Tuesday, February 20, 2007

知識份子與權力--回應江瓊珠與鄭政恆

Intellectuals & Power: A conversation between Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze

1972年3月4日,福柯與德勒茲的一次對話,對理論和實踐(當然都和權力有關)問題展開了深入的透視,尤其對女性、同性戀者和囚犯的鬥爭,以及階級鬥爭的相互關係都提供了很有用的分析。最初發表於《L'Arc》第四十九期(特號)頁3-10,後來收入《Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: selected essays and interviews by Michel Foucault》(Donald F. Bouchard編)和《Desert Island and Other Texts,1953-1974》(David Lapoujade編,Michael Taormina譯) 。注釋由Bouchard所加。

MICHEL FOUCAULT: A Maoist once said to me: "I can easily understand Sartre's purpose in siding with us; I can understand his goals and his involvement in politics; I can partially under- stand your position, since you've always been concerned with the problem of confinement. But Deleuze is an enigma." I was shocked by this statement because your position has always seemed particularly clear to me.

GILLES DELEUZE: Possibly we're in the process of experiencing a new relationship between theory and practice. At one time, practice was considered an application of theory, a consequence; at other times, it bad an opposite sense and it was thought to inspire theory, to be indispensable for the creation of future theoretical forms. In any event, their relationship was understood in terms of a process of totalisation. For us, however, the question is seen in a different light. The relationships between theory and practice are far more partial and fragmentary. on one side, a theory is always local and related to a limited field, and it is applied in another sphere, more or less distant from it. The relationship which holds in the application of a theory is never one of resemblance. Moreover, from the moment a theory moves into its proper domain, it begins to encounter obstacles, walls, and blockages which require its relay by another type of discourse (it is through this other discourse that it eventually passes to a different domain). Practice is a set of relays from one theoretical point to another, and theory is a relay from one practice to another. No theory can develop without eventually encountering a wall, and practice is necessary for piercing this wall. For example, your work began in the theoretical analysis of the context of confinement, specifically with respect to the psychiatric asylum within a capitalist society in the nineteenth century. Then you became aware of the necessity for confined individuals to speak for themselves, to create a relay (it's possible, on the contrary, that your function was already that of a relay in relation to them); and this group is found in prisons -- these individuals are imprisoned. It was on this basis that You organised the information group for prisons (G.I.P.)(1), the object being to create conditions that permit the prisoners themselves to speak. It would be absolutely false to say, as the Maoist implied, that in moving to this practice you were applying your theories. This was not an application; nor was it a project for initiating reforms or an enquiry in the traditional sense. The emphasis was altogether different: a system of relays within a larger sphere, within a multiplicity of parts that are both theoretical and practical. A theorising intellectual, for us, is no longer a subject, a representing or representative consciousness. Those who act and struggle are no longer represented, either by a group or a union that appropriates the right to stand as their conscience. Who speaks and acts? It is always a multiplicity, even within the person who speaks and acts. All of us are "groupuscules."(2) Representation no longer exists; there's only action-theoretical action and practical action which serve as relays and form networks.

FOUCAULT: It seems to me that the political involvement of the intellectual was traditionally the product of two different aspects of his activity: his position as an intellectual in bourgeois society, in the system of capitalist production and within the ideology it produces or imposes (his exploitation, poverty, rejection, persecution, the accusations of subversive activity, immorality, etc); and his proper discourse to the extent that it revealed a particular truth, that it disclosed political relationships where they were unsuspected. These two forms of politicisation did not exclude each other, but, being of a different order, neither did they coincide. Some were classed as "outcasts" and others as "socialists." During moments of violent reaction on the part of the authorities, these two positions were readily fused: after 1848, after the Commune, after 1940. The intellectual was rejected and persecuted at the precise moment when the facts became incontrovertible, when it was forbidden to say that the emperor had no clothes. The intellectual spoke the truth to those who had yet to see it, in the name of those who were forbidden to speak the truth: he was conscience, consciousness, and eloquence. In the most recent upheaval (3) the intellectual discovered that the masses no longer need him to gain knowledge: they know perfectly well, without illusion; they know far better than he and they are certainly capable of expressing themselves. But there exists a system of power which blocks, prohibits, and invalidates this discourse and this knowledge, a power not only found in the manifest authority of censorship, but one that profoundly and subtly penetrates an entire societal network. Intellectuals are themselves agents of this system of power-the idea of their responsibility for "consciousness" and discourse forms part of the system. The intellectual's role is no longer to place himself "somewhat ahead and to the side" in order to express the stifled truth of the collectivity; rather, it is to struggle against the forms of power that transform him into its object and instrument in the sphere of "knowledge," "truth," "consciousness," and "discourse. "(4)

