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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Another New York trip

I'm a bad retreatant. I just bailed on a one-day retreat to head for New York this morning. The rationalizations are incoming lousy weather and really wanting to study more Hindi. Plus, there's a Piero Della Francesca exhibit at the Frick that I don't want to miss. Tomorrow is the all-day panel at Tibet House and I have this feeling that had I attended the retreat, I would have talked myself out of this. Thus, the trip.

But wait, there's more! My colleague at HMS Kaitlyn Woelfel, had mentioned that a friend of hers took Limoliner down to the city recently. As you can see from the photos, it's pretty slick. Plush leather seats, radio, TV, wi-fi, food service(!), and all for only 89 dollars.

Plush. Leather.
Look! It's a galley!
...and we're off!
Food service. Okay, it's not four star, but it's something and I give these guys credit for providing these amenities in the first place.
This is from the walkway otherwise known as Fifth and a Half. It's not a full avenue that runs the length of the city but it's a cool modernist space. What strikes me about this is that this looks like a collage almost.
Here you have a better sense of its plaza-like space.

Upon parking and de-bussing, I headed for the Frick Collection to pay homage to Piero Della Francesca and a multitude of others. The following photos are terrible and I apologize in advance, but there are so many treasures in the Frick to relish. One thing I came away with was wanting to delve more into Gainsborough's attitudes toward his subjects. He seemed to have a photographer's eyes for capturing the gaze of the sitter relatively honestly and unguardedly. This speaks to a couple of things.

One, I would like to think his sitters were comfortable enough with him to let their guard down. Two, from what I recall, he didn't really like having to do portraits and I wonder if this honed a discipline such that he could see past the surface and glean a bit more of the person beneath the wig, the powder and the rouge. His obvious love was landscape, but I'm developing a greater appreciation for his portraiture which I frankly have never cared for very much. His portraits of Lady Innes and Frances Duncombe come to mind.

There are so many other joys to be had at the Frick. Two Vermeers, Rembrandt's Polish Rider (not to mention one of his great self-portraits!), a couple of eye-popping Veroneses, El Greco's "Saint Jerome", Bellini's "Saint Francis in the Desert" and others.

Interior of the Frick looking into the gallery for the Piero Della Francesca exhibit.
Another interior. A serene, wonderful sit.
It's criminal to do this. Rembrandt's "The Polish Rider" is a great work and here through my phone camera, it takes on, um, an impressionist reading.
Sadly, so does the great Piero.


After a few peregrinations, I headed to my hotel. Here, another story altogether awaits.

I Spent the Night in a Fleabag!

I opened my handy app and found a hotel for $99 (marked down from $199). In the theater district. The New York Inn on 8th which I thought I had stayed at before, but noooo, I had this confused with the New Yorker.

The New York Inn is a remnant of the days before the area was Disneyfied. On the front door was a letter to evacuate the premises from 2010 due to unsafe conditions. The lobby was, well let's just say I've seen worse. The guy at the desk was really nice and I figured that if the place was really uninhabitable, I'd leave; but frankly, I was incredibly tired and hungry and all things considered, I decided that it would be just easier to suck it up as opposed to trying to hunt around for another place.

Aaah, yes. The comforts of, well...they're trying.
C'mon! It keeps the shower curtain up!
Admittedly, the baseboard heating might be a bit suspect...
...but obviously,management is aware of this and has taken steps to ensure your comfort....this so reminded me of India! The tiny space heater to warm up a space it couldn't possibly warm up.
All things considered, it was what it was. I haven't paid for the priv of a flophouse in a goodly while and the price has surely gone up.
The panel discussion
The following are my notes from this morning. I thought about picking Professor Sperling's brains on a couple of things and saying hi to Jamyang-la, but as will become clear, I came across some info that necessitated my return.
Remember, these are notes. These are truncated, grammatically stunted NOTES.
Elliot Sperling on Ching/Manchu-Tibetan relationship:
Middle Way approach became dogma. Introduced a modus vivendi that spawned a lot of self-promotion. The Strasbourg Proposal was hugely mistaken. Independence/Rangzen support resulted in isolation of a lot of people.
Ching dynasty is extremely important to understanding the assimilation of Tibet into Ching empire. The Ching were sent in to end the Gurkha War against Tibet. Tibet was no longer independent during the Ching. Imperial subjugation.
Untenable to say that Tibet was assimilated during the Mongol dynasty. Both Tibet and China were subject to the Mongols.
"Historical China must be understood as the Ching dynasty at its height." Who said this?
Dynasties rewritten by the successors. Tibet is not written into the histories of Chinese dynastic succession.
Legislation/regulation does exist in Ching dynastic literature. Golden Urn selection used to refine the selection of incarnate lamas. Golden Urn downplayed by many, a hugely cynical ploy by the current CCP used to ignore and arrest HHDL's Panchen Lama candidate.
Orgyen Thinley not recognized with the Golden Urn ritual.
Tibetans accepted the ceremony because the first Ching emperor was regarded as an emanation of Majughosa. 8th Panchen Lama selected with the Golden Urn ceremony. See also online text at University of Indiana.
End of Ching resulted in loss of authority. Tibet written about in colonial terms by Ching officials. Particularly, the model of US nation building. Tibet was never made a province. See also first line of Tibetan-Mongolian declaration of emergence from the Manchu.
Tibeto-Mongol Treaty. Check out Lung-ta online or in print! Get a copy! Photographs of the Tibetan text and the Mongolian text.
Jamyang Norbu
The Great Thirteenth's social and political reforms
Considers himself a freedom fighter, not a scholar. "I barely made it out of high school!" Found out for himself what was true, what was real. Not enough to just support, but to have knowledge and understanding.
The history doesn't need to be "dry as dust."
What was behind the declaration?
Revolutionary foment was all across Asia (Meiji, resistance to the Raj, etc.) 13th in Darjeeling got a lot of information and inspiration. Bengal intellectual capital. Think Tagore.
Get that picture of Bell and the 13th, make sure there's a complete caption.
13th's interpreter/lotsawa served under the Ching amban. Developed a dictionary of modern Tibetan.
Legal reforms. Who was the young minister who decided this? The legal system under the Ching wasn't Buddhist and needed to be reformed. Requested English law books. 1896 abolished capital punishment. First act by HHDL eradicating capital punishment. See also, Bell, et al.
Nepal requested reinstatement of capital punishment because the Tibetan bandits were emboldened.
People were still put to death owing to lack of oversight, etc.
Wanted to democratize the Tibetan parliament. Inspired by visiting Delhi and seeing the proceedings. First, educating the Tibetan people; began with elementary schools in the different regions.
Overburdened with taxation.
Started the first Tibetan police force.
The police were seen as taking power away from the monasteries. The police went from being well-funded and respected to backward and thuggish.
Postal system! Bod gzhung/ yig the'u...lnga (look for stamp online) check out the different post marks
Telegraph system also began under the 13th.
Also set up a national health service; medicines prepared centrally in Lhasa based on records of each child (off the astrological readings.)
While the panel discussions were great, I was a little taken aback to find the buses I wanted to return to Boston on all booked up. I'm sure that, had I elected to just show up, I probably could have gotten a seat but frankly, I didn't want to take a chance. To that end, I decided to bag the afternoon session and head out on Amtrak. On the Acela. First class. It's more expensive, but it's so much more convenient. I have a seat to myself and can do some studying, writing, blogging, etc., and I'll be in early enough to work-out, hit the hay early and be pretty fresh in the a.m.
Following are some random shots along the way.