Monday, November 20, 2006

New Popular History of Tibet by Thomas Laird

The Story of Tibet: conversations with the Dalai Lama - by Thomas Laird.

I was checking out the new book section at the local library, and I found this new popular history of Tibet entitled : The Story of Tibet: conversations with the Dalai Lama - by Thomas Laird.

I started reading it and immediately found it an easy read and engaging. I am not going to do a review here, since I am just beginning on it, but I would recommend it highly as it is well done, and you get a thorough account of Tibets history as viewed by the Dalai Lama himself.

There is a very good passage on page 367, which I will quote several paragraphs of, as it elucidates His Holiness's view of the Tibet/China situation in 2006 and on into the near future.
The interviewer is Thomas Laird the author :

What is your prediction for the future?

DL:"I believe truth has its own strength and we must retain our faith in truth", he answered, returning to the theme he referred to in our first interviews. "Of course guns have their own unique strength. But the strength or force of a gun is short or temporary. Temporarily it is decisive, but in the long run it is weak. The power of truth stands up. Truth always remains unchangeable. Then there is another manifestation of these two. The power of guns is often not compatible with truth and very much depends on untruths or lies. So with guns, there are usually lies and destruction. When governments keep so many state secrets, this is a sign of weakness despite military strength. If a government is compelled to keep secrets from its own people, this is a weakness. Also in China, the government has kept too many secrets from its own people. This is not good. Tibetans do not have guns, but we are very strong.
We have suffered a lot. We have been victimized, but still (tell) the truth. There is no lie, no effort to hide our mistakes. We are open. Anybody is welcome to look at what we are doing. We are trying to be open, and this is a manifestation of the truth and this is a real strength. That is why I feel that , for the future, there is hope and it is positive."

"Some people might not see the situation you face so positively, " I said.

DL:" If you look at the Tibet situation locally," he replied, " then it seems hopeless, desperate, and it seems our time is running out. But in reality the Tibetan problem is not hopeless at all, not like problems from a civil war. Our problem is we had a conflict with a new guest with a gun who came without a proper invitation. But things change. The Tibet issue is very much linked to the situation within China proper. China, no matter how organized, is part of the world, (and) change is part of the world. In the last fifteen to twenty years China has changed dramatically, and this change will continue. The totalitarian system has changed and has lost its ideology, and politicians seem primarily concerned with power. Sometimes I feel I am a more genuine Communist than them.

"The existence of a totalitarian government requires military force.," the Dalai Lama continued firmly. " If it does not have any proper sort of aim or ideology, just power, such a system is unhealthy and is bound to change. Because of different technologies like the Internet, it is impossible for any government to keep so many secrets or secrecy, and this makes change inevitable. Therefore, change is already taking place, and the time for totalitarianism is running out. On the Tibetan side, the spirit is strong, and support from the outside world is increasing. I feel from a wider perspective, there is very much hope".Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Pieta -album by Milton Nascimento

Recently I got a hold of a copy of Milton Nascimento's album of 2005 entitled Pieta. Was unaware that it had come out, because 1) I was over in Europe then, and 2) I had lost interest in some of Milton's albums of the late 90s and early aughts. At any rate I can report that this release is delightful, and before I go further let me quote the short review over at

"Having recorded a series of highly influential releases during the seventies and early eighties -- and captured a worldwide following in the process -- Nascimento seemed to lose his way for a spell. But thankfully, he is back on track, praising the Eternal Feminine as personified by his mother and other strong women who have touched his life. The theme is not new to him -- the concept of a female twin soul/guardian spirit has recurred in his work since the beginning -- but this is the first time he has dedicated an entire album to the age-old anima/animus duality. His trademark baritone-to-tenor, crowned by an ethereal yet searing falsetto, is companioned by a roster of women altos (Simone Guimarães, Marina Machado, and Maria Rita Mariano) whose voices envelop his like darkly iridescent angel wings. Old friends like lyricist Fernando Brant and bassist Lô Borges, who have been with him since his youthful Clube da Esquina days, are on hand, as are icons from Brazil (arranger Eumir Deodato) and the U.S.(Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock). Although Nascimento's one-time naive sophistication has undeniably been superceded by a knowing, jazzy neo-primitive thrust, this is his finest effort in years and thus, an essential must-have. --Christina Roden "

I first was turned onto the music of Milton Nascimento while in the Peace corps in Jamaica. A member of the German Volunteer Corps in Jamaica, Vinnie, lent me a 100 min cassette tape that was all his music. I remember sitting on the RoofTop bar in Papine, just outside of Kingston, and the view to the south was tremendous; you could see the causeway going out to Port Royale and then south of that the Caribbean sea. Looking at that view, I would recall the song Cravo E Canela (Clove and Cinnamon) by Nascimento , and I could almost sense the energy of the South American continent. Btw that’s an incredible song, one can sense the heart of Minas Geraes and Brazil in it. I duped that tape and continued listening to his songs the rest of the time I was there. And when I got back to the States, I ended up spending a lot of time and effort to get all the songs of his that were on the tape, on albums.(This was back when lps still predominated) It ended up taking something like 14 albums to get that mix.

In the end though the reason I went to so much trouble to recollect all those songs, is the music of Milton Nascimento at its best, is so captivating, sometimes otherworldy, and always filled with heart and soul. He sometimes uses too much lush orchestration which veers into 'cocktail' music for me, but on the other hand his music can reveal incredible South American vistas at times. Nascimento exhibits sheer musical genius in many of his songs.

I did move away in my interest in his albums over say the last ten years, but this album is alive and brings his music up to date, without dipping into any trite trends. The first song on Pieta, A Feminina voz do cantor is one of the most moving songs I have heard in a long time. Its like Nascimento taps into some subconscious feeling that most anyone can relate to. Which makes for great art. Another similarly moving song is Beira-Mar Novo, in which Milton has vocal backing by a group of young Brazilian teens- Meninos de Aracuai.

All the songs have a ‘alive’ sparkling quality. I can recommend it highly, especially if one already likes Brazilian jazz, or likes his music to begin with.
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