In this sense theory does not express, translate, or serve to apply practice: it is practice. But it is local and regional, as you said, and not totalising. This is a struggle against power, a struggle aimed at revealing and undermining power where it is most invisible and insidious. It is not to "awaken consciousness" that we struggle (the masses have been aware for some time that consciousness is a form of knowledge; and consciousness as the basis of subjectivity is a prerogative of the bourgeoisie), but to sap power, to take power; it is an activity conducted alongside those who struggle for power, and not their illumination from a safe distance. A "theory " is the regional system of this struggle.

DELEUZE: Precisely. A theory is exactly like a box of tools. It has nothing to do with the signifier. It must be useful. It must function. And not for itself. If no one uses it, beginning with the theoretician himself (who then ceases to be a theoretician), then the theory is worthless or the moment is inappropriate. We don't revise a theory, but construct new ones; we have no choice but to make others. It is strange that it was Proust, an author thought to be a pure intellectual, who said it so clearly: treat my book as a pair of glasses directed to the outside; if they don't suit you, find another pair; I leave it to you to find your own instrument, which is necessarily an investment for combat. A theory does not totalise; it is an instrument for multiplication and it also multiplies itself. It is in the nature of power to totalise and it is your position. and one I fully agree with, that theory is by nature opposed to power. As soon as a theory is enmeshed in a particular point, we realise that it will never possess the slightest practical importance unless it can erupt in a totally different area. This is why the notion of reform is so stupid and hypocritical. Either reforms are designed by people who claim to be representative, who make a profession of speaking for others, and they lead to a division of power, to a distribution of this new power which is consequently increased by a double repression; or they arise from the complaints and demands of those concerned. This latter instance is no longer a reform but revolutionary action that questions (expressing the full force of its partiality) the totality of power and the hierarchy that maintains it. This is surely evident in prisons: the smallest and most insignificant of the prisoners' demands can puncture Pleven's pseudoreform (5). If the protests of children were heard in kindergarten, if their questions were attended to, it would be enough to explode the entire educational system. There is no denying that our social system is totally without tolerance; this accounts for its extreme fragility in all its aspects and also its need for a global form of repression. In my opinion, you were the first-in your books and in the practical sphere-to teach us something absolutely fundamental: the indignity of speaking for others. We ridiculed representation and said it was finished, but we failed to draw the consequences of this "theoretical" conversion-to appreciate the theoretical fact that only those directly concerned can speak in a practical way on their own behalf.

FOUCAULT: And when the prisoners began to speak, they possessed an individual theory of prisons, the penal system, and justice. It is this form of discourse which ultimately matters, a discourse against power, the counter-discourse of prisoners and those we call delinquents-and not a theory about delinquency. The problem of prisons is local and marginal: not more than 100,000 people pass through prisons in a year. In France at present, between 300,000 and 400,000 have been to prison. Yet this marginal problem seems to disturb everyone. I was surprised that so many who had not been to prison could become interested in its problems, surprised that all those who bad never heard the discourse of inmates could so easily understand them. How do we explain this? Isn't it because, in a general way, the penal system is the form in which power is most obviously seen as power? To place someone in prison, to confine him to deprive him of food and heat, to prevent him from leaving, making love, etc.-this is certainly the most frenzied manifestation of power imaginable. The other day I was speaking to a woman who bad been in prison and she was saying: "Imagine, that at the age of forty, I was punished one day with a meal of dry bread." What is striking about this story is not the childishness of the exercise of power but the cynicism with which power is exercised as power, in the most archaic, puerile, infantile manner. As children we learn what it means to be reduced to bread and water. Prison is the only place where power is manifested in its naked state, in its most excessive form, and where it is justified as moral force. "I am within my rights to punish you because you know that it is criminal to rob and kill . . . ... What is fascinating about prisons is that, for once, power doesn't hide or mask itself; it reveals itself as tyranny pursued into the tiniest details; it is cynical and at the same time pure and entirely "justified," because its practice can be totally formulated within the framework of morality. Its brutal tyranny consequently appears as the serene domination of Good over Evil, of order over disorder.

