In this episode, I talk about steamed buns. What is such an ordinary food today is actually quite sophisticated. What do I mean? Listen to this week’s episode and find out!

Chinese Version

English Version

哈喽,大家好。我是Kaycee。

今天我们来聊聊馒头。馒头有什么好聊的呢?要不咱们聊个两毛钱的试试?

虽然馒头现在是再普通不过的食物了,但是有那么一段时间,馒头还是奢侈品呢。我们从头开始说吧。

馒头的由来有这么一个说法。

春秋战国时期(公元前770年-公元前221年),石磨还没有被发明出来。人们食用麦子的主要方式是煮粥,蒸麦饭,和炒成干粮吃。吃面食的人不会太多。

根据现存的实物资料,中国人在西汉初期发明了磨,也只有石磨被发明以后,在中国的小麦的主产区,也就是中国北方,人们才开始大规模地吃饼。但是汉魏时期的面食“饼”并不是人们意义上的“饼”。而是所有的面食都被称为“饼”,比如:炉饼就是现在的烧饼、汤饼就是现在的面条、环饼就是油炸面圈,等等。

馒头是将面经发酵后再蒸熟的,所以不但松软适口,而且易于消化。而发面是十分困难的。要在长期的生活生产时间中不断摸索、不断积累,才能掌握酵母菌的生化反应。根据现存的史料,馒头的出现不晚于晋代(266年-420年)。但是名字也不叫馒头,而叫“蒸饼”或者“面起饼”。

在《齐书》有记载:西晋永平九年(公元299年),皇帝专门下旨规定今后祭祀太庙要用“面起饼”。可见当时馒头不光是一种高级食品,它的级别应该是奢侈品了。至今,在中国祭祀也经常会摆些馒头

“曼头”一词最早见到是在西晋时期, 在束广微的《饼赋》里面,里面写着:“三春之初,阴阳交际,寒气既消,温不至热,于时享宴,则曼头宜设。”。郎瑛的《七修类稿》也有说:“馒头本名蛮头。”。这个听起来可能有点奇怪,因为大家不一定能看到这个字。那“馒头本名蛮头”,第一个“馒头”是我们现在所认识的“馒头”这个词,也就是食字旁的“馒”,馒头。第二个“蛮头”是野蛮的“蛮”打头的“蛮头”,意思就是说,最开始蛮头是野蛮的蛮打头的蛮头,之后演变成现在我们所认识的食字旁的馒头。那最初,这个馒头的名字是从哪来的呢?据说,这个野蛮的蛮打头的馒头还是从诸葛亮那儿来的。

《三国演义》第91回有这么一段剧情:

三国时期,诸葛亮率兵攻打南蛮,七擒六纵蛮将孟获,使孟获终于臣服。诸葛亮班师回朝,途中必须经过泸水。

军队车马准备渡江时,突然狂风大作,浪击千尺,鬼哭狼嚎,大军无法渡江。此时诸葛亮召来孟获问明原因。原来,两军交战,战亡将士无法返回故里与家人团聚,就在江上兴风作浪,阻挠众将士回程。大军若要渡江,必须用49颗蛮军的人头祭江,方可风平浪静。也就是说江上闹鬼,诸葛亮需要拿人头祭奠河神才能度过。

诸葛亮心想:两军交战死伤难免,岂能再杀49条人命?他想到这儿,就命令厨子以米面为皮,里头包上牛肉羊肉,捏塑出49颗人头。然后,陈设香案,洒酒祭江。

从此,在民间有了“蛮头”一说。“蛮头“代表着南蛮的人头。之后人们把这个“蛮”字改成没有食字旁的曼,再后来,我们加上了食字旁,变成了现在我们所认识的”馒头“这个词。

诸葛亮创始的馒头,毕竟里面加上了牛肉馅、羊肉馅,工序复杂而且花多时间。于是,后人便将做馅的工序省去,就成了如今的馒头。而有馅的,则成为包子。

正式历史记载中并没有这一段,所以这故事的真假我们就各自下结论吧。

现在馒头的种类已经数不胜数了,比如饽饽、馍、开花馒头、硬面馒头、枣馒头、水晶馒头、水酵馒头, 等等。

而且南方的馒头和北方的馒头还不一样。

1、叫法不同

首先,叫法不同。中国在江浙沪地区,仍然把带馅不带汤的馒头叫做“馒头”,而不带馅的叫做“白面馒头”。那“包子”就是指带汤的,比如,苏州汤包。这和北方就不一样了。北方话中,带馅的是“包子”,不带馅的叫做“馒头”,因为北方没有带汤的馒头。

2、口感味道特点不同

第二点不同之处就是口感味道不同。中国面点具有多样性的特征,不同的地理气候环境形成不同的生活习惯,体现在饮食文化上主要有南米北面、南细北粗、南甜北咸、南粒北粉、南糯北奶等这些特征。馒头作为一种南北皆有的面食,也体现了这一点。

北方馒头更多的是粗、硬、实,所以有山东的高庄馒头、东北的馍馍、北方的呛面馒头,而南方的馒头则是软、暄、柔,比如奶香馒头、酒酿馒头、小笼包、等等,小巧精细松软。

3、食用场景不同

第三点不同之处就是食用场景

南方的馒头一般是作点心直接食用,而馒头在北方则经常作为主食搭配。由于食用场景的差异,北方的馒头、包子等,都是以淡味咸味为主,搭配菜一起食用,基本不放糖;而南方的馒头、小笼包、素菜包子、小菜包子、水饺等都离不开用糖来调味。

大家现在对馒头是不是刮目相看了呢?这么简单的一个食品却有它相当丰富的历史文化。那你们爱吃的馒头是哪一种呢?是北方的馒头还是南方的馒头呢?可以留言告诉我,分享一下。

那好,那我们今天就先到这儿,我们下周见。

In this episode, I talk about the Qixi Festival coming up in 2 days’ time. Many people have heard of the folktale of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl but did you know the story originated from the ancient constellation system? Let’s have a look. 

