|What a magnificient life I lead! I can hardly resist jumping up and down with glee. Shiva the cat is on a spree, being nice to me! Each lightly treasured day reminds me that May will come again someday. The tiny leaves are greenly budding, and the ice grey pussy willows purr. The wind has a hiigh pitched, utterly distant, horn-like sound. I dont live, I write. To live is to write. Im sure by now that words flow in my veins, not blood. The alphabet courses along the nerves. The knees? For god sake, what makes them so stiff? Grammar? The rigidity of grammar?|
The shock of a lifetime. Ever since I became interested in Tibet,
perhaps 50 years ago, or less, and represented in every photograph of
the Potala, have been the dozens upon dozens of structure of Tibetan
town life. Lhasa was a town that snuggled up very close the to high
slanted walls of the Potala. This morning, in Google Earth, Vikram
showed us some 2008 pictures of Lhasa/Potala, the high slanty walls
coming down to manicured ground, and what they called other monastic
buildings, but which is not true. All the houses and shops and tangle
and history and cattle and people of Lhasa have been erased from its
feet -- which are now, huge formal grounds, one could not tell of what,
but reminiscent, O most definitely reminiscent of The Forbidden City.
And these formal grounds went out to and beyond, a gigantic swath of a
highway, 6, perhaps 8, lanes wide from and across other main highways,
so that one could see for miles around that Lhasa, the ancient capital
of Tibet, the center of Tibetan life has been all but entirely erased,
their town their buildings their lanes and roads and paths, their yak
sheds and pig pens -- the mess and sprawl ofintense Tibetan life totally
erased, to a grand picture postcard display of the Potala and roads
going by, at a distance, so that tourist can see it and its grandeur
without stopping, so that, as on a postcard, it can be displayed without
all the agony of the genocide of the Tibetan people even being
suggested. As if the Potala had been built that way as a great display
of wealth and power instead of the fountain head of the Tibetans
culture, the birthplace of their benign life and religion.
How do I know this? I have never been there, but I know it in my bone for 200 or 300+ years of photographs and paintings, etc. have shown it always mired in the higgly piggly buildings of a hand built city of the hardworking self sustaining people of Tibet. So mired, it often distressed me and I wished to see it a little set aside. Well, apparently, so did the Chinese, so they slaughter not only the cultural life of Tibet but undoubtedly thousands upon thousands of the people who used to inhabit Lhasa. If you want to see this for yourself. Go to Lhasa via Google Earth (dated 2008), and then check it against the hundred thousand pictures of Tibet 20, 30, 40, 50, 100, 200 years ago. The Chinese genocide of the Tibetan people. The erasure of Lhasa by the Chinese, is comparable to the Talibans blowing up of the Bamyan Buddhas -- only worse since it involves living people and a living people's heritage. We read about these things in the 20th-21st Century, but until now, we assume the day of unimaginable cultural destruction is passed. But not so, raze their buildings rewrite history.
If the will of 10,000 generations had gone into saving what a treasurehouse Earth would be, instead we have bone yards, endless bone yards, created by those who march in the footsteps of the Glorious Warriors of Greece, all those who went out to kill each other and destroy each others works. One of the most guilty of this art of war and destruction is, of course, the Americans -- over there systematically destroying 5,000 years of Iraqs wealth of buildings and archaeological history so that we, like
the Chinese, can steal their oil and mineral wealth.
Nobody loves you more than I do. So it is hard for me to believe that you would be party to, not only the genocide of the Tibetan People, but the total obliteration of their cultural heritage.
I had occasion to google Lhasa and the Potala lately and could find only the post-Chinese images of this historically central city of the Tibetan people. I could not find one image that showed Lhasa before the whole city was torn down, and replaced by Chinese style avenues and super highways. I googled around using as many terms as I could think of, like historic, ancient, 1940, pre 1958 etc. etc., but still could not find any images that showed the city as it stood for some, at least, 300 + years, the mud wall and stone city or relatively small buildings that snuggled up close to the Potala, and was the very center of Tibetan life.
I can understand that you made a deal including censorship with China, but I am appalled that censorship includes censoring what we in the United States and, no doubt, the rest of the world can find about historic facts on Google Images.
The destruction and rebuilding of Lhasa has been done. Please dont obscure the fact it was done. Dont, like the Chinese in Tibet, simply erase history and prevent people from knowing the past. There are thousands of images of Lhasa and the situation of the Potala before 1958 (pre-Chinese Tibet) in books and perhaps, I would guess, on various museum and library sites, as well as many images on scholarly or travel sites. Please make these images searchable on Google Images. And let me know what terms to use to google to get to them.
You are, as I am sure you know, history, archaeology, the past, to the younger generations now alive, and to all future generations. Dont allow the past to be wantonly rewritten.
Maybe it means a review of how sites find placement on Google. Perhaps the most popular are not always the ones that need to come up first -- if we are to keep a viable perspective on human life and human history.
When one reads chinese history, one is struck by their, down thru all
the ages, passion to razed conquered land (within or without China --
although they do think of Tibet as Chinese), strew it with salt and
nails and build anew. They have done this, if their history is to be
believed, with the most extraordinarily elaborate of buildings and
cities -- why should they not do it to Lhasa. Even with all our
ubiquitous information, no one will ever remember what Lhasa was like
before the broad avenues. Why ever should they? Isnt it more
beautiful now, more monumental, more elegant, more Chinese.
But the culture of Tibet was in that jumble, of that inmeshment of the
Potala in the life of the people. The people are erased, the city is
erased, the culture, whats left is transferred to India -- and the
rest of the world. Bits and pieces. The dream of Shangri-la is
dead. All corners of the world are inhabited.
Copyright © 2008-2015 Jan Haag