Mon, Sep 03, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Author Sih-ma Jhong-yuan gives ghost lectures at Taipei university
恐怖喔!司馬中原在台科大開課講鬼

Author Sih-ma Jhong-yuan tells ghost stories to children at a Halloween event in New Taipei City on Oct. 27 last year.
作家司馬中原去年十月二十七日於新北市的萬聖節活動給小朋友說鬼故事。

Photo: Kuo Yen-hui, Liberty Times
照片:自由時報記者郭顏慧

For the past several years, popular Taiwanese folk author Sih-ma Jhong-yuan has been giving cultural lectures at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST). Every class is filled to the brim with people who sign up for the lectures and those who just come to listen, with typcially more than 250 people at each lecture. Sih-ma laughs and says that he sometimes tells ghost stories during class, but says the stories are meant to educate people, not scare them.

Sih-ma, whose original name is Wu Yen-mei, is nearly 80 years old this year. His first book was published when he was only 18 years old. He has written over 100 works to date, including plays, essays, novels, children’s stories, and commentaries. He recalls the chaos of war that filled his childhood, seeing people shot to death every day when he was only seven or eight years old. One time when he was using his hands to drink water from a river, a person’s intestines suddenly got wrapped around them, and he pulled a dead body out of the water. At the age of 15, Sih-ma started fighting in the Chinese Civil War. He would often talk with the other soldiers and being at war and surrounded by death, they were inclined to openly share all kinds of stories with one other, which allowed him to collect many local legends and ghost stories.

He started teaching courses at NTUST six years ago because he felt that people working in the technology sector also needed to study the humanities. “Literature is all about imagination, while science is all about putting theories into practice,” he says. Many students are interested in the experiences he talks about in the ghost stories that he tells. Sih-ma, however, says that he has never actually seen a ghost, but that he does communicate with earthly and otherworldly forces while meditating, admitting that he has seen dead relatives in his dreams and even the deceased Taiwanese author who went by the pseudonym Sanmao.

TODAY’S WORDS 今日單字

1. lecture n.

講座 (jiang3 zuo4)

例: The lecture will be in the auditorium.

(講座在禮堂舉辦。)

2. intestine n.

腸子 (chang2 zi5)

例: Some people like eating pig intestines.

(有人喜歡吃豬腸。)

3. meditate v.

打坐 (da3 zuo4)

例: Buddhist monks usually meditate several hours every day.

(和尚通常每天打坐數小時。)


After teaching at universities for many years, Sih-ma worries that the institutions are turning into assembly lines, mass producing students like cogs in a wheel, and that after graduating they go to work for corporations to become insignificant parts in a machine, “shrinking the world of humanity.” Sih-ma says that having a good education is important, and that a person’s “philosophy of living” should include literature, philosophy, science, psychology and medicine, warning that a person’s education would be seriously lacking if all one knew was the life sciences.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)

作家司馬中原近年在台科大開設司馬中原文化講座,每堂課選讀及旁聽都爆滿、超過二百五十人。他笑說,偶爾會在課堂上講鬼故事,但他說的鬼故事都是經過挑選,目的不是嚇人,而是教育。

本名吳延玫的司馬中原,年近八旬,十八歲就開始出書,迄今撰寫上百本的戲劇、散文、小說、童話、評論等。他回憶,幼時歷經戰亂,七、八歲時每天都看到有人被槍決,有一次在河邊用手捧水喝,卻被人的腸子纏住,一拉竟然拉出一具屍體。十五歲時參與國共內戰,常和軍人聊天,大家每天面對戰爭的死亡陰影,都掏心掏肺地分享著自己知道的故事,他因此蒐集了非常多的鄉野傳奇、鬼故事。

六年前開始在台科大兼課,原因是他覺得科技人也應該要有人文素養,「文學是想像力,科學是實踐力」。很多學生很好奇他過去講鬼故事的經歷,他坦言,自己從沒看過鬼,但打坐時能和天地溝通,也曾夢到親人過世,及已故作家三毛。

在大學任教多年,他也憂心,大學愈來愈像機械製造廠,把學生當成螺絲釘,大學畢業去職場就像零件一樣,「人的世界就變小了」。他強調,通識教育很重要,所謂的「生命學」,應包括文學、哲學、科學、心理學、醫學,如果只是生命科學,層次就太低了。

(自由時報記者胡清暉)

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