黎青龍醫生

黎青龍醫生

10月生日的黎青龍今年已經70有1,沒有老態,依然醉心醫學、教學及研究。他在醫學界享負盛名,曾發表全新對抗乙型肝炎病毒藥物,令乙肝大為受控。有「神童」之稱的黎青龍早於16歲入讀港大醫學系,21歲開始行醫,問他是否小時候志在當醫生,早已鋪好從醫路。他表示不是刻意,只是順從父親之意,並謙虛表示自己不是神童。

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阿媽好縱我,但有事都是爸爸鬧我、管我。我完全無跳過班,只係當年2歲半直接讀幼稚園高班,小一就讀九龍塘官立小學,上中學好彩考了入拔萃男書院,中二時校長問我可否降班重讀一年,說11歲的我比同學少3年,其他同學發育了,好在爸爸說不俾,否則會悶死我,要讀過一樣的書。

拔萃男書院(Diocesan Boys’ School)是基督教香港聖公會東九龍教區所設辦的一所全日制男子學校。拔萃男書院前身為曰字樓孤子院(Diocesan Home and Orphanage)。

一些學者認為莎士比亞家庭成員信仰羅馬天主教,那時羅馬天主教是違法的,[171]莎士比亞的母親瑪麗·阿登無疑來自一個虔誠的羅馬天主教家庭。最有力的證據可能是約翰·莎士比亞簽署了一份信仰羅馬天主教的聲明,該聲明於1757年在亨利街的舊房子的屋頂椽架上被發現。這份文件現在已經被遺失了,然而學者對其真實性意見不一。1591年,當局報告約翰因「恐懼面對自己的罪惡」而不參加英國國教會的宗教活動,這也是當時羅馬天主教徒常用的藉口。1606年,莎士比亞的女兒蘇珊娜的名字被列在雅芳河畔斯特拉特福未能參加復活節宗教活動的名單中。

Sir, in my heart there was a kind of fighting

That would not let me sleep. Methought I lay

Worse than the mutines in the bilboes. Rashly—

And prais’d be rashness for it—let us know

Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well …

Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 2, 4–8

Shakespeare was buried in the chancel of the Holy Trinity Church two days after his death. The epitaph carved into the stone slab covering his grave includes a curse against moving his bones, which was carefully avoided during restoration of the church in 2008: Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare,

To digg the dvst encloased heare.

Bleste be yͤ man yͭ spares thes stones,

And cvrst be he yͭ moves my bones.

(Modern spelling: Good friend, for Jesus‘ sake forbear, / To dig the dust enclosed here. / Blessed be the man that spares these stones, / And cursed be he that moves my bones.)

《悲慘世界》的主題是寫人類與邪惡之間不懈的鬥爭,人類本性是純潔善良的,將一同走向幸福,但要經過苦難的歷程。書中穿插當時法國革命動亂的背景和拿破崙滑鐵盧戰役的描寫,以及當時法國社會的很多細節都有論及,比如俚語下水道女修道院等情況,雨果在書中都分有獨立章節描寫。故事情節錯綜複雜、設計巧妙、跌宕起伏。雨果力圖表現嚴刑峻法只能使人更加邪惡,應根據人道主義精神道德感化的方法處理,他借主人公之口說道「最高的法律是良心」。他寫道:「將來人們會把犯罪看作一種疾病,由一批特殊的醫生來醫治這種病。醫院將取代監獄。」

為了這部書,雨果前後構思了40年,到晚年才完成。他自稱這是「一部宗教作品」。

1801年,一個名叫尚萬強的窮苦農民,為了幫助飢餓的外甥(姐姐的小孩)而偷了一塊麵包並企圖逃獄而被判19年苦役,刑滿釋放後,持黃色身分證(意指:帶有前科、案底的假釋證明)討生活又處處碰壁,只因為有罪之身。到1828年,雨果又開始搜集有關米里艾主教及其家庭的資料,醞釀寫一個釋放的苦役犯受聖徒式的主教感化而棄惡從善的故事。在1829年和1830年間,他還大量搜集有關黑玻璃製造業的資料,這便是到蒙特羅,化名為馬德廉先生,從苦役犯變成企業家,開辦工廠並發跡的由來。此外,他還參觀了布雷斯特和的特龍苦役犯監獄,在街頭目睹了類似傅安婷受辱的場面。

1846年2月22日,雨果年輕時有一次在路上看到兩個士兵挾持著一個因偷麵包而被判死刑的男子,當時有一位貴夫人坐著漆有家徽的馬車經過,囚犯注目貴夫人,但貴夫人卻對囚犯視而不見。他認為此事表明當時法國平民承認貴族,貴族卻無視平民的存在,從此使他萌發寫《悲慘世界》的念頭。

去世前兩天,他留下最後的筆記:「愛就是行動」。

1885年5月22日,雨果因患肺炎不治,享年83歲。舉國悲痛哀悼。維克多·雨果不但是文學巨人,而且是法蘭西第三共和國民主政治家。他為自由、平等和友愛奮鬥終生,是法國文化堅定的捍衛者。1877年他75歲時,寫道:「我不是那些溫柔的老人之一。我還是感到憤怒和暴力,我喊著,我感到憤慨,我哭了。對任何傷害法國的人來說!我宣布以狂熱的愛國者的身份去死。」

雖然他要求窮人葬禮,但總統儒勒·格雷維在6月1日為雨果舉行了國葬,舉國致哀,超過兩百萬人參加了葬禮遊行。他的遺體由窮人的靈車拉著緩緩地被運送到了香榭麗舍盡頭的凱旋門之下…

在他去世前兩年在他的遺囑中加上了一條修改附錄:

「我送給窮人們五萬法郎,我希望能用他們的柩車把我送往墓地。我拒絕任何教堂為我做禱告,我請求所有的靈魂為我祈禱。我相信上帝。」

雨果的宗教觀點在他一生中改變巨大。年輕時,受母親影響,他認同自己是天主教徒,承認教會制度和權威。爾後,他成為冷淡教友…他認為天主教對工人階級的苦難、對王朝壓迫無動於衷。另一可能是他對教會禁書十分不滿。就天主教會對《悲慘世界》的批判,雨果數了740齣。當雨果的兒子夏爾和弗朗索瓦-維克多去世時,他堅持墓地不要十架苦像,不叫神甫。在遺囑中,他也做出同樣的要求。

不過,他相信來世,每天早晚都會禱告,在《笑面人》中,他寫道:「感恩有翼,飛向正地。禱告比你更加識途」。

Yet he believed in life after death and prayed every single morning and night, convinced as he wrote in The Man Who Laughs that “Thanksgiving has wings and flies to its right destination. Your prayer knows its way better than you do“.

