Tenzin Gyatso
By: Joshua Glenn | Categories: HiLo Heroes


When TENZIN GYATSO (Lhamo Döndrub, born 1935) visited Boston, last year, he spoke at Foxboro Stadium while sporting a New England Patriots cap (shown above). His headwear provided me with the excuse for which I’d been looking to describe His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama as a lowbrow. I did (and do) so with the utmost respect — with a sense of wonder, in fact. Whereas the sympathetic highbrow agrees with your cause or ideology, even if she can’t personally relate to it, at her finest the lowbrow is empathetic: i.e., irrationally compassionate. Whether or not he agrees with your cause or ideology, the Dalai Lama, who fled to India as a teenager after the People’s Republic of China invaded his homeland, feels your pain. Of what other religious leader could you say the same? This isn’t the place to explicate the Dalai Lama’s version of Tibetan Buddhism, or anything else, so I’ll conclude with something that Robert Thurman once told me in an interview: “The amazing and audacious and visionary thing that the Dalai Lama does, and how he got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, is his insistence that he is going to see a free Tibet in his lifetime by nonviolent means, and that everyone should solve problems by nonviolent means. The Kissingers of this world, and the Deng Xiaopings, laugh at him and despise him. But I have great faith in him, and I believe that what he is saying will come to pass.”



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Joshua Glenn is an author, publisher, and semiotic analyst. He is co-author (with Mark Kingwell and the cartoonist Seth) of THE IDLER'S GLOSSARY and THE WAGE SLAVE'S GLOSSARY, co-editor of the object-oriented story collections TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY and (with Rob Walker) SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS, and co-author (with Elizabeth Foy Larsen) of the family activities guide UNBORED and three forthcoming spinoffs, including UNBORED Games. He is editor of HILOBROW and publisher of the Radium Age science fiction imprint HiLoBooks. Also: Glenn manages a secretive online community known as the Hermenautic Circle; he is founding editor of the e-book club Save the Adventure; and he's a frequent co-host of Boing Boing's podcast GWEEK. In the ’00s, Glenn was an editor, columnist, and blogger for the Boston Globe's IDEAS section, he co-founded the international semiotics website SEMIONAUT, and contributed to CABINET, SLATE, and elsewhere. In the ’90s, he published the high-lowbrow zine/journal HERMENAUT, worked as a dotcom and magazine editor, and contributed to THE BAFFLER, FEED, and elsewhere. His publishing company is King Mixer, LLC; and his semiotic analysis consultancy is Semiovox LLC. He lives in Boston with his wife and children.