Dina Bangdel (1965–2017)

Dr Dina Bangdel (5.12.1965–25?.7.2017) is well known among Nepal specialists as a historian of religious art. Her 1999 dissertation, Manifesting the Mandala, and co-authored 2003 exhibition catalogue, Circle of Bliss, emphasised the visual culture of the Cakrasamvara cycle in Newar Buddhism, which is traditionally kept secret. Dr Bangdel had been planning to show a selection of this and related art on a world-travelling exhibition and was scheduled to speak at the “New Research on Newar Buddhism” panel at IABS. This week Dr Bangdel passed away, reportedly after complications following surgery. She is survived by her husband Bibhakar Shakya and two children.

(Added 2018/1/20:) ‘Remembering scholars of Nepalese Art Mary Slusser and Dina Bangdel’ (Rubin Museum of Art)

Tamang, ‘Green Tara’ (Bangdel 2016, fig.6)

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Sorensen, Legitimation and Innovation in Chöd (2013)

Michelle Janet Sorensen. ‘Making the Old New Again and Again: Legitimation and Innovation in the Tibetan Buddhist Chöd Tradition’. PhD diss., Columbia Univ., 2013. [URL / PDF]

(Texts translated: Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa zab mo gcod kyi man ngag gi gzhung bka’ tshoms chen mo; Shes rab khyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i man ngag yang tshoms zhus lan ma bzhugs pa; Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i man ngag nying tshoms chos kyi rtsa ba.)

Kickstart Michael Slouber’s dissertation to book

Michael Slouber is doing some of the most interesting work in tantric studies today. His PhD-to-book Kickstarter runs until the first week of June: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1326752800/tantric-medicine.

I can commend the future book solely on the basis of Dr Slouber’s freely available and superbly typeset (see below) Hamburg M.A. thesis. I’m not yet sure that I’ll commit, though. On the one hand, I can’t condone the parading of indebtedness that is at epidemic levels in the West; on the other hand, there is something to be said for a social network that encourages dānapāramitā more than keeping up with the Joneses. It’s also nice that at least one or two people with tenure have committed funds together with the much more numerous impoverished students and recent graduates.

Slouber, Śaṅkuka’s Saṃhitāsāra (2011:21)
Slouber, Śaṅkuka’s Saṃhitāsāra (2011:21)

International Conference on Tibetan History &c. (2013-7-13)

四川大学中国藏学研究所(会议主办)、哈佛燕京学社(会议协办): “7至17世纪西藏历史与考古、宗教与艺术国际学术研讨会”。 中国·成都·四川大学 2013年7月13-15日。

Center for Tibetan Studies of Sichuan University & Harvard-Yenching Institute (co-conveners). ‘International Conference On Tibetan History And Archaeology, Religion And Art (7th–17th c.)’. Sichuan University, Chengdu, China, July 13–15, 2013. [official site / 2nd circular w/ abstracts]

会议召集 人:霍 巍 教授(四川大学)、范德康 教授(哈佛大学)

Conference conveners: Prof. Huo Wei (Sichuan University) & Prof. Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp (Harvard University).

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Helliwell, Layard & Sachs, World Happiness Report (2012)

“The happiest countries in the world are all in Northern Europe…”

John Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs (eds). World Happiness Report. The Earth Institute, Columbia University, April 2 2012. [official / PDF]

So much to comment on, so little time. For starters: if you are a Theravādin, social capital and personal wellbeing have nothing to do with each other. Suffice it to say that much of the reaction has been unhappy. Related studies (e.g., on how ‘happiness’ has been quantified) may be found at the authors’ homepages.

On not reviewing Wedemeyer’s ‘Making Sense’

Wedemeyer (2012), p.39.
Wedemeyer (2012), p.39.

Currently I have no plans to review Christian Wedemeyer’s Making Sense of Tantric Buddhism (2012), but that’s not to say that it shouldn’t be reviewed. Just a couple of months after its release, it is now on the shelves of over 80 libraries. Moreover, Dr. Wedemeyer promises to publish a minimum of three more volumes on the Śrīsamāja. Hopefully someone — who isn’t me — will soon get around to a review.

Philology as national security threat

It’s not every day that philology determines the future of a superpower. November 12, 2000 CE, was just such a day. The outcome of the 54th United States presedential election hung in the balance, awaiting a manual recount of the Florida ballots. Officials were shown on television holding up punched ballots to the light, straining to determine whether their chads were dimpled or pregnant, or had hanging or swinging doors.

Know your chads (infographic: abcnews.com).

The officials’ process engendered doubt – doubt that could grow into a grey area which, left unchecked, might obscure entitlement and privilege itself. At this crucial juncture, former Secretary of State James Baker laid down his nation-changing methodological critique:

“How do you divine the intent of the voter on that voting card … with those little punch holes?” he said today on NBC’s Meet the Press. “You’re divining the intent of the voter with respect to whether it has two chads hanging down or whether it’s punched or whether it has an indentation? I mean, that’s crazy.” *

Textual critics were dismissed as diviners; textual criticism became an act of madness. The rest is history. But since history, especially bad history, loves nothing more than to repeat itself, the eve of the 57th presidential election provides an occasion to reflect on the value of philology.
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