在小說的末尾,雨果解釋了作品的總體結構:

此刻讀者展閱的這部書,無論存在怎樣的間歇、例外或欠缺,但是從頭至尾,從整體到細節,全是講述人從惡走向善,從非正義走向正義,從假走向真,從黑夜走向光明,從欲望走向良心,從腐朽走向生命,從獸性走向責任,從地獄走向天堂,從虛無走向上帝。起點是物質,終點是靈魂。始為九頭蛇,終成為天使。

小說包涵了許多次要情節,但主要線索依然是前科犯尚萬強。尚萬強是劇中的正義力量,但是卻無法擺脫自己的犯罪記錄。…

雨果曾經向他的義大利出版人解釋自己的雄心抱負:

我不知道是不是所有人都能讀到這部書,但是,我寫這部書確實是為了所有的人。這部書既是給英國寫的,也是給西班牙寫的,也是寫給義大利,寫給法國德國愛爾蘭;這部書對奴隸制共和國的作用也並不比農奴制國家小。社會問題不承認國界。人類社會的深度潰瘍遍布全球,對此,兩個半球地圖上的藍色或紅色的國界線並不是障礙。凡是男人愚昧無知,陷於絕望的地方,凡是女人為了一塊麵包而賣身,以及兒童因為沒有學習的書籍和取暖的火爐而痛苦的地方,我的《悲慘世界》都會來敲門,說道:「開門,我找你們來了!」

題外話

小說中相當三分之一的部分是題外話,總計955/2,783頁。題外話討論了道德,或是展示了雨果百科全書般的知識,但是沒有推進劇情,甚至沒有推進次要劇情。雨果在《巴黎聖母院》和《海上勞工》中都使用了類似手法。…雨果在其中探討了當時法國社會的很多細節,比如俚語、下水道和女修道院等情況。就女修道院一題上,他將該章節稱為「題外的話」,提醒讀者此部分與故事情節無關。雨果又用了19章來描述滑鐵盧戰場;1861年,雨果曾經到訪過該地,並在那裡完結了寫作。小說第二部在開頭敘述了截然不同的內容,似乎和故事毫無關係。一位評論家稱這是通往小說的「靈魂大門」,因為在此讀者會遇到德納第和彭梅西上校,預示著小說中許多「偶然和必然的混合」,「英雄與惡棍的對決」。

主要人物

尚萬強 / 尚萬強:因為偷一條麵包救濟外甥而坐牢十九年的囚犯,原本只判五年徒刑,但由於他並不信任法律,屢屢越獄以致罪刑加重19年後獲得假釋。他倔強不懼強權的個性使探長賈維爾對他深惡痛絕,他過人的力氣也使賈維爾對他印象深刻,兩人遂成為終生宿敵。雖然遭受社會歧視,但米里艾主教拯救了他,給了他重生的機會。他通過努力,尋求誠實的生活,成為工廠主和市長;收養了傅安婷的女兒珂賽特,營救馬留斯出街壘,年老而終。

賈維爾(Javert):鐵面無情的警務督察,以近乎盲從的態度遵循法律,在劇中契而不捨地追捕逃犯尚萬強,但都被甩掉。便衣潛入街壘卻被識破。尚萬強本可殺死賈維爾,但卻放走了他。後來,賈維爾也讓尚萬強逃走。此時,賈維爾意識到法律程序並不道德。內心的衝突使他無所適從,最後投河自盡。

米里艾主教(Bishop Myriel):迪涅地區主教。一位慈祥的老教士,因邂逅拿破崙而晉升主教。尚萬強竊走教堂銀器時,他說服尚萬強棄惡從善並為其開脫罪責。

傅安婷(Fantine):或譯為芳婷。巴黎女工,懷孕後遭情人拋棄。傅安婷將私生女寄養在德納第家中,孤身前往馬德廉(尚萬強)的工廠工作,後因身世敗露而被解僱。為了支付女兒的寄養費用,她出賣了頭髮牙齒以及自己的肉體。馬德廉市長瞭解到她是因為不堪受辱而被捕入獄。在與女兒重逢前夕,因病故去。

珂賽特(Cosette):或譯為歌瑟朵,傅安婷的私生女。幼年寄人籬下,後由尚萬強收養。與馬留斯相愛並成婚。

The book which the reader has before him at this moment is, from one end to the other, in its entirety and details … a progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from corruption to life; from bestiality to duty, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God. The starting point: matter, destination: the soul. The hydra at the beginning, the angel at the end.

The novel contains various subplots, but the main thread is the story of ex-convict Jean Valjean, who becomes a force for good in the world but cannot escape his criminal past…

Hugo explained his ambitions for the novel to his Italian publisher:

I don’t know whether it will be read by everyone, but it is meant for everyone. It addresses England as well as Spain, Italy as well as France, Germany as well as Ireland, the republics that harbour slaves as well as empires that have serfs. Social problems go beyond frontiers. Humankind’s wounds, those huge sores that litter the world, do not stop at the blue and red lines drawn on maps. Wherever men go in ignorance or despair, wherever women sell themselves for bread, wherever children lack a book to learn from or a warm hearth, Les Misérables knocks at the door and says: “open up, I am here for you“.

The story begins in 1815 in Digne, as the peasant Jean Valjean, just released from 19 years’ imprisonment in the Bagne of Toulon—five for stealing bread for his starving sister and her family and fourteen more for numerous escape attempts—is turned away by innkeepers because his yellow passport marks him as a former convict. He sleeps on the street, angry and bitter.

Digne’s benevolent Bishop Myriel gives him shelter. At night, Valjean runs off with Myriel’s silverware. When the police capture Valjean, Myriel pretends that he has given the silverware to Valjean and presses him to take two silver candlesticks as well, as if he had forgotten to take them. The police accept his explanation and leave. Myriel tells Valjean that his life has been spared for God, and that he should use money from the silver candlesticks to make an honest man of himself.

Valjean broods over Myriel’s words. When opportunity presents itself, purely out of habit, he steals a 40-sous coin from 12-year-old Petit Gervais and chases the boy away. He quickly repents and searches the city in panic for Gervais. At the same time, his theft is reported to the authorities. Valjean hides as they search for him, because if apprehended he will be returned to the galleys for life as a repeat offender.

Fantine is unaware that they are abusing her daughter and using her as forced labor for their inn, and continues to try to meet their growing, extortionate and fictitious demands. She is later fired from her job at Jean Valjean’s factory, because of the discovery of her daughter, who was born out of wedlock. Meanwhile, the Thénardiers’ monetary demands continue to grow. In desperation, Fantine sells her hair and two front teeth, and she resorts to prostitution to pay the Thénardiers. Fantine is slowly dying from an unspecified disease.

