● It is the day of the Cantonese Speaking Contest in May 2019, and 陳之一Chan Chi-yat tries to get himself into the right frame of mind by organizing breakfast at one of his favourite eating places, 德興粥麵店 Tak Hing Restaurant in Sha Tin. There, with his friends Ah Luk, the New Zealander Ah Ki and Ah Luk’s daughter Fu-cheui, he introduces them to the Second Music of Hong Kong, an Anthem to Progress only a confident international city could choose as its “theme-song”. Afterwards, they make their way to Central for a visit to the Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road, followed by a simple lunch at a well-known dai pai dong, 勝香園 Shing Heung Yuen in Mei Lun Street.
Is love possible in an imperfect world, or must we turn to illusions to fulfil our yearnings? In this wonderful video by The Official Curry, we are treated to an exploration of this question, accompanied by images from the recent film 《幻愛》or “Hallucinatory Love” based on the novel by 蔣曉薇 Chiang Hiu-mei (but known in English by the title Beyond the Dream), together with a haunting-mesmerizing soundtrack.
The key words in the voice-over are “perfection” [完美 yùhn4 méih5], “love” [愛 ngoi3] and “hallucination” [幻覺 waahn6 gok3]. The last of these gave me a bit of trouble when in the English translation. Although basically a psychologically term in Cantonese, 幻覺 also seems to a have a more general application akin to the word “illusion” in English. Partly for this reason — and also to avoid too much repetition in the translation — I have used both “hallucination” and “illusion” for the one Cantonese noun. Bear in mind as you read that “illusion” here may carry a hint of “ill” in it . . .
There’s an interesting pronunciation issue too in this video. As Yip and Matthews point out in Basic Cantonese, the low falling tone “can often be recognized by a ‘creaky’ voice quality as the pitch reaches the bottom of the speaker’s voice range” (12). This phenomenon is particularly noticeable in the voice-over: listen out for it in words such as the often-repeated 完美 yùhn4 méih5, as well as 同時 tùhng4 sih4, 人 yàhn4, and 為 wàih4. But just to make life interesting, there seems to be a similar creakiness with 自己, officially pronounced as jih6 géi2. I can’t say why this is.
With regard to grammar, you won’t find anything too troubling or terrifying! One rather rare feature is the use of the expression 好比 hóu2 béi2, which means something like “could be compared to”. This crops up in the sentence 你就好比一個數學世界入便嘅正號去追求完美 = “You are comparable to a plus sign in a mathematical world heading off in search of perfection”. You’ll also notice some interesting uses of the aspect marker 住 jyuh6 to suggest an on-going after-effect: 缺乏住愛 = “to lack love”; 互相抵觸住 = “to be in conflict with one another”; 幻覺嚟拯救住你 = “being saved by illusions” (that is, “saved” as an on-going state”). The nuance expressed by 住 jyuh6 seems to lend itself to on-going states, but it takes a while to get the hang of it. Finally, the resultative 得一乾二净 makes an appearance in this video, with 一乾二净 (literally “one-dry-two-clean”) suggesting something comparable to “completely; utterly” in English. Typically, it is used with verbs of forgetting, but here it crops up with 蠶食 chàahm4 sihk6 = “to nibble”, in other words, the kind of eating [食] done by a silk-worm [蠶] (hence the presence of the two insect radicals 虫 at the bottom of the character!) . . .
Needless to say, there’s also plenty of useful vocabulary to expand your range: 驅使 kēui1 sí2 = to prompt; to urge; 抵觸 dái2 jūk1 = to conflict with; to contradict; 洗牌 sái2 páai4*2 = to shuffle cards; 抛棄 pāau1 hei3 = to abandon; 渴望 hot3 mohng6 = to thirst for; to long for; to yearn for; and 困局 kwan3 guhk6 = a predicament.
You can view the video here. Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.
You might also like to make use the Ekho Text to Speech Converter if you have trouble matching any part of the transcribed Chinese text to the spoken version. Just make sure you select “Cantonese” under the language menu before you paste cut and text into the relevant box.