Chinese Version

English Version

哈喽,大家好。我是Kaycee。

过两天就是七夕节了,中国的传统节日之一。很多人应该都知道,七夕节是一个以“牛郎织女”这个民间传说为载体,在农历七月初七这天来庆祝爱情的节日,中国的情人节。今年落在8月25号。

2006年5月20号的时候,七夕节被中国国务院列入第一批国家级非物质文化遗产名录。为什么是5月20号呢,大家知道吗?对,就是,520,我爱你嘛。 所以,中国的情侣们一年要庆祝3次情人节。2月14日一次,西方的情人节,5月20号一次,然后就是七夕了。让我想到的不是浪漫,是烧脑、烧钱啊。

好,回到牛郎织女。牛郎织女是一个很浪漫的故事,但是它也有它理性的一面。为什么这么说呢?

对自然天象崇拜
其实七夕的牛郎织女传说最早来源于人们对自然天象的崇拜,古时代,古人把天上每个星座都与地上的实体地理区域一一对应,为了配合占星理论进行天象占测。在古代星宿体系中,“牛宿”由6颗星组成,位于银河的东岸,像两个倒过来的三角形,一上一下,不过上面的那个三角形更大一些,更亮一些。而下面的小三角形正好位于黄道上,这几颗星组成了一个头上有两角,却只有三只足的牛,因此古人称它为“牵牛”。这头“牛”的南边有9颗小星,组成了“天田”,是它耕作的地方,再向南看,在接近南方地平线的地方,是“九坎”9星,坎是蓄水的低地,用于灌溉农田。牛宿的东边紧挨着的是“罗堰”3星,是类似水库的水利设施。“织女”3星位于牛宿的北部,其中的“织女一”星是全天第五亮星,因此又常直接称为“织女星”。人们将“牛宿星”与“织女星”合称为“牛郎织女”。

对时间数字崇拜
然后我们再来看看它的日期。农历七月初七。古时候,古人对数字和时间也是很崇拜的。古代民间把正月正、二月二、三月三、五月五、六月六、七月七、九月九这“七重”列为吉庆日。“重日”在中国古代被认为是“天地交感”、“天人相通”的日子。因此,在这样的日子里人们就多爱去做祈福、祭祀或者纪念活动,以求得幸福、安康。古时候是这样的,然后这些节日一直延续到今天。

我们看哈, 我挑几个大家比较熟悉的节日来句几个例子吧。一月初一的春节、二月二的春龙节或南方管它叫踏青节、五月五的端午节、七月七的七夕节、九月九的重阳节。

牛郎织女
那我们接下来来了解一下牛郎织女的故事吧。牛郎织女是中国人民最早关于星星的故事,它是中国四大民间传说之一,其它三个分别是《梁山伯与祝英台》,《孟姜女哭长城》和《白蛇传》。其实,牛郎织女这个故事是有很多版本的,那既然我是播主,那我就任性一次选一个我喜欢的版本分享给大家吧。

相传在很早以前,南阳城西牛家庄里有个聪明、忠厚的小伙子,父母去世的早,只好跟着哥哥嫂子一起过,嫂子为人狠毒,经常虐待他,逼他干很多的活,一年秋天,嫂子逼他去放牛,给他九头牛,却让他等有了十头牛时才能回家,牛郎无奈只好赶着牛出了村。

牛郎独自一人赶着牛进了山,在草深林密的山上,他坐在树下伤心,不知道何时才能赶着十头牛回家。这时,有位须发皆白的老人出现在他的面前,问他为何伤心,当得知他的遭遇后,笑着对他说:“别难过,在伏牛山里有一头病倒的老牛,你去好好喂养它,等老牛病好以后,你就可以赶着它回家了。
  
牛郎翻山越岭,走了很远的路,终于找到了那头有病的老牛,他看到老牛病得厉害,就去给老牛打来一捆捆的草,一连就喂了三天。老牛吃饱了,才抬起头告诉他:自己本是天上的灰牛大仙,因触犯了天规被贬下天来,摔坏了腿,无法动弹。自己的伤需要用百花的露水洗一个月才能好,牛郎不畏辛苦,细心地照料了老牛一个月,白天为老牛采花接露水治伤,晚上依偎在老牛身边睡觉。维持了一个月,等老牛病好了之后,牛郎高高兴兴的赶着十头牛回了家。

回家后,嫂子对他依旧不好,曾几次要加害于他,都被老牛设法相救,嫂子最后恼羞成怒把牛郎赶出了家门,牛郎只要了那头老牛相随。
  
一天,天上的织女和诸仙女一起下凡游戏,在河里洗澡,牛郎在老牛的帮助下认识了织女,二人互生情意,后来织女便偷偷下凡,来到人间,做了牛郎的妻子。织女还把从天上带来的天蚕分给大家,并教大家养蚕,抽丝,织出又光又亮的绸缎。
  
牛郎和织女结婚后,男耕女织,情深意重,他们生了一男一女两个孩子,一家人生活得很幸福。但是好景不长,这事很快便让天帝知道,王母娘娘亲自下凡来,强行把织女带回天上,恩爱的夫妻就这样被拆散了。
  
牛郎上天无路,还是老牛告诉牛郎,在它死后,可以用它的皮做成鞋,穿着就可以上天。牛郎按照老牛的话做了,穿上牛皮做的鞋,拉着自己的儿女,一起腾云驾雾上天去追织女,眼见就要追到了,岂知王母娘娘拔下头上的金簪一挥,一道波涛汹涌的天河就出现了,牛郎和织女被隔在两岸,只能相对哭泣流泪。他们的忠贞爱情感动了喜鹊,千万只喜鹊飞来,搭成鹊桥,让牛郎织女走上鹊桥相会,王母娘娘对此也无奈,只好允许两人在每年七月七日于鹊桥相会。
  
后来,每到农历七月初七,相传牛郎织女鹊桥相会的日子,姑娘们就会来到花前月下,抬头仰望星空,寻找银河两边的牛郎星和织女星,希望能看到他们一年一度的相会,乞求上天能让自己像织女那样心灵手巧,祈祷自己能有如意称心的美满婚姻,由此形成了七夕节。

怎么样?很浪漫吧?再过两天就是牛郎和织女相遇的日子了,8月25号晚上的时候大家可以抬头看看是否能看见牛郎和织女一年一日的相遇呢?是否能看见这几颗发亮的星星?好吧,那我祝有情人终成眷属。我们下周见。

In this episode, I talk about how a donkey gets water in China… Just kidding. 《驴得水》(“Mr Donkey”) is a film that I’ve been wanting to recommend for a while now. I’d say it’s one of the best Chinese films produced in the last decade or so. You should definitely watch it and let me know what you think!

