29 September 2006

Quartett - Heiner Muller and my nightmare

29 Sept 2006
Conservatoire National Superieur d'art dramatique
D'après Heiner Müller
Mis en scene: Matthias Langhoff
Décor,films: Matthias Langhoff
Lumières: Frédéric Duplessier
Avec: Muriel Mayette, François Chattot de la Comédie-Française
Photo credit: Theatre de la Ville

"Don't ask me!"
-- This is not a theatre critique。

[Enter Selina A and Selina B]
A. I am sad.
B. Pourqoui?
A. Can you imagine how hard it is for me to take this?
B. Quoi?
A. Can you imagine how sad I am?

B. Pourquoi?
A. Can you understand my frustration?
B. Quoi?
A. No, you can't.
B. Pourquoi?
A. Nobody understands.
B. Quoi?
[ A pause.]
A [Laughs]. Nothing! [turns away from B, goes out]
[B stands alone, perplexed]
(light slowly out, music Q12, goes.)

It's a very powerful performance, in adoptation, in directing, in acting and I love the set design... and yet, I sat there, motionless, like an alient fallen from the outer space... can you just tell me what you are saying??

I am sad. I am sad and frustrated -- for me, I understoo
d nothing! Why the language barrier is so high, so much higher than I imagined, too high for me to get over... I felt so helpless, so desperate... I can't understand what they are saying!!... I was a deaf in the auditorium. How much longer will it take for me to understand their langauge? their stupid french language!!??!!!

Hi? anyone there? anyone hear me??

27 September 2006

Sophie Calle

L'Erouv de Jerusalem (Installation)
27 Sept 2006
Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme
Hôtel de Saint-Aignan
Photo Credit: Sophie Calle

One of the most important and interesting figures of French contemporary art scene is Sophie Calle (b.9 oct 1953). Had seen the records and descriptions of her amazing works before but today was the first time I saw a real work of Calle, L'Erouv de Jerusalem.

Like her usual work, she plays with the ideas of memory and absence, privacy and public, intimate and voilence. In the installation, Calle asked the residents in Jerusalem to bring an object of their sweetest / bitterest memory to a public place during the Shabbat (a religious period when private and public domain is separated, i.e. no one and nothing can leave the house), and she photographied them with journals affixed to each personal memory.

Sophie Calle is the detective of urban life. In most of her works, she plays with the strangers from the streets, she is the writer, dirctor, actress and producer at the same time. She is a highly alert and inventive artist, the slightest flash or the most insignificant objects in life would become her inspiration. If you find the film Amelie Poulain (2003) amazing, you would find her work even more wonderful.

In Filatures Parisiennes (1978-80), she followed strangers in the street just like the 19th Century flaneur, she noted down their way and movements, and took photographical record of their activities, "not that I am interested in them, but just for the pleasure of following". In 1980, she followed a man all the way from Paris to Venice during 4 days, and this becomes the famous work, Suite Vénitienne (1980).

(1981), she found a temporary job in a Venice hotel as a cleaner for 3 weeks. During the work, she observes and takes photos of the personal affairs, the rubbish bins, the left-over food, etc. of the hotel guests, and reconstructs their relationships, their life and their thinking.

Le Carnet d'adresses
(1983), this is a very classic work of Sophie Calle. One day, she found by accident an address book in the street. She then contacted and met the strangers in the address book one by one with the aim to "reconstruct" the owner of the address book. At the end, an exhibition was organized, but it was finally closed down due to the objection of subject of the exhibition -- the address book owner!

Les Dormeurs
(1980s), 24 persons were asked to sleep in her own bed in succession during 8 days, they came alone or with their lovers, slept quietly or talked before sleep, or dreamt a lot... Sophie Calle photographied their gestures every hour. One time, a sleeper didn't show up, so she had to be one of the sleepers herself.

Voyage en Californie
(2003), the story of sleepers continues. In June 1999, an american boy called Josh Greene wrote to Calle asking if he could come to sleep in her bed in order to cure his broken heart. Afraid of an intrigue, she sent the bed with bedsheet and pillows to the boy in California. In Feb 2000, the boy sent the bed back to her when he was recovered.

Damien Hirst
(2003), Sophie Calle met Damien Hirst in 1989 in Glasgow. That evening of their first encounter, she asked him to write her a love letter. Later, she received a 5-page love letter from him, "a burning heart for a stranger". A year later, Calle wanted to interview Damien Hirst for her exhibition catalogue. However, she was too busy to do the interview that she asked him to makeup the questions that he imagined she would have asked him. The fictional interview was published. 12 years later, they reversed the roles, Sophie Calle asked Damien Hirst to interview her instead and he sent her a psychological test questionnaire for her and her family, the questionnaire with answers and test results were exhibited to the public in 2003 in Centre Pompidou.

1. Catalogue Cover, Sophie Calle, Centre Pompidou, 2003
2. Suite Vénitienne (1980)
3. L'Hotel (1983)
4. La Filature (avril 1981)

26 September 2006

Esquisses de Frank Gehry (1)

Documentary (2000-2005)
Director: Sydney Pollack

26 Sept 06 16h36

How do you feel when you look at the real buildings?
- Terrible! How could anyone allow me to do such a terrible thing. I want a place to cover up myself.
- From sketching to finishing, it takes such a long years to do a project. Too long, that when it's finished, i started to hate it.
- This building is one of my children, and this is the second time I see it. Maybe I would see it two or three times more in life, then, that's all...

How do architects work?
- From sketches, then paper models, then cardboard models, then digital models, then wooden models, then concrete buildings, then demolished....

Where do the inspirations come from?
- From wastepaper bin, from paintings, from a clip, from a fish....

Why you are so obessed with Fish?
- When human civilization can't advance, you have either to stop or to go back. And I choose to go back to millions of years ago when there is only fish!
- The day after seeing the fish sculpture model, the client called me, "Frank, we got a problem. You know, our clients pay thousand dollars to stay a night in the hotel, and we put them to look at the ass of the fish?!"

What is architecture?
- This is a concert hall, the auditorium is the most important, the others, are of minor importance.
- If the architectural presence distracts the spectators' attention, it's only that the paintings are not good enough.

Born in 1929 in Toronto, Frank Gehry was once a lorry driver, an airplane cleaner before he became known as Frank O. Gehry - the great architect. Graduated from Southern California University at the age of 25, he established his associate in 1963, at the age of 34. His artisitic view, however, was not gaining recognition from his contemporary at his young age. And he concluded that there was a anti-semitic sentiment against him, so he changed his name from Ephraim Owen Goldberg to Frank Gehry, to cover up his jewish trace.

