Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Bamiyan Buddhas Recreated in Light

A project to project the images of the fallen Bamiyan Buddha statues, destroyed in 2001 by the Taliban, in the spaces where they once stood, has provided a graceful memorial to the destroyed historical treasures.

The illumination has brought relief to many of the locals who had been pressed into service by the Taliban in 2001 to destroy the Buddhas. After tank fire failed, the local workers drilled holes, planted dynamite and conducted a series of explosions to bring the giant statues down. "I regretted it at that time, I regret it now and I will always regret it," one of the workers, bike repairman Mirza Hussain, told the BBC in March. "But I could not resist, I didn't have a choice because they would have killed me."

Many have called for the reconstruction of the statues, but UNESCO suggests rebuilding the massive stone Buddhas might be impossible. With the new light projection, the Bamiyan Valley might just have the next best thing.
I think there is something fitting in the idea that modern technology restored what a remorseless anti-modernity and intolerant  culture destroyed. It's not quite the same thing as the statues actually being back, but in a way, this project demonstrates that ideas are not destroyed and that history is meaningful and gives us inspiration and should be respected--and that new technologies are the way that subsequent generations can appreciate and build on the achievements of those that went before. History, technology, civilization--these things are cumulative (I want to say "progressive", but that word is unnecessarily politically fraught--except you know what I mean.)

But humans are also kind of dumb. The same kind of stupid that destroyed the Alexandrian library (which was four times burnt, in much the way that the city of Wagadu was four times rebuilt, dove sta memoria, if you are familiar with Pound's Cantos, which I presume my readers to be) and the abbey of Monte Cassino, threatens the UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Sanaa and militants mill with their threats of destruction even at the Karnak temple in Luxor. It seems like, while history advances, some retrograde bollocks wants that same history obliterated.

And of course, there's also money-grubbing stupid, that would drill through the graves of their grandmothers for whatever mineral rights they could capitalize on--for which reason I recommend learning about Mes Aynak while it is unspoiled.

The idea of a memorial in light for these Buddhas just tickles some hopeful part of me that we retain our valuation of culture, when so much evidence exists for the sheer ignorant bastardy or too much of humankind.


Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I think there is something fitting in the idea that modern technology restored what a remorseless anti-modernity and intolerant culture destroyed

Anti-modernity, and anti-antiquity as well. Straight up nihilists, enemies of reality, in favor of a sham paradise, is probably the best characterization.

Vixen Strangely said...

The goal of a cult is to strip away any presence of any idea that countervails it. Afghanistan has a rich pre-Islamic Hindu and Buddhist culture. The pagan culture that pre-dates Islam is also being destroyed in Iraq by ISIL (Saddam Hussein, for all his faults, loved Iraq's great history and saw himself in the tradition of Nebuchadnezzar-he was a preserver of history if not a great lover of human rights.)

But a sham paradise is the worst part about them--everyone working toward a goal that would only result in greater human misery for the people living under such a system. And sadly, cut off from any idea that better was even a possibility or goal.