夜話神童

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華裾織翠青如蔥,金環壓轡搖玲瓏。馬蹄隱耳聲隆隆,入門下馬氣如虹。云是東京才子,文章鉅公。二十八宿羅心胸,元精耿耿貫當中。殿前作賦聲摩空,筆補造化天無功。龐眉書客感秋蓬,誰知死草生華風。我今垂翅附冥鴻,他日不羞蛇作龍。
--李賀《高軒過》

據《摭言》,這首詩是小長吉七歲時,當着韓愈和皇甫湜--即所謂"東京才子,文章鉅公"--面前即席揮毫而寫的,詩成,"二公大驚"。"神童啊!" 大家可能要齊聲歡呼,恨不得拍下小長吉整個吟詩過程再放上Youtube供世人點擊。但即使韓愈身攜一部五百萬像素照相手機,這場天才表演終究是拍不到的,因為煮鶴焚琴的學者早已考證出,此詩根本就作於長吉弱冠之後。所謂神童,原來也只是集體假回憶而已。

近日香港傳媒不停炒作的神童故事,我實在毫無興趣。一來我討厭兒童(所以我小時候已非常討厭同儕),先天便免疫於此等旨在滿足父母望子成龍幻想的花邊新聞。二來是我覺得他們一點也不神,是一點也不;如果說他們聰明,我倒沒有異議。但聰明人世上多的是,何必大呼小叫出賣自己的無知?很多年前,我曾經咬緊牙關給一個資質--我姑且厚道一點--"異常平凡"的頑童補習。他功課差,聽力弱,口齒不清......總之,絕非所謂神童之流。有天我突發神經,決定拿他當白老鼠聊以解悶,便做了一個對他不無小補的實驗:我自己先把整本數學書(小五)速讀一遍,然後再將每課的運算方法濃縮成幾句話,囑咐他邊聽邊做練習,最後要他試試完成書末的總複習。結果他大致都做對了。這代表什麼?很簡單:一個天資最普通的小學生,只要掌握有效的方法,都可以在一小時(我其實只教了他四十分鐘)內完成學校半年的數學課程。當然,我要強調兩點:首先,數學是最易速成的,我相信智力正常者皆不難跳級,若語言文學也能速成,那才較像神童;第二,懂得計算雖等同懂得考試,但可能只是知其然而不知其所以然,實在沒啥大不了。明乎此,只要傳媒繼續推波助瀾,家長學校又萬眾一心,我深信香港在不久將來,必有"神童滿街走,天才多如狗"的駭人盛況。

我心中的神童是怎樣呢?最實至名歸的,肯定是童年時反過來教授老師"字母本質"的耶穌(1)。如果認為耶穌太神了,我不妨舉一些中國歷史實例。春秋時,蒍賈尚幼,觀子玉治兵無禮,知其必敗《左傳.僖公二十七年》;王孫滿尚幼,觀秦師輕而寡謀,知必敗《左傳.僖公三十三年》,二者庶幾近之:人最難得的是智慧和卓識,很多人到老死那天,依然懵懂愚頑,毫無判斷能力,而兩人竟以幼齡而知禮,兼料事如神,這才是一等一的神童。符合這個高標準的,當然還有不少,例如被黃帝尊為"天師"的襄城小童《莊子.徐无鬼》,相傳七歲為孔子師的項橐見《秦策》五、《淮南子.修務訓》、《論衡.實知篇》等,可惜這些若非跡近神話,便是語焉不詳。退而求次,像昭明太子、黃庭堅般五歲能誦五經,或如下面Abby Julo那樣默識各地元首姓名、本國歷史和大段著名演說,雖不免有點鸚鵡學舌,但較諸以考試奇技名噪一時的本地神童,總算多幾分看頭吧?


忽記起當年的心算神童羅文輝,他現在變成解牛的庖丁相信不少人都知道,但很多年前,我曾在八卦雜誌看過一段相當詭異的秘聞,恐怕知道的人不多:據說他小時之所以能速算,是因為總有一把神秘"聲音"告訴他答案,只是長大後漸聽不到,最後便淪為在滾滾紅塵中掙扎的折翼天使了。我不能確定這是否屬實,但想到在這鬼影憧憧的盂蘭之夜,由神童神蹟無端走筆至鬼聲鬼氣,是否有點令人略感不安的巧合呢?