DELEUZE: Yes, and the reverse is equally true. Not only are prisoners treated like children, but children are treated like prisoners. Children are submitted to an infantilisation which is alien to them. On this basis, it is undeniable that schools resemble prisons and that factories are its closest approximation. Look at the entrance to a Renault plant, or anywhere else for that matter: three tickets to get into the washroom during the day. You found an eighteenth-century text by Jeremy Bentham proposing prison reforms; in the name of this exalted reform, be establishes a circular system where the renovated prison serves as a model and where the individual passes imperceptibly from school to the factory, from the factory to prison and vice versa. This is the essence of the reforming impulse, of reformed representation. On the contrary, when people begin to speak and act on their own behalf, they do not oppose their representation (even as its reversal) to another; they do not oppose a new representativity to the false representativity of power. For example, I remember your saying that there is no popular justice against justice; the reckoning takes place at another level.

FOUCAULT: I think that it is not simply the idea of better and more equitable forms of justice that underlies the people's hatred of the judicial system, of judges, courts, and prisons, but-aside from this and before anything else-the singular perception that power is always exercised at the expense of the people. The anti-judicial struggle is a struggle against power and I don't think that it is a struggle against injustice, against the injustice of the judicial system, or a struggle for improving the efficiency of its institutions. It is particularly striking that in outbreaks of rioting and revolt or in seditious movements the judicial system has been as compelling a target as the financial structure, the army, and other forms of power. My hypothesis -but it is merely an hypothesis- is that popular courts, such as those found in the Revolution, were a means for the lower middle class, who were allied with the masses, to salvage and recapture the initiative in the struggle against the judicial system. To achieve this, they proposed a court system based on the possibility of equitable justice, where a judge might render a just verdict. The identifiable form of the court of law belongs to the bourgeois ideology of justice.

DELEUZE: On the basis of our actual situation, power emphatically develops a total or global vision. That is, all the current forms of repression (the racist repression of immigrant workers, repression in the factories, in the educational system, and the general repression of youth) are easily totalised from the point of view of power. We should not only seek the unity of these forms in the reaction to May '68, but more appropriately, in the concerted preparation and organisation of the near future, French capitalism now relies on a "margin" of unemployment and has abandoned the liberal and paternal mask that promised full employment. In this perspective, we begin to see the unity of the forms of repression: restrictions on immigration, once it is acknowledged that the most difficult and thankless jobs go to immigrant workers-repression in the factories, because the French must reacquire the "taste" for increasingly harder work; the struggle against youth and the repression of the educational system, because police repression is more active when there is less need for young people in the work force. A wide range of professionals (teachers, psychiatrists, educators of all kinds, etc.) will be called upon to exercise functions that have traditionally belonged to the police. This is something you predicted long ago, and it was thought impossible at the time: the reinforcement of all the structures of confinement. Against this global policy of power, we initiate localised counter-responses, skirmishes, active and occasionally preventive defences. We have no need to totalise that which is invariably totalised on the side of power; if we were to move in this direction, it would mean restoring the representative forms of centralism and a hierarchical structure. We must set up lateral affiliations and an entire system of net- works and popular bases; and this is especially difficult. In any case, we no longer define reality as a continuation of politics in the traditional sense of competition and the distribution of power, through the so-called representative agencies of the Communist Party or the General Workers Union(6). Reality is what actually happens in factories, in schools, in barracks, in prisons, in police stations. And this action carries a type of information which is altogether different from that found in newspapers (this explains the kind of information carried by the Agence de Press Liberation (7).'