● 終老 jūng1 lóuh5 = live out one’s years | ● 伴侶 buhn6 léuih5 = a companion; mate; partner | ● 不確定性 bāt1 kok3 dihng6 sing3 = roughly, “indefiniteness”; perhaps even here “indeterminacy” cf. 確定 = definite | ● 爭執 jāng1 jāp1 = to disagree; to argue | ● 永恆 wíhng5 hàhng4 = eternal; perpetual | ● 追求 jēui1 kàuh4 = to seek; to pursue | ● 幻覺 waahn6 gok3 = hallucination | ● 驅使 kēui1 sí2 = to prompt; to urge; to spur on | ● 言語 yìhn4 yúh5 = spoken language; speech | ● 嘗試 sèuhng4 si3 = to attempt; to try
The majority [of people] in the world hope that there could be a companion out there with whom they could live out their years. But owing to the indefiniteness [不確定性] of people, many unfortunate things get done: we argue, split up, get divorced. [These] things are happening every day, and they clearly tell us that love is not eternal, because human beings are imperfect. By nature, however, we are made to seek perfection [追求完美], and so we set off in pursuit of love. By the same token, however, the world is far from perfect and lacking in love. Love, it would seem, is an expression of perfection in real life. When are hallucinations or illusions real, and when are they unreal? According to most definitions, what exists in the actual world is real, while what [only] appears in the mind is false, a hallucination. Although some illusions do not exist in the space of reality [現實空間], they impel [驅使] people to give expression to their feelings, to speech, to actions. Hallucinations can attempt to make themselves [嘗試成爲] a part of reality . . .
● 造就 jouh6 jauh6 = to bring up; to train | ● 物種 maht6 júng2 = species | ● 抵觸 dái2 jūk1 = to conflict with; to contradict | ● 源自於 yùhn4 jih6 yū1 = roughly, “to originate from; to have (its) origins in | ● 真心 jān1 sām1 = wholehearted; heartfelt; sincere | ● 成就 sìhng4 jauh6 = to achieve; to accomplish | ● 一輪 yāt1 lèuhn4 = roughly, “a round” | ● 洗牌 sái2 páai4*2 = to shuffle cards | ● 重回 chùhng4 wùih4 = to return to | ● 平衡點 pìhng4 hàhng4 dím2 = cf. 平衡 = balance; equilibrium + 點 = point | ● 各自 gok3 jih6 = each; respective | ● 事物 sih6 maht6 = thing; object | ● 制定 jai3 dihng6 = to draw up; to formulate
. . . so that people’s experience can become perfect. At the same time, however, because human imperfection conditions [造就] all those behaviours [designed to] seek perfection, they are imperfect like people — this species which is by nature imperfect — and conflicts between people arise. His [that is, Ah Lok’s] hallucinations have their origins in his hope that there is someone who loves him, because it is only when someone gives him wholehearted love that he his world can get closer to perfection [可以變得更完美]. At the same time, [it means that] there is no need for him to live his life [過得] in pain and loneliness. But human beings are imperfect by nature, and this initially makes Yip Lan get close to Ah Lok without having a genuine liking for him. Although after this flawed beginning [she] achieves love, it is not a love the two of them both acknowledge and, in the end, it stops being love [變得不愛]. After a reshuffling of the cards [重新洗牌], the world goes back to that pivot-point [平衡點] of imperfection. Viewed from a different perspective, one could also say that, in order to obtain perfection, people have formulated different understandings of the thing, perfection (?).
● 妥協 tóh5 hip3 = to come to terms; to compromise | ● 整體 jíng2 tái2 = whole; entirety | ● 眼中 ngáahn5 jūng1 = lit. “in one’s eyes”, that is, “the way one sees/views sth. (in one’s mind)” | ● 大世界 daaih6 sai3 gaai3 = (?) the world at large (but perhaps with the implication of “the big wide world”, a world beyond one’s own personal sphere) | ● 抛棄 pāau1 hei3 = to abandon; to forsake; to cast aside | ● 白眼 baahk6 ngáahn5 = a supercilious look cf. 返白眼 = to roll one’s eyes | ● 渴望 hot3 mohng6 = to thirst for; to long for; to yearn for
Thus, by making compromises, one obtains an inner [psychological] balance. Nevertheless, in terms of the world or the bigger picture [整體] there is always [始終] this lack of true perfection, of true love. The perfection you see in your mind’s eye may be what other people think of as imperfection, [while] the love you see in your mind’s eye may be exactly what other people see as agony. And so, if you wish to live in the big wide world, the thing you can do [你可以做嘅] is to choose to accept [this state of affairs], or not accept this world that has neither love nor perfection in it. If you do accept it [接受嘅話], since no one is willing to love you, the only thing you have control over is yourself. You can try and make yourself more perfect, and to make yourself love yourself. You will always [永遠] be right there by your side, and whatever it is you feel like doing, you can keep yourself company in doing it together. Even less [你更加] can you abandon yourself. It is perfectly natural for people to give you disapproving looks, but because you have [already] accepted [the fact that] they are imperfect and without love, you will be even less inclined to long for love and perfection from them [喺佢哋當中].
