During a recent visit to the offices of TBRC, I was fortunate enough to glimpse Gene Smith‘s famous ‘notebooks’, the painstakingly typewritten transcripts of texts and interviews, with their own particular system of colour coding, capitalization, underlining and marginalia. Many pages feature handwritten corrections and further notes added at a later date. Most of the books are leather-bound in green with titles on the spine. There appeared to be at least fifty in the office, but there might be others elsewhere. Jeff Wallman estimated that they represent about twenty years of work.

Following Zenkar Rinpoche’s call for them to be published, echoed by others, at the recent seminar at Columbia University, work will soon begin on scanning the books and using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology in order to preserve their contents and share them with other scholars. Let’s hope they can secure the necessary funding.

The following points derived from Gene Smith’s Among Tibetan Texts by Kurtis Schaeffer were shared today at Columbia University’s panel discussion on the future of Tibetan studies after Gene Smith.

  • Know the breadth and depth of Tibetan history
  • Read single works for depth
  • Read collected works for breadth
  • Collect all available works on a topic
  • List all unavailable works on that topic
  • Find those unavailable works
  • Make those works available
  • Collect, describe, and compare all editions of a given work
  • Know which edition you are reading and why
  • Know the material context of the text
  • Know the social context of the work
  • Know the author’s biography
  • Know the author’s teachers, students, friends’ and enemies’ biographies
  • Know the author’s collected works
  • Know the author’s teachers, students, friends, and enemies’ collected works
  • Do not trust the text to be that of the author
  • Trust the text to reveal something interesting about the context
  • Trust the work to reveal something interesting about the author
  • Rely on the context to discern what is interesting about the author
  • Study the breadth of Tibetan tradition
  • Study the depth of Tibetan history
  • Read single works with breadth
  • Read collected works with depth

I don’t know how this escaped our attention for a full six days, but here is a link to the new blog from the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC) and E. Gene Smith. Get over there and add it to your feed readers this very instant. And if you are on Facebook, here is the TBRC page and here the page for Digital Dharma, the upcoming documentary that people are calling “Gene Smith: The Movie”.

© 2011 Lotsāwa School Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha