Academic Papers

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The following is a presentation given in my Alchemy class (led by Dr. Evans Lansing Smith). It was intended to provide an analysis of a selected image from the Splendor Solis, an alchemical text by Salomon Trismosin and written in the 16th century. Naturally, I selected an image depicting the Muse (plate II-6): Here we see the usual arts we associate with the Muse: painting, writing, music. But we also see architects, craftsmen and merchants. This is because the Muse is found not only in the arts but in every facet of human life that requires thought. Creativity and inspiration abounds in all activities and comes in many forms. At the top of the painting, Hermes/Mercury is seen presiding over the realm of the Muse. Hermes is, of course, the trickster. He presides over speech and problem solving, for he is the messenger. He is also the god of liminal space: of creating and breaking boundaries. Both Hermes and the Muse are in blue which, in alchemical symbolism, is the final color of the stages of transformation. It represents transcendence, the ascension of thought, the ascension of the spirit onto a higher plane – onto a realm of the unconscious …

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The following paper was written for my Buddhist Traditions class, led by Dr. Patrick Mahaffey. The original presentation that inspired this paper can be found here. Tintin in Tibet was written in 1960 by Belgian writer Hergé, neé George Remi. The comic features the title character Tintin in search for his friend Tchang, whose plane has crashed in the Himalayas. When the search turns up nothing, Tintin fears the worst. Despondent, he takes refuge in a Buddhist monastery to recover from his grief and his near-death experiences in the mountains. The ageless and inquisitive reporter is the subject of numerous comics spanning over five decades—from the late twenties to Hergé’s death in the eighties. The comics’ popularity is due in part to the comics’ sweeping international landscapes, daring adventures, and Hergé’s expressive artwork; but the character of Tintin is one that draws people in. He is the iconic youth, always optimistic and progressive (as symbolized with the forward and upward style of his hair—an icon in itself). Along with mystery and adventure, the stories express central themes such as tolerance, chivalry, and most importantly compassion. His selfless defense of not only his friends but of the oppressed is an example …

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The following (brief) presentation was given to my Buddhist Traditions class, led by Dr. Patrick Mahaffey. I originally wanted to be assigned the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thodol in its original language) for sentimental reasons; it was one of the books I inherited from my cousin when she died. However, when I actually received it (through a synchronistic luck of the draw) all I could think about for some reason was Tintin in Tibet. And then of course Ginette Paris mentioned Tintin in class the very next day and I decided it had to be done: Tintin and the Tibetan Book of the Dead. In the original 1960 comic by Hergé, Tintin makes an emergency trip to find his friend Tchang, whose airplane has crashed somewhere in the Himalayas. Struggling through a harsh landscape, sudden blizzards, and local rumors of a Yeti, Tintin is forced to presume his friend dead and eventually ends up at a Buddhist monastery. I was originally planning on drawing panels in which the Lama reads the Bardo for Tchang’s soul as Tintin sits and listens, but as I read the Bardo for myself I instead began to picture the mandala described: that of the …

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