注:

1.The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, 6:14-23

(14) So Joseph took him by the hand and led him into the classroom. (15) And the teacher wrote the alphabet for him and began to practice it many times, but the child said nothing and did not answer him for a long time. (16) Becoming outraged, the teacher hit him on the head. After enduring this stoically, the child said to him, "I am teaching you more than being taught by you because I know the letters you are teaching me and your judgment is great. These things are to you like a copper pitcher or a clashing cymbal which do not offer glory or wisdom through sound. (17) Nobody understands the power of my wisdom." (18) Then, when his rage was finished, he said the alphabet from alpha to omega very quickly.(19) Looking the teacher in the face, he told him, "Since you do not know the nature of the alpha, how are going to teach me the beta? (20) Hypocrite, if you know, first teach me the alpha then I will believe what you say about the beta." (21) Then, he began to tell the teacher about the first letter. And the teacher was not strong enough to say anything.(22) Then, while many were listening, he said to Zacchaeus, "Listen, teacher, and observe the structure of the first letter, (23) how it has two standard lines and impresses coming to a point in the middle and remaining there, coming together, lifting up, dancing, having three corners, having two corners, without strokes, of one family, well-balanced, as long as the alpha has equal lines."


附錄:

以下是Y.T.一篇舊作,文章主要論及音樂天才,但他的想法施於其他領域也無不可。我希望大家可以留心此句:"Truly, I gather, art is not something to be isolated from life; it is life. Brilliant technique without deep reflections from life is but a wandering body without a living soul."任何學問,最高境界都與藝術和生命打成一片。今天很多所謂"神童",即使腦筋轉得再快,其實也不見得能走在時間之前去跳級體會人生。如果真連生命也能跳班,大概就只有落得早夭的下場了。(根據《莊子.天運》引老子之言,神童最早出現於舜的年代,而人之所以會夭折,正是由於早慧。原文是:"舜之治天下,使民心競,民孕婦十月生子相傳再早的年代,孕婦十四月生子,子生五月而能言,不至乎孩而始誰,則人始有夭矣。")

On Prodigy

* Some friends of mine have been exchanging views on this issue for several weeks, mainly by means of email. I am delighted to join, though their main concern is prodigy in music, a realm that has always forbidden me to voice anything reliable.

I took the liberty of postponing my reply to such an extent, that the word "reply" might have already been abused. It is always very tempting for me to write endlessly, but less so if I were to venture into a field my command of which could at most be embarrassing. Too bold to regard myself a pianist-whatever sense the title may convey-I dare only ponder upon the question of prodigy in very general terms. In fact, it seems to me that people have quite different conceptions of a prodigious figure, but not rarely do they only focus on the technical aspect thereof. Breath-taking renditions can often capture the ears of many listeners, yet disappoint the thoughtful soul sitting in the last row, shadowed in the dark.

I am not sure how closely-or loosely-life experience and musical emotion are related. In literature, my happy digression, there is a kind of heaviness that almost no prodigy can pen. Well, Keats wrote his most famous poems in his early twenties, a few years before he died in a duel. Is Keats a prodigy then? Where, if any, should we find a matching table between age and expected achievement?

Furthermore, my biased impression is that prodigies are usually quite proud of their natural endowment and actual achievement. Can they thus be compared with the old masters, who might be even less technically astonishing? Truly, I gather, art is not something to be isolated from life; it is life. Brilliant technique without deep reflections from life is but a wandering body without a living soul. Though yet, I cannot say for sure what is deep in music, for the depth might very well come from the listener instead; the same subjectivity and ambiguity that literature suffers and enjoys.

The progress of a prodigy, therefore, can be compared to the progress of a man's mental maturity, though, indisputably, this latter concept is equally vague as that of prodigy itself. If we force the prodigy to stop playing, but rather to become a listener, can he then communicate with another master on the stage through musical terms? Or, I wonder, can there be a prodigious critic instead? A question without answers; a song without words...

My acquaintance with Roland Barthes' work is poor enough to free me from any guilt of distortion, but I do remember how hard he had pushed for the rise of the reader after this millennium-long domination of the author. He did not talk about pianists, nor listeners, nor music critics; yet, can there be an analogous case here? While having little sympathy for Barthes' views, I do think this late French gentleman would lead us back to the original question, namely, what is a prodigy? The one under flamboyant stage lights might be a prodigy; he might not be a young musician, God knows.

