2009: Preface to Liao Yiwu’s “Earthquake Insane Asylum”

Rescuing the Real – Preface to Liao Yiwu’s Earthquake Insane Asylum

By Kang Zhengguo 康正果

地震瘋人院 [Earthquake Insane Asylum] by Liao Yiwu with the assistance of Xiao Jin

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the United States was experiencing rapid economic growth, monopolistic industrial trusts, local judicial abuses, and a growing disparity between rich and poor, all of which caused great public discontent with social injustice and corruption. Since free speechhas been a fundamental principle upon which the United founded, the press and publishing industry have always provided a forum for criticism.  A group of journalists launched a campaign to expose scandals, denounce corruption, and call for justice and conscience in response to those social ills that needed to be eliminated. In McClure’s Magazine journalists devoted a sensational series to fraud at John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil in the City of St. Louis.  In his documentary novel The Jungle Upton Sinclair exposed the profit-oriented nature of Chicago’s food processing industry with a plethora of horrifying facts. President Theodore Roosevelt initially seemed to take offense at such outrageous statements, borrowing from a character in Bunyan’s The Pilgrims’ Progress” who never looked up to the glory of God but only collected filth, he added the sarcastic term “muckraker” to the group of journalists and writers. The muckraker is a derisive term placed on a group of journalists and writers. But the journalists and writers stood up to the President’s harsh criticisms, first accepting them gladly, and then doing a good job of winning his support in their “muckraking” business. Later, prompted by the muckraker movement, the Roosevelt administration carried out radical reforms in judicial, administrative and economic policies, enacted [sic] the (1890) “Sherman Antitrust Act” to restrict the monopoly of large consortia and enacted the (1906) “Pure Food and Drug Act” to protect the interests of consumers.

    Theodore Roosevelt obviously had much more magnanimity than Mao and other Chinese Communist leaders. I looked at his speech against journalists’ muckraking, and while he was sarcastic, in his next speech he made a clear statement to the public that he strongly supported the practice of writers and journalists in the pulpit and in the books to attack the wrongdoers and their evil deeds in politics, business and social life, as long as the crimes they expose are absolutely true, they are doing something good for society. From this, we can see that the greatest vitality of a democratic society lies in the fact that its government not only dares to face the respective social reality, but also makes timely corrections and changes to the undesirable phenomena that appear in the process of social development. We can imagine that, no matter how fierce and sensational the scavenging movement was in the United States, if the president was not enlightened and the government did not take positive actions, it would be difficult to talk about any significant results.

   Contrary to the U.S. government’s positive response to civil criticism, the Chinese Communist Party has always relied on cover-ups to maintain its unpopular rule. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Communist Party’s founding, and for six decades, the party power government has never allowed the news media to publish any reports that reveal the truth. The Chinese Communist Party’s vulnerability to the truth is the result of a false situation, and its inability to reveal the truth is the same as the devil’s fear of the sunlight that shines in the cave of darkness. In Mainland China, journalists have to do what their superiors tell them to do, and not only are they not allowed to do the slightest American-style excrement, but they are also required to produce a lot of excrement at all times in order to cover up the truth. Over the past 60 years, the Chinese media have produced so many lies that it would be difficult to add up all the computers in the world to check them all. Even in the era of reform and opening up, which is said to be a time of “great progress,” writers and journalists who dared to openly excrete were still suppressed at every turn, from imprisonment to job loss. For example, Liao Yiwu, the author of the new book Earthquake Insane Asylum  《地震疯人院》, has been suppressed by the Chinese Communist regime’s muck-making machine for 20 years because he insisted on disclosing the covered-up truth to the public and telling the truth that was not allowed to be told. The reality in China is so dirty that if you want to take out the shit of the party and the government, their dictatorship will first reduce you to shit.

   Looking at Liao Yiwu’s published works, I have always had a vague feeling that he is instinctively sensitive to sudden horrible disasters (cataclysms) and has the strength to rise up against the wind. In the context of Western literary criticism, he seems to be one of those writers with an apocalyptic temperament. In his “Three Cities” series of poems published more than twenty years ago, he prophesied an apocalyptic disaster. The protagonist of the poem, Alafawei, is described as a hero who wreaks havoc in the tide of disaster, like a white whale growing up in the abyss of sewage, and the more he is drawn into the fishy vortex, the more powerful the destruction becomes.