● 困局 kwan3 guhk6 = a predicament; plight; dilemma | ● 正號 jing3 houh6 = a plus sign (+) | ● 負號 fuh6 houh6 = a minus sign | ● 正負得負 jing3 fuh6 dāk1 fuh6 = ? | ● 蠶食 chàahm4 sihk6 = to nibble | ● 何必 hòh4 bīt1 = there is no need; why; why is it necessary (used to form rhetorical questions)
If you don’t compromise, then there will be this predicament: the real world won’t change to fit in with you. All you can do then is to get help from illusions to re-establish a new world you can give your acceptance to [令到你接受]. You are comparable to a plus sign in a mathematical world heading off to find perfection: the world being an eternal minus sign lacking in love, in the end a positive multiplied by a negative [always] gives a negative [正負得負] and you’re liable to be nibbled away by a minus sign till there is nothing left. Finally, all you can do is rely on the absolute perfection of the plus sign [UNCLEAR], that is, being saved by illusions. But [by then] you have already lost control of yourself, so what’s the point of a refusing a love you couldn’t accept [anyway]? And so for this reason, there is no good or bad in anything. The crucial thing is: Can you accept that you have a mental illness? Can you accept the experiences you once had, experiences like those Yip Lam was subjected to? Can you accept yourself?
A hovering wasp rippling fine grains of dust with the fierce fan-force of its wings precisely zooms into land by what’s left of a smash-wrecked moth: one large upper flight-panel dappled with antique swirl. Further off, yet another flat piece of debris footnotes blank brick where a post-mortem sun shines on. The wasp now wrestles with its unwieldy catch. Using forelegs and jaws, it bends the sheet neatly in two, all the better to airlift it back home to base, intact — whole hangars there stockpiled with similar, edible, loot.
Every language has its rare species, words and phrases that only crop up once in a blue moon. The last time I heard the idiom 捐窿捐罅 gyūn1 lūng1 gyūn1 laa3 was in a TVB news report in 2019. There, it was described a small robot-like device that could operate “in any nook or cranny” [噉，好處係佢可以捐窿捐罅]. But here in this recent report from HK01, it has finally come back to me again, but the context is quite different: speaking out for democracy in Hong Kong.
According to 《香港粵語大詞典》, 捐窿捐罅 means “to go into each and every corner” [走遍每一個角落] while Sheik Cantonese has “[to sneak in and out of a hole] to search high and low for a place”. When Figo Chan calls on people to 捐窿捐罅去發聲, we can guess that he wants them to make their voices heard in whatever gaps or cracks they can find . . . This certainly adds to our understanding of the nuances of the expression. Of interest too is the fact that the video subtitles write it as 瓹窿瓹罅, using the rare character 瓹 gyūn1 which means “a hole in a basin to let the water out” [盆底之去水孔].
Although this report lasts for just over a minute, it contains a number of other very interesting things, including 較早前 = (?) “a while back; some time ago” and the two 4-character phrases 秋後算賬 = “to square accounts after the Autumn harvest” and 義無反顧 = honour permits no turning back.
● 泛民 faan3 màhn4 = pan-democratic | ● 開審 hōi1 sám2 = to hold a court hearing | ● 較早前 gaau3 jóu2 chìhn4 = ? cf. 較早時 = a while back; some time ago | ● 預告 yuh6 gou3 = to announce in advance | ● 認罪 yihng6 jeuih6 = to admit guilt | ● 嚟緊 làih4 gán2 = (forth)coming | ● 發聲 faat3 sēng1 = usu. “to make a sound”; here perhaps “to make a noise or “to make one’s voice heard” | ● 捍衛 hóhn5 waih6 = to defend; to guard; to protect | ● 公義 gūng1 yih6 = justice | ● 秋後算賬 chāu1 hauh6 syun3 jeung3 = to square accounts after the Autumn harvest, that is, wait until after a political movement is over to settle accounts with the leadership or the masses; bide one’s time to take revenge; wait until sth. is over to settle accounts with | ● 禁於牢獄 gam3 yū1 lòuh4 yuhk6 = (?) to be put in prison | ● 滅聲 miht6 sēng1 = (?) to extinguish all dissent cf. 滅 = to destroy; to extinguish | ● 義無反顧 yih6 mòuh4 fáan2 gu3 = honour permits no turning back; be duty-bound not to turn back | ● 初心 chō1 sām1 = beginner’s mind; original intention; first desire | ● 長存 chèuhng4 chyùhn4 = to live forever
A number of pan-democrats figures [泛民人士] were accused of organizing and taking part in an unauthorised assembly the year before last on 1 October. The case was heard at the District Court on Monday.
The ten people accused admitted to the charge [承認] of organizing an unauthorised assembly. Earlier, when they arrived at the court, they had already indicated that they would plead guilty.
Figo Chan: Regardless of whether it is 4 June or 1 July or any other forthcoming date, [we] hope that all of you can make a noise in any nook of cranny you are able to get into [捐窿捐罅] and that you can defend our freedom, our democracy, and our justice.
Albert Ho: Today, the government is engaged in settling political scores and will lock us up in prison. After that, dissent from ordinary people will be extinguished [滅聲]. However, I say to you all that we have no regrets and that in our case, absolutely, honour permits no turning back.