Chinese Version

English Version

哈喽,大家好。我是Kaycee。

今天给大家介绍一部2016年的电影,叫《驴得水》。它最初是一部话剧,随后被拍成一部电影。我当时是看完话剧之后看的电影,看完电影之后,天呐,哭的不行。我个人认为这是中国近10多年来,在为数不多的比较好的电影里面极其出色的一部电影。

《驴得水》是一部荒诞喜剧,讲的是在1942年,一群品行不端却怀有教育梦想的大学教师,从大城市来到偏远乡村开办了一所学校。学校待遇惨淡、生活艰苦,但老师们都自得其乐,每天嘻嘻哈哈打成一片。然而教育部特派员要来突击检查的消息打破了这份安宁,因为学校有一位“驴得水老师”隐藏着不可告人的秘密。就在所有人都担心丑事即将败露的时候,一个神奇天才的出现拯救了大家,然而谁又能料到真正的麻烦才刚刚开始。

小心,前方有剧透。

故事创意是怎么来的呢?其实是2009年初,周申和朋友吃饭的时候聊出来的一个故事,与创作伙伴刘露讨论过后,便将它发展成了一个电影大纲。2010年,周申完成了《驴得水》电影剧本的文本,并申请了文字著作版权。

2011年,一部名叫《驴得水》的微电影出现在网络上,短片借鉴了部分剧本的内容,但并没有拍出精髓,这让周申意识到必须马上把真正的《驴得水》立起来。然而相比拍电影,排一个话剧显然要快得多。2012年,戏剧导演专业出身的周申和刘露,又着手将《驴得水》改编成话剧剧本。

2012年话剧《驴得水》火了,周申和刘露从2013年又开始筹备电影版本 。走了一年的弯路,2014年在参加开心麻花一个演员的婚礼时,碰到开心麻花张总,发现他们也在做电影,于是开始了拍摄电影《驴得水》的合作。

荒诞喜剧做得好的话是最能呈现出现实生活中人性精神层面上的东西,并且不失惊喜。

《驴得水》这部电影则把人的贪念演绎的淋漓尽致。电影里有五个重要人物,孙校长、裴魁山、周铁男、张一曼和铜匠。电影里第一出戏就先交代了孙校长、裴魁山、周铁男、张一曼,这四位教师的贪念。四个人讨论的是奖学金的事情,清点账目发现每个人都公款私用,每个人都有污点。这也算是小事吧,谁没有贪过一点小便宜呢,是吧?但是驴棚起火之后,真正的灾难到了。四个人之前的善意将要完全被摧毁。

校长
孙校长是个典型的实用性知识分子,可以为了一件善事,而去做更多的坏事,为了“一事功成,而做大事可以不拘小节”。他眼里的善事、大事,就是办好学校。

校长从头到尾的性格基本是一致的,和风细雨,一副慈母善目的模样。但是,我们看到了他是怎么一步一步失去底线的。

一开始,在这个落后的小村子里建立一所学校,确实是善意的,很美好、很值得敬佩的的一件事。

之后,为了骗取教育资金,他编了个谎言,把驴棚里的驴写成了一位学校里的老师。为了圆这个谎,不仅谎言越来越大,越来越离谱,也把危险带给了周围的人。

他为了心里所谓的理想,一步步偏离自己的底线,忘记了自己的初衷。为了自己所谓的“大事”,可以不拘的“小节”从撒谎骗钱,变成了牺牲别人的尊严、自由、感情。

他找来铜匠,假扮吕得水,默认张一曼的“睡服”观点。这是睡眠的睡哦,我就不多解释了。直到最后纵容裴魁山的贪欲与恶,牺牲张一曼,任由别人谩骂,侮辱,亲自为她剪阴阳头。甚至,牺牲掉自己的亲生女儿。

发生了这一切之后,我们会叹息:值得吗?

铜匠
我们再来看看铜匠,一个原本质朴无华,无欲无求,没有接受过教育的善良单纯的人,被培训,被教化,被“睡服”之后,他变了。

铜匠是一个“刁民”的形象,展现了一个胆小,没有太多文化却手握权力的这么一个人会是什么样子。

这也许是对教育的讽刺,老师能教你知识,却教不会你做人,错误的教育方式,往往适得其反,没有文化积淀,懂再多也是个人渣。

裴魁山
裴魁山是一个彻底的小人,他爱钱,自私自利。唯一一个可以说上是优点的就是他起初对张一曼一厢情愿的好。但是当自己被拒绝之后,随着张一曼“睡服”铜匠,他的价值观开始了变化。这一点点的单纯也消失了,既然得不到张一曼,他就要毁了她。很极端、很可怕。

当自己的利益受到侵犯的时候,他喊了一句:“你凭什么拿你的道德标准来捆绑我的利益”。

这句话困扰了我很久。单看的话,这句话其实也没什么问题,我们对自己的生活方式是有选择的权利的。但是我就是不认同裴魁山的所作所为,可能是因为他的极端吧。

我觉得这句话缺少的是对道德标准的定义。一个人有正确的三观和道德标准还是很重要的。当然,正确是有弧度的,有些事情是没有纯粹的黑白之分。

周铁男
接下来我们看看周铁男。周铁男,唯一一个有着骨气的男人,浩然正气、血气方刚。他是唯一一个反对张一曼去睡服铜匠的人,也是唯一一个在辱骂张一曼的时候不同流合污的人。但是子弹擦肩而过之后,他怕了,瞬间跪地求饶,变成了特派员的走狗,督促大家完成特派员的计划,甚至可以去劝说自己喜欢的姑娘扮演别人的未婚妻。

这种懦弱是可以理解的吧。在坚持正义和活着之间,他选择了苟且偷生。

张一曼
最后就是张一曼了。张一曼,这个角色,唉,真的,怎么说呢?

