The spell of Tibet. The magical realism of the roof of the world

The Ferrater Mora Chair organized, in collaboration with the Casa de Cultura de la Diputació de Girona, the course “The Spell of Tibet. The magical realism of the roof of the world”, which took place every Monday from 6th February to 27th March, from 6 p.m. to 7.30 p.m., in the Casa de Cultura of Girona. The course was given by the prestigious Tibetologist Ramon N. Prats, professor of Asian Buddhism at the UPF, senior curator of the Rubin Museum of Art and Director of Research at the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center, both in New York. Ramon N. Prats (Barcelona, 1946) has a degree in modern foreign languages and literature and a doctorate in Asian Studies (Tibetan, Chinese, Mongolian) from the Oriental Institute of the University of Naples. He has participated in various international seminars on Tibetan Studies and is a member of the Association of Tibetan Studies. He is the author of sixty publications, including critical editions and English translations of Tibetan texts.

The course, which was a truly extraordinary occasion to get closer to Tibetan reality and culture, proposed an analysis of Tibetan culture in all its aspects. The aspects that define Tibetan civilisation (history and geography), as defined by Western culture, were presented; what religious, political, strategic and economic factors have intervened. And how the image we have has evolved.

The course programme followed the following outline:

Defining aspects of Tibetan civilisation.

  • A remote country in the heart of Asia: an overview.
  • Geography, population, history, religions, art.
  • Tibet in the cultural context of inner and eastern Asia

The construction of the Eurocentric vision of Tibet.

  • Origin and formation of the mythical vision of Tibet in Western culture.
  • The happy arcadia of the Roof of the World and the myth of the good savage.
  • From Marco Polo to Mickey Mouse.
  • The secret, mysterious, forbidden, mystical and magical Tibet.
  • Shangri-La, the Third Eye and the New Age.

Religious, political, strategic and economic factors.

  • Missionaries, explorers, adventurers, occultists and fugitives.
  • Reincarnated lamas, paranormal powers, polyandry and tantric sex.
  • The Chinese Empire, the British Empire, Nazism and the CIA.

Real Tibet versus imaginary Tibet today.

  • Fiction literature, cinema, comics, arts and crafts.
  • Modern Tibet and the Tibetan diaspora.
  • Are there Tibetan dissidents?
  • Tibet as a projection of the psychology of the Western world.