四十年 夜難眠

隱藏在成功背後的,是持續近四十年的失眠,「我是一個很緊張的人。」三十三歲那一年,黎青龍因為感情問題,初嘗失眠滋味,此後,沒有安眠藥,他無法安枕,「我食完安眠藥就可以睡到半夜,起身再食一次,斷斷續續就可以有六七小時睡眠。」他試過太?緊一次講座,結果由兩星期前開始,即使服藥,每晚也只能睡兩小時,「如果我因為太累,在辦公室睡?的話,不夠五分鐘就會醒,完全休息不了。」

他教書出名惡,「我的學生鍾意畀我鬧。」他的鬧,是愛之深、責之切那種,「學生知道我用心教。你阿爸阿媽鬧你,是不是不愛你?」1972年開始在港大教書,黎青龍教過的醫科生有八千人,中間他由「神童」蛻變為「神醫」,不變的,是他堅持為學生開補習班,確保學生考試及格,「見到他們由不及格到滿分,滿足感很大。」

家住南區紅山半島二千呎大屋的黎青龍,家中有上百件水晶擺設,件件價值過千元,他愛看書,更愛藏書,一部莎士比亞全集,價值五千元,送到家中馬上打包,從未開過,但當中最誇張的,要數他2001年入手,重逾千磅的仿古希臘《擲鐵餅者》的雲石雕塑,價值十萬元。在六十五歲前,他的月薪是二十至二十五萬元,數年間人工一再縮水,他坦言不擔心,「你覺得我身上的西裝幾多錢?只是四千元,如果我一年造一套也不是問題吧!更何況我不是一年造一套。」

以黎青龍的江湖地位,只要退休後到私院打工,人工不用減之餘,翻倍也不是不可能,他偏偏一一拒絕。因為他不想將「病人」變成「客人」,「如果我賣東西給你,你就是我的客人,但醫生病人的關係不同,我關心病人不是為了你的錢,我不喜歡私家醫院,我不想收了一個病人,為他做檢查,是為了自己可以賺錢的感覺。」

賺錢退休,是不少香港打工仔的心願,黎青龍卻統統看不上眼,去年獲頒四十五年長期服務獎的他,已下定決心衝破五十年大關,「我由二十一歲畢業工作到現在,無病無痛,為甚麼不繼續做?」

https://eduplus.hk/eduguide/ep2_issue.jsp?articleID=2255&issueNumber=184

兵來將擋,病來藥醫。香港大學李國賢基金教授(腸胃學)黎青龍,就是抱着如此宗旨對抗他的高膽固醇、高血壓、失眠及脫髮問題。相比普遍害怕服藥的人而言,身為醫生的黎青龍,更加明白漠視種種問題後果可有多嚴重,輕則有型不再,重則心臟病發。只要能把健康問題處理好,服藥又算得上什麼!

黎青龍思路快,說話快(訪問他而不錄音的話,等於找死),連步速也快。「我regularly(經常)比學生走得快。學生經常隨我巡房,他們實在慢得——我跟他們說,我的歲數是他們3倍,(但)他們走路的速度是我的三分之一!」…平時走得快等於加快能量消耗,算是做到控制過高膽固醇的另一個要訣﹕經常運動。

近三十年「瞓得麻麻」

高膽固醇問題靠藥物過關,但失眠問題則不容易處理。以往有訪問描述他需服用可致渴睡的傷風感冒丸幫助入眠。問到這裏,他坦言﹕「33歲開始有少許emotional disturbance(情緒失調),之後便一直『瞓覺好難』。」何事引起他不欲多談。

「那個階段過去了吧?」記者問。

「但一直瞓得麻麻地。」他答。

一些人覺得冥想可以幫助入眠,可是黎青龍很明白自己的狀况﹕「我的性格不適合meditation(冥想)……我想,要我坐下來想一會事情,思想不知道會飛到哪裏去。」還是那個大原則﹕需要的時候,他不抗拒用藥——只要能把問題解決的話。因此,他間中也會借助安眠藥幫助入眠。他說,尤其現代安眠藥上癮機會極低,但患肝病的人他便不贊成服用它。

坦言「貪靚」 服藥保髮

藥物以外,黎青龍也重視定期檢查。他每半年驗血看膽固醇水平,結果數字都在標準內。除了高膽固醇,他亦有高血壓,同樣要以藥物控制,加上家族有心臟病史,三者都是冠心病的風險因素。他兩年前便曾檢查心臟,一切如常。「(於我而言,)高膽固醇及高血壓控制得好,最緊要。」

令黎青龍着緊的,還有一件事﹕「頭髮少。我在服Pxxxxxxx(一種口服生髮藥)。」他笑言皆因「貪靚」﹕「我唔介意你寫(出來)……我驚自己少頭髮,我唔敢停(服),停咗我驚冇晒頭髮!」如此坦白,黎青龍可說是「國手系列」一眾受訪者中最率真的一位了!

https://www.msn.com/zh-hk/news/other/黎青龍病來藥擋-高膽固醇高血壓失眠怕脫髮/ar-AAnVYb

平時總是笑笑口的他,在學生面前會收起笑臉,刻意當個嚴師,「他們日後要治療病人,自然要認真地學習。試過有學生表現不理想,被我說到眼紅紅,第二日就大躍進了」。他說見到這幕很開心,未幾又急急糾正,「人家眼紅紅,我說開心好像不太好,總之學生受教便值得高興」。

文學方面,他愛讀非醫學類書籍,近來正讀「國家公園之父」約翰.繆爾的著作《優山美地》(The Yosemite),是一個美國國家公園的遊記。回想求學時期,他鍾情莎士比亞名著。讀得多自然技癢,莎士比亞常寫的十四行詩,黎青龍閒時都會創作,近3年都為全體醫學院畢業生寫詩,或作鼓勵或作勸勉,給未來醫生打下強心針。

但上了年紀,總會怕身體老化吧?黎青龍的血壓和膽固醇偏高,失眠則持續了30多年,雖然要長期服藥,卻不覺得有任何困擾,「能靠藥物控制的,都不是什麼問題了」,頂多是降膽固醇藥的副作用,令他行樓梯時,大腿會有點痠痛,「但我行得快過學生,說話都快過他們,哪用擔心呢?」

唯獨認知障礙最令他害怕,「眼見跟我差不多年紀的人,患病後會忘記東西,或者要依靠別人照顧,這些我都很抗拒」。不過,認知障礙防不勝防,他選擇了放下憂慮,「除了多動腦筋,就無特別的預防方法,我用手機玩玩文字遊戲、數獨,然後乾脆不去想了」。

從醫卻棄掉白袍,他診症、巡房、教書,一律穿鮮艷西裝,間中打陶瓷煲呔。有人形容他浮誇,甚或招搖,他反問:「有得靚,有誰不想自己靚?」年紀大,就不能穿得花巧,他完全不認同這種觀念;單單因年齡就放棄打扮,或者改變審美觀,在他眼中才是奇怪。

他穿西裝很會看場合,也視乎心情來替換,道理等同上班族出門前,總要悉心挑選衣服,黎青龍自問平常得很,「我衣櫃裏只有10套西裝,70歲人有10套西裝,稱不上誇張吧?」要論特別的地方,大概是沒有最傳統的黑色西裝,原因很簡單,就是不喜歡黑色,「我駕車都一樣,從來沒買過黑色的車,現在的跑車是橙紅色的」。

工作時間以外,黎青龍每月看一至兩套電影,近期心水是卡通片《超人特工隊2》,主要因為BB運用超能力的樣子很可愛;Pokémon GO玩足兩年,即使在港熱潮降溫,他都堅持在港大四出捉精靈,外遊更是尋寶良機,「每隻精靈都捉了很多,一模一樣都不捨得刪。還有在美國時好慘,我去了兩次,找來找去都只有4隻」。他比許多年輕人都玩得。