FOUCAULT: Isn't this difficulty of finding adequate forms of struggle a result of the fact that we continue to ignore the problem of power? After all, we had to wait until the nineteenth century before we began to understand the nature of exploitation, and to this day, we have yet to fully comprehend the nature of power. It may be that Marx and Freud cannot satisfy our desire for understanding this enigmatic thing which we call power, which is at once visible and invisible, present and hidden, ubiquitous. Theories of government and the traditional analyses of their mechanisms certainly don't exhaust the field where power is exercised and where it functions. The question of power re- mains a total enigma. Who exercises power? And in what sphere? We now know with reasonable certainty who exploits others, who receives the profits, which people are involved, and we know how these funds are reinvested. But as for power . . . We know that it is not in the hands of those who govern. But, of course, the idea of the "ruling class" has never received an adequate formulation, and neither have other terms, such as "to dominate ... .. to rule ... .. to govern," etc. These notions are far too fluid and require analysis. We should also investigate the limits imposed on the exercise of power-the relays through which it operates and the extent of its influence on the often insignificant aspects of the hierarchy and the forms of control, surveillance, prohibition, and constraint. Everywhere that power exists, it is being exercised. No one, strictly speaking, has an official right to power; and yet it is always excited in a particular direction, with some people on one side and some on the other. It is often difficult to say who holds power in a precise sense, but it is easy to see who lacks power. If the reading of your books (from Nietzsche to what I anticipate in Capitalism and Schisophrenia (8) has been essential for me, it is because they seem to go very far in exploring this problem: under the ancient theme of meaning, of the signifier and the signified, etc., you have developed the question of power, of the inequality of powers and their struggles. Each struggle develops around a particular source of power (any of the countless, tiny sources- a small-time boss, the manager of "H.L.M.,"' a prison warden, a judge, a union representative, the editor-in-chief of a newspaper). And if pointing out these sources-denouncing and speaking out-is to be a part of the struggle, it is not because they were previously unknown. Rather, it is because to speak on this subject, to force the institutionalised networks of information to listen, to produce names, to point the finger of accusation, to find targets, is the first step in the reversal of power and the initiation of new struggles against existing forms of power. if the discourse of inmates or prison doctors constitutes a form of struggle, it is because they confiscate, at least temporarily, the power to speak on prison conditions-at present, the exclusive property of prison administrators and their cronies in reform groups. The discourse of struggle is not opposed to the unconscious, but to the secretive. It may not seem like much; but what if it turned out to be more than we expected? A whole series of misunderstandings relates to things that are "bidden," "repressed," and "unsaid"; and they permit the cheap "psychoanalysis" of the proper objects of struggle. It is perhaps more difficult to unearth a secret than the unconscious. The two themes frequently encountered in the recent past, that "writing gives rise to repressed elements" and that "writing is necessarily a subversive activity," seem to betray a number of operations that deserve to be severely denounced.

DELEUZE: With respect to the problem you posed: it is clear who exploits, who profits, and who governs, but power nevertheless remains something more diffuse. I would venture the following hypothesis: the thrust of Marxism was to define the problem essentially in terms of interests (power is held by a ruling class defined by its interests). The question immediately arises: how is it that people whose interests are not being served can strictly support the existing power structure by demanding a piece of the action? Perhaps, this is because in terms of investments, whether economic or unconscious, interest is not the final answer; there are investments of desire that function in a more profound and diffuse manner than our interests dictate. But of course, we never desire against our interests, because interest always follows and finds itself where desire has placed it. We cannot shut out the scream of Reich: the masses were not deceived; at a particular time, they actually wanted a fascist regime! There are investments of desire that mould and distribute power, that make it the property of the policeman as much as of the prime minister; in this context, there is no qualitative difference between the power wielded by the policeman and the prime minister. The nature of these investments of desire in a social group explains why political parties or unions, which might have or should have revolutionary investments in the name of class interests, are so often reform oriented or absolutely reactionary on the level of desire.

FOUCAULT: As you say, the relationship between desire, power, and interest are more complex than we ordinarily think, and it is not necessarily those who exercise power who have an interest in its execution; nor is it always possible for those with vested interests to exercise power. Moreover, the desire for power establishes a singular relationship between power and interest. It may happen that the masses, during fascist periods, desire that certain people assume power, people with whom they are unable to identify since these individuals exert power against the masses and at their expense, to the extreme of their death, their sacrifice, their massacre. Nevertheless, they desire this particular power; they want it to be exercised. This play of desire, power, and interest has received very little attention. It was a long time before we began to understand exploitation; and desire has had and continues to have a long history. It is possible that the struggles now taking place and the local, regional, and discontinuous theories that derive from these struggles and that are indissociable from them stand at the threshold of our discovery of the manner in which power is exercised.