   Soon after the publication of his poem “Massacre” 《大屠杀》 , the Tiananmen Massacre took place in Beijing, and Liao Yiwu, who had never known anything about realpolitik and had taken no interest in

Exiled Voices of China and Tibet: Liao Yiwu Performing “Massacre”

politics, suddenly had a strong poetic reaction to the catastrophe of the People’s Liberation Army shooting at the pedestrians and the tank tracks running over masses of people. He recited and recorded it himself, and made a tape for distribution. All that happened in Sichuan, far from the scene of the killings. The real disaster soon came upon him, and he spent four years in prison for the crime of counter-revolutionary writing. After the torture of the living hell in the prison, the poet’s imagination of the disaster in his mind was like a falcon falling into a pigsty, and his hard bones were beaten, and he developed a hard stomach as a poet during his forced swallowing of filth. In the book Testimony 《证词》, which records the inhumane treatment in the detention center, Liao Yiwu said: “The pig’s hair comes out of the pig. In order to understand a thing thoroughly and accurately, you have to bite on it like a fly, the buzzing sound is annoying, and you have to be wary of being knocked around. But you were born to do this dirty work, as if you were a doctor in ancient times, who knew the persistent diseases of the times by tasting human feces.” “The stomach of the witness, sometimes not through thought, but through teeth, blood, gnawing heads to lick and chew the human taste around, fashioning the rancid taste of memory fermenting outdated memories.” This is both cruel self-indulgence and tough regurgitation. To witness how far life and humanity are spoiled by “banal evil”, one has to reach into the clan with dirty hands and wash out the truth from the filth.

   This ability of acceptance and expression is crucial to Liao Yiwu’s writing orientation since his release from prison in 1994. Similarly, to accurately understand and appreciate the characteristics of his works, one should first recognize his ability of acceptance and expression. Liao Yiwu did not have the same good fortune as the American muckrakers, whether it was digging up the scandals of the powerful class or searching for the cunning of the big shots: that never happened to him. When Howard W. French, a New York Times reporter who interviewed the little emperor of Central Africa, repeatedly asked Liao why he didn’t write about the top officials of the Communist Party or the new rich today, but always circled around the freaks, the downtrodden, the lowly, Liao Yiwu told him about his experience of falling to the bottom of the social ladder as soon as he was released from prison. The bottom and the lowly is Liao Yiwu’s own living situation, the status and position that has been given to him ironically. He had almost no choice but to bury his head in the sand and write. As a result, he had to take on the forced choice as a mission to resist. With a bitter smile, he explained to Fu Haowen, “If I had had the kind of intelligence that would have enabled me to publicly interview senior officials, I would not have been in jail, let alone unlucky for so many years.”

   What Liao Yiwu did was in fact another kind of muckraking work. To complete his series of interviews, he went deep among the beggars, vagrant artists, petitioners, the unemployed, working farmers, Falun Gong practitioners, old landlords, old rightists, and other disadvantaged groups in China today, and unearthed from their poor existence, which was kicked into the gutter like dung, the poverty, bitterness, hopelessness, and grievances that the Communist Party and government deliberately concealed and refused to admit. Naturally, these words are neither warm nor beautiful nor pleasing. From beginning to end, if one reads between the lines, these stories only make the Party and the government feel that these tales have tarnished their “glorious” image.  Thus the Party and States see them as  dirty books that tarnish the present arrangements and so publishing them is  strictly prohibited on the China Mainland.

   The good thing is that today’s Chinese society has improved – not the CCP’s own progress, of course, but with the decline of the Party’s dictatorship, the cage has developed many loopholes – and what cannot be published in China can be sent abroad. The Internet police have been tightening up, but they can’t stop the Internet from spreading ideas. The blockade of the Mao Zedong era, when dogs were beaten behind closed doors and not even a single scream could be heard, is long gone. Liao Yiwu’s books were first published in three volumes Conversations with the People at the Lower Levels in Chinese Society《中国底层访谈录》 by Taipei’s Maitian, followed by Hong Kong’s Spiegel, which published his Testimony《证词》 and China’s Petition Village 《中国上访村》, and then by the American Correctional Foundation, which published two volumes of China’s Book of Wrongdoings 《中国冤案录》and two thick volumes of The Last Landlord   《最后的地主》 . All of these interview-based documentary works barely expose to overseas Chinese readers the barren face and blackened landscape of another world on the Chinese mainland.