Frank Gehry's work shows an influence from his modernist predecessor Le Corbusier, such as his Notre Dame du Haut. However, as a post-modern deconstructivist architect, Frank further breaks away from the symmetrical aesthetic and balance of modernist architecture. By creating anti-physics and lost centre-balance structures, his work were dominated with curves, visual conflicts, wraped walls, that they become unconventional but functional sculptures.

Selected works and images of Frank Gehry:
1. Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany (1989)
(Photographer, Don Wong)
2. Frederick Weisman Museum of Art, University of Minnesota, USA (1990)
3. Disney Village, Disneyland Resort Paris, France (1992)
4. Cinematique Francaise, Paris, France (1994)
5. Dancing House, Prague, Czech Republic (1995)
6. Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain (1997)
7. Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, California, USA (2003)
8. Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois, USA (2004)

Official Website: Sketches of Frank Gehry

24 September 2006


幾位朋友看了 「29 + 1 ︰這是一個責任問題」 一文後,或留言回應,或電郵說了一些看法,不過全部都是女性朋友,所以立場不是太多元化。




以下是朋友M (In Love with Change) 的一段文字,抄下來和大家分享,希望m不要介意。

「現代女性的悲哀是,幸褔這一個看似簡單的願望,偏偏這麼近,卻又是那麼遠,令人無限欷歔。也許幸褔是一件很玄妙的東西吧,愈想得到,卻愈得不到。它有時伸手可及,只是我們愈走愈遠。聽過不少女生慨嘆現今男人質素差,愈來愈配不上她們。 坦白說我並不完全茍同 - 會不會只是大家在進化過程中沒有認清彼此的期望,然後雙方愈走愈遠? 很愛用"the best is yet to come"這句話鼔勵失意的朋友。我常想,如果大家嘗試,總可抓着一些小幸福吧。人生,總會有奇妙的意外 . . .」

23 September 2006

Je vais promener ma tortue...

-- a reponse to Joel Achenbach

An article entitled "The Art of Doing Nothing – And nobody does it better than the French", appeared in the Washington Post on 13 August by an American correspondent in Paris, Joel Achenbach. It's a highly entertaining piece not only in the witty choices of images and words but also the very juicy complex of American admiration, jealousy, frustration and fear towards its "eccentric" French counterpart.

If Paris is the city the world literature has been writing about the most, I dare to say no one single nation has been depicted and stereotyped by its fellow nations as much as the French has been. Why the world is so obsessed with France? Why do the French appear so enigmatic to the rest of the world? And why they are never tired of this role?

Is it the result of decades or even centuries of advocacy of French high culture? Is it the language that beyond our daily comprehension which makes it even more exotic? Is it the long-lived spirit of crazy philosophers and fervent revolutionists that crystallized in the French blood? Is it the almost impossible survival of a humanity society in today's world economy that renders it even more mythical and legendary? We knew well that after the WWII, the French no longer fancy themselves as the biggest or the strongest power in the world, but they still believe they are the best. Is it simply this overflowing national pride that made them the most culturally confident beings among the nations?

"Em… there is only one reason, because I am a French!"

The article can be read as a general American impression of the French. You can almost imagine a Washingtonian reading this article laughing his jaw to the ground! In Washington, the French are criticized as provocative, whimsical, pushy and self-important. This is the image the French has built since the era of de Gaulle. On the level of international politics, France is always playing a discordant tune to the American policy. Such as during the cold-war time, France's amity towards China and the U.S.S.R. had cold-sweated the American government. Again, in the 2003 UN resolution on the Iraq war, France was the only country that stood against the America though it was not the only one opposing the war. On the international stage, unlike the British whose foreign policy has been closely on line with the America, France remains independent and assertive (partly because they love the art of debate and partly because they like to speak for the others). For most part, France has gone its own way in the world, posting France as an alternative to the others. And this makes the French eccentric in the American eyes. As for the Chinese, it's always entertaining to look at the cock and the eagle pecking at each other's feather!

Back to the article, this title is itself highly stereotyping and therefore entertaining. A very witty choice of the word "art", the image of a sophisticated and pretentious French dandy pops up on your screen. Everything happens in Paris, as far as it's executed by a French, the glorious halo of art immediately endowed itself to the act, even doing nothing in a café. So there is the art of drinking wine, the art of making baguette and cheese, the art of toddling in a Sunday-morning-dog-shitted-street, the art of crushing into an overcrowded metro wagon and ignoring the screams from inside, the art of kissing in the street as if no one is around… I would love to read an article entitled "The Art of Pissing in the Street – and nobody does it better than the French". Isn't it even more attractive?!

Doing nothingness
Behind the mysterious act of Doing Nothing, there is this very unique French concept of time which is elusive to the Americans, i.e. the visualization of la durée, the duration, or the process. It is the sense that time is suspended at the moment when they are doing nothing, i.e. the time passed in time's most concrete form. When we are engaged with a particular activity, time is translated into that act. The existence of time is experienced through the action. However, at the very moment of relaxing, time is peculiarly chopped up, this moment, la durée, is different from the previous ones and the following ones.

In the 19th Century Paris, there existed this group of anti-social beings called les flâneurs. When the whole society was undergoing a series of industrial and capitalist transformation, when time is translated into productivity and money, these flâneurs strolled in the city in idleness, doing nothing but walking, observing, thinking and silently protesting against the other's industriousness. Sometimes, they spied a certain person and followed him/her the whole day; sometimes they took adventures by following a scrap of paper which they gave to the wind to play with, like the hero in Duma's Mohicans de Paris. Around 1840, it was briefly fashionable to take turtles for a walk in the arcades. The flâneurs liked to have the turtles set the pace for them. If they had had their way, progress would have been obliged to accommodate itself to this pace. Fortunately or unfortunately, this attitude did not prevail.

In the art of flânerie, is that the flâneurs demanded elbowroom and were unwilling to forego the life of a gentleman of leisure. So, here comes the second very frenchy concept: the idea of doing things elegantly without hurry. This explains why the French against the American fast-food culture, against the instant coffee, against wal-mart. Since in them, gracefulness is simply absent.

It's quiet a taboo to eat while walking in a Parisian street, in some up-class chic quarters, even having an half-bitten apple in your hand makes you indecent. There is no economic discrimination here, but the discrimination is upon the manner. You can grasp a sandwich or whatever from a street hawker, just don't eat in the street. Sit down in a park, or a bench, or a fountain and enjoy your food!