說到底,黎青龍從沒刻意破格,只是不拘於他人目光,去做心中喜歡的事。轉兼職的消息傳出後,港大醫學院學生及畢業生聯署力撐他,他表示即使不成功,都無阻他繼續教學,「全職教授是名銜,有固然好,沒有都可以教書。我決定了保持節奏,結果怎樣都不會減少堂數」。

身為醫生,他用醫學知識來收尾。「人有好多腦細胞,活了70年都好,只不過用了一小部分。我尚有很大潛能,最大的熱情在教書,一定會繼續,亦會影相寫詩,最近有點想學油畫。」他笑道。

https://ol.mingpao.com/ldy/cultureleisure/culture/20180820/1534702433499/鮮色西裝配陶瓷煲呔-70歲滿活力-黎青龍-老與不老自己抉擇

黎青龍在港大任教四十二年,近日獲發長期服務獎。他心水清,提醒記者:「其實係四十三年。我做過 student tutor,當年只請四個,我係其中一個。」

十六歲進港大,二十一歲行醫,是本港紀錄。更難得的,是四十多年後,神童成了乙肝權威,在港大內科及肝臟科任講座教授。沒有他,乙肝病人可能還在吃那個對華人無效的干擾素;可能還以為乙肝可停藥斷尾。「我幾乎推番晒乙肝所有傳統 thinking,都算有少少成就。」

黎青龍是典型神童,縱情張揚,在醫院棄白袍穿花哨西裝;卻也一如其他神童,讀書容易生活艱難,他焦慮、失眠,帶點強迫症的神經質。過去他沒用手提電話,就是怕來歷不明的來電。

神童與嚴父從來不共戴天。如是,黎青龍從佛洛伊德,談到關於父親的夢魘。「我以前成日發一個夢,夢入面同佢嗌交,卒之有次我真係同佢嗌交,我當堂開心晒,之後再無發那個夢。」

原來青龍不在天,他一直涉水潛行。

黎青龍行在醫院走廊,如穿花蝴蝶。「好型喎,教授。」迎面的醫護人員與學生,沒有不和他搭訕的。「其實佢哋唔係讚我,係讚我啲衫。」喜歡受人注目?「邊個唔想?我唔信你唔想。」

這天他穿了一套靛青西裝,他這麼巡房,病人受落。「我一九九二年開始唔著袍,想想,為何要著?英國都討論過,直頭話唔著袍,因為袍容易惹污糟,亦反對打呔,怕將菌傳俾其他病人,所以我打煲呔。」他領口那煲呔,是陶瓷做的。「我點解要著袍,嘥咗我啲衫,嘥咗我啲身材。」他補上一句。他今年六十五歲,保持一百二十七磅。這些年,好些前輩提點他衣飾節制,如楊紫芝教授,可他早另有大計。「唔知我到邊個 stage要打 botox,現在還未,你一睇都知啦。」說時在自家臉上捏一把。當年人稱神童的黎青龍,老了幾圈,卻仍無遮無掩,活似赤子。

「你感唔感覺到我好緊張?」訪問只十分鐘,黎青龍問記者。從來只有凡夫怕神童,神童怕誰?「我個人 basically很緊張,你睇我都知道, hyperactive,成日不斷想事情。我 check過甲狀腺分泌有無高,但又正常。」

黎青龍口快,轉數更快,一句話沒完,又插入另一組說話,表情峰迴路轉,有時更像是自言自語。他愛書,藏書都包上封套,每次翻開,不會超過九十度,怕弄皺。他花萬三蚊為手提電腦燙上七種顏色,永遠有包裹保護,不會直接放桌上。中四那年,他應考某一科,鐘聲響起,他還在回答同一條試題。他為細節抓狂,帶強迫性,家族遺傳,也有潔癖。「我那些家姐,銀紙都唔掂,要用紙巾墊着。」

黎青龍身體壯得可以玩笨豬跳,但神經敏感,三十年來,沒有安眠藥,他睡不着覺。剛開始失眠,是因為感情問題,後來每次躺下,便胡思亂想。「大型會議前兩個禮拜,即使服藥後,每晚瞓兩三個鐘就醒。記得一九八五年,我第一次主講大型會議,事前我自己練習了幾千次。」

服務員大概不想遇到黎青龍,其實病毒亦然。「 Obsession對科學研究是好事,看見藥不夠好,會追落去,寫 paper會寫得深入,臨床檢查,一定做到篤。」他雙手放在左腰間,說:「我可以說,全醫院摸脾臟,摸得最好的是我,如果不夠細心,未必摸到。」脾臟異常,會脹大兩三倍,摸得着,便早着治療的先機。

屋內連廁所也擺滿書。近年他多讀書減壓,少購物。問他儲蓄,他倒答得坦蕩:「可能多過很多人,但少過間屋跌到最低時的價值,我間屋跌過落九百萬。」

幾十年來,很多學生被他罵得大哭,他卻火氣不減。「早幾日有學生送卡俾我,話我愈鬧佢,佢愈 admire我。」說時春風得意。

訪問翌日,他要到澳門講課,沒掩飾緊張,但到底焦慮了幾十年,已懂得開解自己。「如果依家我唔驚,我反而驚,因為肯定做得唔好。」

佛洛伊德

黎青龍從小過目不忘。「一次唔得,第二次都一定不忘。」

黎青龍對數字敏感,病歷數據過目不忘;他敘述的場景,必定附帶年份,訪問中,他獨獨忘記,父親在哪年過身。「好似係三年前,」他說。提起母親,卻斬釘截鐵:「一九九五年。」

他生在小康家庭,父親做 EO,母親是主婦,他有三個家姐,大姐是前教育署署長余黎青萍。四姊弟青萍、青霜、青薇、青龍,都是古代兵器。三歲那年,父親送黎青龍上小學,九歲入讀男拔萃中學,中二那年,校長 Lowcock(郭慎墀)覺得他與同學有代溝,向他父親提議留班。當時他父親反問校長:「我個仔一百二十人裡面考第四,點解要留班?」

黎青龍愛好文學,唯聽從父親,考進港大醫學院。畢業那年,他分別摘下解剖學、病理學,和婦科第一名,還得了全班第一。「他知道我考第一,送架車俾我,係福特。」話音一轉,他說:「但無讚過我。」

關於父親,他記憶模糊。「我好妒忌現在的後生仔,爸爸同佢哋有講有笑。我爸爸成世無同我講超過三十句閒話。除了他罵我那些,我真不記得他對我說過什麼。」神童與嚴父的橋段,見於小說、電影,有些神童主角,甚至在成名前精神崩潰。黎青龍早成名,可多年來,還是有個嚴父夢魘。「我以前成日發一個夢,夢入面同佢嗌交,卒之有次我真係同佢嗌交,我當堂開心晒,之後再無發那個夢。」他記得清楚,是一九九○年。「那次他鬧我媽媽,我頂唔順,鬧佢,叫佢落車。」那年他四十二歲,第一次頂撞父親。

