⟨ Book ⟩

Where She Sleeps by Wong Sze Chit

Afloat in the Air

Words / Jas Tse
Photography / Kimio Ng
Translation / Iris Heung

2月份的巴黎,蒙帕納斯墓園,三天。有一天下雨了,氣溫很低,卻不覺荒涼,還有種溫暖。眼前肆意扭曲的樹幹、墓碑上的字、或靜靜敞著的雕塑,他用紅色木顏色筆把它們畫下來的時候,看到的原來是自己的狀態。回來後便出版了畫集《Where She Sleeps》。

插畫家黃思哲,是香港獨立書店Book B的創辦人之一。2017年2月他去法國旅行的時候,出發前便定好了連續三天待在蒙帕納斯墓園的行程,因為那裡睡著他很喜歡的作家杜拉斯。而一直喜歡到墓園散步的他,幾年前在捷克也去了卡夫卡的墓和他聊天。

It was February in Paris. The plan was to spend three days in the Montparnasse Cemetery. There was one day with rain, the temperature was low. However, instead of bleakness, there was an unexpected sense of warmth.

The reckless web of tree branches, words inscribed on the tombstones, and the statues in eternal silence… When making sketches of this place with a red colored pencil, Wong realized he was, in fact, illustrating a reflection of his state of mind. He then had the sketches published in Where She Sleeps after returning home from the trip.

Wong Sze Chit is an illustrator from Hong Kong who is as well the co-founder of the local independent bookshop “Book B”. Before setting off for his trip to France in February 2017, he had already decided to spend three days in a row in Montparnasse Cemetery, which is the final resting place of one of his favorite writers, Marguerite Duras. Wong always enjoys strolling around in cemeteries. Few years ago, he also visited Kafka’s tomb in the Czech Republic.

「那幾天我會9點起床,叼著麵包散步過去,到達後靜下來就會跟自己說:『好吧,我今天什麼也不要想。』沒有一定要畫的,想畫的時候才坐下來。」那幾天反而讓他找到自己的另一種畫畫方法,也就是誠實。

“I started those days at 9 am. I would walk to the cemetery while nibbling on my bread. When I arrived and settled down, I would tell myself, ‘Okay, let’s not think about anything particular today.’ There is nothing that I really needed to draw, I would only sit down when I wanted to draw.” These few days have ended up teaching him another technique of drawing — honesty.

「我會說,那些風景是直接通過我的 —— 我看見它,我什麼都不想,我用手畫出來。我要求自己很直接,如果它是歪的那就歪吧。當風景混雜了人的思緒,那所有風景都是活的,就算是靜止的景物其實也在動,因為你的心在搖,當你不安的時候,整個世界彷彿都在震盪。」是什麼都不去想,但有時比意志更強大的,是潛藏了好一段日子,一步一步埋在心底,跟隨著自己已然共生的潛意識,會在體內體外發作吧。

「很多年前我在日記裡寫過一句話:『我好怕自己會老。』不是身體的衰弱,是心態或靈魂的腐化,不再思考,也不再感受,是怕這一種。因為想避免這種支離破碎或腐爛,我覺得畫畫是一種拯救,避免我掉入那種狀態。」拯救好像一直與快樂無關,大多是面對自己以後才迎來的,那像刮刮樂一樣的東西,不覺得如此困難但又不容易碰上剛好的某一點。

“I would say, those sceneries have gone directly into me. I simply drew what I saw without even trying to think. I required myself to be very direct. Just let things look tilted if that was the case. When emotion was added to the scenery, even the still images would become dynamic. This is because your heart was shaking, your disturbed mind would make the world vibrate.” Not thinking at all is sometimes even more powerful than willpower. Subconsciousness is a latent force in one’s mind that continuously grows until it becomes an actual power that affects one’s body and soul.

“A few years ago, I wrote in my diary, ‘I am afraid of getting old.’ I did not mean getting weak physically. I was talking about how the mind and the soul would deteriorate and cease to think or to feel. This was my true fear. Drawing has always been rescuing me from falling into the state of being shattered or rotten.” Such feeling of liberation is not necessarily connected to happiness, rather it is some kind of preparation for the future. Sometimes things just fold out like a scratch-off lotto game, it looks easy enough but you just never get to win.

黃思哲沒受過畫畫訓練,反倒沒太多包袱,他覺得技巧不是最重要的,裡面有什麼才重要。「出書很多時是有話想說,但翻開這本書原來什麼都沒有說,我反而蠻喜歡這一點,這跟墓園蠻相似的。很多發生過的事埋葬在那裡,那些都不再流動了。」

Wong Sze Chit never received any training in drawing. For exactly this reason, he does not really feel constrained. To him, the content is far more important than mere skills. “Books are usually published to convey a certain kind of message. But this book basically does not carry any message, which is something that I like in particular. Such form is similar to the cemetery. All the bygones were buried and they no longer flow.”

他特地把杜拉斯的墓留待最後一天才去。她的墓有一塊平放的石碑,上面有個花盆,花盆裡有植物,泥裡有很多筆。「我想每個人都會留下一支筆吧。畫了三天之後我的筆還未用盡,便送給她了。其實本來是為了她而去的,但最後又覺得不太重要。記得當時有個畫面是,在黃昏時,放下筆後我在墓前坐了一會兒,轉身便看到一個很美的日落,那個感覺很好,像完成了些什麼而感到安心。迷失那麼久之後終於能有安心的感覺了。」

像已好一段日子懸浮在半空的自己,一直在走卻觸不著地,向內挖也抓不著什麼的時候,然而還是會回到地上,再踏空,再回來吧。

He deliberately waited until the last day to visit Duras’s grave — which is a tombstone lying flat on the ground with a flower pot sitting on top. Inside the pot are a plant and many pens in the soil. “I believe many people would leave their pens and pencils in the pot. Although my pencil was still usable on the last day, I left it there as a gift for her. She was the reason for me to visit the cemetery, but at the end, it did not seem to matter. I was at her grave at dusk, I sat in front of her grave for a little while after putting my pencil in the pot. When I turned to leave, I was greeted by a wonderful sunset. This memory is still very vivid until now. It was such a great feeling, as if I have gained peace after achieving something. After feeling lost for such a long time, peace finally came back to me.”

Like finding yourself afloat in the air, failing to keep your feet on the ground. When you felt all this effort of trying to reach the ground would go in vain, there you returned to the ground again. It does not matter if you float into the air again, you will still be back someday.