DELEUZE: In this context, I must return to the question: the present revolutionary movement has created multiple centres, and not as the result of weakness or insufficiency, since a certain kind of totalisation pertains to power and the forces of reaction. (Vietnam, for instance, is an impressive example of localised counter-tactics). But bow are we to define the networks, the transversal links between these active and discontinuous points, from one country to another or within a single country?

FOUCAULT: The question of geographical discontinuity which you raise might mean the following: as soon as we struggle against exploitation, the proletariat not only leads the struggle but also defines its targets, its methods, and the places and instruments for confrontation; and to ally oneself with the proletariat is to accept its positions, its ideology, and its motives for combat. This means total identification. But if the fight is directed against power, then all those on whom power is exercised to their detriment, all who find it intolerable, can begin the struggle on their own terrain and on the basis of their proper activity (or passivity). In engaging in a struggle that concerns their own interests, whose objectives they clearly understand and whose methods only they can determine, they enter into a revolutionary process. They naturally enter as allies of the proletariat, because power is exercised the way it is in order to maintain capitalist exploitation. They genuinely serve the cause of the proletariat by fighting in those places they find themselves oppressed. Women, prisoners, conscripted soldiers, hospital patients, and homosexuals have now begun a specific struggle against the particularised power, the constraints and controls, that are exerted over them. Such struggles are actually involved in the revolutionary movement to the degree that they are radical, uncompromising and nonreformist, and refuse any attempt at arriving at a new disposition of the same power with, at best, a change of masters. And these movements are linked to the revolutionary movement of the proletariat to the extent that they fight against the controls and constraints which serve the same system of power.

In this sense, the overall picture presented by the struggle is certainly not that of the totalisation you mentioned earlier, this theoretical totalisation under the guise of "truth." The generality of the struggle specifically derives from the system of power itself, from all the forms in which power is exercised and applied.

DELEUZE: And which we are unable to approach in any of its applications without revealing its diffuse character, so that we are necessarily led--on the basis of the most insignificant demand to the desire to blow it up completely. Every revolutionary attack or defence, however partial, is linked in this way to the workers' struggle.

1. "Groupe d'information de prisons": Foucault's two most recent publications (I, Pierre Riviere and Surveiller et Punir) result from this association.
2. Cf. above "Theatrum Philosophicum," p. 185 in Language, Counter-Memory, Practice.
3. May 1968, popularly known as the "events of May."
4. See L'Ordre du discours, pp. 47-53 in Language, Counter-Memory, Practice.
5, Rene Pleven was the prime minister of France in the early 1950.
6. "Confederation Generale de Travailleurs", General Confederation of Workers.
7. Liberation News Agency.
8. Nietzsche et la Philosophie (Paris: P.U.F., 1962) and Capitalisme et schisophrenie, vol. 1, 'Anti-Oedipus, in collaboration with F. Guattari (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1912). Both books are now available in English.
9. Habitations à Loyer Modéré - moderate rental housing."

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3 Comments:

At 3:15 PM, Blogger 潛行者 said...

站得高,看得遠:理論之必要
江瓊珠                

我們到社區放映紀錄片,通常以討論會作結。

《why馬國明? why Benjamin?》去年12月在牛棚書展首映後,主角馬國明講了一些他辦學術書店的心得:如何向出版社爭取更大的折扣、如何賺取匯率差價等等──那是他二十八年的營運經驗,可是在座觀眾對這些他認為極其寶貴的體會,沒什麼反應──吃力不討好,誰會再辦像曙光一樣的英文書店呢?在討論會發言的人反而集中慨嘆何以當今之世理論或英文學術著作沒有市場。

後來我們在中文大學教育學院通識課又做了一次放映。討論時,一位女生坦然表示她從不知道有這間書店,否則她一定上去。上曙光是愉快的,紀錄片中,一位讀者說:每次來,感覺是像從馬老闆身上取走了很多東西。然後這位同學又說有興趣讀理論,只是不知如何開始,沒有人指導,煞是苦惱。

這位同學很誠懇,起碼她沒有投訴英文理論書太艱深,打擊了她的學習興趣。馬國明坐鎮曙光時,偶而有年輕學生就某個課題向他請教:有沒有一本簡明易讀,而且是中文的理論書呢?馬國明心裡當然氣結,又不好動肝火,只好含蓄的說:有,這本書等你來寫。