It's however true that some of the French elegancy is lost in the decades, and the haut couture designers are lamenting for the lost. Today’s France is absorbing (not "assimilating" as the French imagined themselves) its Arabian immigrants' sub-cultures, the American pop culture and the African primitive cultures. The young French dressed casually, not very different from the American or Japanese teens. But the so-called elite class (yes, despite their belief in democracy and equality, the French admired and entrusted their power to the elites class), keeps their norms. Can you imagine a boy elegantly dressed with a pair of shinning leather shoes appear in the campus of HKU or UST? You must have asked with a what-a-pity look on your face, "is he gay?" Yeah, yet French boys in prestigious schools like it… "Why do you dress up like going to office?" Once I asked a 23-year old architectural student, and he said, "Because I am used to it", this sentence can be interpreted as "this is my style", "I was like this since very young". No wonder this boy comes from a middle-class family and he is trained up like this. To be elegant, to him is also a sign of being mature and professional, and he likes this.

Sitting in a café
Sitting in a café is not necessarily a French pastime. I like sitting in a café as well… everyone likes it. But some people feel at ease with just sitting there and doing nothing, some others feeling uncanny when they have nothing to do, the later is the case for the writer. He failed to appreciate la durée and the elegance. He also failed to realize the sweet solitude of being alone at the middle of the crowd. What the French really mastery is this secret mental technique. They are there to look and to be looked at, they might secretly dream for une belle rencontre, a sweet encounter, but they enjoy better their own beautiful imagination that flashed through their mind, since une belle rencontre doesn't happen too often.

One of the important factors between the seeing and to be seen, is that there exist a discretionary distance between the subjects and objects. It is this safe distance that keeps the action of looking possible. Proximity suffocates this relationship. The best example is the passengers in the metro, they always carry a book and read in the metro. Yes it's a better use of time, but it's also a very clever way of avoiding eye contact. We sit in the metro in a strange position of looking at each other for longtime without speaking to each other. This feeling is equally uncanny. Reading becomes a way of avoiding eye contacts when the discretionary distance is impossible.

Sexual politics
If we know each other in this modern society as debtors and creditors, salesmen and customers, employers and employees, and above all as competitors; for the French, they first thing they see in each other, is as man and woman, then attitude and role-play will be appropriated and adjusted accordingly. Sometimes I suspect this as a reflex act of their feminine / masculine rules in the french noun.

The man-woman relationship is a huge topic in France. It applies to all social scenarios and amplifies itself to the cover all sorts of interpersonal dealings. Just to give some trivial examples, a 5-year old girl was playing football with her friends in Jardin du Luxembourg, she kicked her toe on the ground and was hurt. A boy of 8 came and performed neatly this ritual: he gave her a hug first, then kneeled down on the grass, kissed her toe! I was stunned. I would marry anyone who kisses my toe in a garden!! Who taught him this? And who taught the little girl to give the right response of stop panicking?

Another example, a father is playing with his 3-year old coquettish daughter. He sat her on his legs and held her to him, nose to nose, asked her, "do you love me?' she giggled and replied proudly, "no!" The father dropped her almost to the ground and she was excited by the suddenly fall. Then they repeated the game of "do you love me?" and "no!" This little girl is now well trained to get what she wants from a man by pretending to refuse him her love!

And a third example: a female driver was stopped by a police and instead of interrogation, they started a chat. After 10 minutes talk, you can tell from their facial expression that the temperature of the chat was increased to become a flirtation. The spot was L'Opera, it was 18h, date forgotten… if you want to report the policeman!

As for the writer, he's quite right to know his existential mistake if he talked to the Frenchman. The reason is not his level of French or his impoliteness, but his irrevocable truth of being a man.

The writer also assumes that all Frenchmen are married and all of them have a list of mistresses. Every woman is wife to somebody and mistress to many others! Isn't this pure male fantasy? An imagination of the most impotent? The point is why they put the label on the French foreheads? Because they are all "Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir"? Because according to a whatever research agent, the French rank number 1 in satisfaction of sex life? Because they are all elegant creatures "modeling for Toulouse-Lautrec"? Because they are not "multi-tasked" when they are in bed? Because they won't ask, "why did you not try to achieve something?" when they are having a post-love scene relaxation?

In his scandal with Lewinsky, what Clinton must be regretful was not what he has done but that he wasn't born a French. Should he had been a French president instead, he would just have said, "after all, I am a man" and he would be able to get it passed. The French did find the reaction of the American politicians and the public in general ridiculous. "What's the point of making a fuss over a mistake in one's private life?! Look, our former president Mitterrand appeared from time to time before the camera with his mistress and their daughter, and we love him all the same!" This is why all men in the world are so obsessed with France! The country guarantees sexual freedom... So, all French are stereotyped as infidel. There is a Madame Bovary in every French woman and a Don Juan in every French man! How far is this true?

Opposing this infidel image, there is this image of French as passionate lovers who are ready to die for love. Love values high in the social system, everything will be self-justifiable under the sacred name of Love. It's insane for the Chinese government to imprison a Chinese girl who's in love with a French diplomat in the early 1980s, it's unreasonable to assign lovers to work in different cities... So, my French brother-in-low made a rhetoric announcement: I love my wife, so I follow her everywhere in the world! It's very true in what he said, just that no one but the French would love to make their passion seen and heard, including to those who are not concerned with. That's why the French are romantic, so to speak, to lots of Asians. They see a Cyrano de Bergerac (大鼻子情聖) in every Frenchman. However, if I tell you that the divorce rate in France is 33%, i.e. one divorce in every 3 marriages, would you now find them scary?!

Whether they appear to you as Don Juan or Cyrano de Bergerac, each of them is, after all, unique, just like you and me as unique Chinese or Hongkongais, or simply a planet citizen. Stereotyping can be light-hearted and entertaining when it doesn't mean harm, but it melt away when things come to a personal and individual level. The key to a meaningful and beautiful cross-cultural encounter is to empty oneself from his/her own cultural prejudices, so that one would be able to merge deeper into the new culture, and be able to see the beauty inside the others. This is how we get to know this world.

The Art of Doing Nothing

-- And nobody does it better than the French

By Joel Achenbach

(Washington Post, Sunday, August 13, 2006; Page W11)

In Paris, you sit in the cafe, like Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Sitting in a cafe is one of the main activities in Paris. It's what Parisians do instead of working or jogging. They have a natural talent for it, the way Americans are good at going to the pool, grilling meat or driving interstate highways.