   In recent years, Liao Yiwu’s unique muckraking writings have been gaining attention in Europe and the United States. Translator Huang Wen selected twenty-seven of his published interviews, translated them into English, and compiled a collection under the title The Corpse Walker  (from the title of the collection, “The Corpse Witness, Luo Tianwang”)  〈赶尸目击者罗天王〉,  which was published last year by Random House’s Pantheon Books. Naturally, the book was much more popular in a country with a penchant for excrement than in the light-hearted Taiwanese book market. Liao Yiwu was able to buy a small apartment near Chengdu after receiving a royalty far greater than the total amount he had ever received in China, thus bringing his twenty years of hardship to an end. He and his partner, Ms. Jin, were happy to decorate their new house and wanted to create their own piano platform for a few days of peace and tranquility with Wenjun.

   Unfortunately, the Wenchuan earthquake suddenly occurred. The nightmare that Liao Yiwu had painted in his poems more than twenty years ago now came to reality with a loud bang, shaking the new buildings in his residential district to the east and west, scaring the residents of the building to go home and sleep for many days. As mentioned above, Liao Yiwu’s nerves and literary thoughts seem to have some kind of isomorphic connection with the elements of disaster, and the outbreak of the earthquake immediately presented a scene of “the earth having an epileptic fit” in front of his eyes. The general hysterical atmosphere of the climate and environment immediately infected his emotions and his hands and feet, and he went deep into the earthquake-stricken areas and started a new interview. From May 12 of last year, he began to keep his diary of the earthquake and kept it until July 18. During those two months of travel, he searched and photographed, and now he has a new book entitled Earthquake Insane Asylum.

   Although Liao Yiwu, who admires Ryszard Kapuscinski, does not have the historical awareness and global vision of the Polish official journalist, he has the appetite to eat rotten meat and the perseverance to go through the garbage pile – which reminds me of the English word scavenger scavenger. His diary and photographs preserve for us the closed despair and death from Yingxiu to Beichuan (see Camus’ The Plague), the naked fear and anxiety of Márquez’ Love in the Time of Cholera, and outside the widely publicized Chinese Central Television footage of Premier Wen Jiabao shedding tears and Secretary Hu Jintao sending condolences, Liao Yiwu’s book does salvage for us a story that has been officially falsified, disguised, and performed throughout. Liao Yiwu’s book does rescue the earth’s devastation and human ulcers that have been buried alive by official falsifications, falsifications and various disaster relief performances.

   There are two aspects of disaster relief: the obligation of the government and the volunteers in the civil society to do their best to save the lives of the people in the disaster area, to stop the expansion and spread of the disaster, and to minimize and restore the damage caused by the disaster. However, the news media has another rescue mission. In today’s global information technology, journalists always have to be the first to announce the situation at the disaster site to the outside world through audio, video and text overviews. From the Southeast Asian Tsunami to the hurricane in New Orleans, journalists have the responsibility to report the real situation to the world, no matter which part of the earth has been chosen by the horrible disaster. Truthful, detailed, timely, everything is the purpose itself. What is the extent of the casualty damage? How well is the government and society doing in response to the disaster? Are the vulnerable being attended to? Is it a natural disaster or a man-made disaster? How much of the natural disaster was a man-made disaster? The reporting of all these situations will facilitate the relief efforts and enlist help from the outside world, and at the same time, it will also serve to monitor the actions of the government in the disaster area from the side, so that all the activities happening in the disaster area will be focused on the attention of the whole world.

   But in Communist China, these international norms have never worked. In 1976, the world knew about the massive earthquake in Tangshan, China, but it was not until decades later that the world learned of the 240,000 people who died in the disaster. From 1959 to 1961, as the Great Leap Forward and communalization caused famine throughout China’s countryside, the Chinese were told only lightly that there had been three years of “natural disasters”. It was only decades later that word gradually spread that more than 30 million people had died of starvation in those three years. Many, many more natural disasters caused by man-made disasters or man-made disasters added to natural disasters have been covered up for 60 years, and not only are the media not allowed to report the truth, but they also create big lies, and even turn every disaster suffered by the people into the government’s merit of disaster relief. What does Chairman Mao always mean by “turning bad things into good things”? It is to smelt the people’s disaster into the glory of the party.