○四年黎青龍拿傑出教研獎,大家姐余黎青萍到場支持。黎家上下或多或少有潔癖,青龍行醫多年,不怕血腥,獨怕大便。「尤其看腸胃科的時候,還未 overcome,但都要面對。」

很難相信,黎青龍近年才覺得「自己比普通醫生好少少」。「我一九七四年去蘇格蘭受訓,教授在推薦信第一句就寫我無自信,我唔知佢點知,但我真係咁。

「點解無自信?我估同呢個有關,爸爸一直很 dominate。我以前無諗過,你話死唔死,到依家先發現。」

父親晚年進了療養院。「我無探過佢,直到佢過身。」他出席喪禮,沒掉眼淚。

黎青龍送走父親,反而與他感情要好的媽媽離世時,他沒在場。「我當時在歐洲旅行,家人找不到我,我回到家,她已經走了十日。她走那晚,我夢見她,很巧合。」神童情緒易超載,錯過死別,是禍,或許也是福。「我當然想見她最後一面,但我覺得見不到也不太壞,如果最後幾日,我看着她插喉,我會唔知點算,好難受。」

黎青龍翻過佛洛伊德的著作,為親母厭父一探究竟。「叫伊底帕斯情結,每個人都想殺自己老豆,愛自己阿媽,不過我只覺得 partly true。我唔係 sexually鍾意阿媽。」

黎青龍的手提電腦燙了七種顏色,這層加工索價萬三,貴過部機。

黎青龍明年退休,七月一日後,如再為港大效力,薪水將少一截。幾年來,好些私家醫院高薪挖角,他雖擔心一年後人工唔夠使,卻還是覺得港大好。「我真的很不想出去做,在外面,病人變了我 client,佢俾錢我俾 service,依家我係醫生,我有固定收入。如果我出去做,我多看你幾次,可能又多收點錢,但我真的不想。」他的乙肝病人,半年覆診一次,卻也有些私家醫院,建議病人三個月、或每個月覆診。「其實啲藥咁鬼好,半年一次好足夠。」

黎青龍是第一代肝炎專家,那輩人執着醫術,不懂生意,錢要不花了,要不放在銀行,他現在自住的紅山半島二千呎大屋,若不是後輩提醒,他也不會買。「老一輩的教授,一路沒資產,沒這個文化。當時見我學生袁孟峰教授,九二年畢業,到九六年已換緊第二間,而我都未有,我話死喇,點算。」他也夠狠,看中這個當時市值一千六百萬的單位,便透支港大全數退休金付首期。其後每月供款十萬,現已供完。

黎青龍總是坐在木椅背上,居高臨下授課。他對學生最常說的格言是:「 No knowledge is useless。」

大屋用意大利 Carrara雲石鋪地,是米高安哲羅用來雕塑的石頭。天花吊掛 Waterford與 Baccarat水晶燈,客廳擺了 Bosendorfer三角琴,那時他不諳鋼琴,現在也不。他過去從不儲蓄,也沒入不敷支,買過便不會後悔,除了九三年買的保時捷。「當日我和一個教授看車,第二日他說幫我落了訂。」討好你?「我都唔明。我一個星期內還錢給他,當時我無十五萬,要問另一個同事借,後來我也分三個月還給那同事。如果唔係俾人落咗訂,我唔會買,一百四十五萬,我點買。」

九六年百萬裝潢的大屋,今日還是老模樣,可見近年持家有道,他說以前儲水晶,現在也放棄了。這些年,他見證乙肝從不明肝病到廣為人知的致癌元兇,見證一代神藥淘汰舊藥,所謂真理,他寧可在故事裡找:「過去幾十年,有乜唔變?全部變晒。但你看沙士比亞的《哈姆雷特》,一六○一年寫,摩登到癲,摸人的心理,仲係好準。

「有一日,可能再無乙肝,不過到時我都會無咗。」他習慣喜劇收尾,補上一句:「所以,我依家唔會無嘢做。」

https://tvb4life.pixnet.net/blog/post/151123198-非常人語-青龍潛行-黎青龍-壹周刊-1216期

很多男人需要權力、金錢和女人,黎青龍似乎是異數。「金錢與權力,我真的不大興趣,夠用就得,使乜要咁多?至於Power,少少都唔恨。」早已是肝臟科國際權威,自然遇過無數次被私家醫院挖角,抑或跳出來執業,要成為「月球醫生」甚至「星球醫生」也不困難,偏偏他完全不為所動。「很多醫生都跳出公營,多過一半以上,以我這個年紀來計,幾乎個個都跳了出來。只不過,我從來都沒想過要跳出去。就算大學不跟我續約,我都會照做,死踎吧,希望有人捐錢給我。」想當年月薪20萬,直到近年的5萬、3萬……可想而知,他為了教學、醫人,這些年間犧牲了多少。

貴為國際權威,以為他一身華衣美服,就是愛飲愛食、出入高級場所?非也,他熱愛時裝打扮,出名色彩繽紛,但念舊而不貪新,不太花錢。「人人都說我愛買靚衫,但其實不是啦,好似我今日穿這件Dunhill,一九八幾年買,穿了超過30年。我沒買過Dunhill幾十年喇!就算訂造西裝,我都是每隔兩三年才買一套,五千元左右。我很少掉東西,幸好身形沒有大變,只是老了一點。」就算吃晚飯,他都只是簡簡單單為主,一百多元一餐,很正常吧。

吃了安眠藥四十年

錢銀不是問題,最攞命卻是心情大起大落。從去年中開始,他坦言心情大受影響,非常緊張時事,每每看新聞都哭起來。「我支持我的學生,他們真的很慘,但去年所發生的事,我不敢說得那麼大聲。」他一直盡量保持低調,所以大眾只曾看見他在醫護人鏈中默站,不願接受訪問。「去年分開黃藍,但現在黃藍都一起抗疫,整個香港都一樣慘。」

男人哭吧不是罪,最重要還是勇敢面對。黎青龍自言,吃了二十年膽固醇藥及血壓藥,而且從32歲起便有吃安眠藥的習慣,至今接近四十年。「年輕時,我睡得很好,之後有些emotional的問題,接著就無法睡覺。不吃安眠藥就完全睡不到,試過有次飛去倫敦忘了帶藥,結果那個機程非常慘,喝了很多酒也無法睡。」他還提到,每晚睡了4小時後就會醒一醒,起身又要吃多半粒安眠藥,晚晚如是。「吃了幾十年,沒有副作用,沒所謂。」曾經有一陣子,他更加狂甩頭髮,吃過育髮藥好些又停下。

從未想過,公認為「神童」的黎青龍,讀書叻、醫人叻、事事都叻,精英份子竟然一直備受情緒困擾。「千萬不要說我是精英。我絕對不是一帆風順,低潮多到不懂得從何說起,尤其是感情方面。」感情事,他絕口不提,正如32歲開始服用安眠藥至今,他笑笑帶過就算,往事就由它過去。「我感到讀書及研究是幸運,其他卻沒特別。譬如說,我在2003年五十多歲才真真正正升做教授,正常應該40至45歲升級,自己遲了十年,一點都不順利。」