她是一位独立女性,她乐观、任性、洒脱,有自己的思想。在性方面,她完全颠覆了传统女性的观点。在1942年这个时间背景,实际上她身上背负很多压力,所以她会说不想离开学校,因为学校更自由。

她无疑是美丽的,虽然她向往自由,行为看起来有点放浪不羁,但是她本性不坏。她去睡服铜匠,不是为了那一月三万的法币,是因为她知道那笔钱对于学校教育是多么的重要。

她骂铜匠牲口,一是想帮校长解围,不想让事情穿帮。二是想让铜匠回家,过属于他自己的生活,只可惜铜匠不懂她的良苦用心。

她甘心受辱,自扇耳光,甘愿被剃阴阳头,她所有的委曲求全都不是为了自己,而是为了她心中的理想,为了那一群贪婪小人各自的利益。

她最后的死,是解脱,因为那个时代容不下她超自由的观点。但是她死的很委屈,死因是其他人一次又一次的,自私的把自己的主张、情感、思想以侮辱的方式加强给了她。她离去的方式放大了其他人物的自私、贪婪。

这些角色已经很精彩了,但是这部电影的深度在于它没有对任何人做出评价, 只是在这里讲故事。在每一个小剧情中,或多或少都有我们的影子。毕竟,人的本性多少是有些自私,贪婪的。这部电影像一面镜子一样,让我们好好看看自己,是不是经过人生的某些转折点时做过一些不该做的东西,变得丑陋了呢?如果有的话,这部电影在告诉我们,如果再这样继续下去的话,你的下场会是如何的不堪。

没看过的朋友,可以看一下这部电影。真的很好看。

那好,我们下周见。

Hi everyone, it’s Kaycee.

I want to talk about a 2016 Chinese film today, called《驴得水》, Mr. Donkey. It was a play initially and then it was made into a film. I watched the play first, then the film and after watching the film, oh my god, did I cry. I’d say this is one of the best Chinese films in the last 10 years or so.

Mr Donkey is absurdist comedy set in 1942, about a group of morally questionable teachers from the city who set up a school in a poor, rural area of China with the dream of providing education to those who are in poverty. Life is hard but the teachers get along well and are happy until the education authorities sent some people down to inspect the school. A teacher going by the name of Mr. Donkey has a secret to hide, and just when everyone thought the secret was going to be exposed, their saviour appeared but who knew this was just the beginning of the real disaster.

Warning, plot spoilers ahead.

If absurdist comedy is done well, it can excellently portray human nature whilst keeping the surprise element and Mr Donkey exhibits human greed extremely well. There are five key characters in the film, the Headteacher, Pei Kuishan, Zhou Tienan, Zhang Yiman and the Coppersmith. Again, for Chinese names, I’m saying their surnames first.

In the very first scene of the film, we see a little bit of greed in the four teachers, the Headteacher, Péi Kuíshān, Zhou Tienan and Zhang Yiman. In the meeting where they were discussing whether to give students scholarships, they looked at their accounts and discovered that everyone had used public funds for personal purposes somewhat. It’s not a huge deal in this context but it does set the pretext that these characters are all encompassing some sort of selfishness. And at the back of the school, there is a donkey living in a makeshift hut and the hut caught fire. The combination of these two scenes foreshadow the real disaster yet to come.

The good intentions of these four characters are about to be tested and completely destroyed.

校长
The Headteacher

The Headteacher is what’s known as a typical practical intellectual, he can do a lot of bad things to achieve a good thing, he believes in the saying that people with big goals should not be hindered by small things. For him, his big goal is to run the school.

The Headteacher’s personality basically stays the same; he appears gentle and softly spoken. But we get to see how again and again his limits are tested and lost.

At the beginning, he built a school in this rural little village, which is a great, respectable thing to do. Then, in order to obtain funding for the school, he lied and wrote in the report that there is another teacher going by the name of Mr Donkey, which, in reality, is the actual donkey at the back of the school. The lie becomes bigger and bigger and bigger and brought danger to everyone around him.

For his dream, he lowered his bottom line again and again, forgetting why he had the dream of running a school in this rural village in the first place. People with big goals should not be hindered by small things, right? For his “big goal”, he sacrificed the “small things” of other people’s dignity, freedom and sentiments.

He asked the Coppersmith to be Mr Donkey, he agreed that Zhang Yiman should sleep with the Coppersmith to get him to agree to play the part of Mr Donkey. He let Pei Kuishan indulge in his greediness and flaws. He sacrificed Zhang Yiman and allowed her to be verbally abused and insulted by the others and personally cut her hair to exhibit her shame. He even sacrificed his own daughter.

After everything that happened, we ask ourselves, is it worth it?

铜匠
The Coppersmith

The Coppersmith started off being a kind and innocent man with no particular desires or education. After he was trained, educated and slept with, he changed.

The Coppersmith is a stereotypical image of a scumbag, showing what a timid person without much education but a lot of power looks like.

This character is almost an irony of education, a teacher can teach you knowledge but they cannot teach you how to be a good person. The wrong way of teaching is often counterproductive. Without proper education, no matter how much you know you can still be a scumbag.

裴魁山
Pei Kuishan

And, of course, there is Pei Kuishan. Pei Kuishan is the real bad guy in this, I think. He loves money and is utterly selfish. The only good thing about him was the kindness he showed to Zhang Yiman when he was pursuing her. But when he was rejected and after Zhang Yiman slept with the Coppersmith, his values began to change. This tiny little bit of innocence that he still had left in him disappeared. Since he couldn’t have Zhang Yiman, he chose to destroy her. Very extreme, terrifying.

