Welcome, reader! According to Antony Hegarty in this second decade of the new century our future is determined. What will it be? Stays all the same and do we sink away in the mud or is something new coming up? In this blog I try to follow new cultural developments.

Welkom, lezer! Volgens Antony Hegarty leven we in bijzondere tijden. In dit tweede decennium van de eenentwintigste eeuw worden de lijnen uitgezet naar de toekomst. Wat wordt het? Blijft alles zoals het is en zakken we langzaam weg in het moeras van zelfgenoegzaamheid of gloort er ergens iets nieuws aan de horizon? In dit blog volg ik de ontwikkelingen op de voet. Als u op de hoogte wilt blijven, kunt u zich ook aanmelden als volger. Schrijven is een avontuur en bloggen is dat zeker. Met vriendelijke groet, Rein Swart.

Laat ik zeggen dat literaire kritiek voor mij geen kritiek is, zolang zij geen kritiek is op het leven zelf. Rudy Cornets de Groot.

Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rage at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Dylan Thomas.

Het is juist de roman die laat zien dat het leven geen roman is. Bas Heijne.

In het begin was het Woord, het Woord was bij God en het Woord was God. Johannes.

zondag 17 juli 2011

Tibet in Song (2009), movie by Ngawang Choepel

How to destroy a culture in a most effective way.

Filmmaker and musicologist Ngawang Choephel went back in 1995 to Tibet to see what happend to the traditional Tibetan folkmusic under the occupation by China. His personal report was risky, because he fled after the Chinese invasion in 1950 with his mother to Dharamsala, India. He was two years old then and never went back to his country. He studied music in the USA later on. After two months in Tibet he sent more than thirty hours of filmmaterial to India. Shortly after he was arrested as a spy and sent to prison for 18 years. He was locked up with eight other prisonners, it smelled very bad in their cell and they had to listen to Chinese songs. Three women tell about punishments when they refused to sing the Chinese anthem. They were beaten and got an electric stick in the mouth so they couldn’t talk anymore. Five persons died. Despite their tortures they still did not obey to the Chinese. Choephel wrote the lyrics of old Tibetan songs in his cell on cigaretteboxes but after the guards discovered that, he tried to remember the words in his head.

Choephel didn’t hear Tibetan music in the capital Lhasa, so he went to the countryside. Jamyang Kyi a Tibetan feminist, singer and writer (more about her on: http://www.freetibet.org/campaigns/current-prisoners-0) says that Tibetans sing during all activities. There are special songs for milking cows, roofmaking or drinking. Everybody likes singing. The lyrics tell people how to act. Tibetan culture is passed on in this way.

During the uprising in Lhasa in 1959 86000 Tibetans were killed. The Dalai Lama fled to India. The Panchen Lama critized the Chinese and was imprisoned for ten years.

How did the occupation influence the culture? Choephel asks. Mao said that art for art didn’t exist and that twenty performers did more than a thousand soldiers. The cultural revolution was still going on. At the moment there is a lot of recorded music, introduced by the Chinese. Tibetans called it boxmusic and feared the bad sounds out of the radio. The Chinese adapt Tibetan songs by using Chinese words. The famous Tsetan Dolma sings them.   

We see a silent audience after a performance by Chinese singers. People don’t know how to react to it. Children only know songs from the cultural revolution in the sixties. A man says they had to sings those. Tibetan opera singers got killed till the late seventies. At the moment in nightclubs there is only Chinese (pop)music. The danger, someone says, is that people start to see meaning in meaninglessness.   

Tibetan culture is very different from Chinese. They dress and eat differently. In 1988 during the Lhasa protests, Tibetans showed they wanted to hold on to their own culture. In 2000, after fifty years of occupation, they made jokes that their culture lived only at the top of the mountains. Even the nomads had to come down to prevent them from living on their own way.

Choephel was in three prisons. His mother started a campaign for his liberation, which was supported by a concert with Annie Lennox, Paul Mccartney and others. In 2002 Choephel was released after six and a half years of imprisonment. He wanted very much to go back again to Tibet, but went to India to get in touch with Tibetan refugees and hear about their knowledge of old Tibetans songs.

In 2008 during the protests in Tibet two hundred Tibetans were killed and more than a thousand taken to a prison or disappeared. Monks explained the world about their situation on television, but knew they would be arrested afterwards.

Tibet in Song was chosen as the openingfilm in The Dutch Movies That Matter Testival 2010. At the end we read on the screen that most of the persons who were in the movie fled to India. Choepel, who lives in New York at the moment, was present at the festival.

Another short impression on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2DqnaZDvSw/

2 opmerkingen:

  1. Music is a wonderful thing that can express many things. How sad that there should be cultural revolutions anywhere resulting in imprisonment and death. Perhaps we all need to hear what we don't want to hear in music, perhaps there is a message in there for all of us - we should listen, we should hear, and we should take note! But whatever happens, the human spirit always shines through like a star, no matter how distant or faint it may be!

  2. Thank you, Tren, for sharing this positive thought.