記得我和韓南時常坐在他的辦公室裏談話，談學問、談學生，談我們需要為 所上做些什麼。韓南走了，我感受到的不僅僅是失去一位摯友及好同事，也是失落 了一個世代，失落了一種在我認識的人裏幾乎只有他最能恰如其分地代表的處世之 道。在《伊利亞德》中有一個耳熟能詳的片段，葛勞可斯在戰場對上比他更為偉大 的戰士戴奧米迪斯，於是發表了一段演說，在其中將人生比喻為世代更迭的葉片。 可是我覺得不怎麼恰當，每一個世代似乎都有獨特的性質和美德，當這個世代結 束，這些美德也隨隨之永遠地遺失了。認識韓南的人就明白我的意思：他是個君子， 真正的君子。
韓南教授追思紀念文宇文所安 * 著 王 翎 ** 譯
“Like the generations of leaves, the lives of mortal men. Now the wind scatters the old leaves across the earth, now the living timber bursts with the new buds and spring comes round again. And so with men: as one generation comes to life, another dies away.”
― Homer, The Iliad
"Like the generations of leaves, the lives of mortal men. Now the wind scatters the old leaves across the earth, now the living timber bursts with the new buds and spring comes around again" - Hippolochus (6. 171-174)
Bk VI:119-211 Glaucus meets Diomedes and tells his lineage
Now Diomedes and Glaucus, son of Hippolochus, met in the space between the armies, eager for the fight. When they had come within range, the son of Tydeus, he of the loud war-cry, called: ‘What mighty man are you, among mortals? I have never seen you on the field of honour before today, yet facing my long-shadowed spear, you show greater daring than all the rest. Unhappy are those whose sons meet my fury. But if you be one of the gods from heaven, I will not fight with the immortals. Not even mighty Lycurgus, son of Dryas, survived his war with the gods for long. He chased the nymphs, who nursed frenzied Dionysus, through the sacred hills of Nysa, and struck by the murderous man’s ox-goad their holy wands fell from their hands. But Dionysus fleeing, plunged beneath the waves, trembling and terrified by the man’s loud cries, and Thetis took him to her breast. Then the gods who take their ease were angered by Lycurgus, and Zeus blinded him. So that, hated by the immortals, he soon died. No way then would I wish to oppose the blessed gods. But if you are mortal, and eat the food men grow, come on, and meet the toils of fate the sooner.’
‘Brave Diomedes’, Hippolochus’ son replied, ‘why ask my lineage? Like the generations of leaves are those of men. The wind blows and one year’s leaves are scattered on the ground, but the trees bud and fresh leaves open when spring comes again. So a generation of men is born as another passes away. Still if you wish to know my lineage, listen well to what others know already.
中學時，讀過一些名人的"This I Believe"，原來是美國NPR電台的文集。還有此節目：
This I Believe is an international organization engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives. Over 125,000 of these essays, written by people from all walks of life, have been archived here on our website, heard on public radio, chronicled through our books, and featured in weekly podcasts. The project is based on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow.
“The perishableness of life … imparts value, dignity, interest to life.”
“The best thing about time passing,” Sarah Manguso wrote in her magnificent meditation on ongoingness, “is the privilege of running out of it, of watching the wave of mortality break over me and everyone I know.” More than half a century earlier, the great German writer, philanthropist, and Nobel laureate Thomas Mann (June 6, 1875–August 12, 1955) articulated this idea with enchanting elegance in NPR’s program-turned-book This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women (public library) — a compendium of wisdom from eighty contributors ranging from a part-time hospital worker to a woman who sells Yellow Pages advertising to luminaries like Eleanor Roosevelt, John Updike, Errol Morris, Gloria Steinem, Eve Ensler, and Andrew Sullivan.
NPR’s invitation was simple yet enormously challenging: Each contributor was asked to capture his or her personal credo — that essential set of guiding principles by which life is lived — in just a few hundred words. In an era long before people were being asked to capture their convictions in 140 characters, this was a radical proposition — particularly for writers used to exploring such matters in several hundred pages.
Answering in the 1950s — decades after his touching correspondence with young Hermann Hesse and a few years before his death — Mann writes:
What I believe, what I value most, is transitoriness.But is not transitoriness — the perishableness of life — something very sad? No! It is the very soul of existence. It imparts value, dignity, interest to life. Transitoriness createstime — and “time is the essence.” Potentially at least, time is the supreme, most useful gift.Time is related to — yes, identical with — everything creative and active, with every progress toward a higher goal. Without transitoriness, without beginning or end, birth or death, there is no time, either. Timelessness — in the sense of time never ending, never beginning — is a stagnant nothing. It is absolutely uninteresting.
What is interesting, of course, is that Mann’s work — his words
Life is possessed by tremendous tenacity. Even so, its presence remains conditional, and as it had a beginning, so it will have an end. I believe that life, just for this reason, is exceedingly enhanced in value, in charm.
One of the most important characteristics distinguishing man from all other forms of nature is his knowledge of transitoriness, of beginning and end, and therefore of the gift of time.
In man, transitory life attains its peak of animation, of soul power, so to speak. This does not mean man alone would have a soul. Soul quality pervades all beings. But man’s soul is most awake in his knowledge of the inter-changeability of the terms “existence” and “transitoriness.”
To man, time is given like a piece of land, as it were, entrusted to him for faithful tilling; a space in which to strive incessantly, achieve self-realization, move onward and upward. Yes, with the aid of time, man becomes capable of wresting the immortal from the mortal.