When his own interests were violated, he shouted “Why do you use your moral standards to kidnap my interests”.

I thought about this sentence for a very long time after I watched the movie. If we look at the sentence on its own, it seems fine. We all have the right to choose how we live our lives, right? But I cannot agree with what Pei Kuishan did, at all. Maybe it was because he was being too extreme.

I think the sentence is also missing a definition for moral standard. It’s important for someone to have the right kind of views and moral standards, of course, this correctness is a scale, there are just some things that can’t be black and white.

周铁男
Zhou Tienan

Zhou Tienan, the only character in the film with a backbone, who is righteous and courageous. He was the only one who opposed to Zhang Yiman sleeping with the Coppersmith, the only one who didn’t insult Zhang Yiman like the others did. But when he was shot at and the bullet missed his head by mere millimetres he got scared. He knelt down and surrendered himself, he became rogue and allowed himself to be used the other side. He even persuaded the girl he liked to pretend to be someone else’s fiancé.

I guess this is cowardice. But you can’t really blame him right? He had a gun to his head. Between maintaining justice and being alive, he chose to be alive but not really living.

张一曼
Zhang Yiman

Zhan Yiman is an independent woman, optimistic, headstrong, free and easygoing. She has her thoughts and ideas. In terms of sex, she completely subverted the views of how a traditional woman should be like. With the year 1942 as the backdrop, she had a lot of societal pressures, which is why she refused to leave the school. She found the school to be more freeing than the outside world.

She is undoubtedly beautiful, although in her pursuit of freedom her actions may seem a bit… disagreeable, shall we say? She’s not bad in nature. She slept with the Coppersmith, not because she wanted the money but because she knew how important the funding was to the school.

She insulted the Coppersmith and called him an animal because she wanted to help the headteacher and not let the secret out, and because she wanted to let the Coppersmith go home and live his own life. But, unfortunately, the Coppersmith heard the insults without understanding her true intentions.

She was willing to suffer through the humiliation of slapping herself and having her hair cut off. She did these things not for herself but for the ideals that she held in her heart, to fulfil the wishes of the greedy people around her.

Her eventual death was an escape. An escape from the period of time that couldn’t tolerate her views but she still died an unfair death. The cause of her death was essentially other people forcefully placing their opinion, their emotions and their ideals upon her, weighing her down. The way she died only amplifies the selfishness and greed of the other characters.

As we can see, these characters are themselves exciting enough but the depth of this film is in that it doesn’t make a commentary as to what’s right or wrong. It just tells a story. In every scene, we see a little of ourselves. After all, there is always a little bit of selfishness and greed in human nature. This film is like a mirror, it lets us to have a proper look at ourselves to see if there was a point in our lives where maybe we’ve done something we shouldn’t have? and If so, the film shows us that, if we continue like that, how our lives could end up.

For anyone who’s not seen it yet, I strongly recommend the film and I’d be interested in hearing your views so please get in touch.

See you next week.

In this episode, I talk about a plum that’s been banned in China. What kind of plum? The kind that’s in a golden vase! If you know what I’m talking about, you’re probably already secretly smirking along. If not, it’s about time that you find out!

Chinese Version

English Version

哈喽,大家好。我是Kaycee。

今天我们来看看我们中国的四大名著哈。四大名著就是中国文学史中的四本经典作品,是世界宝贵的文化遗产。现在分别是《水浒传》《三国演义》《西游记》和《红楼梦》。这四部巨著在中国文学史上的地位是难分高低的,都有着极高的文学水平和艺术成就,细致的刻画和所蕴含的深刻思想。其中的故事、场景、人物已经深深地影响了中国人的思想观念、价值取向。

有趣的是“四大名著”其实是个约定俗成的说法,没有谁去指定说,中国最经典的文学作品就是这四个了。没有。它是经过多年慢慢演变成现在这四本小说的。

最开始,明代著名的文学批评家叫王世贞,是他最先提出了”四大奇书“这个名词,但他讲的“四大奇书”,指的是《史记》、《庄子》、《水浒传》、《西厢记》。后来冯梦龙也提出了”四大奇书“的说法,而他指的则是《三国演义》、《水浒传》、《西游记》和《金瓶梅》。有人就说了,还是冯梦龙说的比较对,《史记》是历史散文,《庄子》是哲学散文集,《水浒传》是长篇小说,《西厢记》是戏曲剧本,都不是一类的东西怎么能把它们归类到一起呢?反而,冯梦龙所列出的四本小说,更能让人接受,《三国演义》、《水浒传》、《西游记》和《金瓶梅》都是长篇通俗小说,放在一起可以说是“四大奇书”,之后这四大奇书就广为流传,大家都知道了。听到金瓶梅,是不是有人偷笑了?对,说的就是你。

偷笑是因为他们知道《金瓶梅》在中国一度被视为诲淫小说。从清顺治年间起,全国各地查禁销毁各种淫词小说。后来清乾隆时期,我们的《红楼梦》出版了,这就代替了《金瓶梅》这本禁书,成为了“四大奇书”的一员。据说,现在在中国买到的《金瓶梅》依然都是净书,也就是说把那些激情的部分都删掉了,被括弧,此处删去多少多少个字所代替。在中国的朋友们不妨去书店看看是不是这样,帮我verify,确认一下。《金瓶梅》这个故事现在在网上是可以找到的,如果大家想研究一下的话,可以去看看。

金瓶梅

那好,我们先初步了解一下《金瓶梅》这本书。它出版时间大概是1617年,作者是兰陵笑笑生,这是个笔名哈。我们至今都不知道作者到底是谁。

我觉得这本书很有可能是世界上最早成功发表的一本fan fiction,同人小说。为什么这么说呢?因为小说题材是由《水浒传》里武松杀嫂一段演化而来。通过对兼有官僚、恶霸、富商三种身份的西门庆和他一家人的罪恶生活的描述,作者还原了当时社会民间生活的面貌,揭露了当时社会的黑暗和腐败。