Richard Tsoi: Our original intention has not altered. Our faith will live forever.
I feel the new moon long before I see its light scar; hushed is the healing in live air; hope grows its young skin tender within me. I am animal again, the faint stir; the beginning has its unexpected start in me again; I am borrowed by the lush understatement of a Spring instinct; this raining in the blood lives so vividly on my side now.
For Taiwanese writer 蔣勳 Chiang Hsün, covid-19 may just be a warning to get back in touch, not with each other as we are constantly doing, but with our neglected selves — 活得很豐富 | 跟自己對話, to live much more richly in dialogue with ourselves . . .
This video from 天下雜誌 in Taiwan is in Mandarin, so I can’t guarantee the accuracy of the transcription, but Chiang’s ideas, expressed eloquently and incisively, seemed very worthy of translation into English in the hope of reaching a still wider audience.
Please scroll down for the transcription, English translation and notes. You can see the video here. And if you wish to check anything in the transcription or find the Cantonese pronunciation, please make use of the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.
True human civilization is sometimes difficult to talk about. The arrival of a disaster on a huge scale may be a kind of redemption. When covid-19 [first] happened, I felt that perhaps this thing was trying to force us to return once more to a very pure individual self [個人]. Now you have no choice but to maintain a certain distance. After it is no longer possible to gather socially, might you not then have the opportunity to live much more richly in dialogue with yourself?
Caption: 蔣勳：學會孤獨和自己在一起 | Chiang Hsün: Learning How to Be Alone in Togetherness with Oneself
● 儒家 = the Confucianists; the Confucian school| ● 根源 = a source; an origin; a root | ● 字根 = literally “word root”, roughly “the root of the word; etymology”| ● 各有利弊 = each one has its advantages and disadvantages (or “its pros & cons””) | ● 隱私 = one’s secrets; private matters one wants to hide | ● 相對 = relative | ● 探討 = to inquire into; to probe into | ● 磨難 = a tribulation; a hardship; suffering | ● 群體 = colony (a biological term); a group | ● 預告 = advance notice; a herald | ● 頻繁 = frequently; often | ● 物質消耗 = roughly, “material consumption” | ● 社交 = social contact | ● 應酬 = to have social intercourse with | ● 警告 = to warn; to caution; to admonish
If, from an early age, you grow up in a fairly Chinese kind of society, and are then subject to a fairly strong influence from Confucian culture, then it is extremely difficult to have a feeling of aloneness [孤獨感]. The two characters 獨 and 獨 that make up the word for “alone” in Chinese both carry an extremely negative meaning. But the word for 孤獨, if we look at it in terms of the etymology of Western writing, is “solitude”, the root of which is “sol”, the Latin word for “sun” [1:00]. In my view, the differences between the two cultures are considerable [很大], and I think that, of course, each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, so later my definition of this [word] “solitude” was “a being together with oneself”. In actual fact, [the writer] Eileen Chang has also spoken about this. The reason being, I think, that she received a Western-style education. Secrets do not exist in the Chinese world. She said that if you get up in the morning and do not open your door, people would get the idea [好像就表示] that you are doing something you shouldn’t be doing inside. To hide ourselves away and to hold a dialogue with ourselves — that part is not so easy for us [as Chinese people]. Rulers, ministers, fathers, sons — in this society your [position] is relative [to those of others]. Sometimes, however, we long to be on your own, and then to feel that richness in being alone. Exploring your inner world, the meaning of your own existence or things like values — these are things that Confucianism has never inquired into. That is, I have to face all these tribulations of human existence on my own. How do I challenge [挑戰] such things, face to face with them on my own and not as part of a group? Is this virus [2:00] an extremely mysterious [kind of] advance notice about the excessive frequency of contact between human beings [接觸的頻繁]? About the excessive material consumption of human beings? Or the greatest possible warning [最大最大的一個警告] about the excessiveness of all types of social contact or social interaction between human beings
Caption: 從倫敦囘台隔離中找到安靜 | The Tranquillity I Found in Quarantine after Coming back to Taiwan from London?
● 逃 = to run away; to escape; to flee | ● 大驚小怪 = be surprised or alarmed at sth. perfectly normal; make a fuss | ● 先知 = ① a person of foresight ② a prophet | ● 自大 = self-important; arrogant
On the tenth of March, [I] practically [大概] fled back [逃回來] [here] from London. Because actually I had a whole heap of plans. London is such a city. I lived near London Bridge, and everyday all [the voices that I] heard were of tourists speaking Italian or Spanish. At that time, [the covid-19 situation] in those two countries was already extremely serious. However, none of my English friends felt that there was any problem. Afterwards, I would occasionally wear a face-mask and they would laugh at me. As I said [我説] on the tenth of March I thought that things weren’t right — it was a bit like I was escaping. Towards the end [最後], when eating with those English friends of mine, they’d laugh at me and saying I was making an unnecessary fuss. Now, sometimes they write to me and say: Wow! You really are a person of foresight. But the thing I want to say is [3:00]: Has this virus come along to warn all human beings against being [too] self-important?