這位神童,3歲讀小學,9歲入男拔中學,16歲獲港大醫學院破格取錄,21歲畢業行醫,22歲入港大教書,英雄本來出少年,但真正成為英雄,卻遲了十年,又有否埋怨上天,只給他天賦,卻不給他其他方面的運氣?…當年我讀DBS(拔萃男書院),希望信到基督教…

「你看見我色彩豐富,我很喜歡顏色,覺得人醜靠衣裝,既然自己carry到色彩繽紛,為何不穿?我甚麼顏色都喜歡,除了黑色和灰色!」塵世間最受歡迎的顏色,他卻憎到死?「原因是,以前我有個不喜歡的人,他經常穿黑色衫;再婚時穿灰色衫,所以特別不喜歡。」他喜惡分明,只因為一個人穿黑色,就討厭所有人穿黑色了。

如何看生死?作為醫生,面對眾多生離死別,他至今依然哭不成聲。「我不敢思考自己的生死,多想也沒用。現在我對著病人,經常受不住而哭,這幾年看到有人死亡,更加沒可能釋懷。就算之前周梓樂同學、陳彥霖同學的離世,我不認識他們,但每次想起都幾乎想喊……」

最後,還是觸碰到他不願多說的黃藍話題。家中有位親政府、前高官的姊姊余黎青萍,去年更獲特首委任入監警會。同一屋簷下,相處幾十年,彼此邏輯思維怎可能大相逕庭,是哪來的原因?他欲言又止,卻又按不住那陣怒火:「前幾日吃飯,幾乎鬧大交,拍晒檯。唉,這些還是不說好了。」

維基百科中,黎青龍的介紹,一度是「香港肝臟專家及寵物小精靈資深精靈訓練員」。權威醫生玩Pokemon GO,兩者大纜都扯不上,偏偏訪問期間,電話的遊戲app一直沒有關上……「前幾日我戴著口罩在半島酒店,竟然有陌生人走來問我是否黎醫生,本來他們不信我會捉精靈,終於親身看到我,還說想不到我學問高深……我說這個玩意都是學問高深呀。」敢問他喜歡玩的原因,他笑說也不知道有何吸引之處,只覺得這玩意很緊張。「沒法子講,當中有很多新東西,捉開就想繼續捉,甚至有人叫我轉玩Switch版的Pokemon GO,我說玩這個已經很癡線,玩埋Switch就是double癡線。」還好,他知道自己經已進入了瘋狂狀態。不過,這個玩意總算有個好處,就是讓從不運動的他,每星期至少走了130公里路。

準備訪問之際,我問黎醫生:「拍片訪問時,除口罩可以嗎?」

黎醫生擰擰頭,沒好氣地說:「影相拍片訪問,我想戴口罩!我想show俾人睇,我們就是要戴口罩,沒理由唔戴。嗰個人唔戴口罩,很癡線,只是硬頸。習近平都有戴!」

沒指名道姓說「嗰個人」是誰,他只揚言:「封關與否,只為香港,不是藍黃。」

閒談提到「嗰個人」的嘴臉很差,但近月來氣色時好時壞?他又說:「我不知她的氣色如何,只知她面皮好厚!」

早前醫護罷工成為焦點,日日如常開工的他,強調一切只是支持封關。「我是支持同事、支持封關,並不是支持罷工。如果做甚麼事可以令政府封關,我就支持做那件事;如果罷工可以令『嗰個人』做多點事,就應該要支持。」

「嗰個人」,好像佛地魔,過程間沒說過她的名字,又似乎,這個特首的名字讓香港人掛上嘴邊,總是充滿詛咒憤慨

黎青龍向來不想高調,同時擔心港大續約問題,但今次實在忍無可忍。「一早就要封關!中國內地都封了很多城市,為何香港不可以?現在反而是香港被人封關,台灣、新加坡等地都封了我們。難道其他國家歧視我們?我不覺得他們歧視,更覺得他們很正確,如果我們有病,為何要傳染給別人?」

「從醫學角度來看,我認為應該是零感染。就算很難很難,也應該盡量要減低,我們有沙士的經驗,今次絕對應該要準備好一點吧!」

香港大學內科及肝臟科講座教授黎青龍,星期二(11日)晚就同聖雅各福群會露宿者綜合服務隊,探訪銅鑼灣、跑馬地一帶嘅露宿者,派口罩畀佢哋。黎教授話覺得露宿者「好陰功」,有人即使有小量口罩都唔捨得用;亦有人因為公共游泳池關閉,無法入去冲涼。佢認為政府應該向市民派發口罩同消毒用品,等大家都可以有足夠資源防疫。

Emily同黎教授傾過,佢前晚同一班社工、醫生去維多利亞公園同跑馬地行人隧道一帶,探訪約20名露宿者,每人獲派5個口罩。黎教授又教露宿者點樣戴口罩,同點樣保持個人衛生。佢話,露宿者生活好艱難,以往有人去公共游泳池冲涼,一星期一次,但而家好多公共設施關閉,佢哋無地方冲涼,「話要等設施開番先再冲,好陰功」。佢又話,有露宿者即使有錢,都會買其他嘢,例如頭痛藥、食物等。

黎教授話,露宿者瞓喺街道,街上好多人經過,可能會唔覺意接觸到病毒,居住環境屬高風險。佢提醒露宿者瞓覺都要戴口罩,同一個口罩最耐戴一兩日就要換,又呼籲佢哋要每日冲涼;但佢亦承認呢啲要求對露宿者而言較難做到。佢話,以往甚少關心露宿者,但覺得今次行動非常有意義同值得,佢下次會再同社工一齊探訪露宿者。佢亦希望政府向市民派發口罩同消毒用品,等普羅大眾都可以有資源防疫,又重申政府應「全面封關」,唔准曾到內地嘅旅客入境。

https://news.mingpao.com/ins/港聞/article/20200213/s00001/1581585380141/【武漢肺炎-emily-online】黎青龍探訪露宿者派口罩

黎青龍教授聯同由前線醫護人員和醫學生組成的民間組織「民間防疫小隊」,以及聖雅各福群會露宿者綜合服務隊,於上周三(11日)晚上走訪銅鑼灣及跑馬地一帶,為露宿者送上口罩。黎青龍亦親自教露宿者載口罩,並示範正確的洗手方法和重要性。

周二(18日),黎青龍與義工再次出動,探訪灣仔區的劏房住戶、獨居老人和露宿者,上門派發口罩並講解防疫知識。

在與長者傾談的過程中,他們發現有部分長者和基層市民缺乏家居必需品,但因沒有口罩而不敢外出,加上現時政府部門和社福機構僅維持有限度服務,令一些急需申請援助的長者焦慮擔心。

https://topick.hket.com/article/2569454/【齊心抗疫】心痛露宿者及獨居長者無口罩用%E3%80%80肝臟權威黎青龍偕義工走訪各區派口罩

在香港活了這麼久,他說踏入71歲時,才真正認識香港人。醫護靜坐、抗議警暴、要求封關,在集會現場,他多次默默現身。他說,「我對政治完全沒興趣,但是對freedom有興趣。」

