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Archive for the tag “Tibet”

Tulku (book review)

TulkuTulku by Peter Dickinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve just read it for the third time. Perhaps that should make me an expert on the book, but reading it at intervals of 19 years meant that I don’t remember much from one reading to the next.

Theodore Tewker, orphaned 13-year-old son of an American missionary in China, meets up with an Englishwoman who is collecting botanical specimens. They travel together to Tibet (which at that time was independent of China) and spend some time at a Buddhist monastery. That much I remember from two readings, and I could have learnt it from the blurb. So it was like reading it for the first time.

I’ve read other books by Peter Dickinson, and as with this one, I find it had to remember the plot. The others were children’s books, and I remember that one of them was about Merlin, and that it reminded me a bit of That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis, which I have also read several times, but in that case I remember the plot pretty well. So that is an interesting phenomenon. I re-read C.S. Lewis’s books, even though I am familiar with the plot, for the small details and nuances that I may have missed on previous readings. One such in That Hideous Strength was a passing reference to Cecil Rhodes — see That hideous strength and Rhodes must fall | Khanya.

But Tulku I re-read not for the finer details, but because I had forgotten the broad outlines of the plot. I would like to re-read some of Dickinson’s other children’s books, but neither bookshop nor library seems to have them.

Tulku isn’t exactly a children’s book, though the protagonist, Theodore, is a child bang in the middle of puberty. At least it doesn’t feel like a children’s book. If my recollections of being that age are accurate, then I suppose my thought processes were pretty similar to Theodore’s, but I didn’t really take much time to reflect on my thought processes, and reading this book at age 13 would lay on me the demand that I did.

The other day a 13-year-old asked a question on the question-and-answer web site Quora, saying that he preferred to read adult books and found children’s books boring. And I dare say he might have found Tulku boring too. When I was 13 I read an “adult” book, The Wages of Fear by Georges Arnaud. I found it was gripping stuff, and made me think I wanted to be a lorry driver when I grew up. I wanted to see the film, but it had an age restriction — no persons 4-16 — but I persuaded my mother to take me to see it, and pretended I was 16. It wasn’t quite as thrilling as the book, and I was mystified by the age restriction. But my comment to the 13-year-old who found children’s books boring was that he might enjoy them more when he was older. And I suspect that that may be the case with Tulku.

View all my reviews

Kristallnacht in Lhasa: A Tale of Two Race Riots

The Western Confucian blogs about race riots in Lhasa, and compares them with similar race riots directed against Chinese and Korean shop-keepers in Los Angeles in 1992.

The Western Confucian: A Tale of Two Race Riots:

I see very little difference between the Lhasa Riots of 2008 and the Los Angeles Riots of 1992. Both arose out of real or perceived systemic injustice. Both targeted entrepreneurial peoples known as Han, Chinese (漢) on the one hand and Koreans (韓) on the other. Both left dozens dead. Both the Chinese and American authorities were perhaps not blameless in the attempts to restore order.

But the reactions to both race riots have been quite different. While there were some people who blamed the events of 1992 on American injustice and racism, there was nowhere near the rabid anti-Chinese sentiment one sees on display today. I don’t recall any anti-American demonstrations being held in foreign cities or foreign governments censuring the United States.

Another parallel that springs to mind is Kristallnacht that took place in Germany in 1938. The main difference, however, is that Kristallnacht was government sponsored, while those mentioned by the Western Confuctian were not.

Tibet — mixed messages

I’ve been getting mixed messages about Tibet.

On the one hand there have been pro-democracy organisations like Avaaz trying to drum up support for Tibetan rebels:

On Monday, thousands of people in 84 cities worldwide marched for justice for Tibet–and delivered the 1.5 million-signature Avaaz petition to Chinese embassies and consulates around the globe. (Click for photos.) Avaaz staff have engaged with Chinese diplomats in New York and London, delivering the petition and urging action. And a growing chorus of world leaders is joining the call…

Together, we’ve built an unprecedented wave of global pressure. The Avaaz petition is one of the biggest and fastest-growing global online petitions on any topic in history; since it launched on March 18, it has been signed by 100,000 people per day–an average of more than 4,000 per hour, day and night.

Politicians understand that there is power in numbers. We need to show them that they have more to gain by listening to their own people–and heeding the cry for help from Tibet–than by giving China a pass in the lead-up to the Olympic Games. Take action now

http://www.avaaz.org/en/tibet_report_back/5.php/?cl=69533376

And then I read blog posts like this:

The Dalai Lama � Steph’s blog:

You don’t win a Nobel Peace Prize without having blood on your hands and the Dalai Lama is no different, it might suit his followers (the Gelug sect) and the Americans to pretend that the ”God-King” is a wise, benign, pacifist and has some sort of democratic mandate to rule Tibet, but that’s plainly not true.

He’s a murderous, racist, charlatan and Western stooge. When he was in power he was a brutal, merciless, theocratic despot, who lived in the 1000-room, 14-story Potala Palace, and his followers were eye-gouging, child-buggering, corrupt, religious fanatics, (see Michael Parenti: Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth). Although, that doesn’t stop the murderous old fraud and his “Free Tibet Movement” from being a cause celeb for liberal imperialists and gerbil lovers, under the pretext of human rights.

(Gerbils? What do they have to do with it? Are they native to Tibet?)

And then there are fellow South African bloggers like Reggie Nel saying things like Reggie: Stand with Tibet – Support the Dalai Lama: “After decades of repression, Tibetans are crying out to the world for change. China’s leaders are right now making a crucial choice between escalating repression or dialogue that could determine the future of Tibet, and China.”

But then again, on the other hand there is this: servethepeople: Tibet:

For his part, the Dalai Lama has successfully cultivated an image of gentleness, peace and simplicity which ahs an undeniable appeal to Westerners sickened by their own countries’ involvement in or support for exploitative and oppressive relations with the Third World, or alienated by the dehumanising nature of technological change and the general rat race of urban living. The Dalai is a “living Buddha” who has won acclaim, including a Nobel Peace Prize, for his rejection of violence.

The Dalai is also a clever and sophisticated politician, a wily manipulator of media opportunity and celebrity support.

However, he is not so clever that he cannot conceal his splittist intentions as regards China, nor his sham “patriotism” and “independence”.

These sound like harsh words, but they can be substantiated through the Dalai’s own materials.

So who is one to believe?

I think I go with Grant Walliser when he says Thought Leader � Grant Walliser � Free Tibet like you freed Kosovo:

Bottom line: China is a big pimp on the street and Serbia is not. That means you can gang up on Serbia, garner support in Kosovo and build US military bases in nice strategic positions. It means you can run detention centres like Guant�namo Bay in Kosovo and it means you can kick your old enemy Russia and your new one Iran smugly in the balls. And should Russian diplomacy make inroads with Poland and the Czech Republic when you need to put up your missile defence system at the confluence of Russia and Middle East, what a great alternative your new best buddy Kosovo would make. The clues to otherwise indefensible and incomprehensible behaviour are all in the timing and the agendas playing out behind the scenes (emphasis mine).

Come to think of it, what did Avaaz say about Kosovo?

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