● 區公所 = district office | ● 追溯 = to trace back; to date from | ● 隔離 = to keep apart; to isolate; to segregate | ● 强迫 = to force; to compel; to coerce | ● 翻 = ? cf. 翻閲 = to leaf through | ● 絲 = a threadlike thing; a sliver
However, after 10 March, I returned to Taiwan and suddenly clamed right down. Then, after a few days, the district office rang, because they needed to track me down about staying in quarantine [要追溯隔離]. Now during those two weeks, what I thought was really wonderful was that you were forced to stay at home. Suddenly, you discovered books you hadn’t looked at for ages you read through again, and music you hadn’t listened to for a long time, you got out and listened to. Then [然後], you went and cut up a cucumber yourself into very fine slices, something you hadn’t done for a long time. Hey, I thought, this is interesting. It’s been ages since I have done any of these things. But why is it that we can’t go back, go back to being with ourselves? I would really like to go and ask a lot of my friends the question: How long have you been away from yourself? And even perhaps: Could it be that you are afraid to be with yourself?
Caption: 爲什麽要這麽快 | 能不能慢下來反省 How Do Things Have To be So Fast? | Can [We] Slow Down and Reflect?
● 刹車 = to brake | ● 工整 = carefully & neatly done | ● 注記 = (?) to annotate; to add a note| ● 泛濫 = literally “to spread unchecked”; perhaps sth. like “to be out of control” | ● 料理 = ① to cook ② cuisine| ● 不自覺 = unconscious; unaware | ● 燉 = to stew | ● 蔥開煟麵 = (?) slow-stewed noodles with scallions and dried shrimps | ● 煟 = to cook over a slow fire; to stew; to simmer| ● 泡麵 = (?) instant noodles | ● 湯底 = (?) soup base| ● 耐煩 = patient
You can reflect on things flexibly and say that our civilization is actually very fragile [4:00]. Shouldn’t we perhaps put on the brakes as far as everything is concerned. I mean, why does everything have to be so fast? Could things be a little bit slower? Why is it that our contact has to be with other people, and that we can’t go and deal with this space called the self on our own? And so, those fourteen days [I spent in quarantine] were very important to me. Things that I hadn’t put in order for ages I went and put in order. Later, out of the blue [忽然], I discovered all these old photographs stacked away in a draw, very precious [photographs]. There was one of my father at the age of twenty-five and, on the back — in very neat, small handwriting — he had written [講] the year [in which it was taken] and the things he was doing then. I have never made any notes [注記] on the photographs [I have taken]. Perhaps it was because they had so few material possessions [東西很少], but you know, [we] have so many images on our mobile phones that [we] simply wouldn’t know where to start. [One of] my students said: “It’s completely out of control” [簡直泛濫], because you’re always taking snaps”. [We] tend think of it as making a record of more things, of recording more things, but in the end maybe all we wind up with is zero, however. My sense is that, [faced with] the event [of covid-19], [we] human beings can do a whole lot of soul-searching. It’s very interesting [5:00]. Take cooking, for instance [你如果從料理來講]. Many things are disappearing that we aren’t even aware of. For example, to cook food slowly, to dun it, the dun used in “to dun a meal”. I once paid to learn how to wei food, the wei used in the dish called “slow-stewed noodles with scallions and dried shrimps”, with Master Bao, a chef at the Tien Hsiang Lo Restaurant [in Taipei]. Using the lowest possible heat, you cook all [the ingredients] in the soup base [湯底] for forty-eight hours. When you cook the noodles [下麵] in this soup base, this is called wei mian or “slow-stewed noodles”. This [way of cooking] will no longer exist in the future, because who is going to spend that much time? What’s more, could you taste the difference [能夠吃得出] between slow-stewed noodles and instant noodles? If you can’t taste the difference, then naturally it will not survive. No one is willing to do things that a rather time-consuming [比較長久的] and [require] patience. But what is interesting is that [with] covid-19, when friends emailed me or, during quarantine, or later when they got in touch through What’s App, I discovered that they have begun to cook again, making things that require a lot of time. All of sudden I realized how very interesting this was. Because for ages they had eaten takeaways; they hadn’t gone near their own kitchens for a very long time [6:00]. They had begun to do this, they had started over again.
