Extreme conditions lead to extreme protest, and contradictions between the Buddhist-inflected rhetoric of non-harm and the agony of self-immolation have been accounted for variously. The interpreters reate descriptions that reflect, select, and sometimes deflect the reality of the burning corpse, calling attention to a certain place and time. In this volume, John Whalen-Bridge applies Kenneth Burke’s interpretive suggestions to the phenomenon of a Buddhist-inflected self-immolation movement. Tibet on Fire considers the possibility that the self-burnings could be interpreted as an extension of the struggle that constitutes part of what Kenneth Burke called a ‘logomachy.’ The volume seeks to: open up the possibility of multiple motivations, explain the significance of shifting contexts, and explore the pervasive substitutions in which the self-immolator and the Dalai Lama trade places in attempts to understand the Tibetan situation.
Whalen-Bridge, J. Tibet on Fire: Buddhism, Protest, and the Rhetoric of Self-Immolation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).