... a song without words; words without a song. And many are still singing for the prodigy. For his music.

Y.T.
April 27, 2001. Cambridge.

13 留言:

匿名 說...

想君小時,乃當了了。

Eric Spanner 說...

我反而比較有興趣知一眾寫手點睇「週年」或「生日」等——新春秋好快就一週年喇。

暗黑的卡夫卡 說...

But for a prodigy, isn't it usually defined as a child or young person displaying an abnormal level of technical skills or ability that normally exhibited from much later age?

Can you really associate "depth"(understanding of life) with prodigy since they are not really the same?

But then Jesus is an example of showing "depth" in an early age, albeit he is not even a human being...or is he?

K, so many fcking quesitons...But one thing is for sure: Y.T's article is elegant. Damn I wish I can write like that.

倉海君 說...

Anonymous,

拾人牙慧,必是庸才。

eric,

哈,我比較有興趣慶祝死忌。

暗黑的卡夫卡,

我上文要點出的,是任何智力正常者只要經過操練,很大可能都會展示出"an abnormal level of technical skills or ability that normally exhibited from much later age",殊不足怪。我的想法很簡單:生而知之才是神童,需要"特別栽培"的只是稍聰明的常人而已。除了耶穌外,我在上文也舉了其他例子,當然還可舉更多:如幼年拜官的甘羅,對客便捷而睿智的孔融、楊修、賈嘉隱......

你似乎認為神童思想不必有 "depth",我同意這正是一般人的理解,但我整篇文的重點正正是質疑這種想法。因為"depth"是無法操練的,你有,這才算"神",對嗎?當然,我也不完全排斥你所謂的abnormal level of technical skills or ability,所以我也"退而求次"地列舉了昭明太子、黃山谷和Abby Julo。相信我的看法已經夠清楚吧?

暗黑的卡夫卡 說...

倉海君:

Thanks...I kinda get it but I was confused with that definition of 神童 in my mind.

To me, 神 is their "skills", while
童 is their age and "mental maturity". Your definition is another level altogether...

And I agree with you that in HK, there are tons of "神童" according to the normal definition...and most of them will suffer/早夭 because of it...sad isn't it?

sf 說...

小五生所習者乃算術, 非數學.

左冷禪 說...

In my view, only children who could create, are qualified to be called as 神童. Under my criteria, only people like Wolfganag Amadeus Mozart are regarded as 神童. It is beause you may learn how to play musical instruments, but you could never learn how to compose a symphony. Scoring high marks in examinations like the HKCEE, is nothing more than the result of diligence and/or sleepless nights.

I often find the press coverage on those students scoring 10A very dry. Who the hell would memorise their names? They are just like winners of the beauty pagents. Could you name the 2000 0r 2003 Miss Hong Kong? Where are those 10A of my contemporary?

倉海君 說...

sf兄,

甚是。但以你認為,甚麼年級才叫數學呢?以我經驗,即使到中學畢業,我依然覺得只是在練習算術。抑或年級並不重要,教法才是轉算術為數學的關鍵呢?我小時最喜歡數學,但後來越讀越興致索然。實不相瞞,最近我正計畫把數學「重頭學過」,有沒有什麼好書推介?請賜教。

hystericireul 說...

個人認為,預科的純數和應用數才是初窺數學的入門。

匿名 說...

should it be Barthes', not Barthe's ?

倉海君 說...

thanks

Zeke 說...

在猶太秘學之典《光輝之書》 (Sefer ha Zohar) 中亦有談及「神童」一事:拉比 Abba 眼見週遭的小孩們有著異於常人的解讀《托拉》智慧而驚愕不已,拉比 Moshe Cordovero 為此解說到他們都是聖殿被毀時遇害的小孩之輪迴轉世,因著聖者拉比 Shimon bar Yohai 的功德使他同一世代的人們轉世後便與生俱來懂卡巴拉,淨化他們以重整伊甸之殿。

sf 說...

倉海君, 哪敢指教. 我不知甚麼年級才算數學. 我只知道自己到了大學上了某門課才嚐到點數學的味道.