Caption: 做孤獨的自己與自己對話 | A Lone Self in Dialogue with Itself
● 流行病 = epidemic disease | ● 逼迫 = to force; to compel; to coerce
Perhaps this epidemic is a means: it is forcing you to calm down. What’s more, it goes on and on, now we have no way of knowing of when it will end. Perhaps it will save humanity once again, helping us to start to realize just why we are in such a hurry. What I’d like to say is: let us go back [每個人回來] to being alone with ourselves. This may be a starting point to go an re-establish a dialogue between ourselves and the Planet, or with ourselves, or with time, or history.
You couldn’t stand it ― crawling hour after hour down the famished tunnel of your hunger mostly for a mouthful of dust. At first sight, do I rightly get under that skin you are absolutely certain never to wriggle out of? Legless, lipless, no browed, ruthless ― my denudity creepily never fails to unnerve. Of course, I am poison’s Greatest Living Treasure and venomously adverbs every single move I make to the point where I, alone, am the sinuous hairline crack that fractures and flaws even the most generous “Love of Nature”. Slithering or coiled, I bring you lightning Sudden Death, and am always prepared to pull ― despite decades of cautious caretaking ― just that light from under your feet.
“Highest good is like water [上善若水],” it says in Chapter VIII of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, and it is a wonderful thing to read the phrase quoted again here, 2500 years later, in the 創刊宣言 or “Publication Manifesto” of a new Hong Kong magazine called 《如水》[Flow HK].
The purpose of Flow HK is 通過歷史論述、理論框架以及對未來路線的思考，我們希望連結每位參與這場光復運動的香港兒女，為他們作思想充權 — that is, “By means of discussions of history, theoretical frameworks, and a consideration of future ways to proceed, we hope to connect with every daughter and son of Hong Kong who is taking part in this movement to liberate Hong Kong and to empower them intellectually”, and anyone concerned for the fate of Hong Kong will be stirred by the words 在每個漆黑無聲的夜晚，不要忘記還有人從未放棄心中所有 — “In every pitch-black night in which nothing stirs, one must not forget that there are still individuals who have never given up on what they hold dear in their hearts”.
The theme of the first issue is 絆 buhn6, a verb that usually means “to trip up”, and which occurs in the compound 絆腳石 or “stumbling block”. It seems like a fairly reasonable place to set out from. For more information, you can visit the Flow HK website here.
Please scroll down for the Manifesto with an English translation and notes. If you wish to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.
● 共同體 guhng6 tùhng4 tái2 = community | ● 傀儡 faai3 léuih5 = a puppet; a stooge | ● 日益趨厲 yaht6 yīk1 chēui1 laih6 = gets fiercer by the day | ● 不計其數 bāt1 gai3 kèih4 sou3 = countless; innumerable | ● 強行 kéuhng5 hàhng4 = to force | ● 威權 wāi1 kyùhn4 = authority; power | ● 收窄 sāu1 jaak3 = to narrow | ● 歷史試煉 lihk6 sí2 si3 lihn6 = (?) an historical test/trial | ● 流散於各方 làuh4 saan3 yū1 gok3 fōng1 = to scatter in all directions | ● 維繫 wàih4 haih6 = to hold together | ● 承傳 sìhng4 chyùhn4 = (?) to inherit & to impart cf. 傳承 chyùhn4 sìhng4 = to impart & to inherit
We live in the best, and the worst, of times. Over the course of the past resistance, we have seen the boundless possibilities of the Hong Kong people, and this has also enabled us to have some fond imaginings about the Hong Kong community. However, the repression carried out by the Chinese Communist Party and its puppet authorities [政權] in Hong Kong is getting fiercer by the day, and the number of those who have bled or who have been charged with a criminal offence because of their resistance or their political views is too numerous to count. In the wake of the Chinese Communist Party’s forcing of the passage of the National Security Law, Hong Kong has now truly entered an era of authoritarian rule [威權時代], and even though many acts of resistance opposing totalitarian power have been initiated among the common people [民間], the space of freedom for people in Hong Kong is constantly being narrowed down. Faced with this unprecedented historical test, we (people who have left Hong Kong and now live in various countries around the world) are determined to try and hold together this unique community [made up] of Hongkongers, in the hope that we can impart and hand on the sparks of resistance.