说说《金瓶梅》的名字。字面上看,《金瓶梅》是由三位女主的名字所形成的。潘金莲的金,李瓶儿的瓶,庞春梅的梅 — 《金瓶梅》。这是浅层次的,还有更深层次的寓意。

一是“不长久”的寓意。金瓶梅有梅插金瓶的意思,画面很美有没有?粉色的梅花插在金色的瓶子里。 画面都这么美好了,我们不扒一扒不行啊。有一些专家分析,金属秋,梅花属春冬,时令不对,有冲突,不和谐。另外一种冲突是金瓶,很高大上嘛,有一种高雅的美。而梅树,梅花却是很常见的植物,很普通。把梅花插在金瓶里有一种把一个极其普通的人硬插在豪华的上流社会中,不是很和谐。很有可能被上流社会中的金钱和权利所诱惑而带偏。

而且金瓶是金属嘛,一个没有生命的东西,但是梅树是有生命的,你把梅花剪下来放在瓶子里,它是注定要凋谢的。梅花的花语有着和平、快乐、顺利、长寿、幸运的意思,那如果插在瓶子里的梅花注定要凋谢的话,那就代表我们最终一定会失去这些美好的东西。多悲惨啊。

还有一层意思是你读完书才能体会到的。书里的西门庆是一个好色好酒的人物。那金瓶可以说是酒的容器,梅花好看,嫩粉的颜色,象征着色。而梅花插在金瓶里那种空虚,绝望的感觉就已经隐隐约约地透露出故事情节和结局了。

那《金瓶梅》为什么能成为四大奇书之一呢?作为中国第一部具有近代意味的现实主义文学巨著,《金瓶梅》是中国古代小说发展的重要的里程碑。从很多方面,这本书都突破了中国长篇小说的传统模式。

从题材方面就很明显了,《金瓶梅》摆脱了之前很流行的英雄豪杰、神仙妖魔类型的题材,写出来了现实生活中,普通人家的是非善恶。

《金瓶梅》之前的长篇小说,在批评社会黑暗的同时,更多的是着力讴歌美好的理想,表现出浓厚的浪漫主义色彩;而《金瓶梅》则实现了中国古代小说审美观念的大转变,写出了世道上的凶恶,生活中的丑陋,是一本彻底的暴露文学。它在表现丑的时候,常常用白描手法,揭示人物言行之间的矛盾,达到强烈的讽刺效果,这种写法对此后的讽刺文学有极大的影响。

人物呢,也是写的更立体了,从单色调变为多色调。作者多层次地刻划人物性格,能细致如微地揭示人物复杂的内心世界,在一些人物形象中出现了美丑并举的矛盾组合,写出了人物性格的丰富性、复杂性和流动性,实现了小说艺术的重大突破。

不仅人物变得多色调了,故事结构也变的复杂了。之前的长篇小说基本上是线性发展的结构形式,由一个个故事连结而成。《金瓶梅》则是网状结构。以西门庆一家为中心辐射到整个社会,使全书组成一个意脉相连、情节相通的生活之网。读起来精彩,顺畅。

再来看看语言,《金瓶梅》之前的长篇小说用的大多是书体语言,向着规范化和雅驯化的方向发展。《金瓶梅》却代表了小说语言发展的另一方面,向遵循口语化、俚俗化的方向发展。它运用鲜活生动的市民口语,带着浓郁淋漓的市井气息来描述剧情,用非常个性化的语言来刻画人物。

所以,不管是从题材、作品概念、人物、还是语言,它都突破了中国长篇小说的传统模式,在艺术上为长篇小说开拓了多方面的创新,为中国古代小说的演进作出了历史性的贡献。可惜的是这本小说的作家太前卫了,那个时期的中国还接受不了这种带有黄色色彩的小说,更接受不了对当时上层生活的露骨的写实。上层社会的人当然不想被恶化,所以干脆以黄色的名义把它禁掉。

这大概就是《金瓶梅》了,诚实的写出了人间烟火,人性缺陷的一本书。我在想要不要把《金瓶梅》做成一本有声书。Audible 上有《金瓶梅》但是是以评书的方式来演绎《金瓶梅》的,就是用白话来描述书里的剧情,并没有按照书中原有的语言来读。确实,书中的字句诗词也并不是特别好理解。那我就再想想。如果做了的话,你们会听吗?会听的话,就请大家点赞留言。

想试听一下Audible上版本的朋友们,我的网站上有一个Audible的链接,用这个链接可以获取Audible上一本免费的书。打开链接,你们按照正常方式搜索《金瓶梅》就可以免费的听了。但是Audible上的《金瓶梅》好像是分为四本,这个链接只能让你免费听其中一本。我猜YouTube上应该也会有类似的音频。

那好,我们今天就先到这儿,我们下周见。

Hi everyone, it’s Kaycee.

In China’s literary world, there is something called the Four Masterpieces. “Water Margin”, “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, “Journey to the West” and “Dream of the Red Chamber”. It’s hard to say which book is better, they’re all of such high calibre and artistic importance that it’s generally agreed these are the four classic literature pieces. The intricacies of the text have produced concepts, stories and characters that have gone on to shape the views and values of the Chinese society at large.

What’s interesting is that the Four Masterpieces isn’t a formalised group of classics, no person of authority said right, these are the four masterpieces, only these four, nothing else. No, it’s something that formed over time.

The first person to coin the term “the Four Literary Wonders” is a literary critic called Wang Shizhen (王世贞), of the Ming dynasty. I’ll just drop a note here to say that when I’m saying the Chinese names, I’m putting their surnames first followed by their given name.