The crucial skill in a cafe is the ability to gear down, from second to first, and then down yet again to a special, Gallic gear that is nearly paralytic. It's a bit like being dead, but with better coffee.

The chairs in the cafes are lined up in rows, facing outward, toward the theater of Paris street life. Or perhaps it is the patrons who are on display. Their posture says: Here, look at us, full in the face, as we sit in the cafe so brilliantly, thinking our big French thoughts.

Like the other day, I was nursing an expensive thimble of wine in a cafe on the Rue de Something, near the Avenue des Whatevers, and to my immediate left sat a Frenchman in a pose so relaxed he might have been modeling for Toulouse-Lautrec. He was doing nothing, and doing it with panache. Between two fingers dangled a cigarette that remained lit even though he never did anything so animated as puff. It was hard to tell if he was truly drinking his glass of red wine; the level went down so slowly it may have been merely evaporating.

Why did he not try to achieve something? The café advertised WiFi, but no one had a laptop. This was not Starbucks. There was no American compulsion to multitask, to use the cafe as a caffeination station and broadband platform for another increment ofaccomplishment.

Conceivably I could have spoken to the Frenchman, but the language barrier is significant; I am afraid to attempt anything in French in a cafe lest it be incorrect both grammatically and existentially.

Perhaps the Frenchman was dreaming up an elaborate sociohistorical theory, positing that human civilization has been in decline since the invention of the croissant. Or perhaps he was just enjoying the Latin Quarter, a section so old that I am pretty sure its residents still speak in Latin. The nearby Notre Dame Cathedral was built in the Middle Ages, when the European idea of comic relief was a stone gargoyle.

Parisian commerce is quaint, which is to say, hopelessly inefficient, requiring that shoppers pay the equivalent of a charm tax. You go to one little market to buy your cheese, another to buy your jalapenos, another to buy your corn chips, another to buy your salsa; only then can you make nachos.

I had an urge to blast the Frenchman out of his reverie. "Excuse me, I'm from Wal-Mart," I could say. "We're putting in a superstore right over yonder on the Rue Dauphine. Gonna kick some serious retail derriere, ya dig?" Then, as though he could hear me thinking, the enervated Frenchman finally did something: He looked at his cellphone. Action in the cafe! He didn't make a call, let's be clear on that, but he studied the cellphone. It dawned on me: He was going over all the speed-dial listings of his mistresses.

Now we're getting down to business. Sure, he ponders the big Frenchy thoughts as he camps in the front row of the cafe, but he's also scoping out the Parisian femmes, who are tres magnifique! That is French for "bodacious." These women tend to be slinky and stylish and sophisticated, and they make American women look, by contrast, as though they just fell off a hay wagon. The femmes have an air of saucy liberation. You can imagine that they are writing Volume 4 of their projected nine-volume encyclopedia on les artes erotiques. They're on the chapter about the webbing between the toes. That lovely muscle tone in the upper arms? That's from all the time they spend on the trapeze. (Conceivably this is a projection from the tourist's subconscious: We've seen those subtitled films where a layabout Frenchman does nothing but smoke cigarettes and all the women take off their clothes.)Eventually, I reached the obvious conclusion that the man beside me was a professional sensualist. It's a job that doesn't exist in America outside of certainZip codes in California. For the sensualist there are long recessions, even depressions, as the economy of romance goes into a dive. One sits in the cafe and hopes for an upturn in the market.

I sympathize: It's hard work. A grind, at times. But it sure beats the heck out of doing nothing.

Read Joel Achenbach weekdays at washingtonpost.com/achenblog.

22 September 2006

Le Grand Inquisiteur

Le Grand Inquisiteur
22 Sept 2006 (21h - 22h)
Theatre des Bouffes du Nord

Mise en scène: Peter Brook
De: Fedor Dostoïevski
Adaptation: Marie-Hélène Estienne
Avec: Maurice Bénichou & Ken Higelin

Le Grand Inquisiteur in Book 5 of Les Frères Karamazov (卡拉馬助夫兄弟們)

"L'action se passe en Espagne, à Séville, au seizième siècle – à l'époque la plus terrible de l'Inquisition.Le Christ revient parmi les hommes sous la forme qu'il avaitdurant les trois ans de sa vie publique. Le voici qui descend vers les rues brûlantes de la ville où justement la veille, en présence du roi, des courtisans, des chevaliers, des cardinaux et des plus charmantes dames de la cour, le Grand Inquisiteur a fait brûler une centaine d'hérétiques."
-- Le Grand Inquisiteur (extrait)


可是我做了一個錯誤的選擇。看到是 Peter Brook的戲,心想81歲的老人家為你導戲,你還有甚麼藉口可以錯過了?但我應該知道,這將又是一個文本極重的演出,法文,這個門階依然踏不過去。結果,全力以赴地聽了十五分鐘,集中力開始不行了。加上 Dostoïevski 的名作 The Brothers Karamazov (1879-1880)也沒看過,對於這一節對宗教、自由和人性的大審判也不甚了了,結果亦只能脫離文本,做看戲應做的事 -- 看、看、看。

舞台是一貫的空蕩蕩,只有一張約 3 m x 2 m 的 5吋高灰色platform,台右上 放著一張黑色圓形小本凳,platform邊的台左下位是另一張凳。燈火是維持不變。身穿黑色長褲長衫的Alyosha / Christ 從左邊觀眾席走到台左,坐下,赤腳。黑色長褸長褲的Ivan / Inquisitor 從台右幕進場,站在台右,舞台呈對角線,焦點集中在兩人的距離。

無神論的哥哥Ivan 開始給忠於宗教的弟弟Alyosha說故事,The Inquisitor質問耶穌為何要再一次出現在人群中,阻礙著教會的工作。他以耶穌拒絕撒旦的三次誘惑 (The temptation of Christ) 而換取自由的故事來證明耶穌錯了,並且不應在這個時候 (十六世紀)再次出現。人性是懦弱的,而人是愚昧的,耶穌誤信了人類,給予人自由選擇的權利等於剁奪了他們受苦贖罪的機會,人類只有永遠的苦難。只有透過撒旦式的死亡和毀滅,人類才能在無知的快樂中結束這個永久的苦難。而 The Inquisitor 及教會將會負起這個撒旦式的責任,所以,「這裡沒有你的事了,我現在命令你離開這裡。」

