Thursday, June 05, 2003

Also, I am still plodding away at my Life of Zanabazar, although usually I give up writing for the summer when the temperature hits 80ºF like it did the other day. Anyhow, here is a photo of Zanabazar’s retreat and workshop in Ovorkhangai Aimag where he created many of his world-famous art works.
So what am I reading now, you have no doubt been wondering. Actually I am on a Crusades kick, the eleventh and twelfth century Crusades, not the current one, although what happened in the first series of Crusades provides a lot of food of thought on the latest sally by George “Hulegu” Bush. The classic work on the Crusades is A History of the Crusades: Volume 1, The First Crusade and the Foundation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem by Steven Runciman. For another viewpoint see The Crusades Through Arab Eyes by my man Amin Maalouf, currently my favorite writer (more on him later). The parallels between the former Crusades and the Bush Crusade are astounding. We have the same conflicts between the Shiites and the Sunni, the same double deals with Moslem generals selling out their leaders, the same terrorist threat (Hassan Sabbah and the Assassins then, Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda now); the same die-hard fundamentalists and scumbag opportunists on both sides then as now; in short, nothing whatsoever has changed, except perhaps that now there are lots of Moslem blog sites. Back in the twelfth century they used carrier pigeons. The mid-East Moslems, if I am not mistaken, invented the use of carrier pigeons. (I am sure some carrier pigeon expert – I know you're out there - will soon be firing off emails to correct me on this.)