For him, the four masterpieces are:

  1. 史记, the “Records of the Grand Historian”, which is a monumental history of ancient China and the world. It was finished at around 94 BC and the work covers the world as it was known to the Chinese at the time, over a period of 2,500 years.
  2. 庄子 “Zhuangzi”, which is an ancient Chinese text from the late Warring States period (476–221 BC), it contains stories and anecdotes that exemplify the carefree nature of the ideal Taoist sage and is considered one of the two foundational texts of Taoism.
  3. 水浒传,“Water Margin”, which is a 14th-century Chinese novel. The story, set in the Song dynasty, tells of how a group of 108 outlaws gather together to form a sizable army before they are eventually granted amnesty by the government and sent on campaigns to resist foreign invaders and suppress rebel forces. Sounds a bit like the Suicide Squad.
  4. 西廂記,“Romance of the Western Chamber”, written sometime between 1295 and 1307. The story is set in the Tang dynasty and is the story of a young couple consummating their love without parental approval. I’ve not read yet but it gives me a Romeo and Juliet vibe.

So that’s his list. Then, a Chinese historian, novelist, and poet of the late Ming Dynasty called Feng Menglong (冯梦龙) came along and said, actually, the four masterpieces should be: 《水浒传》 (“Water Margin”), 《三国演义》 (“Romance of the Three Kingdoms”), 《西游记》(“Journey to the West”) and 《金瓶梅》 (“The Plum in the Golden Vase”). Over time, more and more people agreed with Feng Menglong because Wang Shizhen’s list contained a non-fiction history book, a book of philosophical essays, a fictional novel and a play, in that order. These are books from different genres so how can you put them in a single category? Feng Menglong’s list of four books, however, are all of the same category, they’re all fictional novels, so it made much more sense.

Now, some people may have smirked at the “The Plum in the Golden Vase”, not because of the funny name but because for a very long time, the book was banned in China due to its sexually explicit content. During the Qing dynasty, any book that had any sexually explicit elements were collected and destroyed. Even now, I think the versions of “The Plum in the Golden Vase” found in book shops in China are redacted versions. I haven’t been able to verify this for myself but if anyone can verify this, please let me know.

The Chinese version of the book can be found easily on the internet and there are English translated versions available as well if people wanted to have a read. The best English version I hear is the one translated by David Tod Roy in 1993. I haven’t read the English version so I can’t comment on how good it actually is but if anyone has read it, please let me know your comments.

Anyway, let’s have a look at the book itself. “The Plum in the Golden Vase” was published in 1617 or thereabouts. It was written by someone under the pseudonym of Lan Ling Xiao Xiao Sheng, which literally translates to something like “the scoffing scholar of Lanling”. To this day we don’t know the true identity of the author.

The Plum in the Golden Vase, I think this might have been the world’s first successfully published fan fiction because the story is derived from a scene in Water Margin, specifically when Wu Song killed his sister in law.

“The Plum in the Golden Vase” centers on a character called Ximen Qing (西門慶), a corrupt social climber and lustful merchant who is wealthy enough to marry six wives and concubines. Through events that happen to Ximen Qing and his family, we get a line of sight into the corruption that went on in the 17th century.

The name of the book itself derives from the three female lead characters, taking a character from each of their names. I won’t go into it in detail because when you translate their names into English in a literal way, it’s very hard to take the book seriously. What is a perfectly fine name, when you translate it into English, it become a bit non-sensical and a bit weird so I’ll just leave it as that. I can however go into the analysis of the name of the book.

So, as you can imagine, the name of the book can give rise to various interpretations. Literally, the name 《金瓶梅》means plum in a golden vase, I understood it to be plum flowers in a golden vase, like taking a twig from the plum tree with blossoming flowers still on it and sticking it in a golden vase. It looks visually pleasing but let’s take a closer look. A golden vase is likely to be made of metal or I guess it could have been glass as well, so golden vase, expensive, dead metal or whatever kind of gold metal it is and then you have the plum tree which is a living thing that’s quite common in China. The language of the plum flower is of peace, happiness, success, longevity and good fortune. If you break off a twig from a plum tree, or any tree, what happens? It wilts and dies. So if you have plum flowers in a golden vase, then it’s bound to wilt, which means we are bound to lose these good virtues symbolised by the plum flower. What a tragedy.

There’s another layer of meaning in the name where you can only truly feel once you’ve read the book. Ximen Qing is someone who likes his alcohol and women. The golden vase can be interpreted as a container for alcohol, plum flowers is of a light pink colour and symbolises sexuality. If it’s just the plum flower in the golden vase, you get a sense of emptiness and despair, which foreshadows what’s going to happen in the story.

So why is “The Plum in the Golden Vase” considered one of the Four Masterpieces? It broke the traditional way of how fictional novels were written in a number of ways.

Before this book was published, fictional books were generally only about heroes or of the fantasy genre, fairies and the like. This book is set in the every day life of China about human nature, it’s a much more realistic and more relatable story.

The darkness of human nature that it unveils is another breakthrough, it’s one of the first books in China, if not the first, to depict the dark side of human nature. It uses a Chinese literature technique called “白描” which translates to “white drawing”, which helps the author to maximise sarcasm and satire. This “white drawing” technique means a way of writing that’s just plain Chinese, without any other meanings or techniques at play. I guess it’s putting sub-text to the forefront. This method then went on to heavily influence satirical texts to come.

The characters in “The Plum in the Golden Vase” are also complex characters as opposed to the simpler, 2 dimensional characters often seen literature pieces beforehand. The characters often embody both good and evil, beauty and ugliness, full of contradictions and complexities, which was a major breakthrough in Chinese literature.

The language of the book also went against the grains and used vernacular Chinese as opposed to imperial Chinese that was the standard approach at the time. This helped to bring out the atmosphere of the scenes much more and really allowed the characters on the page to come alive. The book has often been described as a “milestone” in Chinese fiction for its character development, particularly its complex treatment of female figures.

Now, the story does contain a surprising number of descriptions of sexual objects and coital techniques that would be considered fetish today, as well as a large amount of sexual jokes and euphemisms. Some critics have argued that the highly sexual descriptions are essential, and have exerted what has been termed as a “liberating” influence on other Chinese novels that deal with sexuality, most notably the Dream of the Red Chamber.