   After the Sichuan earthquake, the government of Party General Secretary Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao government continued to do its usual tricks, trying to monopolize disaster relief single-handedly. This is because the earthquake itself had a serious human-caused component. Whether or not the local government suppressed or concealed warnings, it is clear that the decision makers in the party and government institutions were responsible for triggering the earthquake, just by knowing the existence of the Longshan Fault and carrying out the construction of the Third Front (三線建設) of China’s defense industry in China’s interior and building dams there. Not to mention the death and injury of the schoolchildren crushed under the collapsed school building, while the government office building is more robust and designed to be more earthquake resistant than other civilian buildings. Portaying the natural disaster a sudden blow, bad governance could not withstand public scrutiny. Frightened officials are naturally worried about the influx of reporters into the disaster area to report the real situation. They worried even more about strangers who were lying bare their bottoms and pulling out their shit. Therefore, they promptly deployed personnel to set up defensive lines facing all unofficial relief organizations and individual spontaneous relief actions. These relief efforts ran up against obstacles everywhere. Thus the fragile nerves of the Communist Party thus foolishly doing a series of things that weakened the effectiveness of disaster relief.

 Liao Yiwu’s chronicle of the earthquake leads our reading to the adventure of sneaking into the disaster area several times to take live pictures and the tense journey of how to muddle through along the way. In order to save the blocked reality, he had to take the risk of going into the enemy-occupied area for intelligence. Therefore, he brought along capable assistants, and all kinds of equipment.  Combining improvisation and skills at making contacts he documented everything he saw,  every encounter to trouble, and had him stand up for. His assistants helped him bluff their way through official roadblocks, something they were much better at doing than Liao Yiwu who personified the marginalized.  Liao himself was quick as a bird, his hand cupped mini-recorder, shoulder digital camera, under the scenario, moving to “click, click” taking pictures and recording people’s voice. This, coupled with the long drive in a private car with a pass, added a dramatic touch to their very suspicious trip to the disaster area. This is the wedge that today’s marketization and high technology have driven into this society all tied into knots loosened strict controls. When the authorities stiffened up,  private forces slowly pushed through using lubrication. What the legitimate journalists can’t do, the fringe figures  slip in and take care of business.

   This is indeed an absolutely necessary alternative way to rescue. Look: the sobbing mother kept crying “my daughter” for hours; there was a woman named Gong Tianxiu, who sawed off her own leg,

Prayer at Beichuan Three Months After the Earthquake

which was crushed under a broken wall, and crawled out of the rubble in order to survive; there was a despicable party official named Tan Li, who pretended to greet the victims, and the crowd shouted to him at him in unison: “Give out mother f’n hammers!” …… Another was old man Zheng, he was the first to enter Beichuan, he said to Liao Yiwu: “In the rubble just a few steps, the legs will be held by the hands reaching out from the ground, uncle save me! Uncle help me! Uncle save me! Brother help me! There was nothing we could do. All they could do was him a bottle of water, take off a piece of clothing, all they could do were to give a few words of comfort. They are really painful anxiously, and said no to let go of the hand, it gritted his teeth, whether I get of here alive or not, it makes no difference whether I hold the hand of the executioner!”. Originally, I had been holding the camera, but after only a few minutes, I could not take any pictures.” All these scenes and facts belong to the reporter’s camera, photography, recording, transcript to try to salvage the object, but without Liao Yiwu and his two companions to intervene in the spontaneous salvage work of the people, the cries, the bloody scenes, the embarrassment of those damned officials being spit on by the public all this would have been lost forever in the oblivion as if no one had paid them any attention.  The truth about the Great Chinese Famine and the Tangshan Earthquake were not rescued from oblivion.  Countless truths were officially concealed forever like so many buried corpses. A death toll of 30 million or 240,000 is, after all, only a number.  The lack of a live and factual record naturally weakens the witnessing to the crimes of the Chinese Communist Party. But during last year’s Sichuan earthquake relief effort, the Communist authorities’ blockade and cover-up were clearly stretched to the limit. People from all sides went into the disaster area and started their own rescue efforts.  Many, many dedicated people did what Liao Yiwu and his companions did. If you read this new book by Liao Yiwu, you can get a glimpse of the whole picture and complete the real rescue of the truth as you gain in your personal understanding of just what happened there. 

