙. 想起 zz 的話: "「慧根」，是天生的。有人去了一趟廣東省也可大講特講，有人上過太空也可以極度低調，這與個性有關。" (文小姐)
將謙看成一種品德, 或者品性, 我很同意PK_和小雲的說法. 不過, 我們也可以轉一個彎想, 傳統/過去的社會是建基於排資論輩的基礎上, 今天我們的社會不是這樣, 只少講不是這樣. (今天我們在變化的過程之中. 所謂過去, 大概是一百年不到的事.)
在排資論輩的社會, 謙除了是一種品德, 也是社會上的一種禮儀. 正如過去做生意的人, 孝是一種保證信用延續的禮儀, 予人信心繼續信守父祖輩承諾的象徵性表現;同樣, 謙在排資論輩的社會, 也是一種禮儀, 表示願意遵循排資論輩的格局 (雖然遵循不一定等於認同, 不認同的其中一個方法就是走後門), 是表達得體的一種方式. 得體就是恰如其份, 恰如其份的份就表示背後有一套established格局/系統----排資論輩.
人之初, 性本善, 性相近, 習相遠. 即使相信人性本善, 有樣學樣, 人也會與善相遠. 所以有所謂品德修養. 品德, 是要修養的, 要修, 要養, 要下工夫. 要下工夫的, 就等於說不是渾然天成而要著意的, 著意去養成習慣. 待習慣養成, 就不再著意了.
不過這裡有個轉折. 不生之生, 揠苗助長當然不行. 謙是由胸襟和見識而來的, 不是靠一天到晚自我催眠, 低調低調低調而來. 所謂望道便驚天地寬, 驚覺過天地之寬, 人自然就謙. 望窮山處有重山.
話說回來, 如果人貴自量, 貴自省, 貴自知, 又要不考慮/不自知自己是否謙, 好難喎! 那只有一個可能, 就是社會已經改變了, 謙再不是今天我們內化了的價值系統裡頭的一個基本要素了. (有,是bonus.)
嗯, 小雲講"真正", 即是講 心與言行的關係. 而PK_強調的是言行, 言行並重, 就不是包裝人格的花紙. 能夠言行並重, 可知他的心 自然就是如此如此, 換句話說, 所謂心就是言行作為一個整體的另一種講法.
得體: 好的 business letter => 得體. amoral. 不涉真心假意.
amoral theory: 正在適應另一套社會理論/社會系統, 不再建基於講品德/道義. eg 出聲. 不平則鳴(moral quality) => detectors sending data to the system => system back to normal. 不平則鳴(moral) => system function (amoral)
… 正如靚仔嫌巴士阿叔講電話大聲，唔同司機投訴，就係都要親自同阿叔”理論”咁 … 亦正如做過屋苑管理既都知，樓上樓下左鄰右里有咩問題（例如噪音），d居民做咩諗都唔諗，就係都要自己走去拍門搵理來論，咁笨、咁費勁？
.謙虛 : 虛懷若谷
.謙厚 : 厚道
.謙恭 : 恭敬
.謙退/謙遜/謙讓 : 退讓
.謙和/謙善/謙沖 : 和氣
.謙抑/謙克 : 自制, 按住按住
.謙卑 : 卑微, 卑屈
.謙下 : 放下身段
.謙謹 : 規規矩矩
.謙挹 : 好禮
2. 謙的人不一定可親, 也可以令人有遠人千里之感.
0. 大圍站, 每天都經過. 從月台上望過來, 對面是另一線的月台. 高高的屋頂下空蕩蕩的, 慢下腳步, 俯首凝視梯級下匆匆趕著回家的人們, 時間好像走得格外慢. 不久, 我也將成為他們當中的一份子, 在另一個人的凝視下匆匆登車, 趕著回家.
1. 正在看harry potter 6, 因為我慢三拍.
he had been sure that if Ron won the match, he and Hermione would be friends again immediately. He did not see how he could possibly explain to Hermione that what she had done to offend Ron was kiss Viktor Krum, not when the offense had occurred so long ago.
2. 醫生會伊人 (podcast)
3. PK_, 一句講晒
… 正如靚仔嫌巴士阿叔講電話大聲，唔同司機投訴，就係都要親自同阿叔”理論”咁 … 亦正如做過屋苑管理既都知，樓上樓下左鄰右里有咩問題（例如噪音），d居民做咩諗都唔諗，就係都要自己走去拍門搵理來論，咁笨、咁費勁？
4. 怒眼媽媽, 小眼睛:
也像他: 原句'像他自己'的意思更可能是, 卻像必必自己.
5. 關於網絡世界, 有兩句話很精警, 都是香港仔公爵轉述過來的. 一句是司南講的, 一句是傳說中那神秘又美麗的栗子講的. 司南說的是, 網絡上好人愈好, 壞人更壞. 栗子說的是, ...... (哎喲, 竟然講到口唇邊唔記得添)
6. 提咁多人個名, 抽水啦我擺明係.