● 焗促不安 guhk6 chūk1 bāt1 ōn1 = cf. 局促不安 = feel ill at ease | ● 重新思索 chùhng4 sān1 sī1 sok3 = roughly, “to rethink” (cf. 思索 = to ponder; to think deeply) | ● 初心 chō1 sām1 = one’s original intention (Sheik Cantonese: 初心 is a Japanese term that means “beginner’s mind”) | ● 取其義 chéui2 kèih4 yih6 = roughly, “to take as its meaning” | ● 靈巧 lìhng4 háau2 = dextrous; nimble; skilful; ingenious | ● 強權 kèuhng4 kyùhn4 = power; might | ● 甚或 sahm6 waahk6 = even; (go) so far as to | ● 擴散 kong3 saan3 = to spread; to diffuse | ● 通澈 tūng1 chit3 = ? (cf. 通徹to understand thoroughly) | ● 容器 yùhng4 hei3 = container; vessel | ● 地緣 deih6 yùhn6 = relations formed through geographical links; geo- (as a prefix) | ● 格局 gaak3 guhk6 = a pattern; setup; structure | ● 論述 leuhn6 seuht6 = to discuss; to expound
In such an uneasy political environment, we can rethink the “original intentions” of the movement: “to be like water” [如水]. “To be like water” means that when the water goes into a cup or glass, it takes the form of the cup/glass, and when it goes into a jug [壺] it adopts the shape of a jug. The reason why the anti-extradition movement was able to achieve a breakthrough was precisely because activists [抗爭者] were able to respond with ingenuity to the tactics of those in power, just like water — capable of being both firm and stable [堅穩], and flowing like water, and even able to evaporate and vanish away into thin air [擴散而去]. But following on from the constant escalation in repression on the part of the regime, if we wish to go on in the spirit of being like water, we must first gain a thorough understanding of our containers, that is, the state of affairs in which we find ourselves and the global setup [世界格局]. Whose discourse is it that constitutes the Hong Kong and the Hongkongers we are to have in our minds? To what extent is our “common knowledge” saturated with the mindset [意識] of a Chinese communist colonial Hong Kong?
● 清空心智 chīng1 hūng1 sām1 ji3 = (?) to empty one’s mind | ● 審視 sám2 sih6 = to examine; to scrutinize | ● 未圓之處 meih6 yùhn4 jī1 chyu3 = roughly, “those places which are not satisfactory” | ● 摒棄 bing3 hei3 = to discard; to reject; to throw away; to abandon | ● 考證 háau2 jing3 = usu. textual criticism; textual research | ● 拷問 hāau1 mahn6 = usu. “to torture” (?) to interrogate
If we wish to be like water, we must first empty our minds and scrutinize ourselves for blind spots and imperfections [未圓之處]. That does not mean that we should try to go beyond history or set aside all the old intellectual frameworks. The opposite is true: we must once again examine [考證] history, criticize the utterances [論述] of the existing power structure, and establish our own discourse about this community, in order to reflect on future possible ways forward. Where does the long river of Hong Kong first begin to flow, and in which direction ought it to flow [next]? This is how the present era interrogates [拷問] us.
● 知所進退 jī1 só2 jeun3 teui3 = roughly, “know when to advance and when to retreat” | ● 任 yahm6 = to let; to allow; to give free rein to | ● 單一規範 dāan1 yāt1 kwāi1 faahn6 = roughly, “a single standard/norm” | ● 鐵則 tit3 jāk1 = an iron rule | ● 束縛 chūk1 bok3 = to tie; to bind up; to fetter | ● 奉為圭臬 fuhng6 wàih4 gwāi1 yiht6 = hold up as a model | ● 相左的異議 sēung1 jó2 dīk1 yih6 yíh5 = lit. 相左 = conflict with each other + 異議 = objection; dissent| ● 送葬 sung3 jong3 = to take part in a funeral procession; to attend a funeral | ● 合作基礎 hahp6 jok3 gēi1 chó2 = a foundation/basis for co-operation | ● 攜手 kwàih4 sáu2 = ① hand in hand ② to co-operate | ● 澤 jaahk6 = to benefit | ● 川流不息 chyūn1 làuh4 bāt1 sīk1 = flowing past in an endless stream; never-ending | ● 對撞契合 deui3 johng6 kai3 hahp6 = lit. 對撞 = colliding + 契合 = to agree with; to tally with
When unable to flow, water becomes turbid; when able to flow, it is never stagnant. If, during key moments in the days to come, we wish to be able to be like water — knowing when to advance and when to retreat — we cannot allow any single norm [單一規範] to become an iron rule with which to limit ourselves. When those holding power hold up telling lies as a model, as a matter of course [往往] they brutally obliterate any views that object to their own, and take part in the funeral for the possibility of the development of freedom among the people. If collective movements are to succeed, it is indispensable for public groups to seek out bases for co-operation and directions for development. Highest good is like water — only as long as we put ourselves to one side in the course of the revolution and advance hand in hand can we benefit the community we so deeply love. At the same time, it is only as long as we are willing to positively discuss issues affecting this community together that the vitality of the Hong Kong community can be maintained, providing intellectual nutrition to future movements.