   February 25, 2009

(Rescuing the Truth – Preface to Liao Yiwu’s Earthquake Madhouse Full Text Ends Blog


抢救真实——序廖亦武《地震疯人院》


十九世纪末到二十世纪初,美国的经济飞速发展,工业托拉斯大搞垄断,地方司法出现诸多弊端,再加上贫富差距日益悬殊,种种社会不公和腐败现象引起了民众极大的不满。好在美国自建国就是一个言论自由的国家,私营的报刊和出版业向来都主持着批评的论坛,针对那些亟需革除的社会弊病,一批新闻从业者发起了一场揭露丑闻、谴责腐败和呼唤正义与良心的运动。在一本名叫《麦克卢尔杂志》的刊物上,记者们专就洛克菲勒石油公司和圣路易城的舞弊行为作出了轰动一时的系列报道;另有一本题为《屠场》的纪实小说,作者辛克莱以大量骇人听闻的事实曝光了芝加哥食品加工业唯利是图的黑幕。对此类充满义愤的言论,老罗斯福总统起初似乎颇为不满,他借用班扬《天路历程》中一个人物从不抬头仰望天主的荣耀,只知埋头收集污秽的掏粪行为,把“掏粪者”(muckraker)这个语含讥讽的指称加在了那一群记者和作家的头上。但记者作家们却挺起当仁不让的胸膛,先是欣然接受了总统的贬义赐名,进而在他们“掏粪”的事业上干出了赢得总统支持的成绩。后来,正是在掏粪运动的促使下,罗斯福政府在司法、行政和经济政策上进行了大刀阔斧的改革,颁布了限制大财团垄断的“反托拉斯法”和保护消费者利益的“食品卫生法”。
    老罗斯福显然比毛泽东及其它中共领导人有雅量多了。我查看了一下他那次针对记者们掏粪行为的讲话,讥讽归讥讽,在接下来的讲话中,他还是向公众作出明确的表态,说他坚决支持作家和记者在讲坛上书刊中对政界、商界和社会生活中的不法之徒及其恶行严厉抨击的做法,只要他们揭发的罪行绝对属实,便是做了有益社会的事情。由此可见,民主社会最大的活力在于其政府不但敢于面对各自的社会现实,且能对社会发展过程中出现的不良现象做出及时的纠正和改变。我们完全可以设想,当年的那个掏粪运动在美国不管闹得多么猛烈和轰动,假使总统不开明,政府未做出积极配合的行动,就很难谈得上什么显著的成效。
   与美国政府对民间批评的积极反应完全相反,中共集团一直都是靠掩盖事实真相来维持其不得人心的统治的。今年是中共建国六十周年,六十年来,这个党权政府从来都不许新闻媒体发表任何披露真相的报道。虚假的境况构成了中共脆弱的存在,它的见不得真相披露,一如靠黑暗肆虐的魔鬼最惧怕照入魔窟的阳光。在中国大陆,新闻从业者得按上级的指示办事,他们不但不得有丝毫的美式掏粪之举,还要时时为掩盖真相而大量地造粪。六十年来,中国媒体制造的谎言不知凡几,恐怕把全世界的计算机加在一起进行统计,也难以逐条查清。毛泽东时代那种铁板一块的封杀就不必在此多说了,即使进入了号称“大有进步”的改革开放年代,胆敢公开掏粪的作家和记者依然处处遭受打压,重则投入监狱,轻则失去工作。比如像《地震疯人院》这本新书的作者廖亦武先生,二十年来,就是因坚持要向公众披露被掩盖的真相,要向外界说出不许说的实话,一直都被中共政权的造粪机器压制到九地之下。中国的现实就是如此肮脏,你要掏党和政府的大粪,他们的专政机构就先把你贬为狗屎。
   通观廖亦武已发表的作品,我一直隐隐觉得,对于突发的恐怖灾难(cataclysm),他本能地具有灵敏的感应和顶风而上的牛劲。置诸西方文学批评的语境,他似乎属于那种颇有启示录(apocalyptic)气质的作家。早在发表于二十多年前的“三城”系列长诗中,他就对世界末日般的灾难发出过预感性的呼唤。长诗的主人公阿拉发威被描述为一个在灾难的大潮中肆意弄潮的英雄,他好比污水深渊中长大的一条白鲸,越是卷入腥秽的涡流,愈益激发出毁灭的威力。
   长诗发表不久,天安门大屠杀在北京发生,对现实政治一向缺乏认识,也从无兴趣介入的廖亦武不知是神授命还是鬼附体,突然对解放军开枪扫射行人,坦克车履带轧过人群的灾难产生了强烈的诗意反应,以致在一夜之间,挥笔疾书,草成诗体控诉《大屠杀》一篇,并亲口朗诵和录音,制成录音带四处传播。那一切都发生在远离杀人现场的四川。真正的灾难很快就落到他头上,为此一反革命书写罪,他坐了四年大牢。经过号子内活地狱的作践折磨,诗人头脑中原发的灾难想象力犹如铩羽的鹰隼堕入猪圈,一身的硬骨头受尽敲打,在被迫吞咽下污秽的生涯中,他练出了一介诗人的硬肠胃。在记录看守所非人待遇的《证词》一书中,廖亦武如是说:“猪毛出在猪身上。为了透彻准确地了解一种事物,你必须像苍蝇一般叮上去,嗡嗡声很讨厌,你得提防着吃巴掌。但你生来就是干这种脏活的,犹如远古的医生,通过尝人的粪便而知道时代的宿疾。”“见证人的胃,有时不是通过思想,而是通过牙齿、血、啃头去舔和咀嚼周围的人味,时尚记忆发酵过时记忆的馊味。”这既是残酷的自溺,也是坚韧的反刍,要见证生命和人性被“平庸恶”糟蹋到何种地步,一个人不得不脏了手伸进藩溷,从污秽中洗涮出真实。