Christ 站起,45度走向台右上,親吻了The Inquisitor,再45度向台右下離開舞台,路線剛好呈一個三角形,亦即天主教中的 trinity。這是演員在整個演出中唯一的動作。The Inquisitor 呆坐在那裡,這一吻彷彿在他心裡蕩起了愛,但他依然選擇隨著他的想法走向死亡。

一個小時的密集式獨白,結集哲學和神學爭辯,真夠我受了。只記得不斷聽到 conscience 和 liberte這個字。看戲也看觀眾。我坐在山頂,是觀察別人的最佳位置。開場不到十分鐘,已有五分一觀眾合上了閉目 -- 是深思?是養神?只他們自己才知道了。

21 September 2006

Les enfants du monde

Photographer: Kevin Kling
Photography exhibition
Outside Jardin du Leuxembourg, Paris
Presented by The Senat, France
Photo courtesy: © Kevin Kling



20 September 2006

Rodin et les danseuses cambodgiennes

Rodin et les danseuses cambodgiennes,
-- sa dernière passion
Date : 16 June – 17 Sept 2006
Venue : Musée Rodin de Paris
Photo courtesy : Musée Rodin de Paris

In 1906, the pro-France new King of Cambodia paid a diplomatic visit to France. Coming with him were the Cambodian court dancers who performed for the French audience in Marseilles then in Paris. In the auditorium, there was the famous 66-years old sculptor, Augustine Rodin. Enthralled by the Cambodian dancers, Rodin made an immediate decision of following them to Marseilles where they would soon be boarding the return ship to Cambodia. Within a few days, this old artist had produced around 150 watercolours of the Cambodian dancers. This collection was so precious to him that he sold scarcely, gave only a few to his friends but exhibited a lot to the public. In the years to follow, he painted for Najinski and Hanako, and produced impressive sculptures after them. The dancing body series became known as the great sculptor's last passion.

As a sculptor, Rodin spent his whole life in capturing the corporal beauty in our daily life. The way we sit, we walk, we lay down; the way we kiss, the way we think, the way we suffer; the way our bodies were distorted by pain, by sorrow, by fear... To him, the soul is not trapped inside the human body by the body as the most ardent medium for the manifestation and emancipation of the abstract form. His sculptures captured this very moment of expression where our soul becomes visible in flesh and blood. There are vitality and balance in the gestures, emotions and desires in the facial expressions, harmony and energy in the muscles. Rodin's work mainly based on daily expressions of the body, and in these most common life context, he found the beauty of the bodily expression and developed his aesthetic sense in his sculptures. Therefore, these expressions are genuine and shared by all of us, real to life and human nature.

It might be easy to understand a sculptor's search for inspiration in dance. However, Rodin has a very different view on dance from that of Degas. The stage can be fabulous and the dancers magnificent, but they are not everyday life. For Rodin, the body is the spontaneous articulator of the nature, for Degas, the body is the trained interpreter of civilization.

Why then should Rodin be so fascinated with the Cambodian court dancers? This highlights the differences between the western and eastern concept of bodily aesthetics, and the dances embody these difference concepts: the classical ballet is airy, the Cambodian dance earthy. With bare feet, bent knees, outspreaded legs, firm steps on the ground, the Cambodian dancers were attached to the gravity, they are stable and neat. Their bare arms moved in the air in sharp and neat movements, mediated with momentary pauses. From shoulders to the fingertips, the many angular lines gave each part of the muscle its own presence.

The Cambodian court dances derived from religious ceremony and it maintained lots of imaginary gestures of Gods’ power and human being's fear and worship for the power. Many of the dances are the stories between God and man and the gestures the mimesis of God and man's communication. The eastern religion might be ungraspable for Rodin, what he saw is the liberation of the human bodies in the everyday encounter with religion. Unlike Classic Ballet which sees bodily beauty in the inhuman perfection of graciousness and purity, the traditional eastern dance seeks the relationship between the soil and body.

This very opposing bodily view of eastern traditional dances found their western comrades in Isadora Duncan and Loïe Fuller, the two great creators of new dance and founders of modern dance. No wonder, Rodin would be equally amazed with their arts, only if they have had a chance to meet each other.

18 September 2006






例如,我是個滋悠淡定的人,最怕別人大驚小怪。我的羅馬尼亞朋友偏惼就是個緊張大師 + 大驚小怪的人。有時,我也會按不住氣,告訴她,relax。當然 relax 了的人,是我不是她。對朋友已是如此,更何況是對待親人? 我可以接納別人嗎?


記憶中,曾經說過這樣的話,「今晚你可唔可以唔著嗰件外套呀?﹗」、「你唔好成日唔出聲啦﹗」、「其實,你都可以試吓啲slim cut的褲﹗」等等。看得出,我只企圖改變一下對方的形象。性格喎,我真的沒有這樣的野心去改變一個人,自己努力了十幾年想改變自己的性格也辦不到,何以我們會有這樣的能耐和智慧去改變另一個人?

有沒有人曾試圖改變我?沒有﹗想像我的男朋友對我說,「你可唔可以唔遲到呀?」又或者「你下次再遲到我就飛你﹗」那我會怎樣呢? 先行飛了他?還是真的以後就不再遲到了?我想我會改變他 -- 以不變應萬變,繼續訓練他的耐性﹗(不過,我真的希望我可以改過「遲到」這個壞習慣。原來「遲到」在道德上是等於不尊重對方,是蔑視對方的暗示。真的沒有想過是如此大件事喎﹗對不起呀,如果你曾經很無奈地等了我很久的話﹗)




17 September 2006


Les jours europeens du patrimoin
16 - 17 September 2006

Photo courtesy: Le Senat (France), de Anndou, Henri Ng, HKSAR



以2006年計,法國在2840億歐元的國家財政預算中,文化發展佔28億歐元,約1%。若以現時法國總人口6200萬人計,平均個人享得450歐元的文化資源。掌管這28億的文化局又將資源分為三大部份,古物古蹟 (patrimoine)佔8億、藝術創作 (creation artistique) 佔9億、藝術教育和普及 (democratization d'art)佔4.5億。

Patrimoine (文化遺產) 這個字在法文中意義甚廣,近年,在資源分配等問題上更衍生出多層定義。在文化局的界定下,它包括所有被立法監護的一級古蹟,如古堡、皇宮、博物館、政府機關、廣場、公園、教堂、大學、劇院、橋、紀念碑、考古遺蹟等;申請成為古蹟的、具有歷史意義或藝術價值的公共或私人 / 商業建築,如工廠、名人故居、商店、餐廳、戲劇、火車站;甚至是「可移動」的古物,如渡輪、火車等。