● 政治寒冬 jing3 jih6 hòhn4 dūng1 = roughly, “a severe political Winter” | ● 剛強 gōng1 kèuhng4 = firm; staunch; unyielding | ● 不屈 bāt wāt1 = unyielding; unbending | ● 破除 po3 chèuih4 = to do away with; to get rid of; to eradicate; to break with | ● 夢魘 muhng6 yím2 = nightmare | ● 辯論 bihn6 leuhn6 = to argue; to debate | ● 抹殺 mut3 saat3 = to remove from evidence; to expunge; to suppress; to wipe out, to obliterate (also written 抹煞) | ● 建構 gin3 kau3 = to construct | ● 整合 jíng2 hahp6 = to reorganize & consolidate | ● 面向 mihn6 heung3 = ① to turn in the direction of; to face ② be geared to the needs of; to cater to | ● 論述 leuhn6 seuht6 = to discuss; to expound | ● 連結 lìhn4 git3 = to connect | ● 作思想充權jok3 sī1 séung2 chōng1 kyùhn4 = (?) to carry out ideological/intellectual empowerment | ● 弘揚 wàhng4 yèuhng4 = to develop & expand
Faced with this severe political Winter, Hongkongers must be flexible like water, and they must also be staunch like water, striving to do away with the Chinese nightmare. When political power obliterates all space for public debate, we cannot choose silence, we Hong Kong people who are scattered abroad as well as those who deeply love Hong Kong. We have decided to make use of those spaces for freedom outside of Hong Kong to construct and maintain a medium for the public discussion of Hong Kong, as well as to reorganize and consolidate discussions geared to [面向] [issues such as] politics, history, society and culture for Hongkongers inside and outside Hong Kong. By means of discussions of history, theoretical frameworks, and a consideration of future ways to proceed [未來路線], we hope to connect with every daughter and son of Hong Kong who is taking part in this movement to liberate Hong Kong and to empower them intellectually. In the course of human history, we would like to develop and amplify the voice of Hongkongers in their quest for freedom, as well as let the world come to see Hong Kong.
● 轉捩點 jyún2 liht6 dím2 = turning point | ● 失根的浮萍 sāt1 gān1 dīk1 fàuh4 pìhng4 = roughly, “duckweed which has lost its roots/identity” | ● 白白流逝 baahk6 baahk6 làuh4 saih6 = 白白 = in vain; to no purpose; for nothing + 流逝 = (of time) to pass; to elapse | ● 漆黑 chāt1 hāk1/hāak1 = pitch-dark; pitch-black | ● 心中所有 sām1 jūng1 só2 yáuh5 = roughly, “that which is in one’s heart/mind” | ● 憑藉 pàhng4 jihk6 = to rely on; to depend on | ● 夙願 sūk1 yuhn6 = a long-cherished wish | ● 跨 kwāa1 = to cut across; to go beyond | ● 呼聲 fū1 sēng1 = a cry; a voice | ● 召喚 jiuh6 wuhn6 = to call; to summon | ● 挺身而出 tíhng5 sān1 yìh4 chēut1 = step forward bravely; come out boldly | ● 不負 bāt1 fuh6 = (?) not to betray | ● 獨裁暴政 duhk6 choih4 bouh6 jing3 = cf. 獨裁 = dictatorship + 暴政 = tyranny; despotic rule | ● 破土而出 po3 tóu2 yìh4 chēut1 = (of a seedling) break through the soil | ● 遊子 yàuh4 jí2 = a person travelling or residing in a place far away from home | ● 解困 gáai2 kwan3 = to resolve difficulties | ● 希冀 hēi1 kei3 = to hope for; to wish for; to aspire to
Notes: ① The expression 是故 has the meaning of “for this reason” in Standard Written Chinese. ② I’m not exactly sure what 勢要 sai3 yiu3 means in the phrase 勢要讓獨裁暴政在這代終結. Usually, 勢 refers to “momentum” or “tendency”; it can also mean “state of affairs; circumstances”.
History is now at a turning point, and a revolution in thought is in the process of taking place. Hong Kong is the Hong Kong that belongs to the Hong Kong people — we have no wish to become [like] floating duckweed that has lost its roots, and for this reason we will absolutely not allow Hong Kong to slip out of our hands to no purpose. In every pitch-black night in which nothing stirs, one must not forget that there are still individuals who have never given up on what they hold dear in their hearts [心中所有]. Before the coming of the dawn, we will keep one another company through the long night, and with written words give expression to both our faith and our perseverance, providing in the darkness of night a basis for our common hopes. The striving for democracy and freedom is the long-cherished wish of Hongkongers cutting across a number of generations, and we are convinced that the pursuit of determining our own fate is something that History calls on us to do [追求命運自主是歷史的呼聲]. History is summoning us, so we must come out boldly, not betray the age, and continue the momentum [勢要] by which dictatorship and tyranny is coming to an end in this era. We look forward to the fruits of democracy breaking through the soil of Hong Kong, [so that] those residing far from home may return, and those in difficulty may resolve them [so that] together Hongkongers can build a beautiful new Hong Kong, as soon as possible. This is our shared aspiration.