   这一接受能力和表达能力的练就,对廖亦武自一九九四年出狱至今的写作取向至关重要,同样,要准确地理解和欣赏他那些作品的特征,也应对他接受和表达的能力先有所认识。廖亦武没有碰上美国掏粪者那样的好机运,无论是挖权势阶层的丑闻,还是搜罗大人物的猫腻,从来都与他无缘。当采访过中非洲小皇帝的《纽约时报》记者傅好文(Howard W. French)一再追问廖何以不写中共高官或当今的新富,而始终在畸零人、落魄者、卑贱的一群中兜圈子时,廖亦武向傅讲了他一出狱即堕入社会底层的经历。底层和卑贱就是廖亦武本人的生存境况,是业已铁定给他的身份和地位,他一直在挣扎摆脱,但他的处境一如他书中所写的那些人物,不管干什么事都像踩进泥坑,且大有越陷越深之势。除了埋头苦写,他几乎别无选择。结果,他只好把被迫的选择作为抗拒的使命承担下来。他苦笑着向傅好文解释说:“如果我有公开采访高官的智力,就不会坐牢,更不会倒霉这么多年了。”
   廖亦武所做的其实是另一种形式的掏粪工作。为完成他的系列访谈,他深入到乞丐、流浪艺人、上访者、失业者、打工农民、法轮功练功者、老地主、老右派等当今中国的弱势群体中,从他们被粪土一样踹入阴沟的贫贱生存中挖掘出党和政府蓄意掩盖和拒不承认的穷困、辛酸、无望和冤屈。这些文字自然不温馨也不美好,乏煽情便难以媚俗,从头到尾,字里行间,只会让党和政府感到抹黑了他们“伟光正”的形象,因而被视为玷污了当今盛世的脏书,严禁在大陆范围内出版。
   好在今日的中国社会已有所进步——当然不是中共自身的进步,而是随着党权专政的衰落,疲软的禁锢已经漏洞百出——,国内发不出去的文字,尽可送到国外出版,网络警察看管得再紧,也休想杜绝互联网的传播渠道。毛泽东时代那种关起门打狗,连一声惨叫都传不出去的封杀早已一去不返了。廖亦武陆续完成的书,先是由台北的麦田推出三大卷《中国底层访谈录》,随后是香港的明镜印行了他的《证词》和《中国上访村》,接着美国的劳改基金会连续出版了他的《中国冤案录》两卷和《最后的地主》两厚册。所有这些以访谈为主的纪实作品,都向海外的中文读者赤裸地暴露出中国大陆上另一个世界贫瘠的面貌和黑煞的风景。
   近年来,廖亦武独特的掏粪文字在欧美也逐渐引起重视,翻译家黄文便从他已出版的访谈录中选出二十七篇,译成英文,汇编一集,以The Corpse Walker(取自该集所收的篇名〈赶尸目击者罗天王〉)为名,在去年由兰登书屋的Pantheon Books出版。书出在具有掏粪爱好的国家,自然比在轻松文字泛滥的台湾书市上要受欢迎多了。廖亦武得了一笔远比他以往所得中文稿酬的总数还要丰厚的版税,因此才得以在成都附近买到一套小小的公寓,至此,二十年累累若丧家之犬的颠沛生活总算可告一段落。他与他再次找回的伴侣小金女士欢快地装修起新屋,很想营造个他们自己的琴台,好过几天相如伴文君的安宁日子。
   不巧就在这时候,突然爆发了汶川地震。廖亦武二十多年前在诗行中涂抹的噩梦如今轰然一响,踏入了现实,震得他那个居住小区的新楼群东摇西晃,吓得楼中的住户好多天都不敢回家睡觉。如上所述,廖亦武的神经和文思与灾难的元素似乎有某种同构的联系,地震的爆发在他的眼前顿时呈现出一幅“大地抽羊癫风”的景象。大气候大环境中那一总体的歇斯底里氛围立刻感染了他的情绪和手脚,他深入地震灾区,开始了新的采访。从去年五月十二起,他开始记他的大地震日记,一直记到了七月十八。在那两个多月的四处奔走中,连寻访带抢拍,笔录与摄影图文并茂,如今就收在这本题为《地震疯人院》的新书之中。