古物古蹟的8億歐元資源主要用於博物館和文物古蹟的維修上。2006年的公立博物館享用總資源有3.75億,其中二千一百萬為羅浮宮 (Musée du Louvre) 發展伊斯蘭藝術專館用途。用於古建築物的維修和保護則約為3億。法國有86間大教堂為國家保護建築物,今年例入重點維修的,就有20間,共批款三千六百萬歐元的維護費用。另外,文獻維修及保存佔三千四百萬歐元、書籍及語言學文獻佔1.2億,電影文物佔四千萬歐元。而在開放日的前夕,首相Dominique de Villepin 又公佈,政府將再加碼注資七千萬歐元用作今年季尾的古物保護資金,以順利完成各項教堂維修工作。


將拆的天星碼頭 (左)

「仿古」愛德華時代建築的新碼頭 (右)

16 September 2006

Arty Show? Artichaud? 朝鮮薊!

春天百貨 (Le Printemps) 的新一季時裝展以 arty show 名,讓人隨即想起 artichaud 這個古怪的食物。原來它還有一個中文譯名叫朝鮮薊! 和朝鮮有啥關係,「薊」字點解點讀,我都不知道,一時我又沒有興趣上網查喎。

想說的,是這個怪食物的食法。我很多年前在法國的寄宿家庭吃過一次,聽聞是高貴的食物。記得當我埋位吃晚餐時,見到碟子中間放了個「松果」,ça se mange? 這是要吃的嗎?是的﹗

Host-mum 隨即興趣大叫,ohlala,tu ne connais pas artichaud!?



Photo Courtesy: Le Printemps

14 September 2006

The sound of autumn

-- summer nights' home

This is a rare evening of thunderstorm in Paris. I imagine the lightening breaking the sky, the thunder threatening the birds, the rain sweeping the unsheltered passersby.

I looked out from my window, suddenly I understood where the Gods of rain, of sky, of peace, of safety, of happiness... came from. I was once myself the primitive man of the stone age, I was myself looking at the rain, feeling the destructive force that comes closing in from the darkness, terrified! And I prayed, prayed from the deepest seed of my ignorance, prayed for the most gracious protection, prayed with the greatest fear and faith in my heart...

We are the primitive men in the creation of our little safe world... our little safe world. A world filled with the Gods of power, of money, of position, of success, of lust ... our sanctuary!

And yet the thunderstorm comes again and again. The thunder resonates in everywhere the weak soul took refuge, the lightening illuminates every hidden fear in our unsettled dreams, the rain penetrates in every empty space of our lonely hearts, the wind evacuates every souls from their castles in the air...

This evening, the thunderstorm called us out from our little sanctuary. I walked out from my window, I stepped on a soft grey cloud, I fled to the sky. "Don't look back!", the God of Thunderstorm said to me, "Don't look back"! I was frightened, the grey cloud under my feet. I turned back, I looked down, I saw my face framed within the square window pane, I saw myself struggling in this little safe world, my little predicament called "sanctuary"!

So, this evening, I looked back. I remembered my many hundred nights of thunderstorm in the summer, I remembered my little humid city of summer typhoons and thunderstorms. I remembered the familiar sound of thunder, the sound reheard tonight in Paris.

Oh, my thunder, you tremble my heart! I am no longer afraid of you but I am missing you!

12 September 2006



2006 / 07 新髮 look


11 September 2006

Can life be otherwise?

-- a post-mortem examination of a missed life

"Can life be otherwise?"
Have you ever asked yourself this question?

Oh, this is a question for the loser!
Yes, yes, you are right, this is a question for the loser.
And yet aren't we losers at a certain point of our life?

Do you really believe that you are in perfect mastery of your life?
Isn't our life consisted of millions of choices and probability?
chance encounter, chance success, chance failure, accidental variations...

cross roads, turn left, turn right, upstairs, downstairs...
"to be or not to be?"

Then, one day we wonder how life would be if we bought the film tickets for 7:30pm instead of 9:45pm? if we went to KFC instead of McDonald's? if we telephoned B first instead of A? if we sat at row H instead of K? if we cooked rice instead of spaghettis? If we did go to Prague? if we did ask that question? if we didn't rise our hand in the lecture hall? if we did get up that evening? if we didn't sing that song?

Do you know that history can be otherwise?

Do you know why Nagasaki was chosen as the target after Hiroshima? Do you know that originally Kokura was the first target to be bombed? On 9 August 1945, three aircrafts took the mission to drop the bomb "Fat Man". Weather was reported clear in Kokura. However, one aircraft mysteriously missed its route, when they reached Kokura 30 mins later than planned, a 7/10 cloud had already covered the city, so they flew to Nagasaki.

Do you know Nagasaki might not be bombed? Again, mysteriously an oil reserve tank of a second aircraft had failed before take-off, it might have to divert to Okinawa due to insufficient fuel to reach Iwo Jima. So, the initial plan was that if Nagasaki was obscured on their arrival they would carry the bomb to Okinawa and dispose of it in the ocean.

At 11:00 am, the three aircrafts arrived Nagasaki and the weather was obscure. At 11:01, a last minute break in the clouds over Nagasaki allowed the bombardier to sight the target. The "Fat Man" was dropped over the city and 43 seconds later, the sky was obscured again and 70,000 Nagasakians were killed instantly.

What's the calculation? What's the probability here?

Do you know that cities can be otherwise?

There is this comic book called Manhattan Guardian which is set in a Manhattan not chosen, the other Manhattan rebuilt with architectural projects not realised : Antonio Gaudi's New York Hotel, Hans Hollein's Rolls-Royce Building, Frank Lloyd Wright's Ellis Island Key. Can Manhattan in fact be the other Manhattan?

Have you ever thought about this, that the twin towers could have not be there on 11 September 2001?

Yet, in our life... how many paths not taken? how many trains missed? how many love abandoned? how many words misinterpreted? how many people misunderstood?

Photo courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org

10 September 2006

Obscene Nudity

Recently I love to use these two words in my writings - Obscene nudity
The gladiator in its obscene nudity
The lightbulb hanging on the wall in its obscene nudity
The rejected love floating in the air in its obscene nudity

What does obscene nudity mean?
Isn't nudity itself obscene?

