December 22, 2009

Tintin and Captain Haddock are Buddhist!

This just in! Tintin and Captain Haddock, my childhood idols (okay, I’m still rererereading Tintin comic books) like to meditate!  Click below for link (we have no idea no idea none what this comic is about, but neither do we have any solid handle on Buddhism, or meditation, so hey). Here’s an interpretation via a sangha friend:

Dear Nick,

Thanks for your interpretation of the anonymous TinTin cartoon, copy attached; it drags me out of my lethargy to offer my own view.  Frame by frame:

From the famous TinTin cartoon series drawn by the Belgian artist Herge (long dead), we find his title character TinTin accompanied by his sidekick Captain Haddock, in the present (a pastoral setting) now with white hair, obviously wizened, but still on the road.  TinTin’s faithful terrier “Snowy” is gone (likely from old age), but his dog dish has become the iconic begging bowl of renunciates.The ground for their meditation is the prajnaparamita mantra of the Heart Sutra.

Their meditation is popped by something surprising to their left.

A panoramic view evokes a rural Nova Scotia scene inexplicably invaded by an outlandish procession preceded by a flashing police car, and equestrians, military, a band, a limousine, busses, ultimately a hot-air balloon.  A handful of surprised locals turn out to watch what’s coming their way.

The focus of the parade is an exotic royal couple, pretty obviously the current Sakyong and Sakyong Wangmo, riding on a ceremonial elephant.  They are surrounded by kasung marching with banners, playing pipes and drums.  He is waving from his canopied howdah; she is throwing flowers.  Their mahout is androgynous.  A helicopter with news cameras hovers.

The end of the parade passes with as much pomp and frivolity as it began, with a last limo followed by a white horse ridden by the former Sakyong Wangmo (?) in dressage costume.  She is accompanied by exotically-mounted soldiery with a bugler.  All of the parade’s dust has assaulted the nostrils of Haddock and TinTin.

The entire Fellini-like parade has left Captain Haddock tearing his hair in apparent frustration, with his face buried in the grass.  TinTin asks him something not recorded in the empty (except for a question mark) caption box, suggesting the cartoonist has left space inviting readers to fill it in when they have penetrated the riddle.

My own caption choice would be:”I understand how you feel, but how can we help?”  or something like that.  And if I was this cartoonist’s art director, the elephant-driver would be [Shambhala Int’l President] Richard Reoch, and at the end of the procession I would have inserted staff in business suits, with huge begging bowls, much bigger than Snowy’s, hustling the meditators to finance the cost of the extravaganza.

As to the identity of the artist, it would not surprise me to learn that she, he, or they were commissioned by Barbara Blouin to illustrate her sharp examination of the Shambhala court’s current affairs.  (Nov.26 www.radiofreeshambhala.org).

Yours, with gratitude, Dan Taylor.

Click cartoon below for full series.

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