2013年05月15日 Update 文 / 蔡家榛
History: The Unbearable Lightness or Heaviness? (I)－How our generation faces and treats history
Even with these dark eyes, a gift of the dark night,
I go to seek the shining light.
Gu Cheng, Chinese poet (1958-1993)
In David Der-wei Wang’s The Monster That Is History,the chapter The End of the Lineintroduces Gu Cheng and his two-line poem, A Generation, written in April 1979. The “generation” is namely those who have gone through the Chinese Cultural Revolution, when times were dark and confusion widespread. People were given historical responsibilities to search for the shining light, which refers to their historical roles and future. In such dark times the light was nowhere to be found, yet inside one’s heart the yearning for it was so strong that it became one’s sole propelling force. This unmatched courage could lead people to break through the darkness. With this in mind, thousands upon thousands of the generation were able to gather their power in the search of silver linings. It can be interpreted, then, that the poem is not a cry of endless despair, but a yearning for light and a declaration of hope. Moreover, the poem not only mirrors the spirit of the past era alone, but also reflects the tide of history—history includes every individual moment and every single quest of hope. History does not represent absolute truth. Instead, it is a series of never-ending questions and pursuits of answers. As argued in my previous two articles, linear timeline is problematic. The past-present-future timeline should not be taken as the primary standard by which we decide what history really is. While in solitary retreat in a snow cave, Tenzin Palmosaid the litany, “dew will never gather while there is either heat or wind. The temperature must fall, and the wind cease, and the air come to a point of coolness and rest—absoluterest, so to speak—beforeit can yield up its invisible particles of moisture to bedew either herb or flower.” History is not just any change in this ever-changing world. It is when the dewdrop gathers that we see our reflections as we seek answers in the tide of history. History lies in every individual’s present experience.