No, nudity itself is not obscene. Nudity itself is beautiful.
A gladiator's nudity is beautiful in which we see strength and courage.
A lightbulb's nudity is beautiful in which we see the source of light and warmth.
A love's nudity is beautiful in which we see devotion and hope.

Why do they become obscene?

Let's first understand what obscenity means. No need to consult your Oxford or Cambridge dictionaries, let's understand things in their simpliest forms.
For example, a child of 10 is dancing in front of you, moving his / her ass from left to right, imitating his / her adult models in the initiation of an erotic encounter. Yet they have no idea what that means, they don't know what love and courting are, just imitation. Is this not obscene?

For example, a sucessful lawyer is earning so much more than necessary, so much so that he doesn't know what to do with his money, yet he knows his money comes from the so call "legal process of merging", in which the less privileged were exploitated of their living. Is this not obscene?

So why did I say the plastic tongs in the picture is the gladiator in obscene nudity?
A gladiator's nudity becomes obscene when there is nothing for him to fight against, when there is no longer need for his strength and courage. His display of strength and courage amidst this nothingness becomes obscene.

Why the lightbulb hanging on the wall is obscene?
Because today what we want to see is not the source of light and warmth but the artificial beauty enchants us in a cover.

When does love's nudity become obscene?
When love's expression meets no reciprocation, it's nudity becomes obscene. When love is exposed, but then rejected, and there is no way to withdraw, to shelter it, and it continues to be exposed in the air, it becomes obscene.

You see, today we live in a world without hero. Because we don't need hero. All heroic acts are rendered obscene. Yet all of us want to be somebody, to become a hero. That's why our world today is full of obscene nudity!

9 September 2006

Le Bon-isme : on french as a language (3)

"Bon courage et bonne continuation!"

A friend is leaving Paris for good, and he sent me this sms. I tried to translate them into english and find no equivalent terms. What would we say in English? Probably "work hard and take care".

"Bon courage" is the coquettish french cousin of "work hard" but literarily, it means "have a lot of courage". For the french, they say "bon courage!" to someone who has to accomplish a task or when they find someone morally weak. By saying "bon courage!" they mean to give them moral support than to push them to work, such as in "work hard". Sometimes the french say "travaille bien!" = "work well", but they would never ask you (or themselves) to work "hard"!

In Chinese, we say "add oil", 加油! It's an equal moral support to "bon courage". One time a friend shouted "add milk!" to kids in a running competition. "They are kids, they need milk to be stronger." So we adults need "oil" to function better? like all machines?! This is a moral support takes the form of a physical or even mechanical appearance.

The Japanese says "kanbate". What I understand is that "kanbate" means both 加油、努力, "bon courage" and "work hard". An online translator says "support you always!" But in formal Japanese it should be "Kanbate Kudasai" = "kanbate, please", in this case, "kanbate" means "work hard" more than "bon courage".

So, instead of telling you to work very hard, your french cousin seduisant/e (seductive) wishes you in a sweet and mysterious voice: "May the force be with you!"

"Bonne continuation!" is even more tricky. When you are at the middle of doing something, your french cousin comes to you, "ça va?", and you are obliged to reply "ça va!" Because "ça va pas!" is considered impolite and vulgar, therefore forbidden. Why? You don't bring up bad news at the very beginning of a conversation, this is the rule! Be polite and considerate, you spoil your french cousin's mood and jump to your personal misfortunes at the very second by saying "ça va pas!" Remember this, your french cousin is equally egoist as you are, so show a bit of concern for your cousin first, and reply "ça va! et toi?"

So the conversation goes on...... for 5 minutes. Your french cousin tells you it's time to leave, and wishes you "bonne continuation" with your work, because you never have the chance to reveal to your cousin that "ça va pas!" It's not working, I have a problem! By the time your french cousin affectionately kissing you goodbye, sincerely wishing you good continuation with your work with the same degree of "pleasure", your bitter smile then hints that there is a problem, so there you stand at the doorway, and the conversation goes on...... for 30 minutes!

Your almighty french cousin invented lots of greetings and formalities to threaten you. Oh, ma pauvre! ça va? Oh, c'est pas grave!

This week the slogan is "bon retour!", "bonne rentrée!" Good return! Everyone is back from holidays, everything resumes to normal after a month of human deployment and close-door policy.

You go to a bakery, the 20 - second dialogue goes like this:
- Bonjour, Madame!
- Bonjour! Je voudrais une baguette, si vous plaît!
- 1 euro! Merci!
- Merci!
- Bonne journée! Au révoir!
- Bonne journée! Au révoir!

A climax of "!" accumulated in the 20-second exchange for a hard-warm-baguette! Then you fled the bakery feeling abolutely lost.

During the day, you say "bonjour", "bon après-midi", "bon soir". But when you leave your friends in the day, you say "bonne journée!" In the evening or early morning at 02h00, you say "bonne nuit" if your friends are going to sleep, otherwise "bonne soirée" for them to have more fun in the night or the morning!

Before open your month to eat, you said "Bon appétit!" Before you sip your glass of famous Bordeaux, you said "Bonne santé!"

On Monday, you say "bonne semaine!" Have a nice week!
On Friday, you say "bon weekend!" Have a nice weekend.
On Sunday, you say "bon dimanche!"
On holiday, you say "bonnes vacances!"
On festival, you say "bonne fête!"

A friend goes home, you say "bon retour!"
A friend drives a car, you say "bonne route!"
A friend takes a TGV, you say "bon voyage!"
A friend cooks for you, you say "très bon!"

You take your chance, you charmant/e french cousin wishes you "bonne chance!"
You spend your holiday in France, s/he wishes you "bon séjours!"

You ask why there are so many "bon"s and "bonne"s in French?
Your adorable french cousin says "bon courage!" and gives you a bonbon!

Oh, Bon Dieu!

8 September 2006





攝影 © de Anndou

The modern hero

So here you stand,
the guardian of banality.

you never sweat to the burning sun,
you radiate under the mournful sky,
you hold on to life in the wild wind,
you drop your tears for a shooting star.

you are the gladiator in obscent nudity,
you are the philosopher in silent resistance,
you are the prince in abandoned territory,
you are the Odessey in eternal captivity.
The Modern Hero (2006)
Photographie © de Anndou

Alas, this is the age of no hero!

you and you alone,
fighting against today and today...
the never ending repetition
of today and today...

6 September 2006

The Crying Face

time flies,
like arrow breaking through the air!
words untold, voices unheard,
can we not say goodbye?

