Sunday, June 22, 2008

Moral compass

We've been enjoying a deliciously lazy weekend on the outskirts of Pattaya, away from the sleaze and Slavic gangsters. A highlight (apart from friends, dogs, food, sea air and amusing Germans in very small pants) was a visit to the Sanctuary of Truth, a vast structure that claims to synthesise all the best bits of Hindu and Buddhist culture: the fact that it's made of wood, and thus in a constant state of renewal and repair, is in itself a reference to the Buddhist notion of anicca, or impermanence; all is dust, and will at some time become one again with the universe from which it arose.

There's a bit of cultural chauvinism at work here, though, as a snippet from the website suggests:

From the Cold War era until today, the world has been under the influence of western civilization, accentuated by materialism and devotion to advanced technology.

Which is a fair point. Yah-boo to Judaeo-Christian capitalism. Except that the entrance fees for the Sanctuary are subsidised by horse and elephant rides, speedboat tours, quad bikes, go-karts, a dolphin show, and so on. It's like a Vedic Sistine Chapel, but with a bit of Alton Towers chucked in to keep the heathens sweet. Impermanence, it seems, doesn't come cheap.

PS: Apologies to anyone who spotted the rather saucy image that made its way onto this post earlier, thanks to some unknown force. And thank you to the kind reader who drew my attention to the problem. Who, embarrassingly enough, was my mother...

PPS: Chastened late addition: Photographer: Talen; Site: http://thailandlandofsmiles.com

3 comments:

dh said...

Excellent observations there Tim. You have neatly captured the essence of Thai (and by extension global) ambiguity.

Talen said...

I don't mind you using my copyrighted images on your post but you really should ask permission first and you should always attribute the original photographer and site/blog you lifted it from.

Also, directly linking to a picture on someones site is bandwidth theft. You may see it as a small thing but when many people do it or a page that gets a lot of hits does it my bandwidth limits get used up and I pay for that.

Please be kind enough to properly attribute the image of The Sanctuary of Truth with the following.

Photographer: Talen
Site: http://thailandlandofsmiles.com

If you can't do that please remove the image.

Tim Footman said...

DH: Thanks, Dick. Although that ambiguity extends to notions of intellectual property, which leads to...

Many apologies, Talen. To be quite honest, I've become so used to the toothlessness of Thai copyright law that I tend to forget the moral obligations and courtesies. Consider me taught.