曙光結業,一般人會輕省地歸結為網絡書店衝擊的結果。曙光幾位老主顧并不完全同意這個觀察。在網上尋冷門書,是要知道書的歸類才找得到。有位讀者走遍各大城市的書店,仍舊認為,有些書,只是在曙光才能找到。可見曙光較諸網絡書店,依然有它的競爭優勢。至於那些討厭網絡書店冷冰冰沒情感的,大有人在。只是熱情的少數支撐 不了一間書店。

最致命的原因是那些應該讀理論書的群體一天比一天少。牛棚討論會上,也有大學講師表白很久沒有研讀自己有興趣的課題了。光是應付校內事務已筋疲力盡,何來時間讀毫不輕鬆的理論?道理上,大學講師是曙光的潛質顧客。整整一個九十年代,大學教育空前膨脹,可沒多少大學工作者是曙光常客。配合新自由主義而發展的大學,似乎跟 造學問的理想環境距離很遠、很遠。

這次我們在藝術中心搞放映及講座,邀請了三位在大學還有條件講授理論的導師來分享她/他們的理論閱讀經驗。潘毅在科大教社會學,去年還開了一門馬克思主義導論課程,應該是左翼理論的死硬派。年前她讀吳仲賢的《大志未竟》,像尋回失散了的同志般,既安慰又唏噓。忽而生出左翼再重建的急迫感。講者中的唯一男生是趙子美,他 是紀錄片中的一個被訪者,告訴我們當年在曙光買書的盛況:那時我們揮金如土,任誰買書都是一幢一幢地買......這真是一種氣派。原來他在嶺大教中文,唸過梵文,像季羨林一樣。最後一位講者梁碧琪聽到講題後哇哇大叫:要認真讀書,必須遠離大學呀。繼而她又憤然數落大學的種種非理性現像。痛罵制度之餘,她沒放過在裡頭讀書的 學生──哪有學生追尋理論?讀社會學也不知Habermas是誰啊。梁碧琪很有性情,去年三八婦女節,她邀請我們到中大性別研究系放映《她的反世貿》,結果只來了幾個學生,她氣炸了肺,當場批評學生沒水平,沒識見,什麼什麼。我在旁聽著,心想她是不是太認真了?之前我們在教育系通識科做相同的放映,來的學生更少喇。那些甚至已經為人師表,還不是對周遭事情很冷漠。原來她對學生有這樣的要求:不是讀性別研究嗎?光是看到戲名(因為有個她字)就要來啦。

這個年代的學生有這般熱情的話,曙光就不會結業。全盛時期的曙光,有大量學生到訪。馬國明在紀錄片裡憶述:每逢週末,曙光格外熱鬧。學生跑上來打書釘,看看有什麼新出版。很明顯,學生對學術知識還有興奮的期待,對自身以外的世界還有探索的好奇。讀者中,還有些是穿著校服的中學生。那是八十年代,曙光的流金歲月。當年曙 光的暢銷書是意大利共產党領袖Antonio Gramsci的《Prison Notebook》和Herbert Marcuse《One Dimensional man》。

我們八十年代讀大學那一撮活動份子,幾乎每個人的書櫃裡都有這兩本書。讀理論是要掌握分析工具,批判社會。風氣所在,讀不明白還是要讀。搞讀書組、聽講座,總之是用各種方法消化生澀的詞彙。當初拍馬國明,我一直誤以為曙光跟社會運動有密不可分的關係,誰知馬國明說:香港社會,搞運動的不讀理論,讀理論的又不搞運動,非 常分割。曙光結業派對那天,我訪問了十多人,又真沒幾個是運動份子。反而是追尋純知識的多。

雖然如此,馬國明也不得不承認,社會客觀環境對閱讀趣味真互為關連。八九民運之後,上曙光找民主理論書的讀者明顯增多。不知這是否足以解釋為什麼93年之後,曙光的生意會一落千丈。九十年代是太平盛世,卻不是一個有讀書氛圍的時代。那些在七八十年代擁抱理論的,因為不同理由,都暫別硬理論。有人是對現實失望,深覺理論不能圓滿解釋現狀;有人身在建制,甚至懷疑自己曾經相信的;有人為口奔馳,連睡覺的時間也不足夠.....理論何其奢侈,曙光的讀者,只跨越短短的兩個世代,二十八年。