So the book has broken the traditional mould in a number of ways and, really, revolutionised fictional writing in China. It’s unfortunate that the author was too ahead of his time. China at that time, especially the Qing dynasty, was unable to accept the level of sexual detail nor the level of corruption that went on in the upper echelon of society at the time, leading the book to be banned for a very long time.

I think Princeton University Press summed it up perfectly, the novel is “a landmark in the development of the narrative art form—not only from a specifically Chinese perspective but in a world-historical context…noted for its surprisingly modern technique” and with only a few exceptions “there is no earlier work of prose fiction of equal sophistication in world literature.”

So that’s that, the forbidden plum of China, The controversial “Plum in the Golden Vase”. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode, see you next week.

Chinese Version
English Version

哈喽,大家好。我是Kaycee。


很多朋友应该都知道“百度”,它是中国最大的,大家最常用的搜索引擎,相当于西方的Google。那为什么叫百度呢?


它其实来自辛弃疾在1174年或1175年写的一首诗,叫做《青玉案·元夕》。它是这么写的:


青玉案·元夕

东风夜放花千树,更吹落,星如雨。宝马雕车香满路。凤箫声动,玉壶光转,一夜鱼龙舞。

蛾儿雪柳黄金缕,笑语盈盈暗香去。众里寻他千百度,蓦然回首,那人却在,灯火阑珊处。


什么意思呢?


白话译文
首先,元夕就是元宵节。大家都知道,是中国的传统节日之一,每年农历正月十五,庆祝一年中第一个月圆之夜。这大概是每年阳历的一月、二月的时候。

好,元宵节的时候了,“东风夜放花千树,更吹落,星如雨”。这就是说晚上的花灯好多,挂在这些树上,东风一来把灯火吹的仿佛这些树在开花。夜晚也有烟火,但是这烟火让人感觉仿佛是风把星星吹乱了,所以烟火坠落看起来像流星雨一样。

“宝马雕车香满路”。这不是我们现在有的宝马(BMW)的车哈,这首诗是1174或1175年写的,那个时候的宝马真的就是华丽的马车。所以,宝马雕车香满路,指的就是路上都是豪华的马车。有钱人家都出来了,庆祝元宵节。


“凤箫声动,玉壶光转,一夜鱼龙舞”。现在我们就知道了,这个夜晚有凤箫吹奏的乐曲,凤箫就是形容萧的美称。还有玉壶般的明月挂在夜空中,它的月光打在人群上。地上呢有着 一条条仿佛鱼形或龙形的彩灯在夜里飞舞着。


这前两句就是形容场景。“宝”、“雕”、“凤”、“玉”,这种种丽字,就是为了给那灯宵的气氛加点意境,让读者感觉繁华热闹,令人目不暇接,


下一句是“蛾儿雪柳黄金缕”。这就注意到街上的美女了。蛾儿、雪柳、黄金缕,这些都是古代元宵节时妇女头上佩戴的各种装饰品,所以“蛾儿雪柳黄金缕”加在一起就是指盛装的妇女们。要是今天呢,就是穿着华丽的美女们。


她们“笑语盈盈暗香去”。盈盈就是声音轻盈悦耳,暗香是指这些美女们身上散发出来香气。主人公看着这些有着淡淡香气的妇女们从他身边走过,细言细语,有说有笑的。但是他并没有在意。为什么呢?


“众里寻他千百度,蓦然回首,那人却在,灯火阑珊处”。因为他在找一个人。人字旁的“他”古时候是包括女字旁的“她”的,所以在这里我们也不是很确定性别,但是我们知道主人公在寻找一个人。众里寻他千百度,在人群中找了这个人千百回还没有找到。蓦然回首,不经意回头一看,那人却在,灯火阑珊处。就那么不经意的一回头,发现那个人站在灯火稀疏,比较暗,比较冷清的地方。最后一句话的语气表示,啊,终于找到他了,可以松一口气了的感觉。如果没有找到这个人,那周围的闪耀的灯啊、月光啊、烟火啊、好听的箫声和令人眼花缭乱的美女们好像就不是那么华丽了,就没有什么意义了。从这儿就可以看出他寻找的那个人对他来说有多重要。


所以回到原题,百度为什么叫百度呢?取的是最后一句的那个意思,众里寻他千百度,蓦然回首,那人却在,灯火阑珊处。互联网里的信息那么多,你要找的答案简直就像海底捞针一样,但是不要怕,答案就在百度这个不起眼的地方。百度或者几乎任何一个引擎都很低调嘛,就是一长条可以让你打字的框框,有着可以让你搜索的功能,但是在这个灯火阑珊处,在这个很简洁,不太起眼的地方,你就能找到你要找的信息或答案。


百度这个名字就是这么来的。


这一期,我尝试了一下把音频做成双语版本的。一个中文版本,一个英文版本。如果大家有兴趣听听我是怎么用英文来翻译这首诗的话,不妨听一听英语版本,评价一下我的翻译。


好了,那我们这周就到这儿,我们下周见。

我的翻译 (My English translation of the poem):

青玉案·元夕Green Jade Table – The Lantern Festival
东风夜放花千树,更吹落,星如雨。宝马雕车香满路。凤箫声动,玉壶光转,一夜鱼龙舞。

蛾儿雪柳黄金缕,笑语盈盈暗香去。众里寻他千百度,蓦然回首,那人却在,灯火阑珊处。
With a blow of the eastern wind,
The lanterns scattered on the many trees blossom
Like flowers in the night;
Fireworks fall
Like shooting stars.

Fancy carriages take their turns about the road, 
Moving sound of the flute moves in the air;
The white jaded teapot tips in the sky;
Streams of light below perform
Performing a dance of fish and dragon through the night.

Those fair ladies,
They pass me by,
Dressed head to toe in silver and gold,
Leaving behind a trail
Of gentle laughter and sweet perfume.

I’ve looked through the crowd a thousand times,
Searching for the one;
Then, a glance back,
There (s)he is,
Standing in the dimmest place.