   这是一部将四川地震灾期中的众生相活生生保留下来的图文实录,很钦佩卡普辛斯基的廖亦武虽不具备那位波兰官派记者的历史意识和全球视野,但却以他敢吃腐肉的胃口和翻遍垃圾堆的毅力——这一点令我想起了英文scavenger一词有趣的含义——而见长。他的日记和摄影为我们保留了从映秀镇到北川那奥兰城(见加缪《鼠疫》)一般封闭的绝望和死亡,那马尔克斯《霍乱时期的爱情》一样裸露的恐惧和焦虑,在央视节目广而告之的温总理流眼泪和胡书记发慰问之类救灾花絮的镜头外,廖亦武这部书的确为我们抢救出了被官方自始至终以造假、虚饰和种种救灾表演作掩盖而活埋掉的大地疮痍和人间溃疡。
   所谓抢救,在救灾行动中向来都有两个方面:就政府出动的救灾人员以及民间团体中的自愿者所承担的义务而言,是全力以赴抢救灾区民众的生命,阻止灾情的扩大和蔓延,尽量减弱和挽回灾难造成的损失。但新闻媒体则承担着另一方面的抢救使命,在全球信息化的今日,记者总要在第一时间把灾区现场的情况通过录音、摄像和文字综述及时地公布给外界。他们抢救的是真实和现状,从东南亚海啸到新奥尔良风灾,不管可怖的灾难选中了地球上哪一块地方,记者都有责任向全世界报告真实的灾情。真实,详尽,及时,样样都是目的本身。伤亡破坏到什么程度?政府和社会的救灾工作到底做得如何?弱势群体是否得到关注?是天灾还是人祸?天灾中又有多少人祸的成分?对所有这一切情况的报道都会促进救灾的工作,争取到外界的帮助,同时也会从侧面对灾区政府的作为起到监督的作用,使发生在灾区的一切活动都聚焦在全世界的关注之下。
   但在中共控制的中国,上述的国际准则向来都是行不通的。一九七六年,全世界都知道中国唐山发生了大地震,但直到几十年后外界才得知那次震灾中死了二十四万人的数字。一九五九到一九六一,由于大跃进和公社化在中国造成了遍及农村的饥荒,中国人仅被轻描淡写地告知发生了三年“自然灾害”。仍是在几十年后,才逐渐传出那三年饿死了三千多万人的实情。还有很多很多人祸导致的天灾或天灾后增生的人祸,六十年来,统统被死捂上盖子,不但不许媒体真实报道,而且造出弥天大谎,甚至把民众的每一次遭灾都顺手牵羊地转化成政府救灾的功绩。毛主席常说的“坏事变好事”指的是什么?就是把民众的灾难冶炼成党的荣耀。
   四川大地震发生后,胡温政府依旧大施惯技,企图一手垄断救灾。这是因为此次地震的发生本身就有严重的人祸成分。地方政府是否压下或隐瞒了预测信息的事,姑且存而不论,仅就明知龙山断裂层的存在,还要就地大搞三线建设和乱修水坝而言,党政机构的决策者就明显负有诱发地震的罪责。更不要说倒塌的校舍下被压的小学生死伤那么惨重,比较而言,政府的办公大楼却比其它的民用建筑更坚固抗震。在天灾的突袭下,经不起公众评议的弊政已暴露无遗,心怀惊恐的官员们自然怕涌入灾区的媒体记者报道出真情实况,更担心社会闲杂人员介入其中揭他们的底,掏他们的粪了。因此他们及时抽调人力,布置防线,对一切非官方的救灾组织和个人自发的救灾行动,均作出严加排斥的表示,到处设下拦截的关口。扬汤止沸,心劳日拙,脆弱的党神经就这样蠢笨地干了一系列削弱救灾效果的事情。