至此,也許我得做小小的一個懺悔:九十年代的某一天,我來到曙光,跟馬老闆聊起書店生意,大概那是曙光的暗淡期,馬老闆語帶諷刺的說:連你都不來幫襯啦......原來我都是無聲無色地遠離理論的其中一個。怪不得愈來愈無話可說。牛棚放映會後,有人為了贖罪,決定以後在公眾場合便拿出英文書來閱讀,以示理論之不可揚棄。

是的,理論有所必要。一如馬國明說,讀理論,無他,不過是站得高些,看得遠些。

 
At 3:15 PM, Blogger 潛行者 said...

走得近,看得真:實踐之必要
鄭政恆

似乎,對於曙光書店的結業,年青人責無旁貸——此責不是責任的責,而是罪責——都怪年青人不學好啦,不學無術,又不追求理論;站得不夠高,看得又不夠遠。一句話就是,對理論冷感,讀社會學竟然不知Habermas(可能,這位同學的興趣是定量研究,喜歡調查與數據分析,比較欣賞Lazarsfeld吧)。爭辯下去未必有益,我們不如站在另一個角度,換一個視角,拉闊一些,就先從歷史—社會層面出發吧。

十年來,世界轉變甚快。香港在變,中國在變,全球社會在變。

最大的轉變,是網絡世界的極速發展。隨著網絡書店的蓬勃發展,基本上,我們足不出戶,就能買到心儀的外文書本。據我知道,不少喜歡藝術的朋友都傾向網上訂購,而不在書店如Page One買書,一來是親手訂,親手拆,過程盡在掌握,倍感實在;二來是借集體訂購、大量訂購,令每本書的價格能夠下調,比諸書店明碼實價,確是多了幾分彈性。網絡書店與傳統書店分庭抗禮,絕非空穴來風。

另一大轉變,莫過於中國之崛起。對於香港來說,文革時期的中國是神秘而可怕的,而八十年代末的中國,則是既討厭又令人憤怒的——雙方的差距裂縫何止千百丈百萬里。回歸十年來,中港的接觸十分頻繁,普通話簡體字的普遍程度已能夠跟英文並駕同驅,中文簡體字書更以低廉的價格,昂然而入老少知識分子的書桌,雖然,不少譯筆實在馬虎草率(例如Kierkegaard和Nietzsche這些「重災區」一直血肉模糊),不過在一些有心的編者「搶救」之下,情況已脫離危殆。對於不少窮苦子弟來說,中文簡體字書的吸引力比英文書大得多了。難怪簡體字書店可以開得成行成市,而英文書店則只能在企業經營下才能步入市場。

有說大學講師是讀理論書的群體,此話信焉,畢竟他們是靠理論混飯吃的一群。然而在大學企業化的今日,大學的教授講師又要講學,又要研究,又要管行政,又要在國際期刊發表論文,沒有三頭六臂實在難以達標。據悉,不少教授講師都不讀理論書了,只能將舊文回收,改頭換面後循環再用,推出市面。在上的老師已遠離書本,一成不變的舊理論與眼前現實也日漸割裂,在下的莘莘學子又怎能對理論書提起興趣呢。有人苦笑道,「大學是反智之地」「要認真讀書,要離開大學」,聽罷怎不叫人握腕失語。

關於當今學生水平低落的問題,老實說,端視乎水平的設置在哪裡。我探詢,當今有學生不學無術,難道從前就沒有學生不學無術嗎?不,不看書的一群依舊是不看書,只是專上教育的普及化,不看書的群體中人比較「幸運」,可以跨入大專之門,延緩三年投入勞動場罷了。換句話來說,看書的一群依舊是看書,然而看甚麼、怎樣看已然不同。這一群人已不再打書釘,他們更喜歡坐在電腦前,在網絡之海載浮載沉——他們知道網上的信息、分析和評述都要比書本新鮮、快捷,更可以在短時間內多角度看同一個事件。以伊拉克民主的課題為例,約有43,900,000項符合這個查詢結果,同一課題的書在香港大學卻不足百本,數目很懸殊吧。