The crying face
Photographie © de Anndou

5 September 2006

C'est la Rentrée

When we jealously criticize the anti-industriousness of the French working system, we secretly imagine ourselves enjoying the same 35 weekly working hours and the 45 days of annual leave that a French employee enjoys. The long August vacation is ever tempting. Imagine yourself lying on the beach, reading and daydreaming nonstop for 30 days, i.e. 920 hours, with no hurry and no worry for whatsoever. Isn't life great?!

If you are panicky amazed by the figures above, you would be even more stunned with their la rentrée (the return). In France, a new year begins not on 1 January, not on 1 April as our new fiscal year, but in la rentrée. La rentrée is the equivalent of September, when school year starts again. As students, we used to plan our new timetable and swear to be hardworking. Once we left school, September lost its freshness and grandeur. And the French keep it. It's the return from long vacation. It's the return with a new suntan look, and a fresh spirit.

Some days ago, the Spanish paper said that 35% of Spanish suffered from the post-vacation syndromes, i.e. the depression of returning to work. Do the post-vacation syndromes exist in France? If they do, they are relieved by la rentrée.

So what's the magic recipe of la rentrée?
- la rentrée of sports
- la rentrée of literature
- la rentrée of art
- la rentrée of cinema
- la rentrée of books
- la rentrée of dance
- la rentrée of concert
- la rentrée of shopping
- la rentrée of restaurant
Doors reopened in the city, new programmes and products were prepared for the year.

Since Paris, and many other big cities were virtually empty in August when all the French fled for the seaside, the city life energy acuminated and impatiently waiting for exploration. And the French themselves too, had retreated from the crowd and the city for a whole month, now they want something exciting and hilarious. They don't need to follow the Spanish researcher's advice of separating the holidays into two or three, since they are professionals in this field and they have an exciting la rentrée waiting for them. The only point is, you better to like taking part in cultural activities in Paris. Otherwise, la rentrée can't really cure your depression should you have one.

I appreciate the thinking of having a break and a fresh start, though I am not myself diehard advocate of Play hard and work hard formula. Of course, going back to work is the same repulsive idea but if you had really long holidays, say 30 days, perhaps you start missing your job… is this the clever strategy of the French employers?

4 September 2006

The girl who cried in the metro

Had my transit from Metro line 6 to line 7 this afternoon, I boarded the train in Place d'Italie, and this girl was pleading for a small piece of coin to eat. She was about 18, a bit clumsy, in black t-shirt and black jeans. Her appearance does not differ much from other teens in the street. She was looking at the passengers, soliciting their sympathy with her simple sentence, "I am really hungry, please, if you have a coin for me..." She did not enter the metro with a usual rhetorical salutation and a fabulous speech, but very plain and genuine request, une piece pour manger. She's not a professional beggar; she's rather decent and clean in the way she dressed. She must have a shelter, so she's not homeless...

She looked at the crowd around her, and met no eyes, no sympathy. She was disappointed, anxious, embarrassed and helpless. She had no idea how to convince them to help her. Hesitated, she stood there, lost all her words, the air was chilling in the wagon of 27 degree Celsius. She looked around, were they all deaf? were they all blind? or just that she was born transparent? She was ashamed of herself and desperated with the indifference of the people around her, she dropped her tears.

At which point did her life turned wrong? Was she too lazy to work at school? Was she abandonned by her parents at young age? Did she once run away with a stupid guy?

Tears on her face, and she did not bother to wipe them off; just like the poor beggar's face dusted by a rich man's car.

The guy next to her gave her a 20-cent coin. She was grateful for him and she gathered her courage once again, and asked, "I haven't eaten anything today, please help me, or if so happen that you have a sandwich or an apple with you." This is her final plead. Anything would do... please...

Under what circumstance would we have the courage to seek a stranger's sympathy and mercy? How low can human dignity be? How hard is the feeling when no one bothers about your sincere plea?

It's very difficult to stay cool and indifferent in this kind of situation. I am not yet trained for this. So, I gave her two euros. She was a bit surprised. And I thought immediately, am I encouraging her to continue her life like this? Is this the reason for the Parisiens' reluctance to respond? Or simply their usual attitude that "the State will do"? Or that they are used it to? Why their Fraternite does not extend to people outside their social class? Are they all fed up with these beggings? Is this their blase attitude to maintain their inward balance and not to be upheaved by the emotional shocks?

Imagine this is your sister, imagine she was lost and found, imagine she told you the story in the metro that she was starving and no one helped her. Would you wished so dearly that they would have had given her a piece of coin or a half baguette? Imagine I had a car accident in Paris (touchwood!), far in HK, in the US, in Taipei, in London, in Madrid, in Tokyo, in India... would you hope that a stranger in Paris would have had helped me and saved my life? because I am your friend? because I am the one you love? and this day, we don't bother with this girl crying in the metro because she is not my friend, because I don't have love for her? Look at her, look deep into her wet eyes, and you see love, the love from her parents, the love from her borthers and sisters, the love from her friends, the love from her dog... they are all pleading you... And you have love, love at your heart which extended to her, her family and frineds, and her dog... all of them are strangers to you...

Is my sympathy hypocritical? How far are they differed from each other, sympathy and hypocracy?

The number of beggars in Paris is far greater than I have imagined. At every turn of the street, there is a homeless sitting or kneeing there, with a paper sign asking for a coin. This group is the silent pleaders, they do not look at people, they sat there quietly, heads down, staring hopelessly at their moneybox. Their regretful face tells you that "all I need is just a chance". They knew they have no good excuse for their situation today and they ask for a chance. The opposite is the rhetoric group. They are not homeless like the first group, they are the almost life-long unemployed so they become professional beggars. They enter the metro and telling you how step by step, one accident after another, that they sank into the bottom of the society. They positioned themselves as the victim of social injustice, of human predicament, of a fate neglected by God… They ask for your understanding and justice, and telling you not to commit the same mistake, finally they wish you good health and a fulfilling life. Then they come to you one by one asking for a coin to live decently.

The third group is the merry-go-round beggars, they have a happy life even though, and they live in community. They have dogs, friends, wine bottles and cigarettes with them. Metro platform is their favourite hang out place. They got drunk from time to time, teasing the beautiful women passed by, threatening guy... they are usually the dirty old men who lead their life happily as a homeless. The fourth group is the most aggressive one, they grasp your arm in the street and ask you for a coin. They are mainly old ladies, most likely gipsys, and most of them don't speak French. So they targeted at the tourists.

Can anyone tell me why there are so many beggars in Paris?