   廖亦武的大地震纪实把我们的阅读带引向多次潜入灾区抢拍实况的历险记,以及一路上如何蒙混闯关的紧张行程。廖亦武这一回出马,非同一般的采访,为抢救被封锁的真实,他得冒一场钻进敌占区搞情报的风险。因此他带上了得力的助手,还配置了各式装备。精灵的小金随机应变,联络公关一身担;备齐了证件的大毛则摆出一副很有来头的神气,每踫到麻烦,都有他站出来撑腰。他们俩都比底层模样的廖亦武更能唬住沿途盘查的人员,有他们助阵,给此行大壮了声势。而廖本人也是鸟枪换炮,他手捏迷你录音机,肩挎数码照相机,触景生情之下,动不动就“卡嚓卡嚓”地拍照录音起来。再加上开一辆贴有通行证的私家车长驱直入,给他们很可疑的灾区行平添了戏剧性的色彩。这就是今日的市场化和高科技打入此板结社会的楔子,给严控造成的松动,当局一边在僵硬地作梗,民间力量一边在润滑中缓缓推动。正牌记者干不成的事情,都叫边缘人物溜进来搞定了。
   这的确是绝对必要的另一种抢救。你看:那个泣血的母亲不断哭嚎着“我的么女哦”,已连续哭嚎了几个小时;还有一个名叫龚天秀的妇女,为了活命,她自己锯断了被压在断壁下的残腿,血淋淋爬出了废墟;有一个可鄙的党官名叫谭力,他装模作样地向灾民问好,群众向他齐声大吼:“好你妈个锤子” ……另有一位老郑,他第一时间进入北川,他对廖亦武如是说: “在废墟里随便走几步,腿就会被地底伸出的手给抱住,叔叔救我!伯伯救我!哥哥救我!没得法哟。只能递瓶水,脱件衣裳,安慰两句话而已。也有实在痛急了,好说歹说都不松手的,就咬咬牙,活生生地掰开,跟刽子手没差别。本来嘛,我还扛着摄像机,可是才几分钟,我就拍不下去了。”所有这些现场和实情都属于记者的摄像、拍照、录音、笔录要尽力抢救的对象,但若无廖亦武与他的两个同伴介入民间自发的抢救工作,那哭嚎的声音,那血淋淋的场景,那狗官被民众唾弃的尴尬,就永远地消失在无人关注的遗忘中了。三年大饥荒和唐山大地震被禁绝了这样的抢救,因而无数的真实都被官方像埋掉尸首一样永远地隐瞒灭迹了。三千万或二十四万的死亡数字毕竟只是数字,缺少了现场和实情的记录,自然就削弱了对中共罪行的见证。但在去年的四川地震救灾过程中,中共当局的封锁与掩盖已明显地捉襟见肘了。四面八方的人员都进入了灾区,都展开了各自抢救实况的工作,有很多很多有心人,都做了类似廖亦武和他的同伴所做的事情。你读了廖亦武这部新书,即可窥一斑而知全豹,以你个人的知晓完成了对真实的抢救。


   二00九年二月二十五日
(抢救真实——序廖亦武《地震疯人院》 全文完博讯ww

About 高大伟 David Cowhig

After retirement translated, with wife Jessie, Liao Yiwu's 2019 "Bullets and Opium", and have been studying things 格物致知. Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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