又回到歷史—社會層面,「蘇東波」過後,冷戰終於結束,馬列主義能否救中國這個問題,已質變為中國能否救馬列主義。一句話總括來說,左派是輸家。共產黨領袖Antonio Gramsci的《Prison Notebook》和Herbert Marcuse《One Dimensional man》(網上有全文下載),我們都曉得,但不少人都會笑著說,「左派書,不要攪我了。」

話說回來又不得承認的是,Gramsci和Marcuse,以至於Sontag和Sartre這些結合行動與理論的知識分子已鳳毛麟角,過往不少知識分子同時著眼現實處境及理論建構,如魚得水,如今呢,正如馬國明先生所說:「香港社會,搞運動的不讀理論,讀理論的又不搞運動,非常分割。曙光結業派對那天,我訪問了十多人,又真沒幾個是運動份子。反而是追尋純知識的多。」對於當今年青人來說,行動實踐是更實在的,這並不是鼓吹讀書無用,而是——讀書有時,行動有時,有需要時應該拋掉書本走上街。近月的保衛碼頭運動,走在前線,守在後方的都以年青人為中堅,他們不單對單一的消費主義、壟斷的資本主義、霸道的官僚主義反感,更是對行動與理論分裂的上一代知識分子的割離與反叛。年青人希望走得近,看得真,難道有錯嗎?理論有所必要,對,但實踐也有所必要,對眼前的現實處境,實踐更有優先性、急切性。

有人在懺悔,有人在贖罪,為了我這一代香港人,為了自己,但真正的懺悔贖罪並不是一種姿態,而是實踐上的在調校與更正。曙光書店結束了,但我不難過,也不沮喪,Dostoevsky在Brothers Karamazov的開篇引述聖約翰的話:Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it cannot bear fruit,這不是風涼話,而是,失望之在也是希望所在,福禍相依。有時候我更相信,經典或者一本「有血有肉」的書更叫人動容,理論不轉化為行動,又如何得見理論之可珍可貴呢。

我在八十年代出生,在不少人眼中是不學無術理論冷感的一群,我們需要的是摸索和理解,好吧,我也有點看英文書的興致了,不過,不是Antonio Gramsci的《Prison Notebook》,而是Dietrich Bonhoeffer的《Letters and Papers from Prison》,大家一起讀書,好不好?

 
At 5:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fail to see what is particularly insightful or significant in the conversation between Foucault and Deleuze.

They are over intellectualizing notions that most of us have a good intuitive grapse of.

A tenured professor may need fancy theories to understand power, but a sales clerk barely making ends meet has no problem understanding the meaning of powerlessness though she may not have the eloquence of the professor to articulate her experience. This is a simplification for sure but it illustrates the general point.

Ultimately people like Foucault are playing word games. There is nothing truly ground breaking in their work once you have learned to decipher their polysyllable words. Once decoded these so called theories are just grab bags of trivial observations, systemic tunneled vision
and sloppy thinking wrapped up in fancy jargons and bad English(or French, German..).

I find it ironic that people like Foucault claim to speak for the voiceless while the people they supposedly advocate for cannot even comprehend what is being said on their behalf. This is a double insult. The voiceless are already muted by definition, now they are deaf too.

If Foucault et al are examples of "theoretical work" perhaps it is not a big loss that Hong Kong students are not showing enough interest. Instead they should be vigilant against over theoretization in the social sciences.

In the 1960's, the great Bristish historian E.P. Thompson bucked the trend in advocating the return of the grand narrative. In his spirited debates with Louis Althusser he warned about the tyranny of theories. Thompson saw the hyper abstract, intellectually barren and jargon laden mode of discourse as a way of the intellectuals to deny the working people the right to tell their own story. To translate Thompson's observation into Foucault's favourite formulation, the rise of theory was a powerplay where the elite intellectuals manouver to hijack the voice of the people.

Thompson's words are as refreshing and timely today, 40 years after they were written.

Hong Kong people are often accused of being anti-intellectual. But in a way it also illustrates a certain stubborn independence. The practical mind is naturally skeptical of fancy words. Big words that don't deliver have no value for such people.

It is often said that Hong Kong students see school as just a stepping stone to a job, many don't retain anything unrelated to work after graduation. But looking at the good side it means that it is very difficult to indoctrinate Hong Kong youths through the school system. Social engineering is notoriously difficult in Hong Kong. There is a bright side to everything.

 

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