他的神童往事、他在乙肝病上的成就,還有他的紅、橙、黃、綠、藍、紫、白七色搶眼西裝配同色口罩,統統都是記者下筆的題材。黎青龍風騷一輩子,向來直腸直肚有碗話碗,這次訪問他卻連連嘆氣,講得最多的兩個字是「黐線」。隔住三層質地的外科手術口罩,這條青龍有如潛行水中,聲音就像一塊磨沙玻璃:「有好多嘢,唉,你可否寫得隱晦一點?你明啦,人哋(人家)都會明⋯⋯不如你寫我:有口難言。」

https://theinitium.com/article/20200327-hongkong-hk-profile-lai-ching-lung/

廚房掛着一幅早年以五萬港元,於羅浮宮精品店買回來的梵高《Sunflowers》,走廊又有梵高的《Café Terrace at Night》、莫奈的《Rouen Cathedral, West Facade》,全都是不知名畫家的複製品,每幅卻要五、六萬元,連他自己都說:「赤柱一千蚊有幅,其實差唔多。」一屋複製藝術品的金額加在一起,足以買幾幅具升值潛力的當代藝術家真迹,但會這樣計算「錢途」的話,他就不會死守港大,行醫以來屢被私家醫院高薪挖角,也沒離開過半步。

他學不懂游泳更不會煮飯,家中廚房從沒開炊,只放史諾比收藏。

從小他就愛往書裏鑽,連客廁也有兩個書櫃,最享受在文學巨著內探究人性,但現實裏跟關係最親密的父親最疏離。

若有大難臨頭只容他拿走屋內五件物件,他不需思索只帶五本書,還問:「莎士比亞全集當一本得唔得?」其餘是《The Brothers Karamazov》(卡拉馬佐夫兄弟)、《Wuthering Heights》(咆哮山莊)、《Great Expectations》(孤星血淚)和《One Hundred Years of Solitude 》(百年孤寂)。「書可以feed到個腦,其他全是身外物。」

他自嘲自己老來嬌,愛穿得如魚缸內的蘇眉、銀九仔、紅海騎士一樣斑斕,對毛公仔、玩具特別鍾情,腦袋走得快,心靈還像個小孩

【十五世紀教堂玻璃飾畫】 鑲在書房門的十五世紀教堂玻璃飾畫,他用7,000元在蘇富比拍賣回來的。

神醫有心事 2013-9-17

Big spender

I don’t know anything with certainty, but seeing the stars makes me dream.”

– Quote By Vincent van Gogh

這幅作品是梵高在阿爾勒寫生時創作的十幅作品之一,畫面中,梵高以精準的用色以及幾何形的構圖收法來表現豐收時極具縱深感的景象。給觀看者以高視點遠眺景色的印象,並且可以讓天空只佔到畫面的六分之一,讓藍色手推車成為畫面的焦點。

《羅納河上的星夜》,梵高,1888。這幅油畫含有星夜中沒有的特徵–人類。在這幅畫的右下角可以看到有一對夫婦着沿着河邊散步。這把我們的視線從天空降到地面— 儘管這幅畫沒有像星夜那麼出名, 卻仍帶給我們快樂和生命力。

《鳶尾花》是梵高到聖雷米精神病院之後最早完成的作品之一。畫中色彩豐富,線條細緻而多變,左邊的白花與最右方的淺藍花相呼應。畫家細心安排花朵位置,引導觀者視線。整個畫面充滿律動及和諧之感。1988年11月11日,《鳶尾花》以5300萬美元的天價賣出。

“Once I went for a walk along the deserted shore at night. It was not cheerful, it was not sad – it was beautiful."

It does me good to do something difficult. But it in no way changes the fact that I have an immense need for religion; and then I go out at night into the open and paint the stars, and I always dream of such a picture with a group of lively friendly figures.

《夜間的露天咖啡座》。亮麗的黃色屋牆是整幅畫中最吸引視線的部分,它與右邊的暗色都市風景的側影之間的反差,使夜晚街道上的露天咖啡廳在冷落中顯出一片溫馨,並與藍色星空相映,顯得安靜有序,充滿詩意。

“在我的黃顏色房間裏——帶紫色圓環的向日葵突出在一片黃顏色的背景之前,花梗浸在一隻黃顏色的壺中,壺放在一張黃顏色的桌上。畫面的一角上,畫家的簽名:文森特。黃顏色的太陽透過我房間裏的黃顏色窗簾,一派生氣沐浴在一片金色之中。早晨,我在床上醒來,想像這一切必定是芳香撲鼻。"

“作為一個因不平等和社會罪惡而發瘋的失敗的’傳教士’,梵高是19世紀寫實主義的替罪羊之一;而他稱為’可怕的清醒’的心境的調子 是那麼高,直到現在,所有人都能聽到它,這說明了為什麼1888年畫的《向日葵》今天仍是美術史上最受歡迎的一幅靜物畫,一幅以植物為題的《蒙娜麗莎》"。

歐韋的教堂。畫面色彩強烈,色調明亮。後來受到革新文藝思潮的推動和日本繪畫的啟發,大膽的探索、自由地抒發內心感 情的風格,追求線條和色彩自身的表現力,追求畫面的平面感、裝飾性和寓意性。梵高的作品中包含着深刻的悲劇意識,強烈的個性和形式上的獨特追求,一切形式都在激烈的精神支配下跳躍和扭動。

《星夜》

高大的白揚樹戰慄着悠然地浮現在我們面前;山谷里的小村莊,在尖頂教堂的保護之下安然棲息;宇宙里所有的恆星和行星在「最後的審判」中旋轉着、爆發着。這件作品是在聖雷米療養院畫的,時間是1889年6月。他的神經第二次崩潰之後,就住進了這座療養院。在那兒,他的病情時好時壞,在神志清醒而充滿了情感的時候,他就不停地作畫。色彩主要是藍和紫羅蘭,同時有規律地跳動着星星發光的黃色。

吃土豆的人。 1883年底,梵高回到父親供職的教堂所在地紐南。這幅作品有極強的鄉土氣息。這也表現出梵高很強的農民情結,他似乎很想成為一位農民畫家。更重要的可能是內心深處對鄉間生活的嚮往,對淳樸農民的尊敬和對誠實勞動的讚美。

花瓶與5朵向日葵

「我在用半打向日葵裝飾我的工作室時想到,這未經粉飾的鉻黃燃燒在藍色的背景之上,從孔雀綠到品藍。」

加歇醫生像

「我希望畫一位藝術家友人的肖像,他滿懷偉大的理想。我希望把我對這個人的感覺和愛慕之心畫進作品裏。我誇張了他的頭髮的金黃色,在頭像後面我不畫小屋的普通牆壁,而用我調配得極為豐富、極為強烈的藍色塗出無限深遠的背景…」

這是凡高生前唯一賣出去的一張油畫《紅色的葡萄園》。 1890年,比利時畫家安娜·博赫以400法郎的價格買下了這幅畫,現在存於莫斯科。 安娜·博赫是凡高弟弟的一個朋友,有種說法是,這張畫是提奧拜託他買的,用現在的話說,就是暗箱操作。 這其實是提奧的良苦用心,為了鼓勵凡高,讓他對自己有信心。凡高生前特別渴望自己的作品能被社會認可,但直到他去世,都沒看到希望。

While in the asylum in Saint-Remy, Van Gogh received from his friend Emile Bernard a letter describing his new painting of Christ in the Garden of Olives. He replied that he would rather paint the olive trees just outside his window than the imaginary olive garden of christ’s Agony. He believed that reality was the only source of strength, although in his torment Van Gogh’s thoughts often led him back to the religious ideas of his youth.

