Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The downfall of collective memory (集體回憶)

Remember way back when collective memory (集體回憶) was a hip phenomenon? Wikipedia defines the term as "對超過一個人以上感情、場景、音樂、圖片及事件的共同擁有的回憶."

However, thanks to 民政事務局局長何志平 (who used to be an eye surgeon), the term has now become a cliche, an unpopular verbiage, a definition subject to much abuse.

集體回憶 once meant James Wong (黃霑)'s amazing lyrics, 山頂老襯亭, 荔園, 啟德機場, Simon & Garfunkel. Now it means Soft Hard, The Wynners, 天星碼頭, 出前一丁. Suddenly, Hong Kong people have substantially increased their awareness about our tradition, history, and buildings that used to (and still) give us sentimental values.

I still remembered vividly the route I took every day to Queen's College from F.1-F.3 I had to pass through a playground, a few grocery stores, a big market, a karaoke box, and a few dumpling kiosks. Back then Pak Lok Cinema's large painted movie ad (most memorable being Veronica Yip's Category III movies) was hanging right opposite our school. Now I take the same route down and the memories come back. It's not the same route anymore, but I will never forget walking down Tai Hang as a teenage boy.

I feel very sad that the government will be restructuring a street in Wanchai, a narrow street full of printing stores. What else do they want to take away from us? The tram, the peak tram? Sooner or later, even Lan Kwai Fong could be wiped out.

On New Year's Eve, I went to Cheung Chau for the first time in 13 years. I was pleasantly surprised to have found out that Cheung Chau hasn't really changed after all these years. I thoroughly enjoyed riding on the ferry to Cheung Chau, bringing back old memories from my childhood. At the same time, I was disheartened that Hong Kong can never be like Cheung Chau. Hong Kong's changes are often too rapid, sometimes unnecessary.

The person who knows the most about "collective memory" is 羅啟銳, also a HKU grad. His two landmark books are 歲月神偷 and 兩毛錢往事:

He wrote the following (which I have excerpted):







For me, "collective memory" may mean walking on Hollywood Street with a 泰昌蛋撻 in my hand, searching for old records in a washed-up 3/F unit in an old Chinese building, or looking for a used 朱自清 literary combo in Shanghai Printing Press in Sheung Wan.

So 何志平局長, please stop ruining 集體回憶 for us!! We already loved Hong Kong before you were 局長!

(N.B. For more Alex Law entries, please click below.)
兩毛錢往事 | 歲月留聲 | 薄荷傷口

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