Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land
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He finds a land with a long, warlike past and a complex interlocking relationship with China. He meets victims and perpetrators of Mao's Cultural Revolution, and young nuns who continue the fight against Communist rule. He stays in the tents of nomads, and hears first-hand accounts of the hopeless battle against overwhelmingly superior Chinese forces which ended, in a single day, a way of life which had endured for thousands of years. On his journey, Patrick French is continually sidetracked by a cascade of information, thoughts and reflections on such subjects: as how to blind a cabinet minister using a yak's knucklebones, the correct method of travelling across a desert by night, and the reasons for the Dalai Lama's transformation into 'an unknown dark-brown bird, bigger than a normal raven'. Patrick French has found a new way of writing about a place and its history. He fascinatingly illuminates one of the most persistently troubling of international issues, and confirms his reputation as one of the finest writers at work today.
I did not perceive cause and effect in this way, but more as a recognition that negative actions can rebound in unexpected ways. People who are violent may be drawn to conflict and end up suffering a violent death; those who are bewitched by money may be consumed by fear and worry about maintaining their wealth, and destroy any pleasure they had hoped to obtain from it; those who are cruel to animals are more likely to be attacked by them; the angry and frustrated can become imprisoned within
was hung from the Gate of Heavenly Peace in Beijing. Mao was fifty-five years old. His character was set; his methods were known. His attitudes and experiences would be crucial in determining how he would rule Tibet during the 1950s and sixties. Decades later, when all this and more was known about Mao, when the evil of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution had fused with his earlier crimes, the portrait of the beneficent father of the nation was still in place in Tiananmen. In 1989
Dawa, “The Europeanization of Sino-Tibetan Relations, 1775–1907: The Genesis of Chinese ‘Suzerainty’ and Tibetan ‘Autonomy,’” in Tibet Journal (Dharamsala), Vol. XV, No. 4, winter 1990, p. 33. CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE 238 “Tibetan wizards have”: People’s Daily, 27 October 2000. 239 Sixth Dalai Lama: Aris; Dhondup (1); Dhondup (2); Richardson (3). See also Sørensen, Per K., Divinity Secularized: An Inquiry into the Nature and Form of the Songs Ascribed to the Sixth Dalai Lama, Vienna 1990. 240
slowly revealed: how she had been born into this nomad community and married within it, how life had continued in the timeless way with the coming of the seasons and the accepted moments for migrating, storing, making offerings, having a festival or propitiating a deity, until the People’s Liberation Army came. A great battle had been fought on the hillside while the women stayed back in the tents and prayed. Two of Kontso’s five brothers had been killed. Her husband and the three remaining
exiled clergy, “whose targeted audience comprises the disenchanted sections of the middle class in post-industrial societies, who are far removed from the problems and the reality of Tibet.” The reality of Tibet. Was it there, around me, as I descended through the Tibet Autonomous Region in a mobile shed contemplating Walter Benjamin’s claim that history decomposes into images, not into narratives? Princess Kula of Sikkim, speaking to Fosco Maraini, called Tibet a land of “greed, magic spells,