After two years in Paris Van Gogh left the city, tired of the ceaseless activity and longing for a peaceful and calm environment to work in.

I am in a cage, I am in a cage, and I’ve got everything I need, fools! I’ve got everything I could possibly want! Ah, dear God, freedom – to be a bird like the other birds! A human idler of this variety is just like a bird that idles in the same way."

Perhaps due to the influence of his short-lived ministry studies, Van Gogh’s depiction of wheat in his paintings reflects spiritual and secular symbolism. In 1889, the year prior to when he completed “Wheatfield with Crows," the artist wrote that wheat is not only people’s primary form of sustenance but is also symbolic the ripening and reaping of human life. Wheat is symbolic of celestial love in the Christian tradition, and to Van Gogh, it also represented the fruits of honest, manual labor.

A sense of isolation is heightened by a central path leading nowhere and by the uncertain direction of flight of the crows. The windswept wheat field fills two-thirds of the canvas. Jules Michelet, one of van Gogh’s favorite authors, wrote of crows: “They interest themselves in everything, and observe everything. The ancients, who lived far more completely than ourselves in and with nature, found it no small profit to follow, in a hundred obscure things where human experience as yet affords no light, the directions of so prudent and sage a bird."[7]

Erickson, author of Eternity’s Gate: The Spiritual Vision of Vincent van Gogh, cautious of attributing stylistic changes in his work to mental illness, finds the painting expresses both the sorrow and the sense of his life coming to an end.[92] The crows, used by Van Gogh as symbol of death and rebirth or resurrection, visually draw the spectator into the painting. The road, in contrasting colors of red and green, is thought to be a metaphor for a sermon he gave based on Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress where the pilgrim is sorrowful that the road is so long, yet rejoicing because the Eternal City waits at the journey’s end.

Van Gogh reveled in the textural richness of oil paint. Called ‘Impasto,’ his application of the paint is so heavy in The Mulberry Tree in Autumn that it appears nearly three-dimensional.

The fiery branches reach upward and are framed by a brilliant blue sky created from thick, short strokes of blue paint. The space surrounding the tree is rendered with a dynamism that echoes the tree’s electric energy.

This painting was so important to van Gogh that he wrote about it three times in letters to his brother and sister, commenting that he believed it was the best of his mulberry tree paintings.

it seems to me that one of the strongest pieces of evidence for the existence of ‘something on high’ in which Millet believed, namely in the existence of a God and an eternity, is the unutterably moving quality that there can be in the expression of an old man like that, without his being aware of it perhaps, as he sits so quietly in the corner of his hearth. At the same time something precious, something noble, that can’t be meant for the worms. … This is far from all theology – simply the fact that the poorest woodcutter, heath farmer or miner can have moments of emotion and mood that give him a sense of an eternal home that he is close to. ”

Later, in a rare expression of his own religious feelings, he wrote expressly about this lithograph and two other drawings also posed by Zuyderland, of an old man reading a Bible and saying grace (below) respectively:

My intention with these two and with the first old man is one and the same, namely to express the special mood of Christmas and New Year. … Leaving aside whether or not one agrees with the form, it’s something one respects if it’s sincere, and for my part I can fully share in it and even feel a need for it, at least in the sense that, just as much as an old man of that kind, I have a feeling of belief in something on high even if I don’t know exactly who or what will be there.”

I want to paint men and women with that something of the eternal which the halo used to symbolize, and which we try to convey by the actual radiance and vibration of our coloring."

June – The Sower, 1888

The audience is drawn into the painting by the glowing disk of the rising Sun in citron-yellow which Van Gogh intended to represent the divine, replicating the nimbus from Eugène Delacroix‘s Christ Asleep during the Tempest. Van Gogh depicts the cycle of life in the sowing of wheat against the field of mature wheat,[10] there is death, like the setting Sun, but also rebirth. The Sun will rise again.

The Wheat Fields is a series of dozens of paintings by Vincent van Gogh, borne out of his religious studies and sermons, connection to nature, appreciation of manual laborers and desire to provide a means of offering comfort to others.

Failing to find a vocation in ministry, Van Gogh turned to art as a means to express and communicate his deepest sense of the meaning of life. Cliff Edwards, author of Van Gogh and God: A Creative Spiritual Quest wrote: “Vincent’s life was a quest for unification, a search for how to integrate the ideas of religion, art, literature, and nature that motivated him."[1]

Van Gogh came to view painting as a calling, “I feel a certain indebtedness [to the world] and … out of gratitude, want to leave some souvenir in the shape of drawings or pictures – not made to please a certain taste in art, but to express a sincere feeling."[2] When Van Gogh left Paris for Arles, he sought an antidote to the ills of city life and work among laborers in the field “giving his art and life the value he recognized in rural toil."[3]

In the series of paintings about wheat fields, Van Gogh expresses through symbolism and use of color his deeply felt spiritual beliefs, appreciation of manual laborers and connection to nature.

Spiritual significance

As a young man Van Gogh pursued what he saw as a religious calling, wanting to minister to working people. In 1876 he was assigned a post in Isleworth, England to teach Bible classes and occasionally preach in the Methodist church.

When he returned to the Netherlands he studied for the ministry and also for lay ministry or missionary work without finishing either field of study. With support from his father, Van Gogh went to Borinage in southern Belgium where he nursed and ministered to coal miners. There he obtained a six-month trial position for a small salary where he preached in an old dance hall and established and taught Bible school. His self-imposed zeal and asceticism cost him the position.

After a nine-month period of withdrawal from society and family; he rejected the church establishment, yet found his personal vision of spirituality, “The best way to know God is to love many things. Love a friend, a wife, something – whatever you like – (and) you will be on the way to knowing more about Him; this is what I say to myself. But one must love with a lofty and serious intimate sympathy, with strength, with intelligence."[5] By 1879, he made a shift in the direction of his life and found he could express his “love of God and man" through painting.

“A sower went out to sow. As he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it had not much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil; and when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had no root it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty fold, and sixty fold and a hundredfold.(Mark 4:3-8)

Van Gogh mentioned the liveliness and interplay of “a wedding of two complementary colors, their mingling and opposition, the mysterious vibrations of two kindred souls."

Wheat Fields after the Rain, 1890

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

(Bible, King James Version, Ecclesiastes 3:1-11)

I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.

I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

(Bible, King James Version, Ecclesiastes 3:12-22)